Uncontacted tribes of the Amazon
February 4, 2011 3:35 PM   Subscribe

Amazing footage of an uncontacted tribe in Brazil. These tribes are threatened by the encroachment of illegal logging activites. "I know this footage is the only way to convince the rest of the world they are here."
posted by stp123 (60 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wonder what they think of that plane flying over them all the time.
posted by majonesing at 3:43 PM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I seriously doubt they are truly uncontacted. Based on their agricultural system, they seem to be an example of agricultural regression, though when that occurred is up for debate. In agricultural regression a farming society retreats into the woods and becomes an horticulturalist society (growing cassava and maize like these folks, which is a perfect agricultural system for people who are constantly on the run) due to outside pressure. I'm glad the FAQ mentions they are not a Stone Age tribe. Leave them alone either way...
posted by melissam at 3:44 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


The point of the web page is that they're not being left alone, they're on the verge of having the forest poached out from underneath then and these people are trying to muster resources to stop that from happening.
posted by GuyZero at 3:48 PM on February 4, 2011


Slow down, bleeding hearts! We came to the American shores and there were a zillion indians who knew nothing of our ways and look how we have bettered their lives.
posted by Postroad at 3:53 PM on February 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Wow, an underserved market. WalMart, McDonalds or Starbucks first. Maybe KFC for a change of pace?
posted by Ad hominem at 3:55 PM on February 4, 2011


Quick! Get them to a reservation and outta sight. Of course, if they were sitting on top of anything more valuable than trees, that would have been done long ago.

Postroad: Yep, they just wanted our "help", and we certainly, ahem, gave it to them.
posted by anarch at 3:57 PM on February 4, 2011


You know what they need? A Starbucks.
posted by dortmunder at 4:02 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


the Peruvian government supports keeping uncontacted tribes uncontacted? It hard to believe that such a policy could exist. is there any documentation of this?
posted by milestogo at 4:03 PM on February 4, 2011


Looks like an untapped market! Quick, set up the billboards! Put up a Starbucks!
posted by Catblack at 4:03 PM on February 4, 2011


Us capitalist swine all think alike. Have they heard that the iPhone 4 is available for Verizon now?
posted by Ad hominem at 4:06 PM on February 4, 2011


I wonder how 'uncontacted' is defined - one of the pictures has tribesman holding a machete - so clearly, there has been some form of contact, at least with other tribes that trade with the outside world. Also, the decision to NOT contact these tribes is just as important to initiating contact. Sealing them off in some sort of bell jar may not be something they actually want.

Regardless - it's pretty clear that a better strategy is required than to bulldoze them into the modern world.
posted by helmutdog at 4:08 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I swear to God I saw these photos 3 years ago.
posted by sciurus at 4:09 PM on February 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


I'm not really sure if I understand why it's important to keep the tribes completely in the dark about the modern world. They could at least send one scientist out to talk to them, obviously they shouldn't be kicked off their land or anything like that.
posted by delmoi at 4:09 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You'd think, with such a well documented history of resident cultures being displaced and killed by the invaders, we'd know by now to avoid all unnecessary contact. It's horrific to think that people would value money from logging or mining over a unique and untouched people.
posted by twirlypen at 4:10 PM on February 4, 2011


I swear to God I saw these photos 3 years ago.

Yeah, the photos were definitely on MeFi before.
posted by dobbs at 4:10 PM on February 4, 2011


I swear to God I saw these photos 3 years ago.

I feel like we see one of these every few years, and in each instance the people (why are they a tribe?) have been contacted previously.
posted by cashman at 4:10 PM on February 4, 2011


"I know this footage is the only way to convince the rest of the world they are here."

This guy is way underestimating the level of modern gullibility.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:11 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder how 'uncontacted' is defined

I'm pretty sure it's "not yet in possession of warp technology."

But yes, these images do give one a sense of deja vu.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:17 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Goddamn those miners and their insatiable lust for unobtainium!
posted by milarepa at 4:18 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I swear to God I saw these photos 3 years ago.

Yeah, the photos were definitely on MeFi before.


I made a post about them three years ago, but those were just aerial photos, not video.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:20 PM on February 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


delmoi: I'm not really sure if I understand why it's important to keep the tribes completely in the dark about the modern world. They could at least send one scientist out to talk to them, obviously they shouldn't be kicked off their land or anything like that.

I think the general idea is that these tribes know there's something bigger out there, but they haven't chosen to contact the "modern world." Because they've made that choice, don't second guess them and force (further) contact upon them.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:20 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Didn't Star Trek already cover this in their Prime Directive episodes?
posted by madred at 4:20 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


At night they sit around the TV watching Amazon Broadcasting Corporation's documentaries on the strange uncontacted tribesman who flies overhead in the noisy bird, and speculate on how that lonely man survives in the air, without manioc to eat, or warpaint.
posted by chavenet at 4:23 PM on February 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


uncontacted tribes?

