Julien Bryan
Production Date: 
Julien Bryan
Charles Newton
Run Time: 
Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs

Establishing shot:Opens with a map of South America and a description of the Amazon and Rio de la Plata river basins and tributaries that border Paraguay. First live action shot is an extreme long shot, through palm trees and past lush hillsides, of Iguazu Falls.
Named locations: Iguazu Falls (1:10), Itagua (4:01), Asuncion (5:13), Gran Chaco (8:20), Concepcion (15:08), Rio de la Plata, Pilcomayo River, Amazon River, Paraguay River, Parana River.


Major themes covered: Julien Bryan film offers rare a glimpse of this small South American republic and the place of Indian populations within it. The history, geography, industry and cultures of Paraguay, especially in relation to its potentially prosperous future and possibilities for foreign investment/development.


Native activities shown:  Maca activities depicted in the film: unknown dance (1:35); splashing water on feet of dancers (1:43); shot of faces of dancers (1:47); unknown dance that appears to move in a circle (1:55); unknown dance and striking wooden poles against earth (2:09); close-up shots of faces of each dancer (2:21); preparing and curing dried beef (jerky?) (2:30); eating dried beef (2:42); belt-weaving (2:49).

Maca activities implied or alluded to in the film: remaining “unabsorbed” (1:52).

Guarani activities depicted in the film: making nanduti or “Paraguayan lace” (4:20); pruning yerba mate plants and collecting/harvesting yerba mate leavess (4:45); roasting yerba mate leaves over fire (4:55); drinking mate (5:05).

Guarani activities implied or alluded to in the film:  killing Jesuits (3:18); creating a “self-contained economy” and practicing “communal living” with the Spanish Jesuit colonizers for over 100 years (3:48); “fusion” of Spanish and Guarani peoples, blood (4:05); Guarani language as second language in Paraguay (4:13, 13:55).

Nivacle activities depicted in the film: harvesting sorghum (10:01).

Individuals Named: None 

Native language spoken: No
Noteworthy elements: 
Produced in 1943 by U. S. Office of War Information Overseas Branch

Print Resources:

Bareiro, Saguier R, and León Cadogan. Literatura Guaraní Del Paraguay. Caracas, Venezuela: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1980.

             *Spanish-language volume compiles Guarani literature and includes introductory contextual notes and a chronology.

Chase-Sardi, Miguel, Augusto Brun, and Miguel A. Enciso. Situación Sociocultural, Económica, Jurídico-Política Actual De Las Comunidades Indígenas En El Paraguay. Asunción: Centro Interdisciplinario de Derecho Social y Economía Política, Universidad Católica, 1990.

             *Provides overview of sociocultural, economic, and political relationships and situations between indigenous people   of Paraguay and the rest of the country.  Features discussions on Maka, Nivacle, and various Guarani communities.

Chase-Sardi, Miguel. Pequeño Decamerón Nivaclé: Literatura Oral De Una Etnia Del Chaco Paraguayo. Asunción, Paraguay: Ediciones NAPA, 1981.

              *Spanish-language work collects oral narratives and myths of Nivacle culture.

Fritz, Miguel. Los Nivaclé: Rasgos De Una Cultura Paraguaya. Quito, Ecuador: Abya-Yala, 1994.

              *Spanish-language overview of Nivacle culture, population, localization and struggles for preservation. 

Ganson, Barbara A. The Guaraní Under Spanish Rule in the Río De La Plata. Stanford, CA Stanford University Press, 2003.

              *This thorough and well-researched study of Guarani culture under Spanish rule focuses on the period from       1750-1800 in which the Guarani engaged in warfare against the Spanish, and relations between the Guarani and the Spanish underwent important paradigm shifts.  Also included are discussion of the pre-Columbian Guarani culture and lifestyles and the violence, enslavement, and disease wrought upon the Guarani by the Spanish missionaries.

Gerzenstein, Ana. Lengua Maká. Buenos Aires: Instituto de Lingüística, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires, 1994.

               *Spanish-language book detailing language structures and grammar of the Maka language.

Lambert, Peter, and R A. Nickson. The Paraguay Reader: History, Culture, Politics.  Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2013.

