Brazilian frontier settlement and the subjugation of the Bororo Indians

Myths of pacification: Brazilian frontier settlement and the subjugation of the Bororo Indians

Hal Langfur


Upon the founding of the Brazilian Republic in 1889, hundreds of thousands of indigenous people continued to inhabit the nation’s vast interior. These natives rarely gamer more than a passing reference in histories of the period, as though they had ceased all action of any consequence.(1) Those historians who do concern themselves with the persistent presence of scores of distinct indigenous groups tend to stress their final pacification under republican auspices. According to the most prevalent formulation, numerous groups would have been virtually exterminated by land-hungry settlers had it not been for a handful of dedicated activists, intellectuals, and government authorities, first among them the army engineer – later, general – Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon, who in 1910 became the first to head the Servico de Protecao aos Indios (SPI),(2) a federal agency charged with protecting indigenous survivors. Emphasis falls on the conduct of the state, even in more critical assessments, rather than on that of the natives.(3) But as the history of the Bororo Indians of Mato Grosso demonstrates, more than state action was required to convince natives to abandon violent resistance to the expansion of national society into their ancestral lands. The state represented but one part of a much broader frontier dynamic at work, a dynamic complete with its own mythology that cloaked the federal government’s behavior in the guise of benevolence and largely ignored the role of settlers of both substantial and meager means, missionaries, other indigenous groups vying for Bororo territory, and, most importantly, the Bororo themselves.(4)

In the forests and on the savanna of central and eastern Mato Grosso, the Bororo confronted a devastating assault on their land and labor by the state, settlers, and missionaries, who pursued their objective in concurrent, albeit often contradictory, ways. The result was anything but the amicable accommodation described by Rondon and those who championed his cause.(5) Rather, violent conflict intensified between the Bororo and ranchers, subsistence farmers, and neighboring indigenous groups. The violence irreparably disrupted what remained of traditional Bororo nomadic life; but more than that it nullified profound changes the Bororo had made to adapt to what already was a far from traditional world. Some Bororo – a minority whose actions would provide the basis for competing myths of pacification – chose the route of direct cooperation with and subordination to government officials and missionaries. The majority, however, chose another course: to resist or adapt to the seizure of their land in ways that confound those myths. Having prolonged their independence for nearly two centuries, both groups continued to shape the terms of their contact with and entrance into Brazilian society, even when surrender became the best hope of preserving their culture or assimilation the only choice to save their lives.

Euphemistically referred to by Rondon and his contemporaries as “pacification,” at stake instead was Bororo subjugation, but a subjugation that remained even after some Bororo accepted settlement in missionary colonies – partial and contested. Placed in the context of conflicts characteristic of a frontier region on the periphery of a consolidating nation state and market economy, the Bororo response parallels that of nomadic indigenous groups in similar regions elsewhere in Brazil and the Americas.(6) Since the frontier constitutes precisely that remote geographic zone where such consolidation is not yet assured, and where the outcome of cultural encounters remains in doubt, it is perhaps not surprising that the Bororo conducted themselves in ways that rarely corresponded to the neat distinctions made by those who sought to subdue them.(7)

“Strictly Humane, Purely Peaceful”: The Republican Pacification Narrative

It would be difficult to overstate the stature with which turn-of-the-century Brazilians invested their army hero Candido Rondon. Credited both at the highest levels of government and in the popular press with nothing less than the triumph of civilization over savagery in Brazil’s unsettled frontier zones, Rondon acquired a reputation of national scope that made him the all but undisputed choice as the SPI’s founding director in 1910.(8) One account in the national press heralded Rondon and the agency’s leadership as “twentieth-century liberators,” determined in their relations with Indians to seek “redemption” in the face of past abuses, motivated only by a determination to contribute to the “greatness, honor, and glory of the fatherland.” Others praised Rondon for shifting the onus of Indian incorporation from the church to the state, for transforming the wilderness and its indigenous inhabitants, and for employing a scientific method inspired “by a fraternity that tends to unite the entire human species, no longer distinguishing between race, religion, language, etc.”(9)

His supporters never tired of repeating that it was in Mato Grosso, as a young army engineer supervising the construction of telegraph lines through Indian territory, that Rondon had first proved himself to be a great “propitiator of the progress and civilization of the nation.” It was there that Rondon had developed the “definitive” approach to Indian pacification. In Mato Grosso, as one government minister phrased it, Rondon had “irrefutably demonstrated that strictly humane and purely peaceful methods and processes suffice to institute the most cordial relations with Brazilian savages.” Rondon had responded to Indian attacks by offering presents, “preferring martyrdom to aggression or revenge.” He had thus won the affections of Mato Grosso’s Indians and turned them into laborers on the telegraph lines. His efforts came to represent the highest republican ideals, a moral standard guiding, even requiring, the advance of national society into the remote reaches of unsettled Brazilian territory. Combining the attributes of “abnegation and bravery,” Rondon honed his actions there to “the best inclinations of the human soul” in order to bring about “the finest and most edifying conversion of the indigene to the peaceable bosom of civilization and of labor.” His success derived from his conviction, according to one journalist, that the greatness of the nation resided in its “moral progress” and the “judicious utilization of its great natural forces, until now almost entirely untouched.”(10)

Transformed into what advocates referred to as nothing less than a “national cause,” Rondon’s triumph inspired the creation of the SPI, intended to “systematize” on a national level the pacification methods used in Mato Grosso. In frontier zones from the state of Parana in the south to Maranhao in the north, from Bahia in the east to the westernmost reaches of the Brazilian Amazon, SPI officials applied Rondon’s approach – “pacification by the application of kindness” – to Indian relations. When workers on the infamous Madeira-Mamore railway faced Indian hostilities in 1911, the SPI’s interim director counseled construction administrators by telegraph to employ restraint, since the natives’ “behavior could be truly and effectively modified only by the peaceful processes . . . adopted with perfect results” by Rondon.(11) His technique, as old as Brazil itself, of distributing tools, food, clothes, and other provisions among still nomadic Indians became standard practice at SPI field posts in frontier zones throughout Brazil. Enthralled by the success of this material generosity in attracting Kaingang Indians in the state of Sao Paulo, one such official exclaimed in a telegram, “Viva the Republica and viva Rondon!”(12)

Even after his effort assumed a national scope, Rondon remained acutely aware that his reputation rested on his early work in Mato Grosso, specifically among the Bororo, where he had first earned his reputation as “ardent patriot.” When the ongoing construction of telegraph lines took him away from central Mato Grosso, the responsibility of Bororo settlement and incorporation fell to Italian Salesian missionaries, whose methods Rondon closely monitored, both from afar and in personal visits, ultimately denouncing the Salesian approach in the national press. After one visit to a Salesian mission in 1911, finding conditions among the Bororo unsatisfactory, objecting especially to the missionary practice of obligating the Bororo to attend Mass, Rondon called publicly for the SPI to “intervene in order to reestablish republican norms, in all their superiority.”(13) Critics seized on Rondon’s objections to argue that the Salesians should be stripped of federal funds. As foreigners and churchmen, the Salesians’ presence became problematic in the face of the resolutely secular, nationalistic “crusade” of the “immortal” Rondon.(14)

If Rondon’s prestige proved onerous to those who failed to receive his blessing, it also obscured the very nature of his contact with the Bororo. The Bororo had once inhabited a vast expanse of thick tropical grasslands and forests south of the Amazon River basin, centering on the Sao Lourenco River in central Mato Grosso (see Map). Although they had retaliated against bandeirante slave-raids, they were considered reduced to submission as early as the 1730s. In fact, that was but the first of numerous premature declarations of Bororo pacification. Over the next century and a half, Mato Grosso authorities oscillated between exaggerating Bororo resistance and underestimating their persistence as a self-sufficient people. As late as 1880, soldiers patrolled lands on the outskirts of Cuiaba, Mato Grosso’s capital and largest city, to protect settlers from Bororo raids. By the end of the nineteenth century, although severely reduced by disease and by warfare with explorers, slave traders, prospectors, settlers, and other indigenous groups, as many as five to ten thousand Bororo continued to occupy central and eastern Mato Grosso, as well as western Goias.(15)

Conflict diminished markedly, if not entirely, soon after the turn of the century, giving rise to the myth, both popular and scholarly, that Rondon pacified the Bororo almost single-handedly after gaining the confidence of several chiefs in the 1890s and early 1900s.(16) But this narrative misconstrues the chain of events that led to Bororo subjugation, underestimates the role of violence, robs the Bororo of the initiative of seeking peace, and invests republican authorities with the altruism and racial tolerance they claimed for themselves. In truth, the advent of the Republic posed the ultimate threat to Bororo nomadic existence in the guise of enormous swathes cleared by Rondon and his soldiers through the hinterlands to expand the national telegraph network. Conceived at the highest levels of a government that showed little tolerance for Indians who blocked the way, the telegraph project opened up previously remote territory, exposing the Bororo to new incursions by settlers.

The Paraguayan War (1864-70), in which Paraguayan forces invaded southern Mato Grosso, had revealed the region’s strategic vulnerability, leading the monarchy to begin extending telegraph lines toward the province.(17) Under the new republican government, construction began in 1889 on a line linking Cuiaba with the rest of the nation. A native of Mato Grosso, Rondon was soon directing the work, setting up posts and stringing cable after clearing a path thirty meters wide across a 550-kilometer path east from Cuiaba to the Araguaia River, the border between Mato Grosso and the state of Goias.(18) Completed in three years, the new line laid the groundwork for a larger project, also directed by Rondon and finally finished after the turn of the century, which extended the telegraph system to Brazil’s southwestern border with Bolivia and Paraguay. By mid-1902, with the border extension well underway, the Republic had cut two intersecting lines through the heart of Bororo territory, the initial line, running east-west, and the border extension, running north-south.

