The men of truth from Etênhiritipa


The Xavante are called " A'uwé Uptabi ", which means " people of truth ". Until the mid-seventeenth century they lived in the Brazilian state of Goinas. Victims of persecution at the hands of the first colonizers, they left for another territory in the direction of Rios Tocantins, Araguaia and das Mortes until they came to Rio das Mortes, the current state of Mato Grosso.
They speak A'uwé, a member of the Macro-Jê branch of the Jê linguistic family. This linguistic family regroups the largest number of Indian peoples such as the Xerente, the Kaingang, the Xacriabá, and the Apinajé.
Currently, the Xavante live on the Indian reservations of Rio das Mortes, Areões, Parabubure, Marechal Rondon, São Marcos and Saugradouro. There are close to 12,000 Xavante living in approximately 86 different villages.
Xavante villages are always established close to a spring or small river. Each structure's door opens to the center of a semi-circle which, in turn, opens towards the small river. At one end of the semicircle we find the Hö, or house of the adolescents. Located in the center of the village is a large open area, a Warã, where the men gather. This is where all important decisions are made by the " Counsel of
Elders ".
When rearing their children, particular attention is paid to one's ability to overcome fatigue, suffering, pain, and fear. Starting at a very young age, the boys battle each other during the Oi'o. During this battle, the two adversaries from different clans - Poreza'ono and Öwawê -, fight armed with the Oi'o root, thus reveling their character. The winner is the one who best resists pain and, in so doing, earns the respect of the whole community. After the last combat, the boys enter for the first time, in ritual, into the Hö - the house of the adolescents.
The most important Xavante ritual is the Wai'á, which occurs every 15 years. It is a complex ritual requiring several years of preparation, and only the men participate. That is why not everything can be revealed.

Cristina Floria