Origin of the name Ubatuba
Ubatuba: ubá in the nheengatu language means canoe. Uubá is the name of a gramineous
plant or wild cane from which arrows are made. Uuba-tyba means a great quantity of these plants.
According to specialist Roquette Pinto and other researchers of the tupinambá indians, uúba, uyba, ubá
( nheengatu lang. ), uy, uí ( guarani lang.) mean arrow or dart; its the name of a gramineous plant,
wild-cane or mangrove reed also called candiubá or tabaco ( big-sized reeds).A yellow herbaceous
plant without buds that serves to produce arrows, sieves,baskets, cages and others. For specialist Teodoro
Sampaio, the toponym can be understood as "place of canoes or reeds".
Tyba, tuba : suffix that indicates abundance;place with great quantity;place where there is much;site
where plants of the same species grow, or a resting or stopover place for animals and birds, means also
existence, resting place and abundance. With a few exceptions, tyba prevails in the north and tuba
in the south.
Foundation of Ubatuba
The foundation of the Village of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Ubatuba ocurred on October 28, 1637.
Nevertheless the local history has already been researched back to the beginning of the christian era, when
semi nomadic tribes made a living there basically from the harvesting of shellfish and game. Archeologist
already studied the sites of Tenório and Mar Virado where skeletons, arrow tips and other utensils from these
predecessors of the indians were found.
By the time of Brazil's discovery, Ubatuba was known by the Tupinambá indians as Iperoig. Over here a
fundamental diplomatic battle was held over Brazil's future. The tupinambás, the french and the portuguese
fought over this stretch of the brazilian coast.
The french departed from the port of Le Havre commanded by Villegaignon , sponsored by the King of France,
Henry II. In november 1555 they entered the bay of Guanabara ( Rio de Janeiro) with the intent to establish a
french colony, the "French Antarctic Colony". To succeed they had to face the not so despicable
military power of the portuguese, and also the intelectual prowess of the jesuits.
The indians simphatized with the french, hostilizing the portuguese who were trying to increase their
dominion over the brazilian coast. The french cunningly took advantage of the Tupinambá's chieftain Aimberê's
grudge against the portuguese. As a prisoner of the portuguese he had been sentenced to death, escaped, and
became a fierce enemy of the portuguese crown.
Under the rule of another famous chieftain, Cunhambebe, the Tupinambás established an alliance of the
coastal tribes between Bertioga and Cabo Frio, including also some indian groups from the valley of the
Paraíba river with local leaders from Guaratingaçu, Pindubuçu, Aimberê, Paranabuçu and others.
The peace treaty of Iperoig
To face the power represented by the original landowners, the portuguese summoned a pair of negotiators , the
jesuits Manoel da Nóbrega and José de Anchieta, as a substitution for cannons and ships. Their peace mission
was tricky and slow. They succeeded after long negotiations that ment for the proud tribes, an inevitable and
According to the romanticized version of Washington de Oliveira , a local historian known also as
"Seo" Filhinho", the story goes like this :
" When the travelers finished the last step of their voyage, arriving at the beach where gathered indians
stood with visible uneasyness, they found themselves suddenly surrounded by a great number of canoes with
hostile looking indians, so as if to hinder their arrival on the sands of Iperoig.
But a great surprise took place: the ferocious indians, Tamoios who lived here, receptioned them stunned,
flabbergasted by so much boldness, subjugated by the venerable presence of Anchieta who standing at the bow of
the ship entoned soothing and pacifying words spelled in the Tupi language, involving himself with an aura of
thrustworthyness and simphathy, he who later would be considered Brazils playwright ".
Cunhambebe, tall strong and herculean, fearless and fierce, was the supreme chieftain of the Tupinambá tribes,
now confederated within the great Tamoio nation set to hold vengeance against the portuguese. Taking them to
his settlement Cunhambebe ruled an utmost protection to the missionaries, ordering the reconstruction and
enlargement of the small church so that they could celebrate more unencumbered the holy ceremonies. The day of
September 14, 1563 was chosen to sign the peace treaty of Iperoig, between the Indians and the Portuguese.
Anchieta and the Indians
The jesuits Nóbrega and Anchieta achieved peace with the Tupinambás. The portuguese consolidated their
dominion, expelling the french from the Bay of Guanabara and founding the city of Rio de Janeiro in 1567.
Anchieta, the Apostle of Brazil, author of the famous poem to the Virgin Mary written on the sands of the Praia
do Cruzeiro beach in Ubatuba, learned to appreciate the taste of the Sauba Ant, the Ant Bear and lizard. A
proof of the capability to adapt of the religious men of that time, real ambassadors of the christian culture
that pevailed triumphantly in major parts of the world.
Anchieta ended up with a taste for appetizers strange to his european upbringing. He quotes about "
roundish and lenghty vermins ,the size of a finger " that occur within the reeds, called rahu by the
indians and of which they make a stew whose taste in nothing differs from stuffed pork ". Anchieta only
resisted bravely against the temptations of the other kind of flesh , despising the beautiful squaws who
invited him to the pleasures of sex.
When the indians had been pacified, or better, expelled step by step from their settlements, the colonists
arrived . Jordão Homem da Costa, founder of Ubatuba was a portuguese nobleman from the Açores islands. He
arrived at the beginning of the 17th. century, establishing the settlement of Ubatuba on October 28, 1637.
Following his steps in the colonization of this part of the seaside came names like Gonçalo Correa de Sá,
Artur de Sá, Belchior Cerqueira, Miguel Pires de Isasa, Antonio de Lucena, Inocêncio de Unhate and Miguel
Gonçalves. The colonists were given "sesmarias" ( extensive land domains), assuming the obligations
to test and defend the land. A few remaining Tupinambás refugiated themselves within the Mata Atlântica
jungle to survive in freedom, poverty and always chased by the new owners of the land.