September 23, 2009

Guarani is Brazilian national hero

Brazil Indian Who Battled Conquerors Recognized as National Hero

By Carlos A. MorenoAn 18th century Guarani leader who fought and died defending indigenous lands from the Spanish and Portuguese armies has become the first Indian officially recognized as a Brazilian national hero.

Sepe Tiaraju, previously unknown to most Brazilians, now shares that honor with 11 other figures in the nation’s history, including an emperor, five military leaders, the inventor of the airplane and the leader of a slave rebellion.

“This acknowledgment is of great significance because Sepe has always been ignored by Brazilians and by history, because he represents Indian resistance to the occupation of their lands, a struggle that still goes on today,” scholar Jackson Antonio Lopes, coordinator of the Indigenist Missionary Council, told Efe.
Sepé TiarajuSepé Tiaraju was an indigenous Guarani leader born (no date available) in the Jesuit mission of São Luiz Gonzaga and who died on February 7, 1756, in the municipality of São Gabriel, in the present-day state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Sepé Tiaraju led the fight against the Portuguese and Spanish colonial powers in the Guerras Guaraníticas (Guarani War) and was killed three days before a massacre that killed around fifteen hundred of his fellow warriors. After two hundred and fifty years of the date of his death he still remains a very influential figure in the popular imagination, considered a saint by some.

This conflict in South America resulted from the land demarcations established by the European powers with the Tratado de Madrid (1750). According to this treaty the Guarani population inhabiting the Jesuit missions in the region had to be evacuated. After one hundred and fifty years living a unique communal life, neither the prospect of returning to the forests nor moving to another place were considered as options by most mission Guaranis.
Comment:  Here are some romantic images of Sepé Tiaraju. And here's a simple but effective piece of Sepé Tiaraju artwork.

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