Uncontacted Peoples

Soon I’ll be guestblogging on the website of Colombian documentary filmmaker Antonio Dorado‘s upcoming documentary, In Search of One River, inspired by the Amazon journeys of ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, whom I’ve written about here before.

Thanks to Juan Carlos Paredes for offering me the guestblogging opportunity, and to the Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl for the creation of the Friday Fact that lead me to blog about Schultes — which led Juan to me all the way from South America. It turned out to be more fun to come across a strange and wonderful fact naturally than to dig one up every Friday, but I thank the BRBCG nonetheless. :0)


Today I learned about isolated peoples, something I figured existed but never thought about much before today. According to Wikipedia,

There are several uncontacted tribes in New Guinea and Amazonia, including the Tagaeri band of Huaorani (Ecuador) and Kirineri, Nahua and Nanti peoples in the Nahua-Kugapakori Reserve (Peru). Recently, the Brazilian government has released photographs and new information about an isolated tribe living near the Peruvian border; they have decided to make the information public now because the tribe’s habitat is in danger due to logging, much of which occurs illegally and unregulated. Although the Brazilian Government have had some knowledge of the tribe’s existence since 1910, no contact has been made. Many advocate increased awareness of the danger that this tribe and other isolated groups face.

I’m not sure that “no contact” has been made with this tribe — a 2008 TED blog entry I found says a tribal advocate incorrectly termed the tribe completely wholly undiscovered rather than isolated.

Here’s an image of tribe members released in May 2008:

More images here.

From the TED blog:

The group’s rainforest home, on the border between Brazil and Peru, is under pressure from logging, and Meirelles hoped the dramatic photo would convince people in the industry to protect the tribe’s habitat.

So easy to forget that people are animals too, and that our homes and neighborhoods are habitats.

From Wikipedia, more on the 100 or so peoples still in existence today who live isolated from the so-called “modern world”:

The province of Irian Jaya or West Papua in the island of New Guinea is home to an estimated 44 uncontacted tribal groups.[2]

In India, tribes of the Andaman Islands, most notably the Sentinelese, continue to refuse contact with the outside world.

In 1984, a group of Pintupi people who were living a traditional hunter-gatherer desert-dwelling life were tracked down in the Gibson Desert in Western Australia and made contact for the first time with European-Australian society. They are believed to be the last uncontacted tribe in Australia.

On 18 January 2007, FUNAI reported that it had confirmed the presence of 67 different uncontacted tribes in Brazil, up from 40 in 2005. With this addition Brazil has now overtaken the island of New Guinea as the country having the largest number of uncontacted tribes.

As of 2006, the presence of 5 uncontacted groups were confirmed in Bolivia. A further 3 are to be confirmed. Those uncontacted groups whose presence has been confirmed are: Ayoreo in Parque Nacional Kaa Iya Mbya-Yuqui in Yuqui Reservation and Rio Usurinta (most of the Yuqui are now contacted, only a few families remain uncontacted), Yurakare in Santa Cruz and Beni, Pacahuara in the Chacobo reservation and Araona in the Araona Reservation. The presence of other groups such as Toromona in the Parque Nacional Madidi, Nahua in the PN Madidi and Esse Ejja in the Peruvian border are yet to be confirmed.

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