The story of Diogo Alvares or “Caramuru,” one of Brazil’s first white inhabitants, is a recurring theme in Brazilian historiography, literature, and imagination. Probably from the town of Viana do Castelo in Minho, Portugal,1 it is suspected that Diogo Alvares arrived in a wrecked ship at the beginning of Portuguese colonization.2 He resided in Bahia for many years (between three and six decades), in sporadic contact with the Portuguese. During this period Diogo Alvares may have maintained relations with French corsairs who were on the Brazilian coast. He learned the languages and customs of the Indians and participated in local wars. According to some sources, he earned the respect of Indian chiefs,3 and evidence shows that he had children with either the “many indigenous women” attributed to him by certain chroniclers, or with Paraguaçu, the daughter of a great warrior...

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