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Hello World? This is an Unknown Tribe Calling

Hello World? This is an Unknown Tribe Calling

In the depths of the Amazon, a handful of indigenous groups (estimated at less than 100 tribes) live in extreme isolation, effectively cut off from the rest of the world. While many are monitored by government agencies in nations like Peru and Brazil, they have limited interactions with the outside world, existing in a state outside the international economy and far from the reach of social changes. Recently, though, one such group made the decision to voluntarily establish contact, and some anthropologists as well as human rights activists are concerned that it may have been a lethal choice.

The tribe, which lived along the border between Peru and Brazil, reached out to the Asháninka, a settled indigenous group that has played an active role in advocating for indigenous rights in the region. They also met with representatives of government agencies and scientists. In their initial meeting, tribespeople who had previously only been seen from overhead on flights over their settlements communicated directly with the people and agencies who are theoretically in a position to protect them.

The decision to reach out wasn’t voluntary. It was the result of pressures including illegal logging and drug plantations, which forced members of the tribe out of their own territory. As they edged further and further from home, they also wound up closer to communities settled by other indigenous people and more closely monitored by the government. These indigenous people are reaching out for help, reporting that despite the government’s efforts, illegal logging and drug trafficking are serious issues in the isolated stretches of the rainforest they used to call home.

Sadly, their move could have tragic consequences. Tribes who have had little to no contact with the outside world are extremely vulnerable to pathogens to which many of us are immune, simply because they’ve never been exposed to any form of these diseases. Even worse, many ordinary people are carriers of diseases that could cause severe illness or even kill people without any kind of immunity, which could doom this tribe even as it seeks help to face down the destruction of its traditional way of life. Influenza, whooping-cough, and other common diseases take on a whole new dimension among people without previous exposure or who have not been vaccinated, and health officials are already dispatching teams to deal with a predicted upsurge in disease.

Anthropologists warn that such situations will become more common if the governments of South America do not act to protect the regions inhabited by indigenous people. This includes taking more aggressive steps against illegal logging and drug cultivation, as well as actively working with indigenous people to address the issues they’re most concerned about.

If the government doesn’t take action, indigenous people and anthropologists warn, some remote tribes could die out entirely, facing a wave of genocide similar to that experienced when Europeans first colonized the region.

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Photo credit: Diego Torres Silvestre.

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109 comments

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6:20PM PDT on Jul 26, 2014

Thanks

3:25PM PDT on Jul 21, 2014

An illness that would be a minor inconvenience for you or me for just a couple of days could easily cause many deaths in this tribe.

4:21AM PDT on Jul 21, 2014

thank you

3:56AM PDT on Jul 20, 2014

Thank you.

5:24PM PDT on Jul 19, 2014

Laissons ces tribus vivrent en paix. Il ne faut pas détruire leur habitat ni leur vie actuelle. Peace.

1:50PM PDT on Jul 19, 2014

I agree, leave them alone, they are smarter than we are, look at the mess the world we live in is in .

1:37PM PDT on Jul 19, 2014

They do need to be protected. They can probably live without us just fine...

10:28AM PDT on Jul 19, 2014

History repeats itself...

It's questionable whether any government - a.k.a. business leaders, lobbyists lap dogs - will act to protect the regions inhabited by indigenous people...

Money talks.


8:54AM PDT on Jul 19, 2014

For 50 cents per acre, allow contacted and uncontacted indigenous peoples to stay on their Amazon rainforest lands (and protect those lands from destruction):

https://www.rainforesttrust.org/acres-for-50cents/

(For more detail on indigenous peoples on these 5.9 acres in Peru, here is a longer description):
https://www.rainforesttrust.org/projects/tropical-rainforest/peru/

6:48AM PDT on Jul 19, 2014

Sur Facebook : site du chef Raoni contre le barrage qui détruirait tout leur habitat. Allez signer la pétition. MERCI !!!!

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