This site is devoted to the documentation of Shiwilu (Jebero) and Shawi (Chayahuita), two endangered Kawapanan languages of the Peruvian Amazon.

Contact Pilar Valenzuela (PI) or Scott Farrar (co-PI)


The main goal of the Kawapanan Project is the documentation of the only two extant members of the Kawapanan group (also, Cahuapanan): Shiwilu (iso639-3-jeb) and Shawi (iso639-3-cbt). Both languages are spoken in relative proximity to one another in the Peruvian Amazon. Another goal is the creation of reusable software to aid in the production of scientific materials for the linguists and pedagogical materials for community members. The software will aid data re-purposing where the same data will be used for the production of both types of materials.

For Shiwilu (also known as Jebero), documentary work is especially urgent, since it is in immediate danger of complete disappearance with only a few elderly fluent speakers remaining. For Shawi (also known as Chayahuita), the situation is somewhat better with approximately 14,000 native speakers.

Project Sponsors

This effort was generously funded by a Documenting Endangered Languages grant (DEL 0853281) from the National Science Foundation in coordination with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).


We would like to thank our Shiwilu and Shawi consultants who have given their time and expertise to help document these languages.

Most Shiwilu speakers live in and around the village of Jebero (Province of Alto Amazonas, Dept. of Loreto, Peru).

Most of the approximately 14,000 Shawi speakers live in separate villages or "comunidades nativas," on the banks of the rivers Paranapura (and its tributaries), Cahuapanas, Sillay, Supayacu, and Shanusi (Depts of Loreto and San Martin, Peru).

Language Documentation

Documenting a language is to make a record of its use in every-day contexts. Documentation includes collecting wordlists, examples of grammatical structures and stories. With these materials we as linguists can better analyze the pronunciation and other grammatical structures of the language.

For this, we employ state-of-the-art techniques and digital audio and video equipment. A key technique used in this project is to situate all the data that we collect within a cyberinfrastructure for linguistics. In this way the data content and annotation is more easily discovered by other scientists.