Module 3 ~ Post # 5: Uncontacted, Contacted, Unconquered

In the book The Unconquered, author Scott Wallace describes how the Brazlian’s governments past efforts to protect uncontacted peoples by setting up parks around them, and using already contacted tribes as a buffer between the uncontacted and the outside world. Wallace questions if keeping peoples uncontacted is realistic endevour. He describes how the government originally setup this system because of the global political pressure to prevent the mass genocide of entire tribal groups from disease as they come into contact with the outside world. In the book Wallace joins an expedition whose mandate is to gather information about the uncontacted people known as the “People of the Arrow, including the location in which they lived so it could be included in the protected zone. The expedition that took him deep into the rainforest, and brought them face-to-face with the very people they hoped to never see. The expedition leaders warned the “People of the Arrow”, that they should not welcome strangers and that they should not leave their land.

Though the governments of South America are at least aware of the desire of the global community to protect the uncontacted tribes, they are also pressure by the financial needs of their countries to continue to allow more logging and mining development further into the jungles. Which brings the modern world into contact with tribal groups living much the same way that have lived for hundreds of years.

The Waiapi, an ancient tribe living deep in the Brazilian rainforest, were almost wiped out from disease when they first came into contact with the outside world in the 1970’s. Now they vow to protect their way of life and prevent the Brazilian government from developing the area. Many of the members say they will arm themselves and physically fight, with traditional poison tipped arrows if necessary.

One of the tribes members, Jawaruwa Waiapi feels that it is through political pressure that Indigenous Peoples will be win the battle for their homes. He is the first Waiapi member to earn an elected title as a municipal councilor in the community of Pedra Branca, which is two hours away from his village. He says that, “Today we don’t have to fight with arrows or clubs. We have to fight through knowledge, through politics. This is our new weapon.”

Survival International is a non-profit organization that works to support tribal peoples throughout the world. Their mandate is to help tribes deal with the political and legal system; many of these tribes have only been in contact with the contemporary world for less then fifty-years. Surival International also works to raise awareness about uncontacted Peoples and pressure government to protect these Peoples.


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