Uncontacted Amazon tribes vulnerable after slaughtering

Columnist Kaitlyn Haas

Columnist Kaitlyn Haas

The hunters are becoming the hunted once again. Uncontacted tribes in the Amazon of Brazil are under attack and shrinking in numbers at an uncomfortable rate. Last month, one-fifth of a small uncontacted tribe in the Javari Valley of the Amazon was brutally murdered by illegal gold miners.

The illegal miners came across the women and children of the tribe along a river while they were gathering eggs for the rest of the tribe. The miners murdered the members of the tribe, cut them into pieces and threw them into the river. Later that evening, the illegal miners visited a bar on the border of Colombia, where they bragged about the murders and showcased a hand-carved paddle they stole from the tribe members as a trophy, all according to The New York Times.

This was the second attack on the Javari Valley tribes in the past year. This valley is the home to 20 out of the 103 uncontacted tribes, according to the Independent. These murders are all the result of recent major budget cuts by Brazilian President Michel Temer. 

Funai, Brazil’s agency for indigenous affairs, used to receive seven and a half million reais in government funding but is now down to just two million reais, which is equivalent to $650,000 according to The New York Times. 

Funai Coordinator Ms. Sotto-Maior said, “What can I do with two million reais? We had problems with the previous governments, but not like this.” Supporting these tribes just got a whole lot more difficult for agencies like Funai. Before this dramatic budget cut, Funai had 19 bases but now are only capable of sustaining five.

Temer does not have much regard for the indigenous life in the Amazon. He has cut all supportive funds to the bare minimum and has opened up portions of the Amazon for mining and deforestation, according to the Huffington Post. 

Opening the Amazon for Temer’s projects is the reason the number of tribes is slimming down. Miners, landowners and hunters are coming into indigenous owned land and taking over. Sound familiar?

The indigenous people are a precious group that has never been respected. All over the world and throughout history, numerous tribes have been run out of land that is rightfully theirs and heinously murdered. If the murders continue without consequences, Brazil might have a genocide on their hands. 

Indigenous people are so unprotected and vulnerable at this point in time that soon they could be facing extinction in Brazil. As we have learned in the past, when we protect indigenous land, they thrive, and when we do not there are invasions that could lead to a wipe out of the entire group.

This ongoing issue is going unnoticed and with no attention or help, it is more than likely Brazil’s tribes will disappear within a few years. Brazilian activists attempt to bring attention, but many assemblies end in activist deaths. 

According to The New York Times, over 50 indigenous groups, rural workers and land activists had been killed by the end of July in the last activist demonstrations.

While most of the world worries when they will get their hands on a new iPhone X, tribes living their own private lives worry about basic survival. We live in a small world, but every side of the world is different and it’s important to step out into other parts of it.

Brazilian tribes being mistreated and murdered is setting the rights of indigenous people back decades. Government protection for the indigenous is vital for their survival and there seems little to none in the near future under President Temer.