Photo. Illustration photo of one of many tribes in the Amazon jungle on the Brazilian side. © Per Henriksen, Reiseliv - www.Reiseliv.no. He is a great adventurer from Norway and one of Travel Explorations` freelance journalists.
Are there not white spots left on the map? But what about Amazon? Siri Meyer, professor by the Center for study of culture in the University of Bergen (Senter for kulturstudier), Norway said in a interview by the national newspaper Aftenposten 10 October 2003, that it's a crise for travel writers today.
From her point of view there are no more "white spots" to write travel tales about. It's hard to disagree about that, but there are actually some very few places left on the earth. Some regions in the Amazon basin are still fairly unexplored, especially the Vale do Javari Indigenous Area, where the mysterious Flecheiros people live. This tribe is also called the Arrow people, and has never been contacted by outsiders before.
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According to National Geographic (Magazine - August 2003), a Brazilian explorer and social activist, Sydney Possuelo (63 years), believes that his country's uncontacted Indians should be remained isolated. He works for FUNAI, the Brazilian government Indian agency.
His goal was to find them so authorities could more effectively keep out intruders. He is really convinced about that once you get in touch with the Indians, you begin start the process of destroying their universe. Possuelo`s last contact with an isolated tribe came with a group of Korubu in 1996, also within the bounds of the Javari reserve. Since the 1970s he has achieved first contact with seven hidden tribes.
34 men participated on the expedition. The Knamari Indians, who joined the expedition, said that the Flecheiros are dangerous - untamed.
The crew took their way in two boats up Itaquai and Jutai River, deep in to the pristine Amazon jungle.
Here are some highlights from the our (covered by National Geographic Magazine - August 2003; Scott Wallace and Nicolas Reynard):
- The first direct sign from Flecheiros: A freshly hacked sapling, dangling by a shred of bark, lies across the path in the front of them. It's the universal language in the jungle. It's a message and warning to the intruders that they should stay out, and not go further. The crew on the expedition knew that they were close the Indians village.
- They found a dead Anaconda snake on the banks of the Curuena River.
- Fresh footprints, maybe 15 minute old. The tension was high at the moment, and the men feared that could be attacked by the Indians. These Indians are archers. The expedition members were very aware of
that isolated tribes like Flecheiros are willing to kill intruders to protect their lands.
- So finally some members of the expedition found the Fleicheiros village, with 14 huts, but it was abundant.
- The Indians had just run away and disappeared in the virgin forest. The expedition members found several ceremonial masks made from strips of tree bark, remains of smoked meat, ceramic pots with curare (red urucu dye) used to decorate face and bodies, broken end of a blowgun, a poison put on sharp arrow bamboo darts that the Indians have left in their village.
- The expedition ended successfully 3 September 2002.
- Post-expedition reunion with the Korubo tribe (by Itui River).
Brazil's Indian population, once in the millions, is now roughly 350,000, including few uncontacted tribe like the Flecheiros. Native groups meet threats from drug smuggling to disease to tribal conflicts. Gold, oil, rubber and timber attract intruders.
Since the first conquers came for 500 years ago there has been a lot of killing, slavery, spreading of diseases and devastations. So I wonder; how far will this go in the future? Will any tribal groups be left? Will they survive in the future when our modern world approaching day for day? How can we protect them? As Possuelo says it: The only way to save uncontacted peoples is to seal off their territory from outsiders.
Stein Morten Lund, 10 October 2003
For more information about this expedition and tribes in general, go to www.NationalGeographic.com.
Some additional information about Indians in Amazon:
- In the Vale do Javari Indigenous Area, where the Flecheiros live, the population of Indian is estimated to 1,350 uncontacted tribes. It's probably the larges contraction of indigenous people.
- Book about indigenous people: National Geographic offers the book "Peoples of the world": It's based on a survey of indigenous groups worldwide with photos and maps, including a section on the peoples of South America (40 dollar).
- The Korubo Indians were first contacted by a team from FUNAI, the Brazilian government Indian agency in 1996. These Indians are locally known as the head bashers, who kill enemies with clubs. The Korubo accepted peaceful contact in 1996, but there have been few incidents where they have wounded and killed visitors. Today they visit regularly a nearby post for medicine and report trespassing by outsiders into the Vale do Javari Indigenous Area where they live.