• Categories
  • Archives

These Brazilian Indians Just Wish They Would Be Left Alone

Isolated Awá women, who made contact in 2014 © Madalena Borges/CIMI-MA Two uncontacted Indians from the Amazon have completed an extraordinary journey back to their forest home, having been helicoptered to a large city on the brink of death.

Jakarewyj and Amakaria, uncontacted hunter-gatherer nomads from the Awá people, were forced to make contact with settled Awá in 2014, as they were surrounded by loggers and had contracted flu and tuberculosis to which they had no resistance.

The sisters, together with Jakarewyj’s son Irahoa, had been on the run for years, chased from their land and hiding from the loggers whose “screaming” chainsaws terrified them. “We were scared… We were trapped,” Irahoa revealed. The rest of their group had been wiped out.

The Awá’s allies in Brazil, and Survival (the international human rights organization) supporters around the globe, demanded action and Brazil sent a team of medical experts to intervene. Jakarewyj and Amakaria were emergency air-lifted to the state capital where they eventually recovered.

Isolated Awá women, who made contact in 2014 © Madalena Borges/CIMI-MA

Now both women have decided to return to their uncontacted lives in the forest, despite the ongoing threat of loggers. Contacted Awá have said that the sisters did not like food or medicines they were not used to, or the heat of the village, and that they always spoke fondly of their forest.

It is understood that they covered their tracks after going back so they could not be followed.

Rosana Diniz from the Brazilian indigenous rights organization CIMI said: “We must respect their choice to return to their forest as that is what they want. Although it’s dangerous, it’s the place they know and love.”

Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. Whole populations are being wiped out by genocidal violence from outsiders who steal their land and resources, and by diseases to which they have no resistance. However, where their rights are respected, they continue to thrive.

Many contacted Awá have said that they preferred life before contact. Wamaxua, a recently contacted Awá man said: “When I lived in the forest I had a good life. Now if I meet one of the uncontacted Awá in the forest I’ll say, don’t leave! Stay in the forest… There’s nothing on the outside for you.”

Despite this some outsiders, such as American anthropologists Kim Hill and Robert Walker, continue to advocate “controlled contact” expeditions to forcibly contact tribal peoples and integrate them into the mainstream of society.

However, others have interpreted the women’s decision as a clear indication that many not only prefer life in the forest as it was before contact, but also reject many of the so-called benefits of “progress” and “civilization.”

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “We’re very pleased that Jakarewyj and Amakaria have recovered and been able to make their own decision about how they wish to live. Initiating contact must be uncontacted peoples’ choice alone.

“Those who enter uncontacted tribes’ territories deny them that choice. The sisters’ journey and determination leaves no place for doubt: Uncontacted tribes are fighting ceaselessly to live on their land, and it’s up to governments and all humanity to ensure they can do so.”

Tags:

  • Show Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Ads

You May Also Like

End of a Myth: Hydropower Doesn’t Mean Green Energy

From the Amazon Basin to boreal forests, and from the Mekong to the Himalayan ...

Front and back cover of "The Cantora" by Paulo Cohn

The Cantora: A Historical Novel About Brazil in the Early 1500s

The Cantora (The Native Singer of Colonial Brazil) is both a young adult and ...

Brazilian Army and indigenous soldiers of Tiriós ethnicity work side by side in the border with Suriname - Photo: Brazilian Army

Army and Indians Work Together to Protect Brazil’s Borders

Since its founding in 1648, the Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) has maintained a ...

Brazil Scraps a Dam in the Amazon. There Are Dozens of Others in the Works Though

After the environmental permitting for the São Luiz do Tapajós, Pará, hydropower dam project ...

Brazilian Indians on an European Tour to Denounce Human Rights Abuses

A group of Indigenous leaders from Brazil began, this Monday, a three-week tour of ...

Indians Kick Tear Gas and attack police with arrows - Wilson Dias/ABr

In Brazil, Guns and Tear Gas Are No Match for Indians’ Arrows

  Brazilian Indians defied police repression in Brazil’s capital city on Tuesday, as officers ...

Kaiowá leader Ladio Veron - Photo: Survival International

Let Down by Brazil, Indian Leader Goes to Europe to Save His People and the Forest

Ladio Veron, leader of Brazil’s indigenous Guarani-Kaiowá people, is touring Europe and making a ...