The latest case of an indigenous tribe making contact with the outside world is starting to look a lot like so many before, with reports the tribe is fleeing a massacre by drug traffickers or loggers.
The first reports of contact initiated fears from organizations like Survival International that the contact was unlikely to be truly voluntary, as well as the danger of infectious diseases running rampant through a population with no immunity.
The latter has already turned out to be well founded, with seven members of the new tribe treated for flu, although so far treatment seems to have been successful. Now that the people have had a chance to tell their story it is clear that the interactions with a neighboring tribe and medical workers follow invasion of their territory in the form of ruthless killings for access to products in global demand.
FUNAI, Brazil's Indigenous Affairs Department, has released a video clip of positive interactions, between the previously uncontacted population and the Ashaninka, the neighboring tribe with whom they made contact.
However, interpreter Ze Correia says those making contact are young because, “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. They say that so many people died that they couldn’t bury them all and their corpses were eaten by vultures.”
The tribe lives near the Brazil/Peru border. While violence against native Americans is a serious problem on the Brazilian side, the legacy of civil war, corruption and indifference makes the danger much worse on the Peruvian side. Most of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest is leased to oil and gas companies http://www.survivalinternational.org/about/camisea, and the infrastructure they have built makes it easy for loggers and drug growers to access the territory of uncontacted tribes, with frequently disastrous results.
Survival International, an international tribal peoples human rights group has established a petition to the governments of Brazil and Peru to protect the lands of the newly contacted peoples. Those looking for other ways to stop the killings might consider the role of the wealthy word in consuming timber and cocaine that may be sourced from their lands, and petroleum products that definitely are.