Terena - History and Cultural Relations

The Guana people, traditionally cultivators, maintained a vassalage relation with the Mbayá-Guaikuru of the Paraguayan Chaco: they supplied them with food and textiles, receiving in exchange knives, axes, and protection. From the mid-eighteenth century on, as a consequence of conflicts with the colonial powers, the Guana people began to migrate to Brazilian territory—to the Miranda region where the Terena are located today. Of the four Guana groups that migrated, the Exoaladi disappeared soon thereafter, followed by the Layana in the twentieth century; only a few members of the Kinkinau survive with the Terena. The Kinkinau, who had been cultivators in the Chaco, continued to practice agriculture, bartering or selling excess food or textile articles to the region's Indian and non-Indian population. The Terena fought side by side with Brazilian troops during the war against Paraguay in the 1860s. At the end of the war, the Terena villages lay in ruins and the population had been dispersed to the region's farms, working under quasi-slavery conditions; in the early twentieth century, Terena reservations were established and their territories defined, enabling the population to regroup once again into villages.

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