Several weeks ago, almost every major press outlet picked up the story of the photographs taken of an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon rainforest near the border between Brazil and Peru. Unfortunately, it seems that fewer members of the media have chosen to keep following the story.
Last week the manager of Peru’s Alto Purus National Park said that contrary to popular belief, the tribe is not Peruvian, and more importantly, are not being threatened by illegal logging. He went on to explain that there are control towers in the area where lookouts keep a watch for illegal logging. The tribe he said is from Brazil, and migrates normally back and forth from Brazil to Peru without knowing the difference.
These comments, combined with the recent news that the Peruvian government has sent a team to the Amazon to investigate the matter makes me think that there really is a problem. Perhaps the government of Peru really does not want to do anything about the issue with the exception of conducting a token investigation. This might be the reason why someone of importance is already dismissing the claim of illegal logging.
One challenge, granted, is the fact that it is ideal and desired to leave the tribe alone. Without talking to them, it is difficult to truly know if they and others have been displaced by logging in Peru. The area of the rainforest in which they live is also notoriously hard to travel through.
The thing that bothers me most about the aforementioned park manager’s attitude is that he thinks it somehow matters whether or not the people in question are from Peru or Brazil. He himself recognizes that they don’t have knowledge of such a distinction. So why should we? It is discouraging that the manager of such an important park and area would have such a cavalier and contradictory attitude toward helping protect the people that have traditionally lived within it, and probably know the place best. Of course, it is possible that he is entirely correct. I’d like to see him provide more proof to back up his claims.
If you want to keep monitoring news about this fascinating situation, you can check in with Survival International, an organization devoted to the protection of tribal peoples. They claim that approximately 1300 people around the world wrote to the Peruvian government asking them to stop illegal logging after hearing about the uncontacted tribe and the threat they potentially face. They have information on their website about how you too can write to the Peruvian government, or donate money to their organization’s efforts to protect tribal and indigenous peoples.
Read More About the Photographs Taken of the Uncontacted Amazon Rainforest Tribe:
Previously Uncontacted Tribe Photographed for First Time Near Brazil-Peru Border
Photo Credit: markg6 on Flickr under a Creative Commons license
If we need to deceive people to get them to stop ruining the planet, then it’s time to give up the fight and “go gently into the goodnight.” While the reasons for this deception are understandable, in the end, all it has done is convince those who will not believe that we who are concerned about the planet are all a pack of liars. And the bulk of the political power in this world still lies in the hands of those who do not, or choose not to, believe.
No-one, except apparently the Peruvian government, thought they were from Peru in the first place!
The point is that illegal logging on the Peruvian side of the border is forcing other uncontacted peoples over into Brazil, and this in turn also threatens the people seen in the pictures.
I really do wish people would stop referring to them as “uncontacted”. The term is not only semantically false (tribes have contact with plenty of other people, and don’t exist in isolation from other tribes), but it also carries at best a naive romanticism, and at worse an ethnocentric notion that they are somehow primitive or uncivilized.
Alicia De la Cruz
Thanks for the follow up on this story.
I agree that is bad the attitute of the Peruvian Park Manager. Do you know what the Brazilian government said about the matter? Do they believe that the tribe is Brazilian? Peruvian? So, who needs to protect the tribe?