Foto: Suki Ozaki, 2006

Guató

  • Other names
  • Where they are How many

    MS, MT419 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family
    Guató

Introduction

Guató 013

The Guató, considered the Pantanal people par excellence, occupied practically the entire south-western region of what is now Mato Grosso, extending into the state of Mato Grosso do Sul and Bolivia. They were found on the islands and along the shores of the Paraguai river, from the area surrounding Cáceres to the Caracará region, passing through the Gaíba and Uberaba lakes and, to the east, the shores of the São Lourenço river. Within this vast territory, their presence was recorded by travellers and chroniclers since the 16th century.

Between the 1940s and 50s the expulsion of the Guató from their traditional territories became much more intense. Cattle from nearby ranches invaded the indigenous swiddens and fur traders hindered the Guató occupation of Ínsua Island and the surrounding area. Cornered, they migrated to other parts of the Pantanal or moved to the outskirts of towns like Corumbá, Ladário, Aquidauana, Poconé and Cáceres. Few families remained on Ínsua Island. From the 1950s onwards, the Guató were considered extinct by the official indigenist body and were therefore excluded from any assistance policies. It was only in 1976 that missionaries identified Guató Indians living on the periphery of Corumbá. Gradually the group began to reorganize and fight for their ethnic recognition. Today they are the last surviving canoeists from the many indigenous peoples who once occupied the Pantanal lowlands.