Friday, July 4, 2014

Brazil Contacted an Isolated Tribe for the First Time in Two Decades


For the first time in nearly 20 years, the Brazilian government has made contact with a previously isolated indigenous tribe after the group was forced to take refuge from illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest.

According to FUNAI, Brazil's indigenous affairs department, the contact was made last weekend near the Peru-Brazil border. It's the first time the Brazilian government has interacted with a previously uncontacted tribe since 1996. The group is believed to have been pushed there by illegal logging in Peru and comes just days after FUNAI warned of "imminent death and tragedy" if the logging didn't stop. 

The group has no name known outside of the tribe, and it's unclear what language its people speak, Kayla Wieche, a spokesperson for Survival International, a London-based group that fights for indigenous rights worldwide, told me.

"There is no name for the group. We can't be sure how the refer to themselves or even what language they speak," she said. "It's difficult to know how many people are in the group in total and how many made contact. One FUNAI official has mentioned a figure of 70, but nobody can really be sure at the moment." 

The contact was somewhat expected, because in recent weeks, Brazil's Ashaninka people, a contacted tribe living near this group, reported many more sightings of the group. Sunday, a large group of them apparently approached the Ashaninka village.

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