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Mameluco, a person of mixed blood, that is, of Portuguese and indigenous parents. While the term is not used in modern Brazil, mameluco appears frequently in the historical documents of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Mameluco men participated in many Entradas into the interior, for their facility with Amerindian language, customs, and terrain made them valuable middlemen between the coastal townsfolk and the inhabitants of the wilderness. Mameluca women assimilated easily into Portuguese society by marrying Portuguese men. Mamelucos profoundly influenced frontier societies such as São Vicente and Maranhão, which were characterized by extensive interactions with the interior and the late introduction of significant numbers of African slaves.

See alsoAfrican Brazilians, Color Terminology .


John Hemming, Red Gold: The Conquest of the Brazilian Indians (1978).

Alida C. Metcalf, Family and Frontier in Colonial Brazil (1992).

Additional Bibliography

Carvalho, João Renôr Ferreira de. Resistência indígena no Piauí colonial: 1718–1774. Imperatriz: Ética, 2005.

Langfur, Hal. The Forbidden Lands: Colonial Identity, Frontier Violence, and the Persistence of Brazil's Eastern Indians, 1750–1830. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006.

Metcalf, Alida C. Go-betweens and the Colonization of Brazil, 1500–1600. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005.

                                        Alida C. Metcalf

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