Rejecting the conventional presumption that violent indigenous resistance to colonization had become all but ineffectual by the late colonial period in Portuguese America, this article uncovers ample archival evidence of successful raiding and other military maneuvers by Brazil's eastern Indians,especially the Botocudo and the Puri. By carefully examining the comportment of both colonizers and colonized, it elucidates how each employed various forms of violence to achieve and communicate incompatible objectives. In particular, the peculiarities of the encroaching slave-holding Luso-Afro-Brazilian society presented Indians with diverse opportunities to impede expansion. They did so by understanding their adversary's culture and translating that understanding into acts orchestrated to achieve the greatest possible effect. As such, armed conflict did not represent the cessation of cultural interaction on this colonial frontier; rather, it was an essential means by which that interaction occurred. Over time, mutual bloodshed and brutality evolved to constitute a shared language and praxis, at once symbolic and concrete.

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