Did they have at&t? Are they air dropping some new Verizon iphones?
posted by special-k at 4:30 PM on February 4, 2011


I wonder how 'uncontacted' is defined.

The linked website discusses this, and a lot of the other questions above. "Uncontacted" probably isn't the right word; I've seen reports that use "isolated" instead. Probably the biggest problem with trying to establish contact with these people is that many of them lack resistance to common diseases like measles and chicken pox; contact, however well intentioned, could wipe out entire tribes.
posted by steambadger at 4:32 PM on February 4, 2011


I feel like we see one of these every few years, and in each instance the people (why are they a tribe?) have been contacted previously.

I was about to say I thought we had been through this, and it turned out it was faked and the tribe was not uncontacted, but then I was afraid Tim Waits' "All Stripped Down" would start playing, I would pull out a few teeth, Brad Pitt would free an elephant, and I'd realize I was Bruce Willis in "12 Monkeys."
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:33 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie: I was afraid Tim Waits' "All Stripped Down" would start playing

Tim Waits? Sounds like an honest version of Richard Cheese, a one-man lounge act covering Tom Waits. "What's He Building" suddenly becomes a cheery tune of possibilities, Chocolate Jesus is an straight-forward gospel song, and "Christmas Card from a Hooker" gets reworked as "Christmas Card from my Mother." The audience will laugh when the song starts, at least those who understand the unintended play on words and themes, but Tim keeps going, singing his heart out, and playing the piano like it was his God-given duty to bring a smile to someone tonight.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:48 PM on February 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Here's a wikinews article covering the back-and-forth of this story.
posted by curious nu at 4:56 PM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I know this footage is the only way to convince the rest of the world they are here."

Have they tried starting a chain email signed "Andy Rooney"? That'll get most of my family on board.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:00 PM on February 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm not really sure if I understand why it's important to keep the tribes completely in the dark about the modern world. They could at least send one scientist out to talk to them, obviously they shouldn't be kicked off their land or anything like that.

If they're not interested in the rest of the world, Brannigan's Law prevails.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:04 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would it be unethical to hide a few cameras and microphones about their village? Have a listen in.

Building on that... perhaps the public could 'vote one out' each week until the tribe was whittled down to one 'winner'.

The prize? I don't know... perhaps he could get a painted a different colour or something. Blue?
posted by run"monty at 5:13 PM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


What are we here, Special Circumstances? (Didn't always work out so well for them either, btw.)
posted by digitalprimate at 5:15 PM on February 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


But they can't possibly be happy without the internet. If they only knew how many memes have passed them by! So many un-Ricked rolls!
posted by biddeford at 5:16 PM on February 4, 2011


Richard Attenborough's classic A Blank On The Map illustrates the difficulties in making first contact with tribes.
posted by geoff. at 5:16 PM on February 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Don't worry. Even as we speak, a group of evangelical Christians is preparing to contact them with the Good News.
posted by jefficator at 5:19 PM on February 4, 2011


Don't worry. Even as we speak, a group of evangelical Christians is preparing to contact them with the Good News.
And measles.
posted by Flunkie at 5:21 PM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Brazilian government's official position is to protect uncontacted tribes; they even have "reserves" that people aren't allowed to enter where the tribes lives, which creates a lot of controversy and political complaining. The Peruvian government's position is that uncontacted tribes do not exist.

Other articles I've read say that uncontacted Amazonian tribes are typically aware of the modern world -- not the specifics but in general -- because they often have contact with other remote-but-less-isolated tribes. So they may get second or third or twelfth-hand knowledge.

The book "The Lost City of Z," which was surprisingly gripping, talks about these remote tribes and uncontacted tribes, as well as Brazilian policy towards them.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:35 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whoo... the cynism here is intense.
I keep thinking that we are all going to end up like this again in a few generations.
And Mad Max is a lousy way to go down, down, down.

Chariots of The Gods or The Gods Must Be Crazy.
Which one will we choose?
posted by artof.mulata at 5:37 PM on February 4, 2011


Also, that machete.
According to the site they probably get those and other materials, pots and pans, through intertribal trading.
posted by artof.mulata at 5:38 PM on February 4, 2011


Yep, the cynicism here is intense. There are uncontacted tribes - quibble about the term if you'd like - but they will shoot arrows at people they do not know. They are some of the few humans on the planet who live a life apart from our network of civilization. They live in the Amazon forest. Is it unreasonable to ask that people leave them alone? "Leaving them alone," of course, means active measures to protect them from contact with those who bear arms, germs etc.
posted by kozad at 5:42 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm just glad Gillian Anderson is getting work.
posted by aloiv2 at 5:43 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


obviously fake
posted by weezy at 5:44 PM on February 4, 2011


We in Ashland are uncontacted, by which I mean Ikea doesn't even know we EXIST.
posted by everichon at 5:57 PM on February 4, 2011


