By Daniel K. Lewis
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Extra resources for A South American Frontier: The Tri-border Region (Arbitrary Borders)
In response, the Guaranís launched raids against their enemies. The violence of intertribal relations helped make the tri-border region stand out from adjacent areas. Most tribes that lived along the river basins or in deserts 18 A SOUTH AMERICAN FRONTIER: THE TRI-BORDER REGION or forests reacted violently to visitors. The Carios and other settled groups operated from a position of relative strength. They could afford to assess strangers and their intentions. They attacked those they judged dangerous and negotiated with those who offered something that might benefit the community.
Despite the challenges nature presented, the missions quickly transformed the Guairá territory. Mission farms and workshops were productive enough to produce surpluses. In particular, the missions developed the yerba mate industry to new levels. Yerba mate trees grew wild in the woods north and east of Asunción. To make yerba mate, teams of foragers had to travel to the woods and gather the leaves. In a process that took weeks, the foragers dried the leaves, then crushed and bagged them for transport back to Asunción.
This population would serve as the initial foundation for the development of commercial activities that would tie the region to the developing Spanish empire in the Americas. Nevertheless, the process of developing the lands of the triborder region created circumstances that resisted integration and definition. Although they shared a language and certain cultural practices, political authority under the Guaranís was splintered, dispersed, and localized. Farming practices required the movement of settlement sites at regular intervals.