A Brazilian government agency says that it has as its top priority saving the Amazon Awá tribe — as Survival International says that a new government survey finds them outnumbered ten-to-one by invaders.
The survey estimates that there could be up to 4,500 ranchers, loggers and settlers now occupying just one of the four territories inhabited by the Awá, whose total population now stands at no more than 450, many living uncontacted in the remaining forest, many of them survivors of brutal massacres. Hired guns are known to have been paid $60 per Awá head by unscrupulous landowners and speculators in the past.
They live in the North East of Brazil, in the Maranhao State, at the heart of the Tiracambu sierra.
The government has been receiving tens of thousands of messages following a campaign launched last month by the actor Colin Firth — you can take action here.
The tribe’s land is being destroyed faster than that of any other Amazon tribe. As the rainy season ends, one of their main hunting areas is now being targeted by loggers. An Awá man named Armadillo told Survival International: “How will we live without the forest?”
The government agency for indigenous people (FUNAI) says that saving the Awá is its top priority but Brazilian Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo has yet to meet the campaign’s demand to send in federal police to clear out the invaders.
Said Survival International Director Stephen Corry:
Brazil is one of the world’s most important countries with one of its most dynamic economies, and it certainly has the resources to protect Awa land. Can it deliver?
If not, and the Awá are destroyed, then is this new ‘economic miracle’ just for the rich and powerful?
Photo credit: courtesy of Survival International