Amazon Tribes in the News

Last Survivor of Uncontacted Tribe, 'Man of the Hole,' Is Spotted in the Amazon   Live Science - July 20, 2018
An isolated man believed to be the only surviving member of his tribe has been spotted in the Brazilian Amazon. FUNAI, Brazil's indigenous affairs department, which monitors uncontacted people, released video footage this week of the man, nicknamed "the Man of the Hole," chopping trees with an ax in the state of Rondonia. To protect him from external threats, FUNAI said it has been keeping tabs on the man from a distance for the last 22 years.

The remarkable Amazonian Bora Tribe can communicate their entire language using the rhythm and pitch of drum beats   Daily Mail - April 25, 2018
They use traditional manguare drums to transmit information over a distance of at least 12 miles (20km), researchers found. This unusual form of communication copies spoken language in many ways and different beats imitate specific words and sentences.

A lost world in the heart of the Amazon: Archaeologists discover 'deserted' rainforest was actually home to a million people living in fortified villages as early as 1250 AD   Daily Mail - March 27, 2018
arts of the Amazon previously thought to have been uninhabited were home to thriving populations of up to a million people from as early as 1250 AD, research shows. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence there were up to 1,500 fortified villages in the rainforest away from major rivers - two-thirds of which are yet to be discovered. By analyzing charcoal remains and excavated pottery, researchers found a 1,100-mile (1,800km) stretch of southern Amazonia that was continuously occupied from 1250 until 1500 AD. These thriving populations were then decimated by the arrival of European settlers and their diseases. People had assumed ancient communities had preferred to live near these waterways, but the new evidence shows this was not the case.

A lost world in the heart of the Amazon: Archaeologists discover 'deserted' rainforest was actually home to a million people living in fortified villages as early as 1250 AD   Daily Mail - March 27, 2018

Indigenous South American group has healthiest arteries of all populations yet studied, providing clues to healthy lifestyle   Science Daily - March 18, 2017
An 80 year old from the Tsimane (pronounced chee-MAH-nay) group had the same vascular age as an American in their mid-fifties, suggests a new report. The Tsimane people -- a forager-horticulturalist population of the Bolivian Amazon -- have the lowest reported levels of vascular aging for any population, with coronary atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) being five times less common than in the US, the research shows.

Controversial gas from Peruvian Amazon arrives in UK   BBC - March 4, 2017
A tanker docking in the UK is transporting a controversial cargo of gas from the Peruvian Amazon. It is thought to be the first shipment to the UK from the Camisea project in rainforest 60 miles from Machu Picchu. Supporters of fracking say the UK should frack its own gas, rather than importing from sensitive regions like the Amazon. But opponents of fracking say the practice creates disturbance and pollution and fuels climate change. The tanker Gallina, owned by Shell, is scheduled to arrive at the Isle of Grain in Kent. The gas project at Camisea field has been hugely contentious.

Amazon forest shaped by pre-Columbian indigenous peoples   BBC - March 3, 2017
Indigenous peoples who inhabited the Amazon before the arrival of European colonizers planted a vast number of trees, a new study argues. They played an important role in the current composition of the forest, says the study. Researchers found that species used for food or building materials were far more common near ancient settlements. The Amazon is not nearly as untouched as it may seem Eighty-five species that produced Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, acai or rubber were also five times more likely to be dominant in mature forest than non-domesticated species. The scientists reached their conclusions by comparing data on tree composition from more than 1,000 locations in the Amazon with a map of archaeological sites.

History sheds light on Amazon's rich tree diversity   BBC - February 14, 2017
The rich diversity of trees in the Amazon could be the result of widespread dispersal over geological time, a study has suggested. Although the vast tropical area is now divided into regions, scientists suggest these areas did not evolve in isolation from one another. Modern fragmentation could be damaging the process that made the Amazon so important for plant biodiversity.

Hundreds of ancient earthworks built in the Amazon   PhysOrg - February 6, 2017
The Amazonian rainforest was transformed over two thousand years ago by ancient people who built hundreds of large, mysterious earthworks. Findings by Brazilian and UK experts provide new evidence for how indigenous people lived in the Amazon before European people arrived in the region. The ditched enclosures, in Acre state in the western Brazilian Amazon, were concealed for centuries by trees. Modern deforestation has allowed the discovery of more than 450 of these large geometrical geoglyphs. The function of these mysterious sites is still little understood - they are unlikely to be villages, since archaeologists recover very few artifacts during excavation. The layout doesn't suggest they were built for defensive reasons. It is thought they were used only sporadically, perhaps as ritual gathering places.

