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The Wichi are an indigenous people of South America. They are a large group of tribes ranging about the headwaters of the Bermejo River and the Pilcomayo River, in Argentina and Bolivia.

This ethnic group was named by the English settlers and is still widely known as Mataco. The etymology of the term is obscure but in several sources, it is cited that the Wichi find the term derogatory. Among the group exists a folk etymology for this term, which relates it to the Spanish verb matar, to kill. Thus their preferred name, their own word for themselves, is Wichi, , and their language, Wichi Lhamtes .

There is a pronunciation variant in some areas of Bolivia, , where the self-denomination of the group is Weenhayek wichi, translated by Alvarsson (1988) as "the different people" (pl. Weenhayey). Weenhayey informers of Alvarsson state that the old name was Olhamelh , meaning simply us. The subgroups within Wichi have been identified and received different names in literature: Nocten or Octenay in Bolivia, Vejos or (perhaps more properly) Wejwus or Wehwos for the Western subgroup(s), and Guisnay for the Eastern subgroups of Argentina. The latter corresponds to Tewoq-lhelej, "the river people".

Related websites

Genetic variability in Amerindian populations of Northern Argentina.





Grupo Sacham

Wichi language

Chacolinks - Support for the Wichi people of Argentina

To Argentina's Wichi, economic collapse means little

Latin American Studies

Survival 2002

The Art of Being Wichi


Fundacion Ambiente y Recursos Naturales


Biodiversidad en America Latina



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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Wichi

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