History and Culture of the Mocoví People
Dr. Verónica Grondona.
Little, if anything, is known about the Mocoví Indians before pre-Hispanic times, but there is little reason to believe that their lifestyle today is significantly different than it was in the seventeenth century.
The Mocovís were nomadic hunters and gatherers. The bands or tribes moved in the area from the Bermejo River southwest to the Salado River. Each tribe was made up of a few extended families. The men hunted and fished, and the women gathered fruit and wood and carried water. The women carried their small children and their belongings when the tribe moved. There is evidence that there were trade routes across the Chaco forest. The Chaco Indians exchanged wildcat skins, rhea and egret feathers for gold, silver, and copper objects in the Inca villages on the border of the Inca Empire.
In the second half of the sixteenth century the Spanish began founding settlements on the border of the region inhabited by the Mocovís. The Mocovís, who by then had begun stealing horses from the Spanish and from other Indians, occasionally traded with settlers in these towns. They also attacked and raided them frequently.
In 1743 the Jesuit, Francisco Burgés, founded a mission on the eastern side of what is now Santa Fé province. His successor, Father Paucke, wrote a detailed description of the Mocoví people, although not of their language. In 1767, the Jesuits were expelled from the region, and the missions declined rapidly.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, greater numbers of Europeans entered the Chaco region, pushing the natives into small communities and forcing them to lead a sedentary life. The chiefs and male heads of families learned Spanish through their dealings with the settlers, but they only learned enough to negotiate for the price of food, such as sugar and yerba tea.
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