Race and Ethnicity

World’s most threatened tribe faces extinction

Hat tip to Troy Southgate.

ne of the last remaining nomadic tribes of the Amazon faces extinction unless urgent action is taken to protect them from violent invaders intent on throwing them off their land, a leading human rights organisation has warned.

The rarely glimpsed Awa of the Brazilian Amazon are now considered to be the globe’s ‘most threatened tribe’ as land grabs from illegal loggers, ranchers and settlers displace a people who have lived in the Brazilian rainforests for centuries.

First discovered in the mid-1970s, 360 surviving members of the Awa tribe are currently in contact with the outside world, with a further 60-100 believed to be taking refuge in the forests.

The Awa are one of the world’s last fully nomadic groups. They are hunter-gatherers, relying solely on the Amazon as a food source. The tribe utilises products of the forest in their day-to-day life, using palm leaves to make shelters, clothing and baby carriers, resin from trees to make fires and plants to cure a number of ailments.

Campaign group Survival International has been working to protect the Awa since their territory in Maranhao state was opened up to the outside world in 1982 when rich deposits iron ore in the Carajas mountains were first exploited. Indigenous peoples constitutionally hold first rights to land in Brazil, but a programme of rail and road building in the Awa’s territory connecting the mines to the coast ran roughshod over their liberties.