Uncontacted Indians ‘abandoned to their fate’

By agency reporter
30 Mar 2014

Survival International, the organisation which campaigns for tribal people, has warned that the uncontacted Amazon Indians recently photographed from the air have been abandoned to their fate after drug smugglers and illegal loggers overran a government post that had been monitoring the Indians’ territory.

The Indians, near the Xinane river in Brazil’s Acre State, are just over the border from Peru, where activists have long denounced the scale of illegal logging in isolated Indians’ territories.

The recently-photographed group also faces a serious threat from a road reportedly built into the area by the Acre state government – regional indigenous organisations have said this could devastate the uncontacted Indians on the Xinane River. Previous road-building projects in the Amazon have wiped out countless tribes.

In recent months several groups of uncontacted Mashco-Piro Indians have been spotted along river banks on the Peruvian side of the border, prompting further speculation that illegal logging is pushing them out of their previous isolation.

The Brazilian and Peruvian authorities last week signed an agreement to improve cross-border coordination, in an attempt to safeguard the welfare of the many uncontacted Indians living in the border region.

Nixiwaka Yawanawá is an Amazon Indian working with Survival to speak out for indigenous rights. He is from the same region as the tribe recently photographed. He said today, "They are my brothers. It is exciting to see that they are living in the way they want. The government must protect their territory; otherwise, they could be destroyed and the government would be responsible."

Survival Director Stephen Corry said, "The only thing that will ensure the survival of modern-day uncontacted tribes is for their land to be protected. They have the right to decide whether to make contact with outside society, rather than be destroyed at the hands of an invading society. It’s vital that Brazil and Peru work together to protect the land of uncontacted tribes. History shows that when these rights aren’t upheld, disease, death and destruction follow."

[Ekk/4]

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