The Huni Kuĩ, or Huni Kuin, are an indigenous people of the Amazon Basin, speakers of a language known as Hãtxa Kuĩ – part of the Pano linguistic branch. Their traditional territories are located across the borders of Brazil and Peru. On the Brazilian side, the Huni Kuĩ live in the state of Acre, on 12 indigenous lands in the Purus, Envira, Murú, Humaitá, Tarauacá, Jordão and Breu rivers, with an estimated population of approximately 7900 individuals, constituting 45% of the total indigenous population of the state (Iglesias, 2014, p.20). Of the total Huni Kuĩ, 67% live in 10 lands in the valley of the Tarauacá river, a tributary of the Juruá river. There are also a considerable number of families living today in the cities of Santa Rosa, Tarauacá, Jordão, Feijó and the capital, Rio Branco. In Peruvian territory, a little more than 2,100 Huni Kuĩ (according to an official census in 2007) live in 11 native communities officially recognized in the upper Purus River and in the Curanja River (idem, p. 20).
The ethnonym “Kaxinawá” is often used in anthropological literature and government policies to designate the Huni Kuĩ, and can be translated as “bat people” or “vampire men” (Tastevin, 1925, p. 10). Erikson (1992, p. 242) points out that, in general, the Pano peoples refuse the designation by which they are known, either because of their exogenous aspect (i.e., usually imposed by a neighboring group), or because of their pejorative aspect. When referring to themselves, almost all Pano use the name Huni Kuĩ, with small variations in the spelling: honi kon, uni koi, etc. (Keifenheim, 1990, p. 80). The term huni and its correlates honi and uni are translated as “man” in the sense of “being human” (Keifenheim, 1990 apud Yano, 2009, p. 36). Kuĩ  is a term often translated as “true” – although such a translation is criticized by some scholars working with Pano peoples. Thus, the most current translations for “Huni Kuĩ” are “true people” or “true men”. Such translations, as mentioned, should be problematized, since, according to Keifenheim (1990), the term Kuĩ refers to the endogenous nucleus of the group in question; Thus, the term “Huni Kuĩ” expresses the idea of ”our people” and is embedded in a relational dynamic that takes into account, above all, the position of the one to whom it is addressed (Yano, 2009, p. 36) way of being, exemplary to the group. As Viveiros de Castro (2002, p. 372) warns in analyzing the notion of humanity in indigenous thought, it is necessary to consider that collective self-designations that identify “people” mean “people,” not “members of the human species.” That is, such designations are personal pronouns, recording the point of view of the subject who is speaking, not proper names.
Although the expression Huni Kuĩ (and its linguistic variables) is used as a self-designation among various Pano peoples, Calavia Sáez (2000, p. 24) states that, in comparison with other groups, such as the Yaminawa or Shipibo, the specialized literature has given the Kaxinawá a discrete identity – ethnic, linguistic and cultural – and endowed with historical depth, so that, not by chance, they are the only one among the Pano peoples of the Acre region between the neighbors and the anthropologists that consecrated the use of a self-denomination, Huni Kuĩ (ibid.). The anthropologist Ingrid Weber (2006, 53) also notes the growing demand for change of ethnicity by some Kaxinawá, especially in Acre, pointing out that the decision to change came from a group of teachers and leaderships, gaining more and more space in the indigenist environment.