Foto: Vladmir Kojak, 1988

Xavante

  • Autodenominação
    A´uwe
  • Where they are How many

    MT15.315 (Funasa, 2010)
  • Linguistic family

Introduction

xavante_2

The Xavante became well known in Brazil at the end of the 1940s thanks to the government's campaign to publicise its  'March to the West'.  The Indian Protection Service (SPI) were praised for their work in "pacifying the Xavante". Yet the local group which was 'pacified' by the SPI in 1946 was only one among the various Xavante groups which lived in the east of Mato Grosso, a region which the Brazilian government was then seeking to open up to colonization and the expansion of capitalism.  In the Xavante version of events, it should be noted, it was the "whites" who were"pacified". From mid-1940 to mid-1960, specific Xavante groups established different peaceful relations with different sectors of the surrounding society - including SPI teams, Catholic and protestant missionaries.  

The agents of contact and the manner in which contact happened influenced Xavante groups in different way.  Beliefs and religious practices, as well as some social institutions and ceremonial practices were affected, especially among those whose contact was with missionaries, whether Catholic or Protestant.  Inspite of these impacts, Xavante culture continued to be extremely vibrant, and was retransmitted from generation to generation through the language and through innumerable social, cosmological and ceremonial mechanisms.  Besides some differences noted by ethnographers among the different Xavante groups because of their  different experiences during contact, the common language, the pattern of social organisation and institutions, the ceremonial practices and the cosmology define the Xavante as one social entity. Yet their communities remain politically autonomous, although sometimes they unite to achieve common aims.