Monday, June 2, 2008

The last uncontacted tribes - in danger of extinction

There are about one hundred uncontacted tribes left in our world, i.e. groups of people who have never experienced any kind of connection with our modern civilization. From these, more than a half live in Brazil or Peru. They are in danger to be driven off their land by deforestation and soil resource exploitation. A web site to help the tribal people survive was set by Survival International.
Besides the direct threat of being attacked (especially the loggers often shot them) and evicted by force from their ancestral land, the tribal people are also very vulnerable to the diseases brought by the modern humans. For example in 2003, over 65 percent of Columbia's Nukaak Maku tribe died of disease after contact was made by explorers.


On May 29th, a group from Survival International did several flights over an area between Peru and Brazil in order to prove that tribal people exist there, because Peruvian officials and energy interests have publicly expressed doubt that uncontacted tribes exist in the Amazon (of course they did, so they could simply exploit all the resources in the area).

'We did the overflight to show their houses, to show they are there, to show they exist,' said Brazilian uncontacted tribes expert José Carlos dos Reis Meirelles Junior. 'This is very important because there are some who doubt their existence.'
When anthropologists first overflew the area, they saw women and children in the open and no one appeared to be painted.

It was only when the plane returned a few hours later that they saw these individuals covered head-to-toe in red. 'Tribes in the Amazon paint themselves for all kinds of different reasons - one of which includes when they feel threatened or are aggressive,' Ms Ross says.
Apparently the tribe had the heads partly shaved and also had some plant gardens around their settlement. What they eat, what kind of language they speak, what are their beliefs and customs, nobody knows, and, in order to protect them, maybe it's better for the things to stay this way.
More information about this topic can be found here and here. The source of the photos was Survival International. Please click on the photos in order to enlarge them.

The website of the National Geographic also shows an older photo of an uncontacted tribe taken from an airplane in October 2007. A group of natives near palm huts on the banks of the Las Piedras River in Peru's southeastern Amazon can be seen. The natives are said to be among the 15 uncontacted tribes thought to be living in the Peruvian rain forest.
In this contact between "civilized" and "primitive" people, I really wonder where the real civilization is. Sometimes I think that we, modern people, are the primitives.

17 comments:

CrazyKinux said...

I agree whole heartedly that we should leave these groups alone.

I'll be honest, I was amazed that there were so many tribes which had never had contact with our global civilization - notice that I didn't use the term 'modern' to avoid the stigma of them being called 'primitive'.

I truly hope that their isolation can remain and that governments will prevent anyone from contacting them or destroying the lands within which they live.

CK

Gebeleizis said...

Hi crazykinux and many thanks for the visit and comment.
I was amazed myself finding about the many uncontacted tribes a few days ago... The only way to protect them is to let them contact us in their own term and at their own pace.

torasham said...

you will surprised when i look at our country. more "primitive" tribes than Brazil or Peru. I think because Indonesia have thousands island connected by many sea and rivers.

foongpc said...

There's also "primitive" tribes in Malaysia. But a lot of these tribes are now exposed to the "modern" world.

Inspire Emotion said...

I also agree that we should leave these people alone. And, I wonder if what we have is better......somehow, I suspect not.

Gebeleizis said...

Wow, so many comments! dear torasham, foongpc and inspire emotion, many thanks for the visit and comments.
I agree with the comment about Indonesia. Especially the island of New Guinea has a lot of tribes. Yet, are they really so isolated that they haven't seen any modern people during their lifetimes?
In time, some progress and influence is inavoidable, but I think it should happen at the pace and in the terms of these tribes. If they are not left alone for the time being, they'll be destroyed by the modern influence.

Hategan said...

Many places on this earth also, where no human has ever put his foot on. So places like the one presented in this post, should be conserved. So that the tribe should not die from diseases brought there by civilised people. The tribe will not survive in these conditions. Great Blog overall. keep up the good work. I will get back on you ;)

rain-bow-bridge said...

... dear Gebeleizis, you seem to have turned into a "deus otiosus"... I hope everything is all right... I would like to share a piece of information that might be of some interest to you... but first, I am waiting for a sign... a "handwaving"?!...

Gebeleizis said...

I've been pretty busy lately and had a messed-up schedule. Gradually I am returning to normal and hope to add soon new posts. Hategan and rain-bow-bridge, many thanks for the visits and comments.

rain-bow-bridge said...

... great... I was starting to get worried... but you are right on time for my message... please, check this out, I have a feeling that it might interest you - http://piac2008.wordpress.com (PIAC 51)...

McAlpine said...

This is really amazing.
Anymore pictures ?

Stefanie said...

We should definitely allow these tribes to live peacefully without disturbance from the outside world. It's really a matter of preserving history, I think. We humans have a tendency to ruin things or destroy their mystery when we become to curious about them.

I wonder what the people were thinking when the helicopters flew overhead?

Abhijeet said...

Hi, nice article. I have also witten some of my concerns at my blog.

you can view it at http://ideafest.blogspot.com/2008/05/sons-of-nature.html

Drunken Dragon said...

Wow. Very great post.

I'm looking unique blog for my blogroll, and I like your blog. If you don't mind, can we xch4nge l1nk?
Thank you anyway

Ray Gratzner said...

Hello,
do you have a blog break?
All the best

David Alexander said...

Thank you for doing this work. In the work of Daniel Quinn, it is the people who have not bought into the farming and industrial model that can teach us something... now more than ever.

Sabryna said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Alena

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