The uncontacted tribes of the Amazon are some of the most vulnerable people on Earth.
The Spanish and Portuguese colonialization, Christian missionaries, as well as the bloodthirsty oil companies, loggers and poachers have had a devestating effect on many tribes of the Amazon that have already been “contacted.”
Few of these Amazonian tribes live as they did as little as 50 years ago and fewer still remain uncontacted by what we egotistically refer to as “civilization.”
The uncontacted tribes that remain in the Amazon are under threat as illegal loggers, poachers (and in Ecuadors case the Oil Companies) ruthlessly push further and further into the jungle. Another of the biggest dangers to these tribes is that their immune systems have been sheltered from the innumerous diseases and infections of modern civilization and something as small as the common cold can wipe them out like they did to the Australian Aboriginies and other indigenous groups in world history.
We need to do more to protect these peoples so that history does not repeat.
Uncontacted Tribes of the Ecuadorian Amazon
Because Ecuador has the fastest rate of deforestation in the entire Amazon basin and the largest oil reserves outside of Venezuela the rich and magical cultures of the Kichwa, Shuar, and Huaorani have had no choice but to change and adapt to an increasingly brutal and unjust world to survive.
The majority of these tribes have had to abandon the nomadic lifestyle and setup small villages to protect their territory from illegal land grabs and sadly in the worst effected areas some of these tribes have abandoned their native religion and language as well.
Ecuador does however have as many as five tribes living in voluntary isolation that have refused to be eaten up by the modern world. These tribes are of the Huaorani ethnicity and are called the Tagaeri, the Huiñatare, the Oñamenane, and two groups of the Taromenane that currently live the naked and nomadic life of their ancestors inside the Yasuni Biosphere and along the border of Peru.
The impending drilling of the giant oil fields inside Yasuni National Park will change all of that.
Today in Ecuador many people doubt these tribes still exist and the oil companies with vested interests in the Yasuni have rigorously tried to push this view. A friend who works in the Ministry of Environment in Coca has seen aerial photos taken by the Ecuadorian Military that prove their existence but the government will not release them – the optimist in me hopes this is to conceal their location instead of attempting to conform to the oil companies powerful point of view.
From time to time other evidence emerges that is too hard to refute about the existence of these tribes – like the body of a illegal rare wood logger found in Yasuni National Park with 7 spears in his stomach. Or reports that these illegal loggers murdered five uncontacted tribes people and cut off their heads to intimidate them.
EDIT 2014: drilling for oil in the Yasuni National Park has been approved despite the grave threat it poses to these uncontacted tribes. The proof of their existence is undeniable and a book written about the uncontacted Taromenane tribe by the Spanish Anthropologist details a massacre as well as a “massive poisoning” against this tribe.
Some theories suggest the tribe is being pushed off the land further into the jungle to make way for petroleum expoitation.
Uncontacted Tribes of the Brazillian Amazon
We know very little about the language and cultures and even whereabouts of many of the Amazons uncontacted tribes. Sadly a few of South Americas governments like Peru have used this as an excuse to claim they do not even exist. To counter this stupidity a documentary with some fascinating footage of an uncontacted tribe in Brazil has been released to defend the rights of these people. You can see part of it here:
You can help by signing this petition addressed to President Humala of Peru to step up and protect the human rights of these people.