Foto: Camila Gauditano, 2001


  • Autodenominação
  • Where they are How many

    MT424 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family

Notes on the sources


The first publication about the Kĩsêdjê was written by a German scientist, Karl von den Steinen (1884). After that, the Kĩsêdjê avoided contact with Europeans and Brazilians until the late 1950s. The first publications about the Kĩsêdjê after their contact with Brazilians were written by Amadeu Lanna (1966) and Harold Schultz (1962). Both authors visited the Kĩsêdjê shortly after they were transferred to the Xingu Indigenous Park in 1959. Schultz concentrated on careful description and photographic documentation of Kĩsêdjê material culture while Lanna analyzed the Kĩsêdjê economic system, history, social organization, and the influence of other groups on their culture.

Anthony Seeger has published three books and dozens of articles on various aspects of Kĩsêdjê life and culture based on more than 24 months living with the Kĩsêdjê, most of those accompanied and assisted by his wife Judith Seeger, and some of them with their daughters Elizabeth and Hiléia. The most complete ethnographic study of the Kĩsêdjê is his book Nature and Society in Central Brazil - the Suyá Indians of Mato Grosso (Seeger 1981). This book analyzes aspects of the Kĩsêdjê cosmology and social and political organization, concepts of space and time, the classification of plants, animals, and humans. The book also covers aspects of mythology, medicine, and other topics. A later book, also in English, focuses especially on music and related performance genres: Why Suyá Sing: A Musical Anthropology of an Amazonian People originally published in 1987 (Seeger 2004, 2nd edition).


In an article entitled "A identidade étnica como processo: os índios Suyá e as sociedades do Alto Xingu," published in Anuário Antropológico no. 78, Seeger describes the history of the Suyá. He describes their relationship with the Upper Xingu communities and the way they have selectively incorporated elements from those groups and from Brazilian national society. He further discusses the mythological importance of how Kĩsêdjê incorporate elements from other communities into their society, which they continue to do. The same subject is raised, with a focus on the writings of Karl von den Steinen about the Kĩsêdjê, in his article "Ladrões, mitos, e história: Karl von den Steinen entre os Suiás 3-6 setembro de 1884" (Seeger 1993).

Also in 1980, Seeger published a collection of articles in Portuguese, Os Índios e nós, estudos sobre sociedades tribais brasileiras (Seeger 1980) in which he describes a number of aspects of indigenous culture, with an emphasis on the Kĩsêdjê. Topics covered include body ornaments, the role of the elderly and the community, musical genres, political leadership, kinship, and an introductory chapter on doing ethnography in the final bibliographic essay on publications about Brazilian Indians.