Journalists, government officials, and, later, biographers sought in this telegraph work the seeds of the policies Rondon promulgated upon becoming the head of the SPI. Historians, too, tend to view Rondon’s concern about the Bororo and other indigenous groups as the focus of the telegraph project, ignoring that his mission was above all a military one, part of the Republic’s drive to seize control of the nation’s interior and borderlands for the purposes of defense, colonization, and economic expansion.(19) By the turn of the century, the project was central to a national defense plan instituted by the Ministry of War. Rondon reported his interactions with the Bororo directly to Minister of War Joao Mallet, but Mallet evinced no interest and included no mention of the Bororo in his own reports to the Brazilian president and national congress.(20) Indeed, Mallet articulated his own view succinctly when, commenting on construction delays on another telegraph line to the Paraguayan border, he complained that the region was “infested” with Indians.(21)

Mallet made the telegraph extension an urgent priority of the Republic, a critical link in a strategic network of communications and transportation lines designed to tighten control over Brazil’s borders with Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia, as well as over the interior itself. The completed system would allow the rapid transmission of orders to the region and facilitate the concentration of troops along the border in the early stages of a military campaign. Mallet and other federal authorities also saw the telegraph as a key to “peopling and civilizing” the interior of the country.(22) Such considerations determined the specific route through Bororo domain selected for the north-south extension. Mallet chose the route in part because of topographical factors but also because it satisfied the need to guarantee Brazil’s border defenses.(23) The line could not, for instance, run due west from Cuiaba to the border and then south to Corumba, as this would leave the communications network vulnerable to sabotage by Bolivian troops in the event of a conflict. The only alternative, as ministry officials perceived it, was to cut directly through Bororo lands.

As an army engineer, Rondon likely would never have risen to national prominence had it not been for reforms undertaken by Mallet, who elevated the engineering corps to elite status, understanding their essential function in developing and defending the nation’s borders through the construction of railways, roads, telegraph lines, fortifications and other military establishments. In 1899, the year before he ordered Rondon to take charge of the north-south telegraph extension, Mallet set out to eliminate what he saw as a “lacuna” left in Brazil’s military by its weak engineering corps. Rondon’s appointment and Mallet’s emphasis on the telegraph extension served that purpose.(24)

For his own part, Rondon ardently supported the Republic’s determination to develop the interior. He saw the military as the “most direct element of progress” in Brazilian history and thus the natural vanguard of the drive to incorporate undeveloped regions. He yearned to open Brazil’s “most beautiful backlands, which would be populated only after being cut through by railway, road, and telegraph.” On the route he traversed, the telegraph was generally the first of these to arrive; thus civilization, as Rondon saw it, followed the telegraph. “Wherever the telegraph arrives,” he wrote, “no matter how remote the place, there will the beneficial influx of civilization be felt.”(25)

It is true that, compared to Mallet and other contemporaries, Rondon adhered to progressive views with respect to indigenous peoples. He affirmed that Brazil’s Indians were not animals, that there was no need to guard against their attacks, that they should not be murdered or dealt with treacherously. The Indian, he wrote, should be treated as “our brother, our compatriot, descendant of the natural and primitive inhabitants of our soil.” Thus he condemned the “false doctrine that denies to Indians their incorporation within modern society.”(26) Such relative benevolence, however, should not be construed as the primary impulse behind Rondon’s early encounters with the Bororo and other indigenous groups. Above all, Rondon, was a devoted military man on a national mission to secure and develop the regions through which the telegraph line passed. He possessed a commitment to progress grounded in a fervent belief in the principles of positivism. Where Indians stood in the way of progress, they would have to be incorporated into society as rapidly, if peaceably, as possible. A vision of the Republic as an instrument of elite control lay beneath all his dealings with the Bororo. “If the Republic is the incorporation of the proletariat into modern society,” he wrote from one of his remote encampments, “the special mission of the Brazilian government must reside in the incorporation of the savages into our society.” It is not surprising, then, that after work began on the north-south telegraph extension, he could ignore the destructive consequences of his own efforts to befriend the Bororo and to prove that they could be transformed into productive workers.(27)

Before starting construction, Rondon visited the Bororo chief Oarine Ecureu in his village along the upper Sao Lourenco River. Having mastered the Bororo language during his earlier work on the east-west line, Rondon had managed to establish what he described as “mutual trust” with its native speakers. On this occasion, he went to the Bororo laden with gifts, eager to promote peaceful relations should he require their assistance in the future.(28) The diplomacy served him well, for the Bororo were to come quickly to his aid. In October 1900, Rondon ordered a detachment of foot soldiers to begin pushing the telegraph extension southward from a point east of Cuiaba on the Sao Lourenco River. The work progressed at a plodding pace over steep, overgrown, and muddy terrain. During the entire second month in the field, the troops covered only ten kilometers. Attrition from malaria, desertion, and general exhaustion depleted the expedition’s ranks. What had begun as a force of eighty-one soldiers quickly dwindled to thirty who could still work. In March, Oarine Ecureu and a second Bororo chief, Baru, appeared at Rondon’s encampment in the company of 270 Bororo men, women, and children. Rondon offered them food in exchange for their assistance. Unlike his soldiers, the Bororo would receive no pay. On condition that they take orders only from Rondon, the chiefs accepted. Photographs of the expedition show Bororo men and youths felling trees and clearing vegetation from the telegraph’s path. The women and children don clothes apparently supplied by Rondon, who was quick to find evidence of the Bororo’s effectiveness as a work force. They “conformed readily to the military regime and the exacting work” of clearing the path for the telegraph line. Only with their aid, he wrote, had the commission “managed to overcome the great obstacles facing us in the malarial zone, obstacles that we considered insuperable.” The collaboration between Rondon and the Bororo continued from March to May 1901, until the seventy-three-kilometer line from the Sao Lourenco River to a new station at Itiquira was complete.(29)

The feat of extending the telegraph through previously inaccessible territory, much of which the expedition mapped for the first time, contributed immediately to Rondon’s fame; but for the Bororo it ended disastrously. In total, they followed the expedition more than two hundred kilometers southward. When Rondon learned of an outbreak of measles in the town of Coxim at the southernmost extreme of Bororo territory, he cautioned them to avoid the town. But some, curious to see the unknown, ventured into this place they probably never would have visited had they not wandered so far southward. Back at their encampment, they set off an outbreak of the disease that killed what Rondon identified only as “a great number” of Bororo.(30) The survivors, bearing the remains of their dead, returned to their village on the Sao Lourenco River. They are the most likely source of the measles epidemic that ravaged their own and neighboring Bororo villages that same year.(31)

Contagious disease was only the most direct means by which Rondon, as an agent of modernization and state-consolidation, conveyed the threat posed by the Brazilian Republic to the Bororo and other indigenous peoples. Conventionally considered a friend of the Bororo, and always believing that of himself, he employed comparatively humane methods in incorporating their land into the national domain. His own account suggests the Bororo joined his expedition out of a combination of good will, personal affection, and a readiness, when fairly treated, to cooperate with republican officials. It is only between the lines that their desire for food, clothing, and other material goods emerges. Absent altogether is the notion that their cooperation may have been prompted by other factors external to the expedition and its charismatic officer, factors tied to the settlement of frontier zones in central and eastern Mato Grosso. The Bororo faced mounting pressures, as we shall see, from missionaries and settlers in these zones that must have made an alliance with Rondon seem attractive. Even so, his presence disguised tragic consequences. The greatest harm caused by the telegraph project was that it accelerated the incorporation of the frontier, attracting new settlers whose foothold in the region was strengthened by improved communications and access via the broad paths opened by Rondon. As the settlers’ numbers multiplied, violent conflict increased until the Bororo could no longer muster open resistance and turned instead to other tactics.

“To raise them to the dignity of men and of Christians”: A Missionary Counterpoint

That others claimed credit for coaxing the Bororo into settled society provides additional evidence that the proud republican narrative of Rondon’s encounter in the wilderness requires closer scrutiny. Just as contradictory pronouncements of Bororo pacification could be traced as far back as the early 1700s, Rondon’s own effort was not the only one to gain recognition at the turn of the century. His interactions occurred during an attempt at religious conversion carried out by the Salesian missionaries. The history of this separate but overlapping effort furnishes an alternate narrative, one which vied for popular acceptance in the face of Rondon’s immense popularity and emphatically secular status. When juxtaposed, the two pacification narratives offer a glimpse beyond both myths, clarifying events that led some of these nomads to seek refuge in settled society, whether in cooperation with Rondon or the missionaries. More than that, we begin to understand that many Bororo – the majority – followed another path altogether.

In 1894, five years after construction of the east-west telegraph line commenced but six years before Rondon took charge of the north-south extension, the Salesians accepted an invitation from state legislators to journey from Italy to Mato Grosso, under the leadership of Padre Antonio Malan, in an attempt to end ongoing hostilities between the Bororo and settlers. It was not until 1902, however, after a series of early setbacks, and after Rondon and his soldiers had come and gone, that the missionaries’ work began to bear fruit. Alarmed by increasingly violent conflict that was prompting the flight of settlers from the eastern reaches of the state, state officials responded to appeals by none other than Rondon’s telegraphers, who called for the redoubling of missionary efforts in the region. The state adopted a Salesian plan to found a mission for the Bororo on the Barreiro River. In December 1901, Padre Giovanni Balzola led a party of seventeen missionaries – priests, lay brothers, nuns, and their attendants – on a month-long journey on horseback from Cuiaba along the telegraph line to a site chosen for the new mission. There, in the middle of the rainy season, they established their colony, which they named Colonia do Sagrado Coracao de Jesus. At first, the missionaries slept under tarps, suffered cruelly from the dank climate and food shortages, and in many cases fell ill. As the weeks passed, however, the settlement gradually took shape. The Salesians cleared fields and planted rice and beans, which they intended to offer the Bororo; they traced out a new village with carefully ordered lots; they opened an irrigation canal fed by a spring. At the center of the colony, they erected two large thatched-roof huts, one to serve as a chapel and school for the Bororo, the other as a dormitory for the nuns. A full five months after their arrival, however, there was still no sign of the Bororo, whose appearance Balzola anticipated with a mixture of hope and fear.(32)

