Environment, Science

“Uncontacted” Tribes Found In Brazil

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Photo of tribe members looking up at the plane that is taking pictures of them.
Astonishing new photo of one of the world's last uncontacted tribes who are under increasing threat, according to tribal people's charity Survival International. Image: © Gleison Miranda/FUNAI/www.uncontactedtribes.org

There are some people in Brazil who have never met a person from North America. They live in the rainforest. They don’t have houses or cars or computers. They are an “uncontacted tribe” of people.

The tribe’s people live in huts, hunt animals, and make their own tools. Photos show them with black and red dye on their bodies, holding long sticks.

The tribe has been known about for nearly 20 years, but not by most people. One man, Jose Carlos Meirelles, works for the Indian Affairs Department in Brazil. He monitors tribal lands to make sure they are not being invaded.

He was afraid that people might want to fly to Brazil and try to talk to the tribe. If they did this, it could cause the people to lose their unique way of life. Contact could also be very dangerous for the tribe. Even a minor cold virus could wipe out everyone in the tribe.

Two weeks ago, he and an organization that supports “uncontacted tribes” put a video of the tribe up on YouTube. (A link to the video is on this page.) They did it because they were worried about them. They wanted to raise awareness about the tribe’s existence and put pressure on the government of Peru to stop illegal logging on the Peruvian side of the border. Illegal logging is a serious threat to these groups. They want the government of Brazil to make sure the rainforest, where they live, is protected.

Shortly after the video was put up, the governments of Peru and Brazil made a big announcement. They said they would work together to stop loggers from entering the tribe’s land to cut down trees.

Experts think there could be as many as 70 “uncontacted” tribes living peacefully in the rainforests of Brazil and Peru.

Related Link
Here is a link to the website of the group, Survival, which works on behalf of the world’s uncontacted tribes.
There, you’ll find much more information on this story as well as information about other uncontacted tribes throughout the world.

Note: This article was originally published on TKN on Feb. 9, 2011. Several changes have been made to this article since it was originally published, to update it and to clarify several points.


Writing/Discussion Prompt
How do you think this tribe of people went so long without having been “discovered” by the modern world? What do you think they make of the plane that is flying above them, taking the pictures? Imagine what they may have said to each other after it went by.

Reading Prompt
As you read today’s article, you formed an opinion. Not everything we read on a website is “true.” Sometimes people can create an elaborate “hoax” to fool people into believing something that is not true. Do you think today’s article is true or could it be a hoax? What are your reasons for thinking this?

Make judgements and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8)

Grammar feature: Collective Nouns
A collective noun is a word used to describe a group of things. For instance, in “a flock of seagulls,” flock is a collective noun. “Tribe” is another collective noun.  Think of as many collective nouns as you can.