Today in Labour History
Maurits van Nassau, governor of the Dutch possessions in Brazil, landed at Recife in January 1637. By a series of military expeditions against the Portuguese, he succeeded in extending the Dutch-Brazilian domain. The Dutch campaigns were supported by several companies of local mission Indians, Brasilianen, including women. As the need for Brasilianen as military allies decreased after the Dutch victory, they were deployed as workers in the salt pans, wood-cutters, cattle ranchers or cart drivers. The hard and dangerous tasks of cane-cutting and the operation of the sugar mills were done by African slaves. Maurits also encouraged the Brasilianen to spend more time growing manioc, the main agricultural crop. In doing so, the Dutch hoped to ensure an adequate food supply for the African slaves who were essential for the sugar production.
From Mark Meuwese, Brothers in Arms, Partners in Trade. Dutch-Indigenous Alliances in the Atlantic World, 1595-1674 (2012) passim