Finally, in August 1902, the Bororo chief Meriri Okwoda and four companions walked out of the woods and presented themselves to the missionaries as though they “were old friends.”(33) The missionaries assured the Bororo that they would come to no harm if they placed themselves under Salesian protection. Nevertheless, the Bororo waited another year before actually settling at the colony, apparently determined, even in the act of surrender, to exert whatever control they could over their entrance into a society whose methods had taught them to be wary. Meriri Okwoda was unwilling, or perhaps unable, to deliver his followers to the missionaries without a lengthy period of preparation. After spending two days at the colony and receiving a few meager gifts, the chief and his four companions returned to their village, located along the Rio das Mortes. They came back to the colony in late-September for a second two-day visit – “to study the terrain” – and left “satisfied” with more gifts. Meriri Okwoda returned again in November, this time with sixteen men “laden with bows and arrows to trade for clothes, knives and other trinkets.” Finally, in June 1903, the chief who apparently had been baptized, for the Salesians called him by the Christian name “Captain Joaquim” – led 142 members of his village into the colony. In subsequent years, the missionaries would gain from the Bororo at least a partial explanation for this behavior: the Bororo had kept their distance in order to observe the missionaries and ultimately entered the mission to determine whether to kill them or allow them to remain.(34)

Such evidence of carefully graduated accommodation also characterized the Bororo response, once they accepted sanctuary, to Salesian efforts “to raise them to the dignity of men and of Christians, and to incorporate them into the rest of the nation.”(35) As soon as the Bororo took up residence in the colony, Balzola demanded the chief’s subservience, issuing orders to him, which he transmitted to his followers, including calling them to Mass. The priest held Mass in the middle of Bororo ritual celebrations, sought to convince the Indians that successful hunting depended on their faithful attendance, and jeered openly at Bororo religious practices.(36) As Rondon saw it, in a sharply critical account of a visit he made to the colony years later in 1911, the Bororo were virtually forced to attend Mass, a rite which they did “not wish to accept,” which elicited their “repugnance,” and which “violated [their] free will.”(37)

Required changes in other daily practices were no less disruptive. The Salesians denied the Bororo the traditional circular structure of their native villages, arranging huts at the colony in a neat rectangle. They clothed the Bororo and divided them among single-family huts, as opposed to traditional communal dwellings. Here again, Rondon’s testimony is telling, even allowing for his secular biases against the Salesians. He expressed shock at the “lack of hygiene and comfort in the Indians’ houses, clearly inferior to those they construct in the forests.” Many of the colony inhabitants were ill and poorly fed. Accustomed to an existence in which they once possessed virtually unlimited access to land, they now faced a mission policy in which no land, not even small garden plots, was allocated to Bororo families, forcing dependence on the Salesians for their very subsistence.(38)

Life in the mission revolved around a strict labor regime. During the day, the Salesians separated women from men, children from their parents. The sexual division of tasks did not free anyone from heavy labor: the job of carrying harvested sugar cane from the fields fell to the women, for instance, while that of building colony structures occupied the men. Nuns dedicated themselves to the education of the Bororo girls, whom they taught to read and write and “to do all kinds of domestic work, as though they were among civilized people.” Salesian brothers concentrated on the Bororo boys, convinced that they would prove to be particularly “indispensable for domestic use and for labor.” The Salesians also “rented” Indians to nearby farmers and ranchers, who paid the missionaries, not the Bororo. Those who labored at the colony itself were paid in tickets (fichas), not cash, which could be used to buy goods only from the Salesians, and at inflated prices. The Salesians were not averse to using corporal punishment and even armed supervision to discipline Indians in the fields. One critic denounced the Salesians for founding a colony of “modern slaves, without salary, without free choice of employer, without liberty to stop work.” For the missionaries, however, it was the aspiration to transform nomadic “savages” into civilized Christian workers that justified such an assault on Bororo culture. The missionaries sought, as one priest averred, to force the Bororo to give up their preoccupation with “immediate interests” in order to make them work.(39)

Like Rondon’s purported secular pacification, the Salesians’s work gained national attention, whether the object of scorn or praise. In 1908, reporting on the missionaries’ progress, Malan described as “absolutely satisfactory” all encounters with the Bororo, whom he called “our natives.” Missionaries now were engaged at three colonies teaching the Bororo to be farmers, and had been awarded prizes by the Mato Grosso government for this work. At the Sagrado Coracao colony, they had fifty hectares under cultivation, growing corn, rice, sugar cane, and manioc, and 205 Bororo had been “definitively installed” in wattle-and-daub houses or in their own thatched ranchos. Many hundreds of still nomadic Bororo visited the colonies every year. Along with his report, Malan proudly sent a copy of a book produced by the missionaries on Bororo grammar which had been “praised by the scientific world.” And he noted that twenty-one Bororo children had been brought to Rio de Janeiro to be displayed at the national exposition of 1908. Missionaries had visited the “most distant limits of the great tribe,” leading Malan to estimate that another ten thousand Bororo were still at large. That figure, however, was never substantiated and very likely an exaggeration to bolster Malan’s appeal to the national government for funding to incorporate the Bororo into an “agricultural and industrial nucleus” that would “add incalculable value” to the eastern region of Mato Grosso in anticipation of future economic development. “It must be comforting . . . for the government,” wrote Malan, “to see how day by day the number of natives of the Bororo tribe is being reduced.”(40) In this quiescent, confident atmosphere, myths about Bororo pacification could flourish and compete for dominance.

“In Touch with the More Advanced Races”: Interactions with Settlers

In 1912, Rio de Janeiro’s O Paiz newspaper published an attack on the Salesian missionary effort, written by an individual identified merely as “an informant” from Mato Grosso. Like other critics, this one viewed the missions established among the Bororo by foreign priests as a threat to the very principles upon which the Republic had been founded, principles embodied by Rondon and the SPI. But the writer also made a new accusation: the Salesians could not justifiably claim to have pacified any Bororo at any time. Before ever entering the missions, the Bororo “had already been completely pacified.” Credit for establishing peaceful relations with the Bororo, argued the “informant,” who thereby unwittingly stripped Rondon of the same achievement, belonged to a Bororo woman named Rosa and the army officer Antonio Jose Duarte. The writer sought to counter an ostensibly disingenuous campaign by the Salesians to win public support and federal financial aid by propagating false accounts of the Bororo past. This attack was followed in 1913 by a similar article published under the headline “The Falsifications and Deceits of Padre Antonio Malan.” This critic accused Malan of propagating lies to discredit Rondon and the SPI. He repeated the claim that the Bororo had been pacified before they ever encountered the Salesians, and asserted that those who had entered the mission at Sagrado Coracao had done so “spontaneously.”(41)

There was some truth to this new attempt to codify the Bororo past by looking to a period that preceded both Rondon and the missionaries. In 1886, after Mato Grosso authorities implemented what would be the final attempt to pacify the Bororo before the founding of the Republic, a detachment of soldiers, commanded by Duarte, set out to concentrate the Bororo at two military colonies along the upper Sao Lourencao River. Duarte, relying on the cross-cultural diplomacy of Rosa, who in her youth had been imprisoned and then raised among whites in Cuiaba, managed to attract two hundred Bororo to the Teresa Cristina military colony. The costly venture was paid for by the Mato Grosso government, whose president, Joaquim Pimentel, advocated a peaceful approach to indigenous groups. He cautioned Duarte and other officers against launching expeditions aimed at “exterminating the savages”; rather, troops were to guard areas subject to Indian attacks, defend private property, and encourage Indians to enter civil society. Pimentel further instructed the military to gather precise knowledge about Bororo territory, their customs, and the best methods to “capture them with benevolence” and to “infuse them with respect, not terror, for public forces and for the government.” At the Teresa Cristina colony, Duarte accomplished this by being extraordinarily generous with food, clothing, farm implements, and alcohol.(42) But this explanation of the onset of peaceful relations, given the violence that would ensue, stands up to the documentary evidence no better than the others, although it has the distinct virtue of focusing attention on events preceding the turn-of-the-century encounters with Rondon and the Salesians.

It is important to remember, before reconstructing those events, that Duarte in 1886 settled just two hundred Bororo at Teresa Cristina; that Rondon in 1901 encountered only 270 in the forest; and that the Salesians in 1903 began by attracting fewer than 150 to Sagrado Coracao.(43) Yet the most reliable turn-of-the-century estimate placed the Bororo population at between five and ten thousand – a rough figure, to be sure, but one anthropologists generally accept. In 1907, the Salesians counted some 350 individuals inhabiting two missions and estimated those at large to number 2,600. In 1911, led by three Bororo guides to no fewer than seventeen native villages, the missionaries counted 1,067 individuals. Even that number, which apparently constituted only a partial count, was triple the number then residing in Salesian colonies. In 1918, two separate estimates placed the total Bororo population at three thousand, of which only some six hundred, or one-fifth, could be classified as “settled and completely civilized.”(44) Despite the disparate nature of these figures, it remains clear that the Bororo who entered settled society under the supervision of, first, Duarte and, later, Rondon and the Salesians comprised but a small minority of the Bororo population as a whole. The actions of this minority were of paramount importance to those who stood to benefit from the acclaim, funding, land, and resources accruing to whomever could claim credit for subduing the Bororo. The behavior of a few thus served as the basis for rival narratives of pacification; it did not, however, represent the response of most Bororo. Any account of the end of hostilities between settlers and the Bororo in eastern Mato Grosso must contend with the conduct of the majority who remained at large.

