Our people

our territory is not just what was demarcated on these lands

Our people refer to themselves as A’uwe, but the waradzu call us Xavante. We inhabit the lands along the Öwawe, which is known as the Rio das Mortes in Portuguese, from its mouth on the Araguaia River to its headwaters in the state of Mato Grosso.

Raft sighted on the banks of the Rio das Mortes by employees of the Indian Protection Service, before “contact” with the Xavante (1940s)]

The elders tell us that we came from another place, from the other side of a great river. In ancient times, our ancestors made rafts to cross its waters. When they were halfway across, a large river dolphin appeared and threatened to overturn our rafts. Out of fear, some of us gave up on crossing, and that’s how we became distant from our A’kwe relatives, who the waradzu call Xerente.

So we founded a large village called Tsorepré. From this mother village, the lineages of the A’uwe-Xavante people that are spread across the region today originated. However, our land is not just what was demarcated by the government: there are paths through the forest that connect our villages and lead us to the places where we hunt, fish, and collect fruits from the cerrado.

Our grandparents lived around this path that followed our river, but they dreamed of this different people who lived to the east. They knew that this people would come to us, and that there would be war. The true leaders, A’uwe Uptabi, prepared us to face with clubs and arrows the massacres imposed on us by the waradzu.

In the year 1945, the waradzu established an outpost of the Indian Protection Service by the river, and guided by their dreams, our grandparents decided to go there and talk to them. Other A’uwe, also guided by dreams, sought help from religious groups. The waradzu had us settle around these outposts and missions while dividing our lands among themselves.

Through a lot of struggle, we managed to demarcate the nine indigenous territories, which are now officially recognized, registered, and available for the use of the A’uwe-Xavante people. We continue to fight for the protection of these areas and for what is still left to be demarcated.

Today, we estimate that the A’uwe-Xavante people number around 30,000 individuals.

Initiation rituals of wapté youth. TI Areões, 2023.