Counting System Ethomatematics of Guarani Indigenous Tribes, Itaty, Settled at “Morro dos Cavalos”, and M'Biguaçu

Sérgio Florentino da Silva Ademir Donizeti Caldeira About the authors


The Guarani are one of several indigenous Brazilian tribes. Since the first Portuguese colonizers arrived to Brazil, the culture and costumes – including mathematical knowledge – and practices of Guarani and other indigenous people were considered inferior and unworthy. Considering this panorama and taking into account the multicultural features of Brazilian school, we present this article with the objective of analyzing the counting system and some graphical symbols of two Guarani tribes, the Itaty tribe, settled at the “Morro dos Cavalos” and M'Biguaçu tribe, located between the cities Palhoça and Biguaçu in Santa Catarina State, Brazil. This ethnographic case study was carried out through interviews with leaders of the Guarani tribes mentioned above. The present study is based on the theoretical principles of the “Ethnomatematics Program”. The results of our analyses made evident that the counting system as well as the symbols employed are strongly correlated to these people's culture, thus playing roles both in quantification and in what we call in this paper as qualitative function.

Ethnomatematics; Indigenous School Education; Guarani Graphic Symbols; Culture

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