                *This recent publication collects a number of essays that together provide a general overview of Paraguayan history and politics.  Included in this overview are discussions of Guarani clashes with the colonial Spanish and the Guarani role in the history of the construction of Paraguayan national identity.

Meliá, Bartomeu. Elogio De La Lengua Guaraní: Contextos Para Una Educación Bilingüe En El Paraguay. Asunción: Centro de Estudios Paraguayos Antonio Guasch, 1995.

                *This book discusses the position of the Guarani language in Paraguay.  Addresses topics such as the history and structures of Guarani language and bilingualism in Paraguay.

“Paraguayan Lace.”  Journal of the Royal Society of Arts , Vol. 58, 3004 (June 17, 1910): 726-727.

               *Very informative article about the lace-making practices and professions of Paraguayan women.  Includes historical background and insights.  Discusses the typical patterns of nanduti.  Details the process and production of lace-making, how long it takes and what are the steps that need to be taken etc.  Names Itagua as the center for Paraguayan lace industry.  Goes on to discuss hammock-making. No mention of nanduti being a Jesuit tradition.

Tomasini, Alfredo. Figuras Protectoras De Animales Y Plantas En La Religiosidad De Los Indios Nivacle: Chaco Boreal, Paraguay. Quito, Ecuador: Ediciones Abya Yala, 1999.

               *Spanish-language book discusses role of native animals and plants in the religious myths and traditions of the Nivacle.

Wilbert, Johannes, Karin Simoneau, and Pastor Arenas. Folk Literature of the Makka Indians. Los Angeles, Calif: UCLA Latin American Center Publications, University of California, Los Angeles, 1991.

                *From UCLA’s Latin American Studies Center, this book discusses the folklore and mythologies of the Maka and includes transcriptions/translations of the folklore and mythological narratives.

Online Resources:

International Film Foundation entry for Paraguay:

Includes information about the production of the film, the type of film used in production, feet of footage used, and other production-related details.


PDF of flyer advertising Bryan’s Carnegie Hall lecture on Paraguay:

A glimpse at how Paraguay was advertised in its time.


Native Planet page on the Maka:


Statistics on population, lifestyle, classifications and language of the Maka.



Ethnologue site on Maka language:

Includes statistical information on language usage and development.


“Maka Dance”

A color, contemporary video, narrated in Guarani, of a Maka dance apparently similar to the ones featured in Paraguay.


“Last Maka Indian Chief Has No Male Heir”

AP article from 2011 about the absence of a male heir among the Maka.  Includes paraphrased statements from current Maka chief.


Princeton University site on Guarani language:

Fairly comprehensive analysis of Guarani language structures.  Ostensibly the model for the Wikipedia article ( on Guarani language.


Ethnologue site on Guarani language:

Mostly statistical information about usage, classifications, dialects, and development of Guarani language.


Encyclopedia Britannica article on nanduti:

Explains word ‘nanduti’ as meaning spider web in Guarani.  Discusses traditional patterns.  Identifies lace as being a Spanish colonial tradition. Nivacle site:

Very thorough and informative site includes information on Nivacle history, Nivacle handicrafts, Nivacle communities in Paraguay, and the current political and economic struggles of the Nivacle people in Paraguay.  Details history of relations between Nivacle and Mennonites who settled in the Gran Chaco.  Also includes contact information for Nivacle communities.


Argentinian “Pueblos Originarios” Project Nivacle site:

This  pdf from an Argentinian government agency talks about the belief systems of the Nivacle, including their belief in the inter-relatedness of human and nature, the powerful positions of shamans and warriors among the Nivacle, and the contemporary political and socioeconomic struggles and land disputes of the tribe.

Ethnologue site on Nivacle language:

Statistical information on usage and development of Nivacle language.

Nivacle Foundation:

Site affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Includes an extremely broad and brief history of Nivacle relations with the Mennonites settling the Gran Chaco.   Explains the current working conditions of the Nivacle in the employment of the Mennonites.  Details LDS-led projects and developments and includes links to donate money.

--Adam Iddings, 2013