.> Curious_nu-Good Catch. Given this is a repeat performance, what is the purpose of it's reemergence now? A new reality show, perhaps?
posted by ~Sushma~ at 6:20 PM on February 4, 2011


I'd like to care, but that red paint makes them look angry and dangerous. Can we have a thread about more noble and life-affirming tribes - possibly blue in colour?
posted by panboi at 6:33 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


God damn those trees are pretty and it looks like those people live a simple hard life in a wild place. Too bad it's soon to be over, because people inevitably fuck shit up. Wait till modernity hits Papua New Guinea! That copper/gold mine is only the beginning.
posted by Red Loop at 6:40 PM on February 4, 2011


The free market is just waiting to fix these peoples poverty!
posted by jnnla at 6:48 PM on February 4, 2011


The free market is just waiting to fix these peoples poverty!

Indeed, its only a matter of time before they're all molested by the invisible hand.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:22 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the original link:

"Is this an ‘undiscovered’ or ‘lost’ tribe?

No. This is empty sensationalism. It’s extremely unlikely there are any tribes whose existence is totally unknown to anyone else. The uncontacted tribe in these photos has been monitored by the Brazilian government for 20 years, and lives in a reserve set up to protect uncontacted tribes.

What do you mean by ‘uncontacted’?

Peoples who have no peaceful contact with anyone in the mainstream or dominant society. There are about 100 uncontacted tribes in the world. More questions and answers about uncontacted tribes...

Who are the uncontacted people in the photos and footage?

Many tribes in this region suffered atrocities during the ‘rubber boom’ a hundred years ago, when wild rubber became an important international commodity. Many were killed or died from disease. However some managed to flee deeper into the forest. The uncontacted Indians living here today may be descended from these people."

and more here: http://www.uncontactedtribes.org/articles/3109-questions-and-answers-uncontacted-tribes
posted by scottjlowe at 7:41 PM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


God dammit. This is really interesting stuff, and immediately brought to mind those reports about the Piraha people. But then that bastard Astro Zombie posted a comment. He posted a comment in a thread about an insular south American tribe, and then all I could think about was the goddamned apocalypse pepper. And now I feel like a jerk for associating a profound humanitarian issue with a fake story from the Internet.
But still, what a story.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 7:45 PM on February 4, 2011


Can't we compromise and get at least one of these people on Survivor?
posted by Camofrog at 7:51 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I know this footage is the only way to convince the rest of the world they are here."

Oh my god, Earth has a Whoville.

They are here! They are here! They are here! They are here!
posted by BiggerJ at 8:13 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh my God. Now I want to eat the apocalypse pepper again. You have just undone a year of hypnosis.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:55 PM on February 4, 2011


Uh. You only posted that comment yesterday.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 9:33 PM on February 4, 2011


Uncontacted is a white man's fantasy word.

Bullshit Indiana Jones fantasy. Not hardly likely. Damn near impossible.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:11 AM on February 5, 2011


I'm befuddled that so many people are posting comments like "this is fake, there are no undiscovered people," even though the links in the OP specifically state that these are not undiscovered or "lost" tribes. The existence of uncontacted people, as defined by the web site in the link, seems to be pretty well documented. Why the hostility?
posted by steambadger at 8:01 AM on February 5, 2011


I think it's because the word "uncontacted" is so loaded. So if they had meetings with other tribes they are still uncontacted? It only counts as contact if it's with white people?
posted by melissam at 10:41 AM on February 5, 2011


Yeah, "uncontacted" does seem fraught with unwanted connotations; but the site does explain the term in detail, and it seems to be a substitute for "undiscovered", which is even more problematic. I don't think it's a question of white people, per se -- these tribes haven't had direct contact with whatever the dominant culture of their region is.
posted by steambadger at 10:52 AM on February 5, 2011


There have been more anthropological hoaxes of "uncontacted" tribes than there have been people who are in uncontacted tribes.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:47 AM on February 5, 2011


There have been more anthropological hoaxes of "uncontacted" tribes than there have been people who are in uncontacted tribes.

Do you have any support for that? I'm no expert on the subject, but what I've read suggests that at least some "hoaxes" are actually more like misinterpretations; that is, an archeologist or an NGO publishes pictures of uncontacted people, the media gabbles breathlessly about a "lost tribe", somebody points out that the government of Brazil has known about the tribe for fifty years, and the media denounces the "hoax". For instance, here's a quasi-retraction from a public editor on the "hoax" story that went around a couple of years ago.

If you have information on the extent of actual hoaxing, though, I'd be interested in reading it.
posted by steambadger at 1:15 PM on February 5, 2011


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