Reports of persistent violence between the Bororo and settlers encroaching on their territory provide essential evidence in this respect. More specifically, the conditions and timing of what is best understood as partial Bororo surrender in the wake of a peak of violence just after the turn of the century must be placed in the context of resistance that intensified several years earlier. The Bororo themselves set the course for their final years of relative self-sufficiency and independence when they rebelled at the Teresa Cristina military colony, although the Salesians preferred to forget this initial failure of the missionary solution. Responding to the ambitions of local landowners, the state government had turned over control of the colony from Duarte and the military to the Salesians in order to compel the Indians to contribute to “the production of economic wealth for the state.”(45) By the mid-1890s some three hundred Bororo resided at the colony, dependent on the state and missionaries for food, clothing, and farm implements. In exchange, some were willing to spend two hours a day cultivating corn, manioc, sugar cane, and rice on state-owned fields. But as prospects for developing the area grew increasingly compelling, authorities lost patience and demanded a stricter labor regime. In May 1898, with armed troops supervising the fieldwork, and food being withheld as punishment for misbehavior, the Bororo rebelled. Setting fire to their own dwellings, forcing local residents to flee for fear of their lives, they abandoned the colony en masse.(46)

That these Bororo, who had long ago given up their nomadic existence to live at the colony, now chose to return to their former life in the forest attests to their determination to influence the terms of their own entrance into settled society. Effectively ending the state’s twelve-year effort to contain them at the colony, the Bororo opened a disabling if temporary rift in the alliance between state authorities and the Salesians. Infuriated at the loss of Indians upon whom so much public money and effort had been expended, officials expelled the missionaries from the colony, stripped them of their control over the Bororo, and moved to salvage what was left of Bororo cooperation.(47)

Over the critical next several years, with the national society pressing in upon them as never before, the conduct of the Bororo was no less determined. In 1901, as the measles epidemic threatened Bororo survival in the aftermath of Rondon’s expedition, Padre Malan declared them to be in a state of general revolt. Between late August and October, he traversed the old east-west telegraph line on horseback. Less than a week’s ride east from Cuiaba, a local telegraph official told him of violent clashes between the Bororo and settlers. In the far eastern reaches of the state, the situation was even worse. “In almost every place we passed,” wrote Malan, there “stood a cross or a pile of rocks indicating the graves of civilizados assassinated by Bororos.” The priest identified seven different locations where Bororo Indians had conducted “raids” and “assassinations.” At one of these sites alone, he was shown no fewer than a dozen places where the Bororo had attacked travelers, merchants, soldiers, and guards of the telegraph line. Elsewhere, they had targeted ranchers and farmers.(48) In addition, the Bororo had conducted raids on the fields of subsistence farmers who had drifted back to the Teresa Cristina colony after the rebellion, and their attacks farther to the east were blamed for at least three of four massacres carried out by ranchers between 1900 and 1901.(49)

A direct connection can be traced between this violence and increasing settlement. The route traversed by the east-west telegraph line had been in use and dotted with remote settlements since the days of the bandeirantes, but the coming of the telegraph occasioned unprecedented growth. By 1901, settlements had sprung up or expanded along the entire length of the original line through eastern Mato Grosso.(50) Travelers to the region abandoned the old bandeirante trail and used the telegraph path instead; detachments of troops along the line guaranteed their safety. One state official, in an assessment that would have pleased Rondon, credited the telegraph with bringing “order and progress” to eastern Mato Grosso, noting that new settlers were “competing to populate this strip of wilderness.” The site of every telegraph station along the route, he said, had been “peopled by a growing number of inhabitants,” all of whom desired “a piece of land for farming or ranching.”(51) Settlers pushed eastward from Cuiaba and westward from the states of Goias, Minas Gerais, and Sao Paulo, sandwiching the Bororo between them.

Much of the resulting conflict stemmed from the appropriation of Bororo territory by large landowners, particularly cattle ranchers. The expansion of the regional cattle industry was tied to the growth of domestic and export markets, the advent of refrigerated beef-packing, and the opening of new navigable river routes to eastern Mato Grosso. Although blind to the consequences for the Bororo of his own role in making the territory accessible, Rondon understood that Mato Grosso’s Indians had “nowhere to flee,” because ranchers were “establishing themselves everywhere.” He labeled the new landowners “greedy usurpers,” a “new breed of Conquistadors” bent on the conquest of the indigenous peoples and their lands.(52) Between late-1900 and mid-1901, the four massacres – all in ranch country along the Goias-Mato Grosso border – claimed approximately 150 Bororo lives. One, in which fourteen were killed in late-1900 or early-1901, enjoyed the support of the Goias state government; another, in which thirty people died, an unspecified number of them Bororo, occurred in the Goias border town of Rio Bonito; and two more, in which more than one hundred Bororo died, were organized in Mato Grosso in mid-1901 by the Goias rancher Clarismundo Goncalves.(53)

Families assembling large ranches in the region were not the only settlers pressing in upon the Bororo. Another group, often at odds with landowners and Indians alike, were poor squatters practicing slash-and-bum agriculture. These subsistence farmers, many of them descendants of African slaves, migrated to frontier zones after emancipation in 1888, seeking independence from their former masters. References to lavradores as opposed to proprietarios and fazendeiros in the documents of the period suggest the vigorous presence of these impoverished farmers. Their exodus to the forests so threatened local landowners with a shortage of labor that the president of the state of Goias called for their confinement to “correctional agricultural colonies.”(54) He condemned the squatters for occupying public lands, laying waste to the forests to clear small plots for cultivation, and moving ever farther into the wilderness as soon as the fecundity of these plots diminished. Such squatters were responding to the oppressive labor practices of large landholders, but that did not diminish the destructive effect of their land hunger on Bororo nomadic self-sufficiency.

In addition to clashing directly with the Bororo, both kinds of settlers put pressure on other indigenous groups forced to retreat into the same dwindling territory. Along the Goias-Mato Grosso border, on the northeastern edge of Bororo territory, officials reported warfare among no fewer than six ethnic groups – Kayapo, Xavante, Karaja, Javae, Tapirape, and Canoeiro. Farther to the south, near the telegraph line, Goias settlers fought not only the Bororo but also the Kayapo, who in turn waged war on one another. When the Bororo sought the protection of the Salesian missionaries just after the turn of the century, they showed signs of both physical and psychological trauma suffered in this interethnic violence. As late as 1915, SPI authorities reported the Kayapo to be at war with the Bororo, even those Bororo “already pacified.”(55)

The complexity of the conflict with landowners, squatters, and other indigenous groups belies all facile conclusions about Bororo subjugation. This invasion did not simply pit an export-oriented economy against an indigenous subsistence economy, whites against Indians, the elite against the subaltern. Instead the Bororo increasingly found their existence threatened by a full range of adversaries. Exposing such ambiguities, the persistent violence is important for a number of reasons. First, it lays to rest the myth that Rondon secured the Bororo’s voluntary pacification. Second, it suggests the urgency with which the Mato Grosso government dispatched the Salesians to the eastern reaches of the state after the turn of the century. Finally, it helps clarify the decision of some Bororo to accept the Salesian offer of protection. Ravaged by measles, by deadly confrontations with settlers, by warfare with other Indians, and by the loss of an expanse of unsettled territory large enough to support nomadic life, those who sought sanctuary did so not out of affection for the Republic or the missionaries who followed the telegraph line to the heart of Bororo territory, but to escape destruction as a people.

As revealing as the violence itself, moreover, is the moral outrage Bororo resistance elicited. After his family was attacked, the Goias rancher Goncalves gave a lurid account of Bororo tactics to Malan. After nearly killing Goncalves, the Bororo turned on the ranch’s women and children. A ten-year-old boy had “his skull … smashed to pieces on the ground; a tiny baby had been thrown into the embers of the hearth, his mouth trampled and clogged with blood to the point of suffocation …, his legs beaten by clubs and rocks until they were severed.” The Bororo left Goncalves’s mother with her “head … a single gaping wound.”(56)

Despite such mortal bludgeoning, all family members survived, leaving one to suspect a certain hyperbole at work. Malan did not question Goncalves’s account; nor did he fear it would be questioned by his superiors to whom he narrated the story as part of a letter aimed at gaining support for increased missionary work in the area. He recounted the retaliatory raids launched by Goncalves and sixteen companions, who, “armed to the teeth,” tracked the Bororo to a village of eighteen huts, attacked at dawn, and indiscriminately killed Bororo men, women and children. Although Malan speculated that the present eruption of Bororo violence could be traced as far back as the actions of a Goias landowner who a decade earlier had tricked nearly two hundred Bororo into drinking from a poisoned well, he steadfastly maintained that landowners held the moral high ground – and merited protection. As savages willing to commit the most barbarous acts of violence, the Bororo represented “enemies with a great advantage.”(57)

Malan was not the only one who, faced with the failure of previous efforts to subdue the Bororo, adopted an increasingly hostile position which cast the natives as incorrigible savages. Residents of the lands surrounding the Teresa Cristina colony petitioned its director to take action against the theft of their crops, complaining that the Bororo had “turned wild and insubordinate.” One director of the colony concluded that the Bororo were Indians of “very bad quality,” whose indolence, duplicity, and insatiable demands made them “worse than cannibals.” As proof of their savagery he accused them of sacrificing their own infants, “splitting them live from top to bottom” at the behest of their priests in order to fend off contagious diseases. In Goias official pronouncements turned equally severe, the state president deploring the failure of attempts to civilize Indians who seemed unable to adapt to modern society and quickly succumbed to a “nostalgia for the forests and a life of freedom.” With a curious inversion of terms, he described the Bororo as “deceitful and treacherous,” savages who sought to “win the trust of civilized people in order later to victimize them through murder, theft, and arson.” Only Rondon, busy extending the telegraph line through southern Mato Grosso when informed of Goncalves’s massacres, raised any meaningful objection to this recasting of the Bororo as wild, indomitable adversaries. He telegraphed the president of Mato Grosso, demanding that he urge the president of Goias to “impede destruction of that valiant indigenous nation by the barbarous inhabitants” of his state. The Mato Grosso president forwarded the message without appending any complaint of his own. Instead, he assured Goias officials of his eagerness to maintain close relations between the states.(58)

However the Bororo themselves may have rationalized their raids, their point of view was silenced by increasingly strident denunciations. One missionary, without hesitating to issue his own condemnation of the Bororo, recognized something of their predicament when he observed that they defended “inch by inch, with indomitable courage and fierceness, their land, which white men wished to conquer.”(59) Bororo attacks on landowners, it seems, were scarcely proof of arbitrary, irrational savagery. Nor did the retribution they prompted target groups living in primitive isolation, avoiding contact with settlers. The raids at Teresa Cristina were conducted by Bororo who had once been beneficiaries of the state-sponsored distribution of provisions. One of the four documented massacres was led by a rancher against his own dependents, Bororo who lived and worked upon his vast estate, ostensibly under his protection. Another followed a raid on a ranch by Bororo who, as the president of Goias noted, “were well acquainted with our customs and who spoke our language well.” Goncalves led the remaining two massacres against Bororo with whom he previously had been in peaceful contact, whom he regularly supplied with food, and who purportedly held him in high esteem. He said the Bororo had attacked after he refused to furnish them with the amount of raw sugar they demanded.(60) Such raids were far from the inevitable clash of civilization and savagery. Rather, to the extent that the fragmentary evidence supports a conclusion, the Bororo appear to have turned to violence when settlers or the state, emboldened by the increasing consolidation of their strength in the region, violated certain reciprocal, albeit unequal, relations established over time.

