Unknown Amazon Tribe – Uncontacted People in Brazil

The Awa people of the Brazilian Amazon

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For the first time, extraordinary aerial footage of one of the world’s last uncontacted tribes has been released. Survival’s new film, narrated by Gillian Anderson, has launched our campaign to help protect the earth’s most vulnerable peoples.

From the Survival International website:

We are Survival, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights.

We’re the only organization that champions tribal peoples around the world. We help them defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures.

Tribal peoples have developed ways of life that are largely self-sufficient and extraordinarily diverse. Many of the world’s staple crops and drugs used in Western medicine originate with them, and have saved millions of lives. Even so, tribal peoples are portrayed as backward and primitive simply because their communal ways are different. Industrialized societies subject them to genocidal violence, slavery and racism so they can steal their lands, resources and labor in the name of ‘progress’ and ‘civilization’.

Our work is preventing the annihilation of tribal peoples. We give them a platform to speak to the world. We investigate atrocities and present evidence to the United Nations and other international forums. We support legal representation. We fund medical and self-help projects. We educate, research, campaign, lobby and protest. And we won’t give up until we all have a world where tribal peoples are respected and their human rights protected.

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We depend on you. We need your money, energy and enthusiasm to help us fight one of the most urgent and horrific humanitarian crises of our time.”

» Survival Survival’s Annual Report 2014 (PDF)

Uncontacted people, also referred to as isolated people or lost tribes, are communities who live, or have lived, either by choice (people living in voluntary isolation) or by circumstance, without significant contact with globalized civilization. Few people have remained totally uncontacted by global civilization. Indigenous rights activists call for such groups to be left alone, stating that it will interfere with their right to self-determination. Most uncontacted communities are located in densely forested areas in South America, New Guinea and India. Knowledge of the existence of these groups comes mostly from infrequent and sometimes violent encounters with neighboring tribes, and from aerial footage. Isolated tribes may lack immunity to common diseases, which can kill a large percentage of their people after contact.

On January 18, 2007, FUNAI reported that it had confirmed the presence of 67 uncontacted tribes in Brazil, up from 40 in 2005. With this reported increase, Brazil has surpassed the island of New Guinea (divided between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea) as the region having the highest number of uncontacted tribes.

Of the known uncontacted peoples of Brazil, according to the above, 16 live in the state of Amazonas, 7 in Rondônia, 8 in Pará, 2 in Acre, 3 in Mato Grosso, and one each in Amapá, Maranhão, Roraima, Tocantins, Goiás and Minas Gerais. Keep in mind some migrate between state lines.

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Current situation, as of 2013

In 2013, FUNAI published a list of 77 bands of uncontacted and recently contacted people, along with a digital map showing the locations. This list includes 23 Confirmed references, 47 references which are under study, as well as 7 references included as “Recently Contacted”. The recently contacted bands are Korubo do Igarapé Quebrado, Zo’é, Akuntsu do vale do Rio Omerê, Igarapé dos Índios, Kanoe do vale do Rio Omerê, and Zuruahá. In addition to the 77 groups listed by FUNAI, Survival International reports 4 more bands of uncontacted people living in the indigenous reservations of Ituna-Itata, Koatinemo, Xikrin do Catete, and Rio Biá.