Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PARAGUASSU (par-ah-gwas-soo'), Brazilian heroine, lived in the 16th century. Her father, the cacique of the Tupinambas, gave her in marriage to a shipwrecked Portuguese mariner, Diego Alvarez Correa, who became famous among the savages under the name of Caramuru-Assu, or Creator of Fire. After some years of married life, Correa one day saw a European vessel approaching the Gulf of Bahia, and, suddenly taken by a longing for civilization, made signals to the ship. When he was leaving the shore in a boat that had been sent for him, he was discovered by Paraguassu, and without hesitation she swam after him and was kindly received on board the vessel. Both were landed in France and carried to Paris, where Queen Catherine de Medicis took great interest in the young Indian wife. Paraguassu quickly acquired civilized customs, was instructed in the Christian religion, and baptized under the name of Catherine Alvarez, the queen being hex godmother. They returned to Brazil, and settled among the Tupinambas, near the site of the present town of Velha, where Correa acquired great influence in the tribe. Paraguassu, with her countrymen, aided the first Portuguese settlers, and caused the Tupinambas to submit without great resistance to foreign dominion. The territory of the tribe had been included in the grant of one of the twelve original hereditary captaincies, created in 1532, and the grahtee, Pereira Coutinho, wishing to usurp the cultivated land around Velha, imprisoned Correa on a false charge. Paraguassu immediately roused her tribe, marched at their head against Coutinho, and defeated his forces, and the captain with his son perished in the encounter. The governor-general of Brazil, Duarte da Costa, informed of Coutinho's injustice and fearing the influence of Paraguassu over her tribe, thought it prudent not to molest her. She lived for long years with her husband and family at Velha, where she founded in 1582 the first church, dedicating it to Nossa Senhora da Oracia. Her remains are buried there, but the year of her death is uncertain.
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