The Great Web of Percy Harrison Fawcett. This logo is a trademark of "The Great Unknown, The Great Explorers" and "The Great Web of Percy Harrison Fawcett" - All Rights Reserved

The Great Web of Percy Harrison Fawcett. This logo is a trademark of "The Great Unknown, The Great Explorers" and "The Great Web of Percy Harrison Fawcett" - All Rights Reserved


Candido Rondon

A Friend of the Indians



(Brazilian Adventurer and Explorer)


By Emmanouil Lalaios, FRGS


Candido Rondon was the creator of Brazil's Indian Protection Service (now FUNAI). He is a national hero in Brazil. Shortly before his death in 1956 (aged 90), Candido Rondon was awarded with the military rank of Marshall - making him Brazil's highest - ever ranking officer. The famous motto he created for the Sertanistas was    "Die if necessary, but never kill"

Despite transport improvements in other parts of the world, Amazon travelers still had no contend with exactly the same problems as their predecessors such as dense forests, lack of roads, and dangerous animals. There was even still the risk of attack by hostile Indians.

General Candido Mariano de Silva Rondon was the originator of the Indian Protection Service institution (Servico de Protecao aos Indios) commonly known as SPI. General Rondon was a colorful personality, a blend of soldier and apostle and he was nominated the Nobel Peace Prize from several quarters including the ‘Explorers Club’.


Rondon who had Indian blood because of his mother, was born in Cuiaba, capital of Mato Grosso in 1865. The necessity of the Government to erect telegram lines in Mato grosso and to extend it from Cuiaba to Araquaia on the borders of Goias, forced Rondon to carry out this work to maintain and extend the telegraphic communications.

Between 1890 and 1930, Rondon managed to complete the erection of 4.000 miles of telegram wires in the remotest wilds of Brazil while at the same time he carried out important geographical and geological surveys in the course of which he discovered and mapped no fewer than fifteen large rivers. He was also involved with anthropological and mineralogical studies for the National Museum in Rio.

Rondon joined the famous expedition of Theodore Roosevelt to Rio da Duvido (River of Doubt) as an experienced guide in 1914.

Rondon came into contact with many Indian tribes during his long expeditions, and was deeply shocked by the inhuman treatment to which they were subjected by white men. The Indians found Rondon a great friend and protector. In spite of the fact that he was a soldier, Rondon served peace and fought fearlessly for the Indian’s right to humane treatment, to live a life of his own according to his beliefs and ancient inherited customs.

During his expeditions, and passing through unexplored regions, Rondon was attacked on several occasions by warlike tribes and once has been wounded by an arrow on the Juruana River where his expedition members became very angry and wanted to take revenge on the Indians and it was then when Candido Rondon spoke the words which afterwards became the SPI’s motto:

He was also responsible for sending Sertanistas to make contact with remote Indian tribes to help guide them into the 20th century life.

The famous motto, which he created for the Sertanistas, was

"Morrer se preciso for, matar nunca!” Die if necessary, but never kill!"

A certain Roosevelt time said:

America can present to the world two great accomplishments, to the north the Channel of Panama and to the south the geographic conquests of Candido Rondon.

To this day, anyone who wishes to visit tribes of Indians in Brazil that are not yet civilized or fully pacified must obtain the consent of SPI.

Note:  More details about Candido Rondon can be found in the book of Rolf Bolmberg entitled ‘Chavante, an expedition to the tribes of Mato Grosso’.


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