The Moseten
Back to tribes

The Moseten

Horticulturists, gatherers and fishermen

Horticulturists, gatherers and fishermen

The Mosetén are a population of horticulturalists living in the Bolivian lowlands. They are one of the 36 pueblos indígenas recognized by the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Members of this community live in three the departments called Beni, La Paz, and Cochabamba. They are also owners of two areas of protected tribal lands called the Tierras Comunitarias de Origen. Government censuses estimate that there are approximately 8,000 members of the Mosetén tribe (Pueblo Indígena Mosetén). They have close historical connections with the neighboring community called Tsimane, they share the official language and subsistence practices of mixed horticulture, hunting, fishing, and gathering.


  • Region is South America

  • Climate here is Tropical

  • The challenge here is Intense

  • This trip has been rated 5 by other travelers



Mosetén families live off agriculture. The main crops grown in the farms are cassava and rice. Citrus and cocoa are also largely grown. Communities with access to roads also produce surplus fruits, such as bananas, that they sell to merchants. For communities that do not yet have access to roads, resources such as fishing, hunting and gathering are still abundant.


The traditional Moseten’s house is characterized by a rectangular or square structure made in wood, with mud walls and thatched roof. The floor is made of dirt, raw earth and wickers are used to sit on the ground.


Social Structure

Traditionally, the Mosetén used to have an egalitarian society, with a chief in each settlement. Leaders had decision-making power only in case of war. During the colonialism era, they adopted, although without success, the system of trade unions. With the political rise of indigenous organizations they returned to the traditional system. Since 1994 the Mosetén have been grouped in the Organization of the Moseten Indigenous People (OPIM).


All Mosetén consider them Catholics, a religion they interpret in their own way.


Moseten have a broad knowledge of natural medicines, a tradition that still continues today. In case of illness of a village’s member, people from the community are consulted to find a possible cure. If no remedy can be found, they usually go to well-known healers from other communities.

Traditional artistic practices are still preserved and intended as community activities.

Dance and music accompanied all traditional celebrations.


They are mostly bilingual speaking both Spanish and Mosetens language.


Household utensils such as jars and jugs were created in clay.

Mosetens create daily objects as well as jewellery using leaves, blackberries, bark, seeds, animal leather, among other materials collected in the bush.


Fiesta Grande: it is celebrated every year, the 8th of December. Each year a person is delegated by the command of the cacique for the organization. The leader of musicians, organize the preparation of the musical instruments; the fireman, the preparation of mortars, firecrackers sticks or dynamite; while the potters are dedicated to preparing the altars and purchase of decorations. Others are dedicated to food and other preparations.

On the 27th of September they host a big ceremony in honor of Saint Michael Archangel and on July 25th they celebrate the virgin of Santa Ana.
Further knowledge

Further knowledge

The Moseten have practiced Spiritism for many generations. One of the main religious activity carried out by shamans is taking hallucinogenic leaves and vines to help them contact the spirits. Witnessing this practice can be an incredible experience, even if it is not always allowed.

Beni river Sahmanova

Bolivian woman and Llama

Bolivian Market

Smiling girl

Bolivian woman