ETHNONYMS: Cadiguebo, Cadioeo, Caduveo, Caduvéo, Caduví, Cayua, Kadiveu, Kadiweu, Kaduveo, Kaiwa, Mbayá-Guaikurú

The 1,400 Kadiwéu are the last surviving group of Mbayá, who were a large and powerful tribe that once controlled parts of Paraguay and large parts of Brazil. Today, the Kadiwéu live on a large reserve (established in 1903) between the Serra da Bodoquena and the Nabileque-Niutaca and Aquidabán rivers in southern Mato Grosso, Brazil (57° W, 22° S). They speak a Guaicuruan language.

In the eighteenth century the Mbayá numbered 4,000 and lived in a highly stratified society. They did not then practice horticulture but preferred to raid, enslave, and gather tribute from other peoples; the introduction of the horse assisted them in these activities. By the end of the eighteenth century, the Mbayá population had greatly diminished owing to smallpox and influenza.

The Brazilian government granted the Kadiwéu a large parcel of land in the Pantanal and the Serra de Bodoquena in gratitude for Kadiwéu assistance in fighting off a Paraguayan invasion between 1865 and 1870. In 1870 some Kadiwéu moved to Argentina; their descendants in that country now number 1,000. The Kadiwéu have leased or sold to cattle ranchers most of the land that they received from the Brazilian government. The Kadiwéu are hunters and foragers who have adopted horticulture.

The Kadiwéu live in villages of fewer than twenty households, although some families live independently in the jungle. Households may include nuclear families or a collection of sisters and their nuclear families, or they may be a group including slaves, their families, and their owners and their families. Girls may marry after puberty, and boys whenever they can find a wife, although the relative scarcity of women means that men do not marry until quite a bit later than girls or women; however, both may marry earlier if so arranged by their parents. Marriages are quite unstable and short-lived, and only first marriages are celebrated. The Kadiwéu are monogamous.

The slave class is made up of people captured from other tribes, and the children and grandchildren of those captured. Slaves speak respectfully to their owners, do what their owners tell them to do, and give part of what they make to their owners.


Oberg, Kalervo (1949). The Terena and the Caduveo of Southern Mato Grosso, Brazil. Institute of Social Anthropology, Publication no. 9. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.

Ribeiro, Darcy (1950). Religião e mitologia kadiueu. Publicação 106. Rio de Janeiro: Ministerio da Agricultura, Consehlo Nacional de Proteção aos Indios, Servição aos Indios.

Ribeiro, Darcy (1974). "Kadiweu Kinship." In Native South Americans: Ethnology of the Least Known Continent, edited by Patricia J. Lyon, 167-183. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.

Wilbert, Johannes, and Karin Simoneau, eds. (1989). Folk Literature of the Caduveo Indians. Los Angeles: University of California, Latin American Center.

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