Bandeirantes

Explorers, slavers, and fortune hunters in colonial Brazil (15th-18th centuries)

Though they originally aimed to capture and enslave Indians, the bandeirantes later began to focus their expeditions on finding gold, silver, and diamond mines. As they ventured into unmapped regions in search of profit and adventure, they expanded the effective borders of the Brazilian colony.

Before there were bandeirantes there were Paulistas. Brazil was originally a coastal strip between mountains and sea dominated by slave-worked sugar plantations. When the Portuguese crossed the mountains to the São Paulo plateau they were cut off from the sea and faced a great wilderness to the north and west where they might find their fortunes or die trying. The coastal Portuguese used African slaves while the Paulistas used Indian slaves or workers and many were part-Indian themselves.