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The Kwazá are an indigenous ethnic group which live in the brazilian state of Rondônia. According to van der Voort, there were 40 individuals belonging to this group as of 2008.


They were cast out of their originary land by fazendeiros when the BR-364 road was built in the 60s. The Kwazá tribe started losing their cultural ties and common traits which united all the members of the group. Nowadays there are 40 people who live in the southern region of Rondônia.

They are also known, historically, with the name ''Koaiá''. Their traditional indigenous neighbors were Aikanã, Kanoê, Tuparí, Mekens/Sakurabiat, Salamãi and others. These people maintained relations, but spoke languages which were different from each other and not mutually intelligible. The majority of the Kwazá people has mixed with the neighboring Aikanã e lives in the "Terra Indigena" (a reservation) Tubarão-Latundê, together with remaining members of the Aikanã and Latundê tribes. There is also a family of mixed Kwazá and Aikanã ancestry in a small region near the São Pedro river.


These people call themselves ''Kwazá'' (the 'z' is pronounced like 'th'). In a few documents there are mentions of names such as Koaiá, Koaya, Coaiá and Quaia, which are alternate names used to indicate them. It's possible that the name 'Kwazá' and 'Koaiá' was given to them by neighboring tribes. For example the Salamãi called them 'Koaiá', while the Aikanã called them 'Kwazá' (the 'th' sound doesn't exist in the Kwazá language), and the Kanoê called them 'Tainakãw'.

The name 'Arara' was used in the past by functionaries of the FUNAI, and today it is still used in scientific literature.

Language, location, and population

The Kwazá language can be classified as 'isolate'. There is some resemblance between this language and the languages spoken by the Aikanã, Kanoê and the tupian languages, Nambikwára, Txapakúra and Macro-Gê, probably because of contacts and influence between the various groups.

The majority of the Kwazá live in the Terra Indigena Tubarão-Latundê, near the city of Chupinguaia in Rondônia. In 1998 there were 150 people in the reservation. Towards the end of the 20th century there were 25 people who spoke Kwazá, and some of them also spoke Portuguese and Aikanã.

Some live in Porto Velho, Pimenta Bueno, and other cities, and don't speak their native language anymore. The Kwazá language is now considered endangered and on the verge of extinction. The same situation applies for the indigenous languages near them, specifically Kanoê and Latundê.


*  CREVELS, Mily & Hein van der VOORT. The Guaporé-Mamoré region as a linguistic area. Em: Pieter Muysken (org.) From linguistic areas to areal linguistics, Studies in Language Companion Series 90, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, p. 151-179, 2008.
* MALDI, Denise. O complexo cultural do Marico : sociedades indígenas dos rios Branco, Colorado e Mequens, afluentes do Médio Guaporé. Boletim do MPEG, Série Antropologia, Belém : MPEG, v. 7, n. 2, p. 209-69, dez. 1991. 
* RODRIGUES, Aryon dall’Igna. Línguas brasileiras : para o conhecimento das línguas indígenas. São Paulo : Loyola, 1986. 
* RONDON, Cândido Mariano da Silva. Conferencias realizadas nos dias 5, 7 e 9 de outubro de 1915 pelo Coronel Rondon no teatro Phenix de Rio de Janeiro. Comissão de Linhas Telegraphicas Estratégicas de Matto Grosso ao Amazonas, Rio de Janeiro : Typ. Leuzinger, n. 42, p. 217-9, 1916. 
* RONDON, Cândido Mariano da Silva e João Barbosa de FARIA. Glossário Geral das tribos silvícolas de Mato Grosso e outras da Amazônia e do Norte do Brasil. Tomo I, Publicação no. 76 da Comissão Rondon, Anexo no 5 - Etnografia. Rio de Janeiro : Ministério da Agricultura, Conselho Nacional de Pro­teção aos Índios, 1948.

External links

Kwaza on socioambiental.org (in portuguese)

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