Dangers Confronting Indigenous Tribes

Povos Indígenas (Indigenous people) make up a large part of Brazil, including the Amazon.  There are now estimated to be about a million people or 400 tribes of indigenous people that live in the Amazon; most of those tribes are connected to civilization and many even own TVs and computers.

Indigenous Amazonian tribe connected with outside world

But there are also a large number of uncontacted tribes living in the Amazon.  That’s right, these are people that have never had any contact with the outside world. There are over 100 uncontacted tribes around the world, and about half live in the secluded areas of the Amazonian rainforest in Peru or Brazil, who only know life surrounded by nature.  Many of the uncontacted tribal people are believed to be slave descendants who came to the Amazon about a hundred years ago to escape, isolated themselves deep in the rainforest, and then never left.

Uncontacted Brazilian tribe

To imagine that there are many people who do not even know what modern technology is…who do not know what a computer is, nor a car, nor a telephone…pretty crazy to think about, huh?  It’s also pretty amazing that people still live like that.

Another uncontacted tribe

However fascinante (fascinating) these photos may be, they were not taken for exploitative purposes.  Unfortunately, the ongoing deforestation in the Amazon poses a huge threat to many of the uncontacted tribes.  In particular, the illegal logging is jeopardizing the lives of these Native people.  It has expelled many people from their homes, and has also put them into contact with outsiders (either illegal loggers or other tribes forced from their land), which has been life-threatening for them.

The encounters have led to fighting over the land, and the land-hungry loggers are far from peaceful.  They “use pistoleros to clear the land,” which has led to full-out massacres, where the Native people are always the victims.  These violent invasions have resulted in the deaths of many tribe members.

But even peaceful encounters are dangerous for the indigenous people.  As Miriam Ross from Survival International stated,

First contact is often completely catastrophic for ‘uncontacted’ tribes.  It’s not unusual for 50 percent of the tribe to die in months after first contact.  They don’t generally have immunity to diseases common to outside society. Colds and flu that aren’t usually fatal to us can completely wipe them out.

The photos of the uncontacted tribes were therefore published in order to raise awareness about the illegal logging, in a concerted effort to try and stop it.  The goal is therefore to protect not only the rainforest, but these vulnerable uncontacted tribes as well.  Because while the Brazilian government has already made efforts to try and intercept the logging, for whatever reason, the Peruvian government has been quite stubborn about taking action.

Take a look at the video below to see what I mean:

Check out the Survival International website for ways that you can show your support and collaborate to try and change this situation.

And if you’re planning on heading to the Amazon anytime soon…just don’t forget that bug spray!

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One thought on “Dangers Confronting Indigenous Tribes

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