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Amazon rainforest tribe first contact: Authorities fear for tribe's health

An Amazon rainforest tribe has had its first contact with anyone from the outside world, CBC reported Saturday. The first contact occurred after illegal logging was reported in the isolated rainforest where the tribe has long resided. That initial contact did not come from modern man but from another indigenous tribe.

Amazon rainforest tribe first contact: What authorities fear most from contact with outsiders
Amazon rainforest tribe first contact: What authorities fear most from contact with outsiders
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Funai, Brazil's Indian Affairs Department, said last week that an"uncontacted" tribe emerged from the rainforest and made peaceful contact on June 29 with an indigenous community known as the Ashaninka. The uncontacted tribe has not yet been officially named by outsiders. The tribe lives in near the Peru border.

The tribe met with a local environmental group called the Frente de Proteção Etnoambiental Envira. The Amazon tribe also made its first contact with an indigenous adviser to the local state government, according to a Brazilian government official.. Frente de Proteção Etnoambiental Envira.had been tracking the tribe for months as it move closer to the Ashaninka settlement

Experts believe that that isolated tribes are aware of people beyond their tribes but usually avoid contact by shooting arrows or hiding. The London-based Survival International, a group that advocates for the rights of tribal peoples, said it is possible tribes like the one in Brazil may have had brief outside contact but are unlikely to have any knowledge of the modern world.

Disease the biggest fear

Part of the reason why the environmental organization was following the tribe is to help protect them from diseases.

Survival International takes up the story:

Brazilian officials have warned that uncontacted Indians face imminent “tragedy” and "death" after a dramatic increase in the number of sightings in the Amazon rainforest near the Peru border.
Experts believe that the Indians have fled over the border from Peru in a bid to escape waves of illegal loggers invading their territory. They are now entering the territory of other isolated Indian groups already living on the Brazil side – and some settled communities.
Ashaninka Indians in Acre state, Brazil, for example, say they recently encountered dozens of uncontacted Indians close to their community, and recent government investigations have revealed more frequent sightings of footprints, temporary camps and food remains left behind by the Indians.
These incidents are raising fears of violent clashes between the various groups, and decimation by contagious diseases to which the uncontacted Indians have no immunity.

Understandably, the story of an Amazon rainforest tribe making its first contact is generating interest around the world, but authorities are warning outsiders to stay away. It is against the law in Brazil for outsiders to intrude on any of the uncontacted native tribes.

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