The importance of such reciprocity and negotiated interaction is substantiated by innumerable instances of the Bororo receiving gifts from those who sought access to their domain. This technique had been employed since the eighteenth century with the Bororo, and the Mato Grosso state government, Rondon, the Salesians, settlers, and travelers all used it during the pivotal first few years of the twentieth century. The Bororo received knives, machetes, matches, cloth, clothes, blankets, beads, mirrors, fishhooks, fishing line, biscuits, brown sugar, corn, meat, tobacco, alcohol, agricultural implements, and even a few firearms. When the Bororo finally sought out missionary protection, one priest noted that they were “mortified” by the paltry gifts the missionaries had to offer. Without more goods to distribute to the Bororo, the priest feared the missionaries “would lose the fruits of so much toil.”(61) After settling the initial group of Bororo at Sagrado Coracao, the Salesians had to turn others away on at least four occasions, despite increasing demand for their labor at the colony. Malan attributed this action to “the absolute lack of objects – of clothes, utensils, knives, axes, fishhooks, etc. – to offer them as gifts.”(62) In other words, the Bororo did not change their ways without making significant demands in return – in this case food and manufactured goods which made their lives easier. The influx of such goods, of course, undermined Bororo autonomy by creating material necessities that could be satisfied only at the cost of increasing dependence on Brazilian society.(63) But whatever its consequences, this shower of material goods reached what appears to have been unprecedented levels after the turn of the century.

Further evidence of substantial interaction – documentation which must be used with caution because it was produced in 1911, after the worst of the violence had passed – merges from the notes of the Salesian census takers who visited the villages of Bororo remaining outside missionary control. These notes afford one of the rare, direct glimpses of this majority segment of the Bororo population. In four of the seventeen villages visited, home to 328 of the 1,067 Bororo counted, lived the “terrifying Bororo of the past,” a number of whom remained “completely segregated from civil commerce,” avoiding all “direct relations.” Still others persisted in causing “grave damages to the cattle of neighboring ranchers.” But the Salesians registered no complaint about the behavior of those in the remaining thirteen villages. They described some of these natives as “vaqueiros” (cowboys), working for local ranchers; others as “good farmers,” tending their own fields; and still others as “fine field laborers,” working for a local landowner. One Bororo woman was the mistress of a local “Creole” and lived “like a civilized person”; another was a cook for a nearby family of settlers. At the largest village, home to 323 Bororo, there lived various individuals who spoke fluent Portuguese. The chief of yet another village went by the Brazilian name Joao Frederico Oliveira. Educated in Cuiaba, he held the rank of captain in the army. Still other groups “frequented” local settlements and “lived in harmony” with their inhabitants.(64) Although this evidence comes from a decade later, it serves to characterize the behavior of the turn-of-the-century Bororo who, as one observer visiting the region at the height of the violence put it, were already “dwelling somewhat in touch with the more advanced races.”(65)

If isolation no longer characterized the experience of most Bororo who remained outside Salesian supervision, the actions of the minority that entered the missions must also be understood within the broad context of increasing frontier settlement, Bororo resistance, and the breakdown both of established mutual relations and of what little isolation remained. Ultimately, a shared commitment to control Bororo land and labor prompted a reconciliation between the state government and the Salesians, clearing the way for the missionaries to found the Sagrado Coracao colony, where they would succeed in settling the Bororo under chief Meriri Okwoda. Beneath the ardent optimism of letters written from the colony, it is clear that missionaries had limited success in effecting religious conversion, cultural transformation, and basic alterations in daily life. As with the Bororo’s extremely cautious entrance into the colony, their behavior once settled there suggests they came seeking certain material advantages and, especially, protection from settlers as frontier race relations eroded. Their arrival and residence at the colony reveal a carefully negotiated response to increasingly dire circumstances, not a rejection of traditional customs in favor of those of settled society.

Even the Salesian version of events contains ample evidence of the kind of tenacious determination to control their own fate that had been a component of Bororo behavior all along. Chief Meriri Okwoda seems to have been more prepared than many of his followers to travel the path to acculturation. According to the Salesian priest Ambrosio Turricia, the chief strove “to live in imitation of the missionaries,” refashioning himself into a man of great “delicacy.” Whether or not the chief himself saw things this way, he did cooperate with the Salesians more fully than others. Turricia remarked on the general “pertinacity of the Indians in retaining their customs,” and he labeled each new change a “victory” for the Salesians. Such language betrays marked opposition, as when the priest cited the “triumph” of persuading the Bororo to bury their dead more than a hundred – rather than a mere three – meters from the edge of the settlement. Despite the Salesians’ determination to transform the Bororo, and perhaps fearing another mass departure if no concessions at all were granted, the priests allowed the males a hut at the center of the colony to serve as their traditional meeting place. Furthermore, they were forced to permit continued wandering, as many Bororo periodically drifted away from the Sagrado Coracao colony. Hinting at the persistence of substantial interaction between those inside and those outside the colony, Padre Malan noted the “lamentable” experience of seeing those who had been “so well instructed in the practical life by our missionaries, absenting themselves from the colony and, after several months, returning as ignorant and brutish as in primitive times.” According to the missionaries, the activities of Bororo priests constituted the single greatest source of resistance to the colony regimen. The Bororo placed “so much faith in the Bari, or priest,” wrote Turricia, “that it will be altogether impossible to convert them without first destroying his authority.” Evidently the Bororo had not surrendered their religious beliefs, their nomadic ways, or many other customs when they surrendered themselves to the missionaries.(66)


The Salesians never dwelled on why the Bororo chose to take up residence at the new colonies. Possessed of an unflagging religious commitment, the missionaries probably considered the answer self-evident. It was not. The Bororo, after all, had rebelled against a similar missionary regime just a few years earlier. In sharp contrast to pacification myths that enshrined white benevolence and informed later histories, the Bororo chose to enter into peaceful relations with Brazilian society only after a coordinated effort to open up and control the frontier zones they occupied by the Republic, by the state governments of Mato Grosso and Goias, and by powerful landowners; only after increasing incursions by impoverished squatters and other indigenous groups in flight from the same forces bearing down on themselves; and only after the spread of epidemic disease that was neither inevitable nor random but the product of a particular social and historical moment in a specific region of the Brazilian interior. At various times over the course of a long-independent history following contact with neo-European society, the Bororo had withstood any one or even several of these forces. But their combined convergence on a people reduced to a shrinking domain at the turn of the century resulted in the destruction of Bororo nomadic self-sufficiency. Zealous messengers of the church and national society, the Salesian missionaries found some Bororo receptive to promises of protection but not always vulnerable to attempts to convert them into sedentary Christian workers. Having stubbornly resisted subjugation, the Bororo insisted on shaping its course when it became the only practicable alternative. In this respect, it was not the Bororo who were pacified but the agents of Brazilian society, once their allied strength had fractured the Bororo’s ability to oppose them with organized force or to live among them in ways that had been previously possible.

The sense contemporaries had, typical of those engaged in frontier conflicts, that they were fighting a war of civilization against savagery creates a false impression, reproduced by an otherwise erudite ethnographic literature, that the besieged Bororo were isolated primitives.(67) On the contrary, those who confronted an advancing national society at the turn of this century were already accustomed to complex interactions, sometimes peaceful, sometimes violent, with those who sought in one form or another to subdue them. Rather than pointing to isolation and traditionalism, the documentary evidence, read skeptically, reveals numerous examples of Bororo adaptation and even willing attempts to participate in the new society encroaching on their land. The Bororo rebellion at Teresa Cristina and the raids that provoked ranchers to organize retaliatory massacres arose directly from such intermingling, even at the moment of its dissolution. It is in this context that the Bororo could violently resist integration and accept it – laboring for some local ranchers while attacking others, contributing to the construction of the telegraph line while refusing to return to the Teresa Cristina colony, entering the new Salesian colony while continuing to wander and resist acculturation – at precisely the same time.

One of numerous groups whose collision with modern society brought the issue of Indian protection to national prominence, culminating in the creation of the SPI in 1910, the Bororo defy conventional assumptions concerning relations between indigenous peoples and the young Brazilian Republic. If the standard narratives of Bororo pacification are untenable, reproducing as they do the self-interested perspectives of turn-of-the-century elites, so too is the image, emerging from a historiography in which indigenous peoples are all but absent, that the Bororo and other native groups withdrew from active participation in Brazilian history long before the republican era. A more complicated tale unfolds when Bororo conduct is recognized as the product of a cultural encounter on a frontier whose domination had yet to be decided.

Department of History Austin, TX 78712


I wish to thank Richard Graham, Sandra Lauderdale Graham, Gunther Peck, Kerry Reynolds, and the members of the Atlantic Worlds Seminar at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as the anonymous readers of the Journal of Social History, who offered perceptive commentary on earlier versions of this paper. In Brazil Antonio Carlos de Souza Lima, Jose Ribamar Bessa Freire, Rosely Curi Rondinelli, and Luiza Rios Ricci Volpato provided essential guidance. I am grateful to the National Security Education Program, the Tinker Foundation, the Southwest Council of Latin American Studies, the Conference on Latin American History, and the University of Texas for generous research and writing support.

1. Estimates of the indigenous population vary so widely as to be almost unusable for periods before the middle of this century. One authority estimates a total population of “less than a million tribal Indians” in 1910. Another cites figures of 1.25 million in 1922; 500,000 in 1940; and a maximum of 99,700 in 1957. See John Hemming, Amazon Frontier: The Defeat of the Brazilian Indians (Cambridge, MA, 1987), 480; Darcy Ribeiro, “Indigenous Cultures and Languages of Brazil,” in Indians of Brazil in the Twentieth Century, ed. Janice H. Hopper (Washington, DC, 1967), 106-7. On the absence of Indians in the historiography of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Brazil, see B. J. Barickman,” ‘Tame Indians,”Wild Heathens,’ and Settlers in Southern Bahia in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries,” The Americas 51:3 (Jan. 1995): 326-7. Representative general studies of the First or Old Republic (1889-1930) – all of which neglect Brazil’s surviving indigenous population – include Edgard Carone, A Republica Velha, 2 vols., 3rd ed. (Rio de Janeiro, 1977); Sergio Buarque de Holanda and Boris Fausto, eds., Historia geral da civilizacao brasileira, tomo 3, O Brasil republicano, vol. 1, Estrutura de poder e economia (1889-1930), and vol. 2, Sociedade e instituicoes (1889-1930) (Sao Paulo, 1977); Maria Yedda Leite Linhares, ed., Historia geral do Brasil, chap. 6 (Rio de Janeiro, 1990), 211-42. In English, The Cambridge History of Latin America, vol. 5, c. 1870 to 1930 (Cambridge, Eng., 1986) devotes a single paragraph to the topic. See p. 702.

