Foto: Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, 1991

Araweté

  • Autodenominação
    Bïde
  • Where they are How many

    PA467 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family
    Tupi-Guarani

Contact history

arawete_9

The Araweté history has been, at least since the beginning of the century, one of successive conflicts with enemy tribes and constant moves. They left the Upper Bacajá because of Kayapó and Parakanã attacks. The Araweté, in turn, upon arriving at the Ipixuna and other rivers of the region (Bom Jardim, Pinhaquara) drove the Asurini, who had settled there, away to the Ipiaçava river, up North aways. In 1970, following the construction of the Trans-Amazon highway, which ran through Altamira (the nearest city), the Brazilian government began an effort to attract and pacify the indigenous groups in the mid Xingu region. The Araweté began to be officially noted in 1969. By 1971 Funai established the Ipixuna Attraction Front, which maintained off and on contacts with the Araweté until 1974, without ever visiting their villages. By that time the group was divided into two blocks of villages, one farther to the South, in the Bom Jardim watershed and another to the North, at the Upper Ipixuna.

By January 1976, Parakanã attacks prompted the Araweté from both regions to seek the Xingu banks, intent on "taming" the whites -- since they never thought they were "pacified" by the whites, but rather the other way round. Funai found them in May of the same year, precariously camped near fields, starving and sick due to contact with the whites in the beiradão - as the lands on the Xingu banks are called by regional populations.

By July, Funai’s frontiersmen decide to move this sick, wretched population on a trek to a station built in the Upper Ipixuna, near the old villages of the group. It was a 100 km walk, which took 17 days and at least 66 persons died en route. With their eyes shut by infectious conjunctivitis caught in the beiradão, people could not see their way, were lost in the woods and starved to death; little children, suddenly orphaned, were sacrificed by adults in despair; many people, too weak to walk, asked to be left behind to die in peace.

arawete_10

How many people started the trek is not known, but only 27 arrived together with the woodsmen who led the way; the remainder trickled in later. Some Indians detoured to older villages along the way; a new Parakanã attack drove the entire Araweté who survived trek and foe to gather at the Funai Station. In March 1977, Funai’s first census tagged 120 individuals. The Araweté listed the names of 77 individuals who disappeared in the period between their arrival in the Xingu, in January 1976 and their arrival at the old station in July of the same year; three succumbed to the Parakanã and 73, therefore, perished from contact and the disastrous trek: 36% of the entire population at the time.

In 1978, the group moved, together with the Funai Station, to a site closer to the mouth of the Ipixuna river, where they reside to this date.