A Forgotten Adventure With a Telepathic Tribe   National Geographic - November 29, 2016
In the late 1960s, Loren McIntyre went to Brazil in search of an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon rain forest called the Mayoruna. McIntyre was dropped off on a riverbank, and followed the tribe into the forest. Before long he was unable to find his way back and ended up missing his return flight. McIntyre lived with the tribe for two months. Although they shared no common language, he discovered he could communicate with the chief via telepathy, in a manner he began to call 'beaming.' This skill, he later learned, was known to the tribe as the 'other language,' a way of communicating possessed only by the elders.

An Isolated Tribe Is Emerging From Peru's Amazonian Wilderness   National Geographic - October 13, 2015
The Mashco-Piro appeared suddenly on the paths snaking through this beautiful, leafy village, armed with nearly seven-foot-long bamboo arrows sharpened to a knife edge. "Why do you want to kill me?" Shipetiari's sub-chief, a small but intimidating woman named Rufina Rivera, hollered when she first encountered the Mashco in January. They continued to visit stealthily. Cooking pots and machetes disappeared from the secluded clusters of raised wooden homes, tucked into the Amazon jungle about a half hour's walk from the Alto Madre de Dios River.

Researchers uncover evidence of people predating Amazonian rainforest   PhysOrg - July 8, 2014
A team of researchers with members from the U.K., Germany and Bolivia has found evidence that suggests that parts of Bolivia now covered with rainforest were drier and more savanna-like just 2000 to 3000 years ago, a time when people were already living in the area. Cutting of trees in the area recently revealed ditches dug by people thousands of years ago - each about a kilometer long and three meters deep by four meters wide. No one knows yet why the ditches were dug, or what purpose they served. But in this new effort, the researchers took core samples from sediments that had formed over thousands of years in nearby lakes. In examining the samples, the researchers were surprised to find grass pollen of the type typically found in the savanna, such as in Africa. The core samples also showed that people in the area were planting maize during the same time period.

Mysterious Earthen Rings Predate Amazon Rainforest   Live Science - July 7, 2014
A series of square, straight and ringlike ditches scattered throughout the Bolivian and Brazilian Amazon were there before the rainforest existed, a new study finds. These human-made structures remain a mystery: They may have been used for defense, drainage, or perhaps ceremonial or religious reasons. But the new research addresses another burning question: whether and how much prehistoric people altered the landscape in the Amazon before the arrival of Europeans.

Imperiled Amazon Indians Make 1st Contact with Outsiders   Live Science - July 3, 2014
Indigenous people with no prior contact to the outside world have just emerged from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and made contact with a group of settled Indians, after being spotted migrating to evade illegal loggers, advocates say. The news, which was released, comes after sightings of the uncontacted Indians in Brazil near the border with Peru, according to the group Survival International. Officials with the organization had warned last month that the isolated tribes face threats of disease and violence as they moved into new territory and possibly encountered other people.

Can World's 'Most Threatened' Tribe Be Saved?   Live Science - April 25, 2012
A new international campaign hopes to save a group of people who have been dubbed "the most threatened tribe in the world" - the Awa tribe of Brazil - from encroaching outsiders who are gobbling up their land. The Awa live in the Brazilian state of Maranhao on lands set aside for their hunter-gatherer lifestyle. But according to the tribal advocacy group Survival International, which is leading the new campaign, the tribe is increasingly under threat by illegal settlement and logging on their lands. One reserve set aside for the tribe, the Awa Territory, is one-third deforested, its trees stripped by illegal logging operations, some with sawmills operating only miles from Awa land.

Existence of Uncontacted Amazon Tribe Confirmed   Live Science - June 25, 2011
Brazilian officials have confirmed the existence of approximately 200 Indians who live in the western Amazon with no contact with the outside world. This uncontacted tribe is not "lost" or unknown, according to tribal advocacy group Survival International. In fact, about 2,000 uncontacted Indians are suspected to live in the Javari Valley where the tribe's homes were seen from the air. But confirming the tribe's existence enables government authorities to monitor the area and protect the tribe's way of life.

Basic understanding of geometry not dependent on education: study   PhysOrg - May 24, 2011
In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, psychologist Veronique Izard from the Universite Paris Descartes and her colleagues show how abstract geometric principles are understood despite a lack of formal education.

