Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lost Tribes of the Amazon and Beyond

Easter Island Image Source

There are still humans on earth that are totally cut off from "civilisation" - how do they live, where do they live, and is life all that bad without TV/technology?

Brazil has the most number of uncontacted groups in the world. In January 2007, FUNAI confirmed that there were 67 uncontacted tribes, which are up from 40 in 2005. There are seven Terras Indigenas or reservations reserved specifically for uncontactable tribes however there any many other tribes that live within another tribe’s reservation. Here are just a few.

Korubo Warrior Image Source

The Korubo are some of the last people who have yet to be contacted by modern society. Much of what we know about them is based upon researcher Sydney Possuelo and Paul Raffaele in October 1996. They live within large communal huts, hunt with only clubs and poison darts and have a diet that includes spider monkeys, wild pig and peccary. Although occasionally practising infanticide for unknown reasons, the main cause of illness and death is malaria brought in by outsiders.

Tapirapé tribe Image Source

Deep inside the Amazon rainforest, live the indigenous Tapirapé tribe. Dating back to the 1500, they speak Tupi and originally lived on Brazil's coast then later moved inland to be near the resourceful Amazon River. They use hunting and fishing as a means of providing food but they also clear patches of forest with fire to produce fertile soil in order to grow crops. Annualy they hold a gift giving ceremony where by the men take a sip of “bad kiwi”, a disgusting tasting drink. Should the wealthy men decide not to drink, then that has to give gifts to those that do. The poorer men therefore generally do this in order to receive gifts. Although they do not wear clothes in day to day life, they are recognised by their use of body paint and occasionally wear skirts and wrist bands when performing dances and special ceremonies.

Terra Indigena Xinane Isolados Image Source

With an area of 1750km² and boarded with Bolivia and other reservations, the Terra Indigena Xinane Isolados only contains humans that have yet to be contacted. In fact, this is all that is known about them!

As well as Brazil, Chile also has a number of uncontacted tribes.

The Alacluf Tribe Image Source

The Alacluf are located on the southern peninsula of Chile and speak Kawésqar. They are known for being a fishing tribe and therefore have not farmed the land. The number of Alacluf members fluctuates but has never exceeded 5,000 although in 2002 there were only 15 full bloodied members remaining. During 1881, 11 members of the tribe were taken to be observed in Paris and Berlin but only 4 returned and it wasn't until 2010 that 5 out of the remaining 7 bodies were repatriated.

Rapa Nui People Image Credit

Another tribe based in Chile are the Rapa Nui people who are indigenous to Easter Island although some do live on mainland. They speak the Rapa Nui language and in 2002 there were 3,304 residents who all lived in the western village of Hanga Roa. Although their main source of income is from tourism (people coming to see the maoi), there are also some fruits grown for local use. Recent protests regarding the islanders self determination and possession of the island, led to violence with the Chilean army.

Baring in mind that these people live without electricity and survive off the land and seas, is watching the next episode of Eastenders really that important?

Lost Tribes of the Amazon and Beyond is a guest editorial written on behalf of Hotel Club; where you can find yourself and cheap Bali accommodation.