2. I follow the convention of using the abbreviated form of the agency’s full name – Servico de Protecao aos Indios e Localizacao de Trabalhadores Nacionais. The full name, however, more clearly reflects the agency s goal of creating a national corps of workers to develop remote regions of Brazilian territory.

3. For the history of relations between Indians and the Republic leading to the SPI’s creation, see, for example, John Hemming, Amazon Frontier, 466-81; Jose M. Gagliardi, O indigena e a Republica, Estudos Brasileiros, 25 (Sao Paulo, 1989); Darcy Ribeiro, Os indios e a civilizacao: a integracao das populacoes indigenas no Brasil moderno, 2d ed., (Petropolis, 1977), esp. 1-148; David H. Stauffer, “The Origin and Establishment of Brazil s Indian Protection Service, 1889-1910” (Ph.D. diss., University of Texas, 1955); Donald F. O’Reilly, “Rondon: Biography of a Brazilian Republican Army Commander” (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1969); Mercio Pereira Gomes, Os indios e o Brasil (Petropolis, 1988), 82-8. An important revisionist interpretation of the SPI is Antonio Carlos de Souza Lima, Um grande cerco de paz: Poder tutelar, indianidade e formacao do Estado no Brasil (Petropolis, 1995). For a recent discussion of Indian-state relations following the First Republic’s demise, see Seth Garfield, “‘The Roots of a Plant that Today is Brazil’: Indians and the Nation-State under the Brazilian Estado Novo,” Journal of Latin American Studies 29:3 (Oct. 1997): 747-68.

4. The study of frontier mythology has generated a substantial literature pertaining to the western United States. For a comprehensive treatment, see Richard Slotkin’s trilogy, Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860 (Middletown, CT, 1973); The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800-1890 (New York, 1985); and Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America (New York, 1992). The Brazilian case remains to be explored in equal depth. See Candice Vidal e Souza, “A Nocao de fronteira e espaco nacional no pensamento social brasileiro,” Textos de Historia 4:2 (1996): 94-129; Janaina Amado, “Construindo mitos: a conquista do oeste no Brasil e nos EUA,” in Sidney V. Pimentel and Janaina Amado, eds., Passando dos limites (Goiania, 1995), 51-78; Mary Lombardi, “The Frontier in Brazilian History: An Historiographic Essay,” Pacific Historical Review 44 (Nov. 1975): 437-57.

5. Rondon’s version of Bororo pacification can be found in Brazil, Conselho Nacional de Protecao aos Indios, Publicacao, vols. 69-70, Relatorio dos trabalhos realizados de 1900-1906 pela Commissao de Linhas Telegraphicas do Estado de Mato-Grosso pelo Coronel Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon (Rio de Janeiro, 1949) (hereafter Brazil, CNPI, Relatorio … 1900-1906), 29 n.1; a prior version by another army officer is Francisco Raphael de Mello Rego, “Indios de Mato-Grosso: Os bororos coroados,” Revista Brazileira, ano 1, tomo 3, fasciculo 14 (15 July 1895): 94-5. For an early transformation of Rondon’s exploits into history, see Amilcar A. Botelho de Magalhaes, Impressoes da Commissao Rondon (n.p., 1921), 300; a more recent and critical work, but one in which Rondon himself and the SPI remain the object of unmitigated praise, is Gagliardi, O indigena e a Republica, esp. 147-8, 255. Even Hemming, who documents the violence endured by the Bororo under Republican rule, attributes their “surrender” to Rondon, for whom he reserves only accolades, and to another enlightened Republican army officer, Ernesto Gomes Carneiro. Hemming, Amazon Frontier, 410-1,472-80.

6. The nationwide reach of conflicts involving Indians, settlers, and the state in Brazil during the First Republic can be gleaned from the establishment of SPI regional headquarters in no fewer than thirteen states, ranging from Brazil’s Atlantic coast to its extreme west, and from north to south. See Lima, Um grande cerco de paz, appendix, Table 4. For a study focusing on another indigenous group, the Xokleng of southern Brazil, and their contact with national society during this period, see Silvio Coelho dos Santos, Indios e brancos no sul do Brasil: A dramatica experiencia dos Xokleng (Florianopolis, 1973).

Helpful introductions to the history of Indian, settler, and state relations elsewhere in Latin America include Greg Urban and Joel Sherzer, eds., Nation. States and Indians in Latin America (Austin, 1991); John E. Kicza, ed., The Indian in Latin American History: Resistance, Resilience, and Acculturation (Wilmington, 1993); and Erick Langer and Robert H. Jackson, eds., The New Latin American Mission History (Lincoln, 1995).

An extensive historiography focuses on turn-of-the-century Indian-white relations and Indian policy in the western United States. Works especially pertinent to this article include Brian W. Dippie, The Vanishing American: White Attitudes and U.S. Indian Policy (Middletown, CT, 1982); Frederick E. Hoxie, A Find Promise: The Campaign to Assimilate the Indians, 1880-1920 (Lincoln, 1984); Francis Paul Prucha, The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians, 2 vols. (Lincoln, 1984); and Richard White, The Roots of Dependency: Subsistence, Environment, and Social Change among the Choctaws , Pawnees, and Navajos (Lincoln, 1983).

7. For the Brazilian case, the most revealing attempts – both for their strengths and weaknesses – to conceptualize the process of frontier incorporation include Joe Foweraker, The Struggle for Land: A Political Economy of the Pioneer Frontier in Brazil from 1930 to the Present Day (Cambridge, Eng., 1981); Warren Dean, “The Frontier in Brazil,” in Frontier in Comparative Perspectives, Working Papers, no. 188, Latin American Program, The Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, D.C., 1990; Mary Lombardi, “The Frontier in Brazilian History,” 437-57; and Leo H. Waibel, “As zonas pioneiras do Brasil,” Revista Brasileira de Geografia 17 (Oct.-Dec. 1955): 389-417. On colonial Brazil, see J. Capistrano de Abreu, Caminhos antigos e povoamento do Brasil (Belo Horizonte, 1989 [1930]); Sergio Buarque de Holanda, Caminhos e fronteiras (Rio de Janeiro, 1957); Richard M. Morse, ed., The Bandeirantes: The Historical Role of the Brazilian Pathfinders (New York, 1965), esp. 28-36; Alida C. Metcalf, Family and Frontier in Colonial Brazil: Santana de Parnaiba, 1580-1822 (Berkeley, 1992); and John M. Monteiro, Negros da terra: Indios e bandeirantes nos origens de Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo, 1994).

U.S. scholars who have elaborated the concept of the frontier as a zone of cultural contact include Patricia N. Limerick, The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West (New York, 1987), 27; David J. Weber, The Spanish Frontier in North America (New Haven, 1992), 11; and Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (Cambridge, Eng., 1991), esp. x, 52.

On the relationship between frontier incorporation and state and economic consolidation, the works I have found most useful include David Emmons, “Constructed Province: History and the Making of the Last American West” and responses, Western Historical Quarterly 25:4 (Winter 1994): 437-86; Foweraker, The Struggle for Land; Howard Lamar and Leonard Thompson, eds., The Frontier in History: North America and Southern Africa Compared (New Haven, CT, 1981), esp. 3-42, 308-16; and Eric R. Wolf, Europe and the People Without History (Berkeley, 1982), esp. 23,308, 353.

8. See, for example, a letter from the Minister of War to the Minister of Agriculture, published in the national press, praising Rondon and the SPI for effecting the “incorporation of the indigene into Brazilian society” and the “victory of civilization over those Indians who live segregated from us in the backlands of Brazil.” [Antonio Adolpho da Fontoura] Menna Barreto, “Resposta do Sr. Ministro da Guerra ao seu collega da Agricultura, sobre os oficiaes do exercito em servico na Diretoria de Protecao aos Selvicolas,” Jornal do commercio (Rio de Janeiro), 22 Nov. 1911, Museu do Indio, Rio de Janeiro, Setor de Documentacao (hereafter MI-SEDOC), film 324/fot. 194.

9. Alipio Bandeira, “Em defeza dos indios,” O Paiz (Rio de Janeiro), 22 Aug. 1911, MI-SEDOC, film 324/fot. 31; “O programa de Jose Bonifacio,” O Paiz, 25 June 1911, ibid., film 324/fot. 176; Hortencio Braziliense, “A questao dos indios,” O Paiz, 11 Aug. 1910, ibid., film 324/fot. 47.

10. “A obra do Coronel Rondon,” O Paiz, 26 Nov. 1911, ibid., film 324/fot. 194; “Igreja e Apostolado Positivista do Brasil,” Jornal do commercio, 22 June 1912, ibid., film 324/fots. 313-4; Alipio, “Em deieza dos indios,” O Paiz, 22 Aug. 1911, ibid., film 324/fot. 31; Unsigned editorial, O Paiz, 8 Feb. 1911, ibid., film 324/fot. 49; “Coronel Candido Rondon,” 0 Paiz, 30 Apr. 1911, ibid., film 324/for. 156.

11. Unsigned editorial, O Paiz, 9 June 1911, ibid., film 324/for. 83; Unsigned editorial, Gazeta da tarde, 17 Oct. 1910, ibid., film 324/fot. 139; Telegram from Jose Bezerra Cavalcanti to Geraldo Rocha, Jornal do commercio, 25 Oct. 1911, ibid., film 324/fot. 33.

12. See the telegrams from Luiz Bueno Horta Barbosa to Manuel Miranda, [Sao Paulo], 21 Mar. 1912, and to Rondon, Ribeiro dos Patos encampment, 23 Mar. 1912, ibid., film 397/no fot. numbers.

13. Rondon, “Servico de Protecao aos indios,” O Paiz, 5 Nov. 1912, ibid., film 324/fot. 333.

14. “Emenda infeliz,” O Paiz, 3 Aug. 1912, ibid., film 324/fots. 266-7.

