Uncontacted tribes exist around the world and late last week the speculated existence of one group in the Amazon region was confirmed. The Brazilian Government has taken aerial photography of tribal peoples who live close to the Peruvian border in complete isolation from the modern world. The photograph shows Indians painted red and aiming longbows at the aircraft.
This tribe forms part of a larger global community of uncontacted peoples whose isolation is under threat from modernisation. The Amazon region is home to approximately 60 of the world’s 100 uncontacted tribes.
The overflight at the Brazilian-Peruvian border was undertaken to confirm the presence of the tribe “to show they are there, to show they exist,” said Jos√© Carlos dos Reis Meirelles J√∫nior who works for FUNAl, the national foundation for Indians. Stephen Corry the director of Survival International commented about the recent photographs,
‚ÄòThese pictures are further evidence that uncontacted tribes really do exist. The world needs to wake up to this, and ensure that their territory is protected in accordance with international law. Otherwise, they will soon be made extinct.’
Research from FUNAI shows that population numbers are increasing within this group, but that for many others nearby numbers are dwindling. One of the main reasons for this is illegal logging in Peru. Survival International believes that
“logging is driving uncontacted tribes over the border and could lead to conflict with the estimated five hundred uncontacted Indians already living on the Brazilian side.”
Loggers have forcibly removed uncontacted tribes from Peru into Brazil, where “the area is regularly full of smoke from the burning of recently-logged areas“.
The lives of tribal peoples in the Amazon region are increasingly at risk as illegal logging spreads, infrastructure projects restrict movement across lands and as first contact introduces disease to the communities. History shows the trying survival of these groups who have suffered massacres brought about by planned submission policies, cattle ranches, oil exploration activities and the introduction of disease. Meirelles added,
‚ÄòWhat is happening in this region (in the Amazon near the Peruvian border) is a monumental crime against the natural world, the tribes, the fauna and is further testimony to the complete irrationality with which we, the ‚Äòcivilised’ ones, treat the world’
Survival International, the only global NGO working to protect the rights of all uncontacted peoples, has launched an urgent campaign regarding land protection. A short video narrated by actress Julie Christie can be watched from their website or on Youtube.
Further efforts are being made to protect uncontacted peoples. The Brazilian government endorses a no contact policy in relation to tribes of the region, however, land rights in Peru are not strongly recognised which results in persistent land-grabbing. The Brazilian government, in addition to recognising the traditional land rights of native peoples has recently unveiled a credit program to discourage illegal logging.
The Sustainable Amazon Plan offers low-interest loans (4% annual interest, below the national benchmark of 11.75%) for farmers to develop sustainable sources of income and protect rainforest areas. The Brazilian government is also providing 40,000 families that were traditionally involved in logging industries with social security and unemployment benefits. The national integration minister, Geddel Vieira Lima said,
“We are reaffirming the concept that the Amazon is not only a mass of trees, but also of the more than 24 million Brazilians who live there”
The Brazilain program, however, has been criticized in light of concurrent promotion of infrastructure projects in the area, which was linked to the resignation of the Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva on May 14. It was reported that her opposition to many megaprojects, both planned and underway in the Brazilian Amazon, often created conflict with the countries economic development program (Link Here).
More information about Survival Interntaional can be found on their website