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Brazil Amazon Indians Seek International Help to Prevent Dam Building

Juruena river in the Amazon

Juruena river in the Amazon As Brazil celebrates its national Day of the Indian on April 19, a new wave of dam building in the Brazilian Amazon is threatening the lives of remote Indian tribes. Six tribes, including the isolated Enawenê Nawê, face the prospect of up to 11 dams being built along the Juruena river which runs through their territory.

At the same time, an old plan to build five major dams along the Xingu river has been resurrected and will threaten the livelihoods of the 18 tribes of the region. The original plan was shelved in 1989 following massive international outcry.

The remote Enawenê Nawê number just 420 and live largely by fishing. They are protesting against plans by soy companies led by the world's largest soy producers, the Maggi family, to dam the Juruena river for hydroelectric power for the industry.

The Enawenê Nawê, unlike most Amazon tribes, eat no red meat. The dams would severely disrupt the breeding cycles of the fish they rely on, and destroy their livelihood and unique rituals associated with the fishing cycle.

The Enawenê Nawê have said, "The dams will bring our death, as they will raise the uncontrollable anger of the spirits." They have written an open letter expressing their anger.

The Xingu dams project was abandoned in 1989 after the Kayapó tribe staged huge protests and captured the attention of the world's media. The Kayapó are now seeking support for another campaign against the Xingu dams.

"Damming the Enawenê Nawê's river," said Survival's director, Stephen Corry, "would spell disaster for this unique tribe. The dams must not go ahead. As for the Xingu river, it's hard to believe that the Brazilian government is even contemplating this disgraced project again."

Survival is an international group dedicated to help tribal people to keep their lands and maintain their lifestyle.


  • Show Comments (2)

  • AES

    Build a nuclear reactor, if they can put one on a sub they can put one on a soy farm.
    The Pacific Northwest had similar problems with Salmon runs. They built causeways for the salmon to spawn, avoiding the damn. Damns create extraordinary reservoirs in which to stock fish. The TVA flooded entire towns, just to bring light to millions of people. Win some, lose some. They claim the river, but what about the land around the river and the ocean and the entire rain forest. Where do you draw the line. Remember the Aswan damn and Abul Simba they moved the whole damn monument to high ground. The world has other things on its mind now besides 420 neolithic peoples right to have fish, just so millions of school children can have schools and live decent lives. There is global warming for Christs sake. The ice caps are melting, the oceans are rising, themperatures rising, save the fish.

  • c crow

    This is what I think, it is totally disrespect for the tribes and for the nature. The native people around the globe already had to struggle since their way of life was changed forever, and now they still have to struggle with more problems because other people can not understand their ways, and because the progress has always to make its ways, until the day that there won’t be anymore forests, rivers, animals, neither native people left to be the keepers of nature. If there was RESPECT much damage could be avoided not just with native people, but everywhere.

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