In June of this year seven members of a previously uncontacted Amazonian tribe living in Peru had voluntarily made contact with another group in Brazil; an event so exceedingly rare, it was cause for concern. It was feared that the tribe had been driven to make the contact in response to some threat, and there was also concern that these people might contract infectious diseases, which has wiped out entire tribes in the past.
Unfortunately, those fears were validated when it was announced that some of the previously isolated people had contracted influenza, for which they had no natural immunity. It was also learned that their tribe had come under attack by loggers and drug traffickers, despite the fact that the land was supposed to be protected by the Peruvian government. The situation seems to have gotten worse, as a second group of individuals from the tribe have made contact with outsiders in desperate need of help.
The second wave of Indians consists of about 24 men, women, and children. Members of this group also reported to be escaping violence, likely from illegal loggers, narcotics traffickers, and oil companies. When the first contact group had confirmed they had been fleeing violence, they had mentioned that older members of the tribe had been targeted.
“The majority of old people were massacred by non-Indians in Peru, who shot at them with firearms and set fire to the houses of the uncontacted. They say that many old people died and that they buried three people in one grave,” an interpreter told the advocacy group for indigenous people Survival International.
Experts warn that this situation could lead to the end of this tribe if considerable steps are not taken. If the violent attacks from outside invaders weren’t enough to do it, the threat of infectious disease just might. While officials in Brazil have been vocal about the need to protect these vulnerable people and offering support, it is unclear how or if the Peruvian government plans to address the problem.
“I’m sad to see that my uncontacted relatives are threatened with extermination, and that Peru has failed to take responsibility. Both the Brazilian and Peruvian authorities must provide the necessary funds to protect them, while there is still time, otherwise one more innocent people will be wiped out in full view of the international public,” Nixiwaka Yawanawá, a member of an indigenous tribe from Brazil, told Survival International.