Amazonian tribes at war with illegal gold miners

Amazonian tribes at war with illegal gold miners

Amazonian tribes at war with illegal gold miners

Written by Staff Writer

23 Nov, 2016 | 7:57 pm

Living in a time of quick connectivity and instant gratification, we sometimes forget that there are still pockets of unexplored space on our planet. We forget that there are people who are still living with no electricity, no machinery and maybe even no Facebook (what?!). Indigenous tribes all around the world are seemingly under attack by corporations and individuals seeking to edge them out and profit from the natural resources they protect.

brazil1A government plane in Brazil captured some fascinating images when they were on a mission to root out illegal gold miners in the amazon.  The pictures show a communal structure called a “yano” within the territory belonging to the indigenous Yanomami people. Officially protected since 1992, this territory is thought to be home to around 22,000 individuals split into numerous tribes, at least three of which remain uncontacted by Westerners.

 

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Yet with around 5,000 miners thought to be lurking nearby, these long-term residents might not be there for much longer. History shows that when indigenous communities and outsiders mix, tribes tend to be decimated by a mixture of deadly diseases to which they have no immunity and brutal violence.

Earlier this year, a report found that around 90 percent of Amazonian indigenous people in Brazil were suffering from mercury poisoning as a result of illegal mining activities in the surrounding rainforest.

Less than a week ago, authorities released information that members of a tribe fought back against the invaders and shot dead 6 of the illegal miners using arrows.  Brazil’s Funai agency, which handles indigenous affairs, said that the killings were carried out by the Yanomami tribe in the Amazonian state of Roraima on the frontier with Venezuela.

According to Survival International director Stephen Corry, “these extraordinary images are further proof of the existence of still more uncontacted tribes. They’re not savages but complex and contemporary societies whose rights must be respected.”

However, Corry also has a stark warning for governments throughout the region, claiming that “all uncontacted tribal peoples face catastrophe unless their land is protected.”

By: Nethmi Perera

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