"Lost" Tribe Actually a Re-discovery

The claimed discovery of a "lost" tribe deep in the Brazilian Amazon has been revealed as simply a re-discovery by officials in Brazil who made the claims in late May, 2008. (Recycled Minds shared this news back when it happened) Pictures that came with the announcement in May captured the imagination of people around the world, and brought indigenous issues to the masses in a way few other news events have. The mainstream media is calling the announcement a hoax, but this, not surprisingly, is not really accurate. Apparently the tribe's existence has been 'noted' since around 1910, however they have amazingly remained uncontacted. Officials knew there were tribes in the area, and spent days searching until they came across this particular group. An article in the guardian reports on an interview with Carlos Meirelles, an expert on indigenous tribes who works for the Brazilian agency charged with protecting indigenous rights, FUNAI. Meirelles was the official who originally made the claims of discovering the tribe. The article notes:

What he was looking for was not only proof of life, but firm evidence that the tribes in this area were flourishing – proof in his view that the policy of no contact and protection was working. On the last day, with only a couple hours of flight time remaining, Meirelles spotted a large community.

'When I saw them painted red, I was satisfied, I was happy,' he said. 'Because painted red means they are ready for war, which to me says they are happy and healthy defending their territory.'

Survival International, the organisation that released the pictures along with Funai, conceded yesterday that Funai had known about this nomadic tribe for around two decades. It defended the disturbance of the tribe saying that, since the images had been released, it had forced neighbouring Peru to re-examine its logging policy in the border area where the tribe lives, as a result of the international media attention. Activist and former Funai president Sydney Possuelo agreed that – amid threats to their environment and doubt over the existence of such tribes – it was necessary to publish them.

So in short, the tribe was isolated, and apparently previously uncontacted. What was misleading about the original claims was that the existence of the tribe had been documented previously, and officials had an idea of the area in which they lived. That doesn't really sound like a hoax to me - just a slight manipulation to bring attention to an issue that affects the lives of indigenous people not only in Brazil, but around the world.
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  1. Anonymous8:27 AM

    Thanks for sharing this perspective on this development. It's refreshing and way more informative than anything else I've seen.

  2. Also - check out this article for a further take on how this has played out over the last few days, as well as how this 'event' fits in historically:

  3. Anonymous12:01 AM

    Sadly, if their location can be determined by "the missionaries" it's certain they're on their way to "civilize" these "savages."


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