At the time of the discovery of America, the coastal region was mainly inhabited by the Tupi – Guarani, collectively called Tupinambá, from the name of the main tribe. Of their habits and their customs we have since the century. XVI excellent reports that Métreaux has recently assembled in an exhaustive comparative study. Guarani tribes also lived in the inner districts, especially along the Amazon River. During the sec. XVI they migrated in various directions even going very far and it is probable that many of the tribes belonging to this ethnic group who currently live in the interior, descend from the Tupi of the coast. Notable migrations took place by some Tupi hordes across the continent in search of the Blessed Land “where no one ever dies”. The importance of the Tupi-Guarani is made clear above all by the fact that the Guarani language is, in much of the Amazon,geral language, and the examination of the Brazilian toponymy reveals to us how many names originated from these peoples even in the districts where they currently do not reside.
It was with the Tupi that Cabral came into contact when he first landed on the coast of Brazil. A very powerful tribe in the past, established on the upper reaches of the Amazon, was that of the Omagua, whose culture, contrary to that of the great majority of the Indians of Brazil, seems to have suffered a strong influence from Peru. Among other things, they deformed the skulls of their children, compressing the forehead and occiput, until the head took the shape of a miter. However, it seems that neither health nor mental faculties were affected by this harsh treatment. A strong and warlike Tupi tribe, established at the beginning of the century. XIX on the Rio Tapajóz was that of the Mundrucú of which, however, only a few remains remain today. Other tribes of the same group still live scattered throughout Brazil but none of them attain any importance. The once very warlike Parentintins (Cawahibs) of Rio Madeira have recently been pacified by Curt Nimuendajú, a German-Brazilian who has also published an excellent monograph on their customs and traditions. No other group of Indians has participated so widely in the formation of a mestizo population as the Tupi, whose language has also provided Portuguese with a stronger word contribution than any other Indian language. Very few of these tribes have lived or live north of the Amazon River. a German-Brazilian who has also published an excellent monograph on their habits and customs. No other group of Indians has participated so widely in the formation of a mestizo population as the Tupi, whose language has also provided Portuguese with a stronger word contribution than any other Indian language. Very few of these tribes have lived or live north of the Amazon River. a German-Brazilian who has also published an excellent monograph on their habits and customs. No other group of Indians has participated so widely in the formation of a mestizo population as the Tupi, whose language has also provided Portuguese with a stronger word contribution than any other Indian language. Very few of these tribes have lived or live north of the Amazon River.
Widely distributed throughout Brazil are various Arawak tribes (Aruacos) such as the Baniva, the Baré, the Siusi, the Vabichana or Vapisiana and others of the north-west, the Paumari, the Yamamadi and the Ipurina on the Rio Purús, the Paressi in the Matto Grosso, the Mehinacú and the Custenau on Rio Xingú. At the time of the discovery there were also important ones in the lower Amazon to which a large part of the beautiful and original pottery found there is probably due. In the Marajó island, for example, anthropomorphic urns for secondary burials have been discovered, and, at the mouth of the Rio Tapajóz, bowls supported by species of caryatids. Also found idols of stone and jade, of strange shapes, depicting animals and demons. Such relics of an ancient Indian culture are much more closely linked to the civilization of Central America than that of Peru. Remnants of ancient Indian cities have not yet been found nor are they likely to be in the future. But from the narratives of the voyages made on the Amazon River by the first explorers it is evident that the Indians of that time possessed a higher degree of culture than that of the Indians of today and it is therefore very probable that the aforementioned leftovers have been mentioned above. are partly attributable to that period.
According to Maternityetchic, there are numerous Carib tribes, one of which, the Bacairi, of Rio Xingú, is well known for the studies of the explorer Karl von den Steinen who discovered it in 1884. The Bacairi were then in the Stone Age, not at all influenced by the civilization of the Whites, they did not have domestic animals or cultivated plants; they did not know, for example, the banana, which, imported into America from the Ancient World, has become the most important crop for the Indians of the whole tropical zone. The Macusci tribe and others from the region adjacent to British Guiana, the Carijona del Rio Japurá, etc. also belong to the Carib group.
At the time of the discovery, in addition to the Tupi, some populations of a lower cultural level, for the most part collectively designated as Gēs, lived in eastern Brazil. Their distribution area touches the Amazon River basin only along the Rio Xingú. Of this group, the best known tribes are the Botocudo (see) of the Rio Doce and the Cayapó (see) of the Rio Araguaya. It is believed that the Gēs, who as a rule do not practice agriculture but live by harvesting forest products, hunting and fishing, constitute the oldest indigenous population in the region. For the most part they do not own boats and their movements must therefore have taken place not by river but by land. Some affinities with the Gēs, in the ways of material existence, have the Bororó (v.) Of the Matto Grosso, about the culture of which an Italian, Fr. Antonio Colbacchini of the local Salesian Mission, wrote a very interesting book. In addition to the ethnic groups mentioned there are numerous tribes belonging to distinct linguistic groups, of which one of the most important is that of the Tucano in northwestern Brazil including the Cobeua, the Tucano and other tribes that have been carefully studied by Koch-Grünberg. THECarajá (Karayá) living on the Rio Araguaya have been, like the Bacairi, well examined lEhrenreich and Krause). They are linguistically isolated and, like many other species tribes of eastern Brazil, are known for their magnificent feather ornaments, masks, etc.
Many Catholic missionaries have written interesting reports on the habits and customs of the Indians of Brazil: among others it is worth noting that of Father Claude d’Abbeville on Tupinambá and those of the Jesuits Maroni, Chantre y Herrera and other Indians of the upper Amazon. . Here as elsewhere, the missionaries have always tried to protect Indians from the violence of the white settlers, who had, in the past, reached intolerable forms of persecution and exploitation, especially in the districts of rubber production. A special government department for the protection of Indians has indeed been organized under the direction of General Randon, but limited funds and insufficient administrative power have so far limited the area to a few small districts.
Brazil does not have a real “Indian problem” as it did in Bolivia and Peru, where much of the agricultural work is done by Indians; nevertheless, the problem of the future of the Indians is very important, given that in some vast territories the population is largely composed of Indians, and that these, having so admirably adapted to the physical and climatic conditions of the region, are almost indispensable to you.. So where rivers can only be navigated by canoe their ability as rowers often makes them absolutely necessary. Therefore, also from the point of view of its national economy it is necessary for Brazil to protect the Indians from decimation and extinction.