Following historians like Pekka Hämäläinen, who have done comparable work for North America, Roller’s ethnohistory demonstrates that many of Brazil’s Indigenous people not only maintained, defended, and even expanded their autonomy in the face of Luso-Brazilian colonialism but also engaged creatively with the newcomers.1 Elegantly written and painstakingly researched in sources produced by hostile Luso-Brazilians, which Roller carefully reads against the grain, this impressive book shows how “state and settler expansion looked from the vantage point of still-autonomous peoples” (3). Roller focuses on the two best-documented groups, the Mura in the upper Amazon and the Mbayá-Guaikurú (or Guaikurú) in the Pantanal region bordering modern-day Paraguay, but she cites examples from across Portuguese America. These autonomous groups “shape[d] the form and pace of contact” and their descendants still do so today (24–25).

The first three chapters about the late-colonial period constitute the strongest part of this book. Chapter 1 examines...

You do not currently have access to this content.