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Jive currently supports only simple authentication for the REST services layer, so a good place to start would definitely be to create an un-federated service level user account for use with the REST services. You may also want to make this user a Full Access admin, or just verify that the user you are creating for use with the REST services has the appropriate permissions to accomplish the tasks you are looking to do within the Jive system.
I would also start with a GET request for something simple like a user just to make sure your CuRL connection is working and authentication is good to go. Also verify that the REST calls you are making are supported by the version of the API you are working with.