"Lost" Tribe Discovered in Brazilian Amazon

Splashing across headlines all over the internet, and capturing the imagination of people around the world is the story of the "discovery" of an uncontacted tribe deep in the Brazilian Amazon near the Peruvian border. The story is actually based on a series of dramatic photographs showing excited men with drawn bows and arrows, tribe members in full body paint, thatch buildings, evidence of gardens, and other random items of everyday life. This BBC link has a nice close-up of one of the pictures, with accompanying explanations of the various aspects of the picture.
The BBC also has a series of seven pictures taken from the Brazilian helicopter that came across the tribe.
This is believed to be one of about 100 uncontacted tribes in the world, although half of them are believed to be in the Amazon. According to officials in Brazil, there are no plans to make further contact with the group, although that does not mean they will be left alone. Historically, uncontacted groups in the Amazon have not fared well after being contacted. Contacting groups tends to introduce illnesses that typically wreak havoc on the groups that have no previous exposure - even to simple things like the common cold. Post-contact, many groups are pressured off of their land, and what amounts to a forced move to assimilation with the national culture. This does not tend to work out so well either. According to Sydney Possuelo, a former official with Brazil's Indian protection agency who founded its isolated tribes department, "In 508 years of history, out of the thousands of tribes that exist none have adapted well to society in Brazil." Certainly, the ethics involved in making the decision of whether to proceed with further contact or leave the group alone are not so clear cut. Leaving them alone now leaves them vulnerable to less than noble corporate interests that actively search the area for oil and logging sites. Making physical contact may introduce illnesses that could decimate the small group, and introduce changes that may erode customs and traditions.
An article by Pedro Fonseca and Terry Wade explains many of the issues that make contact with such groups so complex.
Also check out the Discovery Channel coverage for a little more info.

We also found some video footage with commentary posted on youtube:

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  1. Anonymous6:57 PM

    i like that you put lost in quotation marks. it's an important distinction to make. "discovered" could very well be put in quotes too, no?

  2. Absolutely - although, apparently the government of Brazil did not know of the existence of this particular group, so in a sense, the government did 'discover' them - albeit a discovery for themselves...

  3. Anonymous1:47 PM

    love those pictures - it sounds like they were really frightened by the helicopter. did they know what it was? was it close enough for them to see people inside?


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