Foto: Agência O Globo, 1985

Kadiwéu

  • Other names
    Kaduveo, Caduveo, Kadivéu, Kadiveo
  • Where they are How many

    MS1.413 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family
    Guaikuru

History of contact

The first report available on the Guaikurú dates from the 16th century, coming from a European expedition that penetrated the Chaco region in search of precious metals deep in the continent's interior. Many Mbayá groups were under the influence of missionary reductions from the start of the 18th century. During the same century and at the beginning of the following, the contact with colonizing fronts intensified with the establishing of military forts along the course of the Paraguay river, both Portuguese and Spanish, which disputed one another over the definition of borders. The towns founded in the region made up part of their historical context, very often marked by conflicts - though sometimes by accords, such as the one celebrated in 1779 among the Mbayá and the Spanish and another agreed in 1791 with the Portuguese.

A crucial point in their history of contact with non-Indian society, recollected with pride and vehemence, was the participation of the Kadiwéu in the Paraguayan Way. This participation was subsequently recorded in innumerable historical narratives recalling details of the event and carefully recording their heroic exploits. The Kadiwéu describe their vital participation in this war, fighting alongside the Brazilians and thereby winning the territory in which they now live as a just return. This provides their most effective argument for the incontestable - but ever threatened - ownership of their lands.

The Kadiwéu Indigenous Territory received its first official recognition at the turn of the 20th century in an Act passed by the Mato Grosso State Government. The area was demarcated in 1900 and a decree issued in 1903, which already established the same natural limits found today and mentioned above. On the 9th April 1931, decree no 54 ratified these limits. But territorial problems have been a constant aspect of their history and the Kadiwéu have not forgotten the attempts to invade their land and the conflicts that have unfolded since the start of the 20th century. More recently, the demarcation of their lands, concluded in 1981, was surrounded by heightened tension with invaders and left one of the Kadiwéu villages - Xatelôdo, located in the Serra da Bodoquena uplands - outside the perimeter. The resulting conflicts, notably those occurring in 1982 and 1983, were widely reported in the media.

This history has also been marked by inevitable conflicts with tenant farmers. Cattle ranchers started to penetrate Kadiwéu territory almost five decades ago, with reports of a first invasion in 1952. Since the end of the 1950s, they began to occupy this territory in another form with official authorization from the Serviço de Proteção ao Índio (SPI, the Indian Protection Service, a forerunner body to today's FUNAI). By 1961, 61 individual contracts with tenant farmers had already been signed. This occupation significantly altered the Indians' use of their own land. At the start of the 1990s, 89 tenant farms were located within the Kadiwéu Territory, extending across almost the entire territory such that the Indians are squeezed into the areas surrounding their own villages.