Foto: Camila Gauditano, 2001

Kisêdjê

  • Autodenominação
    Kisidjê
  • Where they are How many

    MT424 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family

Location and Territory

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Presently, the Kĩsêdjê reside in several villages and posts. Ngôjwêrê, a village established at the edge of the Wawi Indigenous Territory (reconquered by the Kĩsêdjê as described below), is where the largest part of the population has lived since 2001. This is the location of an old village where one part of the group lived in the years before their contact with the Villas Bôas in 1957. Before the year 2000, the Kĩsêdjê inhabited the village Ricoh (Riko), currently abandoned. They go there to gather some crops from their old gardens, as well as to obtain piqui and mango fruits. Like their current village, Ricoh was built next to an earlier village of theirs, where they had been attacked by the Juruna and rubber tappers (see above).

Part of the Kĩsêdjê live in a village called Ngôsokô, where they moved when they began to agitate for the establishment of the Wawi Indigenous Territory in the 1990s, before the official establishment of this indigenous area. In addition, there are two small villages in each of which lives an extended family: Roptotxi and Beira Rio.

The Wawi Vigilance Post, located on the bank of the river with the same name, is run by the Kĩsêdjê, and two extended families live there. The indigenous Post Diauarum is also inhabited by some Kĩsêdjê families, especially those of people currently working for the nongovernmental organization Associação Terras Indígenas do Xingu (ATIX) or for the government organization Fundação Nacional do Índio (Funai). The families living at the Post also have houses in the villages. In addition, one Kĩsêdjê owns a house in Canarana, a city near the Xingu Indigenous Park which serves as a point of arrival and departure for trips to other Brazilian cities. Members of his family use the house when they go to the city.

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The Kĩsêdjê have distinguished themselves in their fight for their lands, not only in actions taken to recover their traditional lands that were left outside the limit of the Xingu Indigenous Park but also with respect to environmental issues affecting their rivers and forests. To protect the Suiá-missu River and their traditional territory they have captured a number of fishing expeditions and other invaders of their territory.

When they saw that the waters of the Suiá-missu were becoming brown with sediment and covered with oil slicks they made an expedition in September 1992 to find out why it was happening. Five Kĩsêdjê and the chief of the Indigenous Post Diauarum traveled up the river to the Jaú Ranch-- also known as the Roncador Ranch--which is one of the largest agribusinesses in the region. They encountered an enormous dredge engaged in deepening and straightening the bed of the Daro River, a tributary of the Suiá-missu, creating huge muddy outflows into the river. Two years later, the pollution had reached the Xingu River itself. At that time the Kĩsêdjê made a new expedition to the ranch, this time accompanied by members of other indigenous groups from the Park such as the Ikpeng and the Kaiabi, as well as the head of Diauarum. A total of 10 men ascended the river. The dredge was still there and the owner of the ranch argued that the deepening of the river was behind schedule and would last a few months longer. This case awakened the perception of a very worrisome future for the Kĩsêdjê. With the occupation of the watershed of the Suiá-missu River by ranches, the Indians had lost control over one of the most important of their resources, including those stemming from the Suiá-missu and its most important affluents. They realized that all of the pollution from the headwaters drained into the Park polluting all of the rivers in its interior areas.

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Another important act of the Kĩsêdjê was stopping the deforestation being undertaken by ranches on the Wawi River. The Wawi is the first river that enters the Suiá-missu; it is also known as the Santo Antônio River. In 1994, the Kĩsêdjê took control of the river and the ranches, in spite of the protest of the ranchers affected, and insisted that the entire area be recognized as indigenous land. Although they knew that it would be impossible to recover control over the whole Suiá-missu basin, since it extended far beyond the boundaries of the Xingu Indigenous Park, the Kĩsêdjê wanted to control the smaller drainage basin of the Wawi, whose headwaters are within the Park, but the rest of which flowed through lands ceded to ranchers. The Kĩsêdjê were victorious in this reconquest, and the Wawi Indigenous Land was formalized in 1998.

In spite of this success, the deforestation undertaken by the ranchers outside their area has not ceased and has greatly concerned the Kĩsêdjê communities. They have recently sent messages to both their neighbors and to authorities denouncing the widespread planting of soybeans on lands adjacent to their territory. They threatened that "if a soy planting machine comes here we will break it into small pieces." The multinational agribusiness Cargill, which processes soybeans, is establishing new units for storage and processing in Mato Grosso. One of them is in Canarana, and another is almost completed in Querência, the city nearest Kĩsêdjê territory. In addition, the multinational has announced that it will construct another unit on the land of the Gabriela Ranch, 40 kilometers south of the Xingu Indigenous Park. Anyone who travels the road that links Canarana to the Kĩsêdjê village cannot help but notice the rapid expansion of soy plantations and the increased deforestation associated with them. The intensive plantation of soybeans implies not only deforestation, but also the use of insecticides and chemical fertilizers that will further pollute the river the Kĩsêdjê use to obtain their livelihood. The final results of this conflict will not be decided for some time, but the Kĩsêdjê continue to be active participants in protecting their territories and the environmental health of their waters and lands.