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Juripixunas with black mesh tatoos

to each other, who distinguished themselves by the black mesh tattooed on the face, and their very calm, quiet habits, and existing still now, but considerably diminished in number, are preferred as canoe paddlers and trusted workers. It appears that many Indians brought from the interior by way of the river, are presented for sale in auctions with as many as 1,000 of these disgraced people at one time. In general, they did not copy the expressions of civilized men to conceal their hostility. Sometimes they sought to relieve their anger by means of pranks, which Father Acuna already condemned. For example, the Jesuits had placed crosses in the proximity of the villages of Indians, and when, after some time, they did not find the crosses, the colonists seized the savages under the pretext that they had committed an offense to the Christian religion. One after another, colonists were establishing, as support points, fortifications or special houses in various places like the riverbanks and in the outback. Traffic of the red skins was organized in the same way as the slave trade in Africa. When, however, the Indians opposed, either by tricks or by hanging, this evil business, their rebellion was the motive for terrible bloodshed and there was a war of extermination against them.

Indians versus Portuguese

Indians versus Portuguese

The venerated Father Antonio Vieira, a Jesuit of strong moral stature, who defended the rights of the people of this race with as much courage as eloquence, estimates in his reports to the king, the total number of the Indians of the State of Grao-Para and Maranhao (which, then, also included the states of Ceara and Piaui).

Father Antonio Vieira

He placed the population at 2 million, and tells us that the Portuguese, in the first 40 years of occupation in these regions, destroyed 400 Indian villages. The first estimate was incredibly exaggerated, because Father Andre de Barros another more recent Jesuit writer cites the Indigenous population as numbering only 200,000 souls. One can, however, certainly suppose that the cruel and widespread system of Indian enslavement produced deep cuts, still very sensitive, in the population of the state of Para. The more the interests of the Portuguese colonizers were interwoven with this slave traffic, the more the Jesuits were committed against it; disgracefully, the hard-working Magnani suffered the most terrible campaign on the part of the bourgeoisie, and of the other religious organizations. So powerful were those most likely to benefit, that

King Don John IV

after the restoration of Portugal, when King Don John IV, in 1652, wanted to restore the freedom of the Indians, the governors of Maranhao were obliged by popular demand to modify these laws.

Jesuits wage war for Guarani freedom

The colonists were then excommunicated by the Jesuits, with Father Vieira in front of them (1661), because the Jesuits opposed the illegal manhunts, and, after their expulsion from the church, the settlers even more committed themselves to reducing Indians to slavery. The most powerful, also the members of the judiciary, were empowered by the municipal authority to pursue Indians, considered as prisoners of war, until in 1679, when the prohibition of slave trade of the indigenous race was renewed, and the Jesuits were reestablished, charged with ensuring the administration of the Indians, a duty neglected by the people and the other religious orders.

Jesuit mission

Layout of Jesuit mission with indian houses

From then on, the Indians began a more favorable period, for the Jesuits founded many settlements in the countryside, where they gathered countless hordes, to convert them by the teaching of treatment and civilize them. They took care to train them effectively in the cultivation of foodstuffs and in the manufacture of articles of commerce, thus finding the Indians some refuge against their barbaric persecutors.

Then the Jesuits began to treat the Indians better and give them more value. The Indians were regarded as pupils of the Jesuits, which really suited the needs of these people. In a state of half freedom, still close to the woods, from which they had been withdrawn, and not bothered by the embarrassment of civilization, they lived satisfied in large groups, and preferred this kind of life to any job under the orders of the colonists. They were allowed to spend part of the year away from the village for their tasks, working together for their own food consumption, they were paid with utensils necessary for domestic life or with clothing.

Indian pupils of mission priest

They were taught the Christian religion, and they were given an idea of certain obligations towards the State. Their language was the Tupi, called in general Brasiica Tongue, from which Guarani is distinguished, only as a dialect. This language, which was the principal language of the Tupinambas, was