Sunday, March 24, 2013


Photograph BANDEIRANTES by armando cuéllar on 500px
The bandeirantes (Portuguese pronunciation: [bɐ̃dejˈɾɐ̃tʃis], "followers of the banner") were composed of Indians (slaves and allies), caboclos (people of Indian mixed with white), and whites who were the captains of the Bandeiras. Members of the 16th–18th century South American slave-huntingexpeditions were called bandeiras (Portuguese for "flags"). Though their original purpose was to capture and force amerindians into slavery, the bandeirantes later began to focus their expeditions on finding gold, silver and diamond mines. They ventured into unmapped regions in search of profit and adventure. From 1580–1670 the Bandeirantes focused on slave hunting, then from 1670–1750 they focused on mineral wealth. Through these expeditions, the Bandeirantes also expanded Portuguese America from the small limits of the Tordesilhas Line to roughly the same territory as current Brazil. This expansion discovered mineral wealth that made the fortune of Portugal during the 17th and 18th centuries.
The first Bandeira was in 1628, organized by Antonio Raposo Tavares. This bandeira raided 21 Jesuit villages in the upper Paraná Valley. They captured about 2,500 natives. A bandeira tactic was to set native tribes against each other in order to weaken them, and then to enslave both of them.
As a result of the Bandeiras, the Capitaincy of São Vicente became the basis for the vice-kingdom of Brazil and encompassed current states of Santa Catarina, Paraná, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Goiás, Tocantins and both Northern and Southern Mato Grosso. With the few outlying Spanish settlements and missions overrun, the defacto control over most of what is now Brazil was recognised by the Treaty of Madrid in 1750.

Despite the fact that the Jesuit missionaries were the chief opponents of the Bandeirantes, priests accompanied the Bandeira for two reasons: 1. to shrivethe dying and the dead, 2. to ease the conscience of the men.

In the beginning, the main focus of the bandeirantes was to enslave natives. They carried this out by disguising themselves as Jesuits, often singing mass to lure the natives out of their settlements. However, more often they relied on surprise attacks. If luring the natives with promises didn’t work, the bandeirantes would surround the settlements, and set them alight in order to force out the natives. The natives would be captured and placed into a large outdoor pen, until there were enough of them enslaved to justify a trip back to the coast, where they would be sold as slaves. It could be weeks or months until this was the case, and so hundreds of captives died of exposure. On the journey to the coast, the captives would be stripped, and tied to a long pole to prevent them from trying to flee the group.

There were over 2.5 million Indigenous peoples in Brazil in 1500. By the middle of the 18th century, the number had dropped to between 1 million and 1.5 million. Many tribes living close to the Atlantic coast intermixed with Portuguese or died of diseases. Others had fled into the interior, and their flight created an ever-greater need for slaves, one that was not entirely satisfied by importing them from Africa. Native slaves sold for about $30–$40, while the imported African slaves sold from $100–$500. The bandeirantes were able to sell many native slaves due to their cheap price, and hence made a large profit.

Info Via: "Wikipedia"
Photo by Armando Cuellar
Sculpture by Victor Brecheret
Location: Just across the Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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