The Brazilian government has released footage showing ‘first contact’ with an isolated group of indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest, reports G1.
The video, released by Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), shows two tribesmen being approached by a member of an Ashaninka village, who offers them bananas. The exchange, which took place last month near the Envira River in the state of Acre, occurred just four days after the Indians — thought to be members of the Rio Xinane tribe — first made contact with the Ashaninka seeking “allies” and weapons to defend against invasions by non-native people, likely illegal loggers or drug traffickers, according to BBC News.
The isolated tribe reported that the encounters with these outsiders led to several contracting flu and diphtheria, resulting in deaths.
The danger of introducing disease to people who lack immunity remains a concern. Indeed, since the video was shot, more members of the tribe have come down with flu, prompting FUNAI to send in medics to provide treatment.
Uncontacted or voluntarily isolated groups still occupy remote parts of the Amazon rainforest. Many of these have splintered off from larger tribes, often in response to conflicts or interactions with outsiders. But deforestation, illegal logging and mining, and encroachment is making it more difficult for tribes in some areas to remain isolated.
Via its indigenous territories program, Brazil allows uncontacted tribes to remain living in isolation should they choose. But rights groups complain that neighboring Peru is doing a poor job protecting native rainforest dwellers from incursions.
Images of the encounter with the Rio Xinane tribe members. Photos by FUNAI