The Xavante are an indigenous people, comprising some 9,600 individuals within the territory of eastern Mato Grosso state in Brazil. They speak the Xavante language, part of the Jé language family.
The Xavante were enslaved in the 17th century, after which they have tried to avoid contact. A temporary coexistence with westernized society in the 19th century in the state of Goiás, was followed by withdrawal to Mato Grosso (between 1830–1860). They were re-"discovered" during the 1930s.
The Xavante, like other indigenous tribes, were treated badly by the "white man" beginning in the 1960s, the Xavante were moved from their homeland in Mato Grosso to a southern, malnourished area of Brazil. There, thousands of Indians died due to disease, famine and warfare.
Within the last decade, the Xavante have been relocated back to their original lands. Unfortunately, due to landgrabbing and squatters, the land was destroyed. Lush forest was burned to create sparse wasteland and pasture.
The people are renowned as beautiful and prideful. They may be most famous for their dualistic societal structure. Two clans, the Âwawẽ and Po'reza'õno compose the culture, and marriage is not allowed between members of the same clan.