15. Bororo nomadic hunting, fishing, and collecting did not preclude the concomitant cultivation of corn, urucu, cotton, tobacco, and cabacas. See, for example, Renate B. Viertler, “Aspectos gerais da obra de Karl von den Steinen sobre os Indios Bororos,” in Vera Penteado Coelho, ed., Karl von den Steinen: Um seculo de antropologia no Xingu (Sao Paulo, 1993), 187.

On the early history of contact between the Bororo and neo-Europeans, see Viertler, A duras penas: Um historico das relacoes entre indios Bororo e “civilizados” no Mato Grosso (Sao Paulo, 1990), 27-39; John Hemming, Red Gold: The Conquest of the Brazilian Indians (London, 1978), 405. On the nineteenth century, see Goias, Relatorio do Presidente, 1880, anexo, “Catechese,” 11. The population estimate is from William A. Cook, “The Bororo Indians of Matto Grosso, Brazil,” Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 50:1789 (1908): 62 and from James S. Olson, The Indians of Central and South America: An Ethnohistorical Dictionary (New York, 1991), 58-9. On the difficulty of establishing an accurate population figure, see Viertler, A duras penas, 134-6.

16. See, for example, Magalhaes, Impressoes, 300; Stauffer, “Brazil’s Indian Service,” 2078; Gagliardi, O indigena e a Republica, 148; Hemming, Amazon Frontier, 410-1. Viertler’s more recent study ascribes the “definitive pacification” of the Bororo to missionaries but also credits Rondon with ending hostilities. Viertler, A duras penas, 69, 71.

17. The first news of the invasion came to Rio de Janeiro by way of a rancher who had traveled overland forty-seven days to alert federal authorities. The more common communications route, down the Paraguai River to the Atlantic, then north along the coast to Rio, was not much faster and required the acquiescence of the presumed enemy – hence the urgency of linking Mato Grosso with the rest of the nation by telegraph. Donald E O’Reilly, “Rondon,” 39.

18. Affonso Augusto Moreira Pena, Anotacoes referentes a contrucao de linhas telegraficas no estado de Mato Grosso,” n.d., Affonso Pena Papers, Secao de Arquivos Particulares, Arquivo Nacional, Rio de Janeiro (hereafter ANRJ), caixa 22; Brazil, Ministerio da Guerra, Relatorio, 1890, 33.

19. Esther D. Viveiros, in Rondon conta sua vida (Rio de Janeiro, 1958), used the military engineer’s field notes and personal interviews to write what she terms an “autobiography,” which is, more accurately, a hagiography. For more balanced biographical material, see Stauffer, “Brazil’s Indian Service”; O’Reilly, “Rondon”; Lima, Os museus de historia natural e a construcao do indigenismo: notas para urea sociologia das relacoes entre campo intelectual e campo politico no Brasil, Comunicacao, 13 (Rio de Janeiro, 1989); Jurandyr Carvalho Ferrari Leite, “Protecao e incorporacao: a questao indigena no pensamento politico do positivismo ortodoxo,” Revista de Antropologia 30-2 (1987-89): 255-75; and, especially, Lima, O santo soldado: pacificador, bandeirante, amansador de indios, civilizador dos sertoes, apostolo da humanidade. Urea leitura de Rondon conta sua vida, de Esther de Viveiros, Comunicacao, 21 (Rio de Janeiro, 1990). On Rondon’s policies as head of the SPI compared to those of his contemporaries, see Lima “On Indigenism and Nationality in Brazil,” in Nation-States and Indians in Latin America, 236-58.

The military origin of the telegraph extension is set forth in Brazil, Ministerio da Guerra, Relatorio, 1899, 46-7; ibid., 1902, 4; Brazil, CNPI, Relatorio … 1900-1906, 8. In contrast to most scholars, Lima recognizes the role of the military in later SPI policy. See, for example, Lima, “O governo dos indios sob a gestao do SPI,” in Historia dos indios no Brasil, ed. Manuela Carneiro da Cunha (Sao Paulo, 1992), 155-72.

20. See Brazil, Ministerio da Guerra, Relatorio, 1901, 164-7; 1902, 60-2; 1903, 40-1.

21. Ibid., 1901, 168.

22. Ibid., 1899, 46-7; 1902, 4; Brazil, CNPI, Relatorio … 1900-1906, 8.

23. Brazil, CNPI, Relatorio … 1900-1906, 8.

24. Brazil, Ministerio da Guerra, Relatorio, 1899, 8-9.

25. Brazil, CNPI, Relatorio … 1900-1906, 9.

26. Ibid., 49, 138.

27. For the influence of positivist philosophy on Rondon’s views on Indians, see Leite, “Protecao e incorporacao,” 255-75. Rondon to Leolinda de Figueiredo Daltro, the right bank of the Bagagem River, Goias, 16 Aug. 1900, in Leolinda Daltro, Da catechese dos indios no Brasil: noticias e documentos para a historia, 1896-1911 (Rio de Janeiro, 1920), 322.

28. Viveiros, Rondon, 126-7; Brazil, CNPI, Relatorio … 1900-1906, 26.

29. Brazil, CNPI, Relatorio … 1900-1906, 26-30, 167. The photographs are collected in an untitled album identified with the note “Construcao das linhas telegraficas no Estado de Mato Grosso,” held in the Miguel Calmon Collection, Museu Historico Nacional, Rio de Janeiro.

30. Ibid., 31.

31. The director of the Teresa Cristina military colony reported that five Bororo deaths at the colony were insignificant compared to the numerous victims in various Bororo villages of the upper Sao Lourenco. Fernando da Costa Leite to President of Mato Grosso, Colonia Teresa Cristina, 1 Dec. 1901, Documentos Avulsos, Arquivo Publico do Estado de Mato Grosso (hereafter APEMT), lata 1901-A.

32. Ezequiel Fraga, Conferencia sobre as missoes salesianas entre os Bororos- Coroados de Mato Grosso (Petropolis, 1920), 12-4; Giovanni Balzola to Revmo. Superior D. Rua, Colonia do Sagrado Coracao, ca. 31 Jan. 1902, in Missoes salesianas em Mato Grosso, 1894-1908, ed. Helvecio de Oliveira (Sao Paulo, 1908), 69-75; ibid., ca. June 1902, 77-8; Ambrosio Turricia to Rua, Colonia do Sagrado Coracao, ca. June 1902, ibid., 92-4. On Salesian origins in Italy, see Sylvia Caiuby Novaes, The Play of Mirrors: Representation of Self Mirrored in the Other, trans. Izabel Murat Burbridge (Austin, 1997), 66-9.

33. Balzola to Rua, Colonia do Sagrado Coracao, 24 Aug. 1902, ibid., 81.

34. Balzola to Rua, Colonia do Sagrado Coracao, 18 Jan. 1903, ibid., 83-4; ibid., ca. June 1903, 87-8; Novaes, The Play of Mirrors, 75.

35. Luiz Lasagna, Missao salesiana: Entre of indios de Mato Grosso (Sao Paulo, 1895), 4.

36. Balzola to Rua, ca. June 1903, in Missoes, 88-9; Turricia to Rua, ca. June 1902, in Missoes, 118.

37. Rondon, “Servico de Protecao aos indios,” O Paiz, 5 Nov. 1912, MI-SEDOC, film 324/fot. 335.

38. Turricia to Rua, ca. June 1902, in Missoes, 95-6; Rondon, “Servico de Protecao aos indios,” O Paiz, 5 Nov. 1912, MI-SEDOC, film 324/fot. 334. A seminal discussion of Bororo village design can be found in Claude Levi-Strauss, The Raw and the Cooked: Introduction to a Science of Mythology, trans. John and Doreen Weightman (New York, 1969), esp. 37-42.

39. Turricia to Rua, ca. June 1902, in Missoes, 95-6, 119; Rondon, “Servico de protec sao aos indios,” O Paiz, 5 Nov. 1912, MI-SEDOC, film 324/fots. 334-5; Curvelo de Mendonca, “Problema nacional,” O Paiz, 2 Sept. 1912, ibid., film 324/fot. 267. On the breakdown of traditional gender relations among the Bororo, see Jon C. Crocker, Vital Souls: Bororo Cosmology, Natural Symbolism, and Shamanism (Tucson, 1985), 45; Viertler, “Aspectos,” 187. All of these practices – religious instruction, changes in spatial organization and dwellings, gender and generational segregation, prohibition of nudity, and strict labor discipline – had been employed since colonial times by missionaries and government administrators in their relations with settled Brazilian Indians. See, for example, Barickman, “‘Tame Indians,”Wild Heathens,'” 339-46.

40. Antonio Malan, “Relatorio sobre a missao salesiana em Mato Grosso, 1908,” ANRJ, Secao do Poder Executivo, maco 97. Malan used the Portuguese past participle reduzido (reduced, decreased, restricted, compressed), a reference not to waning Bororo numbers, although that was also the case, but to the practice, in place since colonial times, of settling nomadic Indians, often by force, in missions. The Spanish commonly called these missions reducciones (reductions), the Portuguese aldeias (villages); both, however, spoke of “reducing” Indians in this fashion.

41. “Uma mystificacao,” O Paiz, 21 Oct. 1913, MI-SEDOC, film 324/fot. 337; Manuel Miranda, “As falsidades e insidias do padre Antonio Malan,” O Paiz, 8 May 1913, ibid., film 324/fots. 308-9.

42. On Duarte’s mission, Rosa’s participation, and life at the colony, see Maria do Carmo de Mello Rego, “Rosa, a Bororo (episodio verdadeiro),” Revista Brazileira, ano 1, tomo 2, fasciculo 10 (15 May 1895): 193-6; Francisco Raphael de Mello Rego,” Indios de Mato-Grosso,” 94-5; Viertler, A duras penas, 61-6; Karl von den Steinen, Entre os Aborigenes do Brasil Central, trans. Egon Schaden (Sao Paulo, 1940 [1894]), 572-96. As a means of colonizing the nation’s interior, Brazilian officials in the nineteenth century established military garrisons or colonias militares in almost every province of the nation. See David L. Wood, “Abortive Panacea: Brazilian Military Settlements, 1850 to 1913” (Ph.D. diss., University of Utah, 1972), iii. Pimentel used Mato Grosso’s military colonies primarily “to prevent attacks by the savages.” For official instructions to military officers regarding Indians, see President to Commander, Military District of Mato Grosso, Cuiaba, 21 June 1886, Registro dos oficios expedidos pela presidencia da provincia aos comandos das fronteiras e colonias militares, 1881-1889, APEMT, fol. 58.

