Isolated Amazon Tribe Makes First Contact

But move is a risky one for group in Brazil
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2014 12:22 PM CDT
Isolated Amazon Tribe Makes First Contact
In this 2010 file photo, an isolated tribe in the Amazon watches a plane. This is believed to be the same tribe that just made contact with outsiders.   (Brazil's FUNAI department)

An Amazon tribe that has managed to remain isolated from the outside world is isolated no more. Members of the unnamed tribe have taken what Science calls the "momentous and potentially tragic step" of approaching a group of Brazilian scientists in the rainforest. (It's believed to be the same tribe that was photographed a few years ago by a government plane, notes Vice, though no contact was made at that time.) The government dispatched the team of scientists to the Upper Envira River region after getting complaints from local villagers that members of the tribe had shown up and were raiding their fields.

Brazil has a strict no-contact policy with such tribes—about 70 are thought to exist in the rainforest—but an Arizona anthropologist thinks it made sense to send the team in this case given the "serious threat of violence" that existed between the tribe and villagers. Little is known about the group, and scientists haven't yet identified its language, but LiveScience reports that the tribe likely came from Peru when illegal loggers and drug traffickers encroached on its territory. Maybe they "felt they had nowhere left to go," says a member of advocacy group Survival International. Scientists have quarantined the area because the tribe's members are at high risk of picking up diseases. They'll eventually get to decide whether they want to settle in a village with ties to the modern world. Click to read about another remote tribe thought (by Westerners, anyway) to be exceedingly dull. (More Brazil stories.)

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