An uncontacted tribe of about 60 people has been confirmed by FUNAI (Brazil’s Indigenous Affairs Department) in the Indigenous Territory of Arariboia, located in the eastern Amazonian state, Maranhao.
FUNAI believes that the uncontacted natives belong to the Awá tribe, one of Brazil’s last remaining nomadic hunter-gathering tribes. Although apart of a protected reserve, the Awa are threatened by intrusion on their lands.
“Their forest home is being rapidly destroyed by loggers and cattle ranchers, who hunt the game they rely on. Uncontacted Awá are highly vulnerable to attack and diseases transmitted by these outsiders, and there have been fatal conflicts in the past,” says indigenous rights organization Survival International in a news release, adding that, “this recent confirmation of another group of Awá reinforces the need for the authorities to monitor the area and protect it from invaders.”
It is thought that the Awá were at one time probably settled farmers, however invaders drove them off their land and into the nomadic lifestyle they have pursued for over a hundred years.
Intentional contact by the Brazilian government in the 1970s and 80s left many Awá dead from diseases like malaria and the flu. In the past, the Awá have been victims of violent attacks, sometimes massacres, by ranchers, loggers, miners, and settlers.
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