US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Fate of 'uncontacted' tribe feared

Kevin Clarke | Print this pagePrint |

In the current issue I reviewed some of the threats to the remaining "uncontacted" people in South America ("Leave no trace: "Uncontacted" people in South America"), noting the identification of one indigenous group recently by Brazilian authorities. I was mostly thinking way-of-life, ecosystem, culture, though a Brazilian government minister indeed worried about threats to their lives. Now some in Brazil are worried that threat has come to pass. An uncontacted community of indigenous who ranged between Peru and Brazil has disappeared. There is some indication that they may have fallen afoul of drug traffickers who were attempting to establish a transit point along a river in the area.

The indigenous group were apparently driven by illegal logging from Peru into Brazil, and they have been previously filmed and photographed from the air. But now no trace of the community has been found after heavily-armed men destroyed a guard post in western Brazil around 32 miles from the Peruvian border. The village they were living in appears to be uninhabited. Brazilian authorities report the indigenous group may have fled. That could be the most hopeful outcome.

A group of about 40 armed drug traffickers were seen in the isolated area. They had previously raided another village of indigenous people. The Brazilian government dispatched security forces but so far all they've uncovered is a backpack with an indigenous arrow in it.

Logging, agricultural and illegal mining interests had been among the sorry collection of threats to these uncontacted communities, as many as 70 may remain in the Amazon region. Now we can apparently add drug traffickers to the list.

Find out more about uncontacted tribes at Survival International