The Brazil National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) recently announced that it had made contact with an isolated indigenous tribe in the Amazon region bordering Brazil and Peru. The tribe reportedly initiated the contact after disease and violent attacks by non-indigenous people at the head of the Envira River in Peru. FUNAI said that this was the first significant contact with an isolated tribe since 1996
FUNAI has a policy of avoiding unwanted contact and preserving the land rights of indigenous groups. The suggestion that violence and disease in these fragile communities recently forced them off of their land and into contact with authorities, is troubling, indigenous rights groups say.
It’s extremely rare for the tribes to move into other groups’ land unless there is serious trouble, said Fiona Watson, research director at Survival International, an indigenous rights organization.
“This is extremely worrying,” said Watson, who added that her group had found evidence of logging, coca cultivation and drug trafficking near the indigenous-occupied region on the Peruvian side of the border.
“The most immediate question is of the flu. People who have had no contact for so long have no immunity to things like the flu or the common cold, and we know from past experience that it wasn’t uncommon after forced contact for half of the tribe to die,” she said.
For more on this subject see Orin Langelle’s The Unconquered, in search of the Amazon’s last uncontacted tribes-A Review from Climate Connections, October 24, 2011