The Guaranies: Early Migrations into the Andean Cordillera

For some ethnohistorians, the Guarani migrations into the Andean foothills started in the thirteenth century or even earlier (Julien 2005, 2006, 2007; Susnik 1968, 1973, 1975). By this time, it is likely that this region was already populated by a range of Chiquitano- and Arawak-speaking populations (Figure 3.3.) (Combes 2005; Metraux 1942, 1963; Norden- skiold 1917; Riester 1995; Saignes 1985, 1990; Susnik 1968, 1975). Colonial accounts indicate the presence of Xaraxes, Tamacocci-Chane, and Taparecosi tribes in the Southeastern Andean savannas, lying between the Cordillera and the Chiquitano Mountains (Combes 2005:107; Susnik 1968, 1975). For the Southwestern Andean foothills, Colonial accounts also report Chanes, Payzuno, and Chimeos, all segments of the more sedentary Arawak agriculturalists (Combes 2005; Julien 2005; Susnik 1968). Because of their role as intermediaries, some of these peoples are considered central in the exchange networks that crossed the region. Most likely, these circuits were part of the ancient peabire, an ancient communication corridor that linked the western Andes with the lower Amazon and southern Brazilian coast (Combes 2011; Vieira Cavalcante 2008).

Therefore, it is likely that the arrival of the Guarani into the region of study took place at different times and places. Whereas some Chiriguano

Southeastern Bolivia and northern Paraguay

Figure 3.3. Southeastern Bolivia and northern Paraguay: distribution of main ethnic groups in the tropical piedmonts, savannas, and the Chaco. Map based on Susnik 1978.

groups descended from the Guaranies of the northern Pilcomayo region in Paraguay, others may have originated from the eastern Matogrosso in Brazil (Combes 2005; Susnik 1968, 1975). This certainly contributed to the formation of numerous Guarani tribal segments with different levels of political affiliation. To illustrate, Chiriguano groups already settled in the Southern Andean Cordillera are often described as “Old Chiriguanos” or “Chiriguanos de la Cordillera,” whereas later migrants received the denomination of “New Chiriguanos” (Julien 1997; Susnik 1968).

These complex relations were also linked to emerging social inequalities, particularly in relation to other ethnicities. For example, while the Guaranies called themselves “ava,” non-Guarani populations, particularly the Arawak, were considered “tapii,” or “servants” (Combes 1992; Julien 1997; Susnik 1968). The distinction between ava and non-ava is central to understanding why Guarani-Chiriguanos engaged in fierce cycles of war against other populations, and even felt compelled to enslave, kidnap, and even ritually cannibalize them. In fact, cannibalism was an enduring Guarani tradition, used as an effective psychological weapon of war against their enemies. Altogether, the enslavement of non-ava men and women ensured Guaranies with enough labor for agriculture, providing them with the opportunity to freely engage in emerging cycles of warfare elsewhere. By using tapii women as temporary consorts, it was also possible to expand the pool of Guaranized warriors (Combes 1992; Pifarre 1989; Riester 1995; Susnik 1968).

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