43. The Bororo population at Teresa Cristina increased to three hundred in the mid-1890s when direction of the military colony was turned over to the Salesians, but then plummeted, as we shall see, following a Bororo rebellion in 1897. The number residing at Sagrado Coracao gradually doubled to just over three hundred in 1913. See Cesar Albisetti and Angelo J. Venturelli, Enciclopedia Bororo, vol. 1, Vocabularios e etnografia (Campo Grande, 1962), 219; Miranda, “As falsidades,” O Paiz, 8 May 1913, MI-SEDOC, film 324/fots. 308-9.

44. Viertler, A duras penas, 134; Viertler, As aldeias Bororo: Alguns aspectos de sua organizacao social, Colecao Museu Paulista, Serie de Etnologia, vol. 2 (Sao Paulo, 1976), 20; Brazil, Mato Grosso, Delegacia Geral de Estatistica, “Relatorio,” Cuiaba, 1 Jan. 1911, MISEDOC, film 379/fots. 1054-8; Fraga, Conferencia, 52; Alex[ander] Rattray Hay, Saints and Savages: Brazil’s Indian Problem (London, [1920]).

45. Mato Grosso, Relatorio do Presidente, 1893, 20.

46. On the evolution of Salesian-state relations and the exodus from Teresa Cristina, see ibid., 1894, 12; 1895, 24, 35; 1896, 29; 1897, 31, 36; 1899, 34; and O Republicano (Cuiaba), 12 May 1898, 2; 15 May 1898, 2; 19 May 1898, 2. Albisetti and Venturelli provide the figure for the Bororo population at the colony in Vocabularios e etnografia, 219.

47. Mato Grosso, Relatorio do Presidente, 1899, 35.

48. Malan to Rua, 28 Oct. 1901, in Missoes, 24, 36, 52, 60.

49. Fernando da Costa Leite to President of Mato Grosso, Colonia Teresa Cristina, 1 Dec. 1901, Documentos Avulsos, APEMT, lata 1901-A; Goias, Relatorio do Presidente, 1901, 17; Malan to Rua, 28 Oct. 1901, in Missoes, 62. While the fourth massacre was surely blamed on the Bororo as well, this is not explicit in the documentary evidence.

50. For references to settlements along the telegraph line, see Malan to Rua, Cuiaba, 28 Oct. 1901, in Missoes, 37, 41-2, 46-7; District Telegraph Chief to President, Cuiaba, 12 June 1899, and District Telegraph Chief to Police Chief, Cuiaba, 16 Aug. 1899, both in Documentos Avulsos, APEMT, lata 1899-D.

51. District Telegraph Chief to Police Chief, 16 Aug. 1899, Documentos Avulsos, APEMT, lata 1899-D.

52. Brazil, CNPI, Relatorio … 1900-1906, 61. On the expansion of cattle ranching in Mato Grosso, see O’Reilly, “Rondon,” 80; Robert W. Wilcox, “Cattle Ranching on the Brazilian Frontier: Tradition and Innovation in Mato Grosso, 1870-1940” (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1992), 117-8; Odair Giraldin, Cayapo e Panara: Luta e sobrevivencia de um povo Je no Brasil Central (Campinas, 1997), 101. Mato Grosso’s population grew steadily during these years, increasing from the 60,417 inhabitants counted in the census of 1872 (excluding indigenous peoples) to 92,827 in 1890, 118,025 in 1900, and 246,612 in 1920. Brazil, Directoria Geral de Estatistica, Recenseamento do Brasil realizado em 1 de setembro de 1920 (Rio de Janeiro, 1922-1930), vol. 1, Introducao, 448-50; vol. 4, pt. 1, Populacao, 113. On similar expansion in Goias, particularly the southwestern part of the state bordering on Bororo territory, see Goias, Relatorio do Presidente, 1902, 39.

53. See Cook, “The Bororo,” 49; Cook, Through the Wilderness of Brazil by Horse, Canoe and Float (New York, 1909), 351; Goias, Relatorio do Presidente, 1901, 17; 1902, 11-2; Malan to Rua, 28 Oct. 1901, in Missoes, 61-2, 65-6; Hemming, Amazon Frontier, 414. Such tactics continued in subsequent years: in 1907, settlers wiped out a Bororo village on the Araguaia River, killing some eighty Indians. Novaes, Play of Mirrors, 78.

54. Goias, Relatorio do Presidente, 1896, 12. On local Indian policy in nineteenth-century Goias, see Mary Karasch, “Catequese e cativeiro: Politica indigenista em Goias, 17801889,” in Historia dos indios no Brasil, 397-412.

55. See Goias, Relatorio do Presidente, 1880, Anexo, “Catechese,” 1, 11; 1880, Anexo, “Exposicao que fez o Sr. Major de Engenheiros Dr. Joaquim Rodrigues de Moraes Jardim sobre sua viagem ao Araguaya, Goyaz,” 7, 15; 1881, 17; 1897, 5; 1902, 11-2; Turricia to Rua, ca. June 1902, in Missoes, 97-9; Brazil, Ministerio da Agricultura, Servico de Protecao aos Indios, Inspectoria em Mato Grosso, “Relatorio,” 30 Apr. 1915, MI-SEDOC, film 379/fot. 1068. On conflict between the Kayapo and Bororo, also see Giraldin, Cayapo e Panara, 127-8; and Novaes, Play of Mirrors, 78-9. On that between the Xavante and Bororo, see Garfield, “Indians and the Nation-State,” 762-3; Aracy Lopes da Silva, “Dois seculos e meio de historia Xavante,” in Historia dos indios no Brasil, 367; and J. Romao da Silva, Os indios Bororos: Familia etno-linguistica (Rio de Janeiro, 1980), 20-3.

56. Malan to Rua, 28 Oct. 1901, in Missoes, 62.

57. For official communication relating to this massacre, see President of Mato Grosso to President of Goias, telegram, Cuiaba, 3 Sept. 1901, Registro dos telegramas expedidos pelo governo do estado, 1899-1902, APEMT, fl. 48; Goias, Relatorio do Presidente, 1902, 11-2; Malan to Rua, 28 Oct. 1901, in Missoes, 61-2, 65-6.

58. Silverio Pinto de Mattos, et. al., to Apolonio Demasio Bouret, Colonia Teresa Cristina, 1 May 1901, Documentos Avulsos, APEMT, lata 1901-A; Fernando da Costa Leite to President of Mato Grosso, Colonia Teresa Cristina, 1 Dec. 1901, ibid; Goias, Relatorio do Presidente, 1901, 17; President of Mato Grosso to President of Goias, telegram, Cuiaba, 29 Jan. 1901, Registro dos telegramas, 27, APEMT; ibid., 3 Sept. 1901, 48.

59. Antonio Colbacchini quoted in Novaes, The Play of Mirrors, 59.

60. Fernando da Costa Leite to President of Mato Grosso, Colonia Teresa Cristina, Dec. 1 1901, Documentos Avulsos, APEMT, lata 1901-A; Cook, Through the Wilderness, 351; Goias, Relatorio do Presidente, 1901, 17; Malan to Rua, 28 Oct. 1901, in Missoes, 62.

61. See, for example, Cook, Through the Wilderness, 367, 428, 430; Brazil CNPI, Relatorio … 1900-1906 30, 50-1, 54, 157. Balzola to Rua, 18 Jan. 1903, in Missoes, 84-5.

62. Malan, “Colonia indigena do Sagrado Coracao,” Gazeta oficial (Cuiaba), 18 Apr. 1903, MI-SEDOC, film 324/fots. 417-8.

63. Ribeiro emphasizes such dependence as common to Brazil’s indigenous peoples as they moved through what he defines as four stages of contact with modern society: isolation, intermittent contact, permanent contact, and integration. Even in Ribeiro’s final stage, however, Indians retain a measure of autonomy. See Ribeiro, Os indios, 432-4.

64. Brazil, Ministerio da Agricultura, Servico de Protecao aos Indios, “Quadro sinoptico de dados estatisticos para o recenseamento da tribu dos Bororos…. ” Cuiaba, 1911, MI-SEDOC, film 379/fot. 1057-8.

65. Cook, Through the Wilderness, 429. Settlers are similarly pervasive in an account of travels through Bororo country in 1919 by the British missionary Alex[ander] Rattray Hay. Hay, Saints and Savages.

66. Turricia to Rua. ca. June 1902, in Missoes, 96-7, 106, 115; Malan to Rua, ca. July 1905, ibid., 124.

67. The Bororo have generated an important anthropological literature. See, for example, Viertler, A duras penas; Crocker, Vital Souls; Stephen M. Fabian, Space. Time of the Bororo of Brazil (Gainesville, 1992); Levi-Strauss, The Raw and the Cooked and Tristes Tropiques, trans. John and Doreen Weightman (London, 1973), 199-246; Johannes Wilbert and Karin Simoneau, Folk Literature of the Bororo Indians, UCLA Latin American Studies, 57 (Los Angeles, 1983).

Like historians, anthropologists have tended to overlook the implications of interethnic contact and conflict and to underestimate the magnitude Bororo adaptations. In the 1930s, when Levi-Strauss conducted field work among the Bororo, he was stirred by what he described as the “comparatively untouched” character of Bororo culture in the village of Kejara (or Quejare). That assessment proved central to his subsequent work and, as late as the 1970s, when the total Bororo population was reduced to about five hundred individuals, to the work of other anthropologists. Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques, 215; David Maybury-Lewis, ed., Dialectical Societies: The Ge and Bororo of Central Brazil (Cambridge, MA, 1979), 247. Recent revisions can be found in Novaes, The Play of Mirrors, and the work of Renate Viertler, who recognizes that by the early twentieth century the Bororo “were fragmented according to their acceptance or rejection of a compromise between the old tribal order and the exigencies arising from interethnic contact.” Viertler, As aldeias Bororo, 20.

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