As of May 2014, the Kanakanavu People number approximately 520 and are mostly concentrated in Namasia District (那瑪夏區) of Kaohsiung City (高雄市) along both banks of Nanzixian River (仙溪). Today, most Kanakanavu People live in the two villages of Manga and Takanua in Namasia District (formerly Sanmin Township), Kaohsiung City.


According to one version of a Kanakanavu legend, a few hundred years ago, a young man by the name of Namasia(「那瑪夏」)happened to see a giant swamp eel lock the flows of river and thus endanger his tribe and his people. He therefore hurried back to the tribe to inform his people. Due to this incident, Namasia suffered from panic attacks to such a degree that he died a few days after the incident; whereas, at the same time, the giant swamp eel was killed as a result of the joint effort of his people and boars. Soon afterwards, today's Nanzixian River (仙溪) was then named in honor of the young man as "Namasia" (「那瑪夏」).


      The Kanakanavu society is patrilineal. During important festivals, the Kanakanavu People perform “Kanaira” or "Appreciation for Harvest Ceremony" (「米貢祭」) to express gratitude for having millet as their daily food. In the same vein, they also hold the “River Ceremony” (「河祭」) to express gratitude for having enjoyed the resources of the Nanzixian River (仙溪).