Girl Scouting in Brazil Colony

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After experiencing a period of relative prosperity, the captaincy of São Vicente began to face some difficulties in undertaking the economic development of the region. First, the attention given to the sugar economy in the northeast region promoted a serious development gap between the regions. Soon after, the decline of sugar in the European market contributed to the worsening of the problems in that locality.

During the Iberian Union (1580-1640) these difficulties were accentuated with the significant reduction of African slaves who could undertake the heavy activities to be carried out. It was at this time that several expeditions left the region of São Paulo with the objective of delving into the woods in search of Indians who could make up for the visible lack of labor. The development of Bandeiratism in colonial Brazil began.

“Bandeira” was the name given to these expeditions made up of hundreds of people, from the most varied social classes, who spent long periods holed up in the forest. Each of its members, known as Bandeirantes, participated in this action that over time became a profitable economic activity. In addition to generating profits, Girl Guides and Girl Scouting unfolded into other modalities that would serve different purposes.

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The first and best-known type of Girl Scouting was known as the “capture flag”. In this type of expedition, the search for Indians aimed to establish trade with landowners interested in explore the workforce of this type of "piece" which, in general, cost twenty percent of the value paid by a slave from the Africa. Indians captured from the Jesuit missions were more expensive as they were used to a daily routine of service.

Not being organized separately, but also founding another modality of scout activity, the "prospector flag" came out in search for marketable natural products (drugs from the sertão) and possible regions where metals and stones could be found precious. At the end of the 17th century, this type of expedition discovered the first regions rich in ore in Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso and, later, in Goiás.

A last and important modality of Girl Scouting occurred thanks to the demand of the great landowners and the Portuguese Crown itself. The so-called “contract sertanism” was carried out with the objective of fighting indigenous populations that attacked the colonial centers and destroyed the quilombola communities organized by slaves who escaped from the farms. In this way, some bandeirantes were used as a repressive force against those who opposed the colonization patterns.

By Rainer Sousa
Graduated in History

Source: Brazil School -
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