Living deep in the inside the Amazon jungle a nomadic tribe rarely glimpsed by the outside world is currently struggling for survival and have managed to get A Lister Colin Firth on the case.
The Amazon has many riches locked up in the form of trees, fertile land, precious minerals and metals and people intent on harvesting these commodities and cashing in are not afraid to do anything to stop ‘problems’ getting in their way.
It seems the problems started in the early nineties when the World Bank funded a development of massive open pit mines in the Carajás to extract the Iron ore deposits. To service these mines a railroad was built from the mountains to the coast. Over the years more mines, ranches, roads have been built deeper and deeper in the Amazon rain forest.
Settlements ranging from a few huts to a large collection of shanties have sprung up to service these operations leading to a connected web that spans the once pristine dense forest where the Awa live and roam, leading to increasing contact and conflict with the outside world they know so little about.
Awa tribesmen have seen there family shot or attacked on their own territory and when not intentional these cattle ranchers and loggers can pass diseases onto the Awa for which they have built up no resistance.
From an interview with Survival, Karapiru, a member of the Awa tribe describes how he saw his family killed ”I hid in the forest and escaped from the white people. They killed my mother, my brothers and sisters and my wife,” he continued. “When I was shot during the massacre, I suffered a great deal because I couldn’t put any medicine on my back. I couldn’t see the wound: it was amazing that I escaped … it was through the Tupã . I spent a long time in the forest, hungry and being chased by ranchers. I was always running away, on my own. I had no family to help me, to talk to. So I went deeper and deeper into the forest.”
Survival International is currently working on a campaign to save this tribe which have come into increasing contact since they were first contacted in the 1970′s.
The Brazillian government are working hard to stop the illegal logging and clearing, with dramatic decreases in the amount of rainforest being lost from its 2004 maximum of 27,700 square km to about 6,000 square km. Indigenous peoples are also being tracked with radar planes. As a consequence the planes can also help to spot illegal logging activity
What these people need is enough land to live there nomadic lives on, its not much to ask and the land will be better for it. The Awa and other similar populations have survived for thousands of years in near perfect harmony with the land they live off and have great respect for all living things that share the land.
When ‘civilised’ people arrive is when the trouble seems to start. We can’t seem to form an equilibrium with the land we live off or the people we have to share it with. I cannot help but wonder how much easier the frontiersman life would be without the Awa tribe existing… perhaps that’s the intent.
In similar situations over the centuries the industrial word has all but wiped out the indigenous peoples of the land they decide is the new frontier, with disregard for anything but the bottom line.
The same thing is currently happening in other parts of the world too like in India with Andaman tribe, and in Panama with the Ngobe tribe.
This is not an impossible task, I must stress this. Protection has been granted to many tribes around the world over the years either through land purchase agreements or political pressure. The Yanomami a large Amazonian tribe survived due to secured protection of their land from gold diggers by the Brazilian and Venezuelan governemnts.
We now have the conscience and the mass communication power to collectively take action against atrocities like this, but only if well all pull together. Go to Survival International and send a message to the Minister of Justice, in Brazil. Donate if you can and lets not forget.
Below is a word from Colin Firth…