This isn’t the first time we will be catching a glimpse of the isolated tribesmen across the vast jungles of Peru and Brazil rainforest. There has been a couple of other documented encounters with the primitive groups who have rather been hostile to strangers and anything with a semblance of civilization.
But Ricardo Stuckert’s recent contact backed with images snapped from a high-resolution camera has added extra value to the depth of documents on this ‘uncontacted’ group. On the previous occasions, some of the contacts have resulted to deaths, assaults or both and most times very scanty, poor documentations. But attacks and infections are rapidly pushing the tribes out to the public.
The hostility of the Isolated tribes may have stemmed from their local superstitions (some of them may have believed that their pure, natural states will be contaminated), their experiences with drug dealers and traffickers who would most likely have shown them the bad side of civilization or the many encroachment from road constructions, deforestation and oil explorations.
Whatever the case, it doesn’t seem these indigenous people are interested in maintaining or having contacts with anything that has to do with civilization. And they have managed to remain stuck to the deeps except when tough circumstances push them out.
On a couple of occasions, they’ve been reported to have attempted abducting of women and girls and raided community for steel and weapons. Otherwise, they’re known to be completely unwilling to relate with the outside world.
Needless to say, there are several risks that the activities of the civilized world posed at these groups, including unleashing previous unknown viral diseases on their communities.
So, Stuckert’s revealing contacts could be a good thing for the people. At least, it has once again brought out the plights and reality of the people to the forefront and may drive global supports for their survival. Unfortunately, it could also spell a major problem for the people. The revealing contact may expose them to further attacks and assaults from the people of the underworld.
Though these new incisive shots are giving us a new look at the Neolithic lifestyle of the isolated tribe in the Brazilian rainforest, it may also be a major call to duty for the governments of the adjoining communities to combined resources driven at ensuring these native tribes are saved from impending extinction.
The popular, no contacts resolutions adopted by the governments may be reviewed or modified to allow supervised or organised forms of contacts that will preclude possible transmission of infectious diseases.
Incidentally, the encounter of the Brazillian photographer with the people was a mere coincidence. He was on his way to meet with another tribe with whom a previous contact has been established. That’s a major breakthrough considering deliberate efforts at reaching them have been rebutted and failed in the past. The details were released to the public through National Geographic who obtained the first-time right from Stuckert.
But according to Jose Carlos Meirelles, who was on the trip with Stuckert and has worked with Brazil’s natives for over forty years, the group reacted with hostility when they first cited the helicopter hovering close to land around their settlements. They launched arrows, which are usually poisoned, at the helicopter.
But their dispositions were later changed to that of curiosity as the Stuckert group returned and take shots of the tribesmen from the helicopter. They scampered into the surrounding forest for protection. These reactions may still be due to the bitter experience they’ve had with people from the outside world. But, it seemed, they realised Stuckert group doesn’t mean any harm as was initially believed.
Expressing his awe at the accidental discovery of the people Stuckert said, “I felt like I was a painter in the last century. To think that in the 21st century, there are still people who have no contact with civilisation, living like their ancestors did 20,000 years ago – it’s a powerful emotion.”
Some of the unique discoveries from Stuckert’s close, clear shots about this isolated tribe are their use artistic and elaborate body paint and the unique styles use in their hair cuts. According to Meirelles, it was previously believed that they all have the same hair styles but the photographs have set the records straight.
This group is believed to be the same whose pictures were released by FUNAI in 2008. They were captured with red body paints and seen throwing arrows at the low-flying aeroplane. But it is believed that, rather than wanting to kill, the tribesmen were actually warning the people to stay off as they are not welcome.
It is believed that the group has moved severally, according to Meirelles who has been studying the tribesmen for years. It is not unlikely they will be leaving their new location having been discovered and for the fear of being attacked.
One good side of this Stuckert’s adventure is the fact that the tribe looked healthy and well-fed. They seemed surrounded by healthy green plants and fruits that should satisfy their feeding needs if no hazard or intruders interrupt and destroy their settlements.
Ultimately, the most important takeaway from Stuckert’s revealing discoveries about the tribesmen is the need to preserve these indigenous people and ensure civilisation doesn’t wipe them out or damage their ecosystem to the extent that they extinct.
Also, of utmost importance is the need to train experts and more professionals that can monitor the many tribe groups across the vast rain forest, put legislations in place to protect their habitats, wade off intruders and attacks from drug traffickers and provide medical help to them whenever the need arises.
For now, Stuckert whose children are his immediate and the most important audience is coming up with a book titled, Indios Brasileiros about his experiences on the tribesmen. His emotional and lyrical words will continue to echo how deeply the experience touched him as a person.
“It was surprisingly powerful and emotional…” he said, “We live in an age when men have been to the moon. Yet, here in Brazil, there are people who continue to live as humankind has for tens of thousands of years.”
Some people believe civilisation should be gulped down the throats of these isolated groups while other believed they should be left to live their lives. Whatever is done, these indigenous and isolated tribes should be supported to survive.
Adapted from The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes by Scott Wallace Pictures taken by Ricardo Stuckert’s
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