Indians

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When the Portuguese settlers arrived in the south of Bahia, in 1500, the littoral was occupied by the Tupi-Guarani Indians.

When the Portuguese settlers arrived in the south of Bahia, in 1500, the littoral was occupied by the Tupi-Guarani Indians. In Bahia’s seashore lived two big groups of the Tupi nation: the tupiniquins and the tupinambás. The first group inhabited the stretch that goes from Camamu to the state of Espírito Santo. The second group dominated the vast littoral area from Sergipe to Ilhéus. In the interior lived the Aimorés and the Botucudos, who were only known by the Portuguese years later.

Since the beginning, there was a pacific trading relationship between the Indians and the settlers. The Indians supplied food, wood for construction and manpower to cut trees. In exchange, they received tools, clothes and other utensils introduced in their lives when they had contact with the Portuguese. 

According to the anthropologist, Maria Hilda Baqueiro Paraíso, as the colonization process advanced, it became more extensive and demanding and the settlers started to change their relationship with the Indians. The attempts to slave the Indians started to become more effective. On the other hand, they provoked the Indians’ reaction, who didn’t accept this new relationship. In the fights against the settlers, the Tupiniquins were exterminated. Allied to ecological and biotic factors, such as smallpox epidemics, this process resulted in the death of two thirds of the indigenous population of the far south of Bahia, in the second half of the 16th century.  

 

Bahia’s Indians

When the Portuguese settlers arrived in the south of Bahia, in 1500, the littoral was occupied by the Tupi-Guarani Indians.

When the Portuguese settlers arrived in the south of Bahia, in 1500, the littoral was occupied by the Tupi-Guarani Indians. In Bahia’s seashore lived two big groups of the Tupi nation: the tupiniquins and the tupinambás. The first group inhabited the stretch that goes from Camamu to the state of Espírito Santo. The second group dominated the vast littoral area from Sergipe to Ilhéus. In the interior lived the Aimorés and the Botucudos, who were only known by the Portuguese years later.

Since the beginning, there was a pacific trading relationship between the Indians and the settlers. The Indians supplied food, wood for construction and manpower to cut trees. In exchange, they received tools, clothes and other utensils introduced in their lives when they had contact with the Portuguese. 

According to the anthropologist, Maria Hilda Baqueiro Paraíso, as the colonization process advanced, it became more extensive and demanding and the settlers started to change their relationship with the Indians. The attempts to slave the Indians started to become more effective. On the other hand, they provoked the Indians’ reaction, who didn’t accept this new relationship. In the fights against the settlers, the Tupiniquins were exterminated. Allied to ecological and biotic factors, such as smallpox epidemics, this process resulted in the death of two thirds of the indigenous population of the far south of Bahia, in the second half of the 16th century.  

Settlers decided to make expeditions to the interior of the country to captures Indians, because of that the Aimorés Indians, also known as Grens or Botucudos, declared war to the Portuguese. The first references to the Aimorés are from the 16th century, reporting the first attacks to villages located at the littoral of Ilhéus and Porto Seguro. Other tribes mentioned in the reports about the combat are the Merian, Mongovó, Kamacã and Pataxó, who lived in the inlands but made incursions to the littoral since the 16th century.

The Tupinambás started to live among the settlers, in the littoral, and suffered a lethal process of vast proportions. In Bahia, the Jesuits counted up to 40 thousand Christian Indians. In 1585 they were reduced to 10 thousand. The rest were distributed between deceased, runaways or slaves. By the end of the 16th century and beginning of the 17th, the numbers of Tupinambás in Bahia was very small.

 

Indigenous peoples of Bahia

Pataxó – With a population of 3.951 Indians in an area of 10.194 hectares, the tribe is located near the cities of Prado, Itamaraju, Porto Seguro and Santa Cruz Cabrália, in the far south of Bahia.

Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hã – With a population of 2.308, they occupy an area of 54.308 hectares, near the cities of Itaju Colônia, Camacã and Pau Brasil, in the south of Bahia.

Olivença’s Indians – Funai has no register of the correct number of Indians or the area occupied by the tribe that lives near Ilhéus, in the south of the state.

Pankaru – With a population of only 90 Indians, they occupy an area of 981 hectares, in the region of Ramalho Mountain, in Baixo São Francisco.

Pankararé – The population of 1.470 Indians live in an area of 64.997 hectares, located between Paulo Afonso and Gloria, in the north of Bahia.

Kiriri – With a population of 1.410, they occupy an area of 12.362 hectares, located in the surroundings of the cities of Muquéem do São Francisco, Quijingue and Banzaê, in Bahia’s central region.

Tuxá – With a population of 850 Indians, they occupy an area of 6.998 hectares located near the city of Rodelas, in the north of Bahia.

Xukuru-Kariri – With a population of 90 people they lived in an area of 39 hectares, near the city of Glória.

Kanturaré – With a population of 250 people they occupy an area of 1.695 hectares near the city of Glória.

Kaimbé – Its population of 1.320 inhabitants occupies an area of 8.020 hectares, located near the city of Euclides da Cunha.

Aticum – With a population of only 50 people, they live in an area of 20.000 hectares located in the region of Angical.

Tumbalala – There’s no register of the number of people in this tribe. The small community lives in the region of Abaré and Curaçá.

 

 

Tupi, the language of the Indians

In the first years of colonization around six million Indians spoke more than a thousand languages. The colonization and civilizing policies resulted in the disappearance of around 85% of these languages. Today, there are only 180 indigenous languages spoken in Brazil by 330 thousand Indians, approximately, and by some communities in the north of the country. The indigenous languages that disappeared were mainly the ones spoken in areas where the colonizing process was long and intense: southeast region and most of the northeast and south, especially in the littoral.

Visitors and missionaries referred to this language as the language of the Indians or the language of Brazil. It was predominant in the first two centuries of the colony, spoken not only by Indians but also by the Portuguese and their descendents and Africans becoming the general language of a territory that comprehended a large area from São Paulo to Minas Gerais. The language was largely used until the 18th century, when Portugal’s government banned its use, in 1775.

The imposition of the Portuguese language upon the indigenous people started at that moment, through the religion missions. Nowadays, we can only find speakers of the so called modern Tupi (or nheegatú), in Amazonia, from different ethnicities. The old Tupi is no longer spoken; it’s only found in documents written by the Jesuits and in some notes of other missionaries and visitors. 

Tupi had a considerable influence in the development of the Portuguese language and Brazil’s culture. At least 10 thousand words were incorporated to the Portuguese spoken in Brazil.
 

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