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In the Chaco region of Tarija, on the southeastern borderlands of Bolivia, the Tobas kept up fierce resistance to colonization by white settlers in the nineteenth century. The Toba (or Qom, in their own language) were a group of semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers who developed a strong equestrian warrior culture after the Spanish conquest. A peace treaty of 1859 sought to stabilize the frontier. In it we can see how the raiding of farms and livestock by the Tobas restricted the expansion of agrarian estates. The white settlers used Franciscan missionaries as their intermediaries while also threatening military extermination of the Indians. As is evident in the treaty’s use of the terminology “Christians” and “savages” to describe the two sides in the conflict, the old conquest framework persisted on the frontier of the new nation.

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