'Time' not necessarily deeply rooted in our brains   PhysOrg - May 21, 2011
Hidden away in the Amazonian rainforest a small tribe called the Amondawa have successfully managed what so many dream of being able to do - to ignore the pressures of time so successfully that they don't even have a word for it. It is the first time scientists have been able to prove 'time' is not a deeply entrenched human universal concept as previously thought. Team members including linguist Wany Sampaio and anthropologist Vera da Silva Sinha, spent eight weeks with the Amondawa researching how their language conveys concepts like 'next week' or 'last year'. There were no words for such concepts, only divisions of day and night and rainy and dry seasons. They also found nobody in the community has an age. Instead, they change their names to reflect their life stage and position within their society, so that for example a little child will give up their name to a newborn sibling, and take on a new one.

New images of remote Brazil tribe   BBC - January 31, 2011
New pictures have been released of an isolated tribe living in rainforest on the Brazil-Peru border. Brazil monitors many such tribes from the air, and they are known as "uncontacted" because they have only limited contact dealings with the outside world. Photographs of the same tribe were released to the world two years ago. Campaigners say the Panoan Indians are threatened by a rise in illegal logging on the Peruvian side of the border.

Lost Tribes Used Clever Tricks to Turn Amazon Wasteland to Farms   Wired - April 12, 2010

A vast series of earth mounds on the eastern coast of South America may be living landscape fossils of a forgotten civilization's agriculture. People raised the mounds between 1,000 and 700 years ago in order to create cropland in terrain that is flooded for half the year, and parched for the other half. New insect ecosystems formed on the mounds, further enriching the soils and keeping them fertile for centuries, long after their human stewards had vanished. This lost agricultural system could be a model for modern farmers, according to a new study.

"Lost" Amazon Complex Found; Shapes Seen by Satellite   National Geographic - January 4, 2010

Hundreds of circles, squares, and other geometric shapes once hidden by forest hint at a previously unknown ancient society that flourished in the Amazon, a new study says. Satellite images of the upper Amazon Basin taken since 1999 have revealed more than 200 geometric earthworks spanning a distance greater than 155 miles (250 kilometers). Now researchers estimate that nearly ten times as many such structures - of unknown purpose - may exist undetected under the Amazon's forest cover. At least one of the sites has been dated to around A.D. 1283, although others may date as far back as A.D. 200 to 300

Ancient Amazon Cities Found; Were Vast Urban Network National Geographic - August 29, 2008

Dozens of ancient, densely packed, towns, villages, and hamlets arranged in an organized pattern have been mapped in the Brazilian Amazon, anthropologists announced today. The finding suggests that vast swathes of "pristine" rain forest may actually have been sophisticated urban landscapes prior to the arrival of European colonists. The finding supports a controversial theory that the Amazon River Basin teemed with large societies that were all but obliterated by disease when European colonists arrived in the 15th and 16th centuries. The isolated tribes that remain in the Amazon today are the last survivors of these once great societies, according to the theory.

'Lost towns' discovered in Amazon BBC - August 29, 2008
A remote area of the Amazon river basin was once home to densely populated towns, Science journal reports. The Upper Xingu, in west Brazil, was once thought to be virgin forest, but in fact shows traces of extensive human activity. Researchers found evidence of a grid-like pattern of settlements connected by road networks and arranged around large central plazas. There are signs of farming, wetland management, and possibly fish farms. The settlements are now almost completely overgrown by rainforest. The ancient urban communities date back to before the first Europeans set foot in the Upper Xingu region of the Brazilian Amazon in the 15th Century.

"Uncontacted" Amazon Tribe Actually Known for Decades National Geographic - June 19, 2008
Contrary to many news stories, the isolated group has actually been monitored from a distance for decades, past and current Brazilian government officials say. No one, however, is known to have had a face-to-face meeting with the nomadic tribe, which lives along the Peru-Brazil border. And no one knows how much, if anything, these rain forest people know about the outside world. The tribe - whose name remains unknown - was first discovered by outsiders around 1910, according to Josˇ Carlos Meirelles, an official with Brazil's Indian-protection agency (FUNAI).

   "Uncontacted" Tribes in Amazon National Geographic - June 7, 2008

Photos Spur Debate On Protecting "Uncontacted" Tribes National Geographic - June 3, 2008

"Uncontacted" Tribe Seen in Amazon National Geographic - May 30, 2008
In a palm-hut encampment, members of an "uncontacted" Amazon tribe fire arrows at an airplane above the rain forest borderlands of Peru and Brazil earlier this month. The black and red dyes covering their bodies are made from crushed seeds and are believed to signal aggression, native-rights experts say.

Amazon Children "Spontaneously" Understand Geometry National Geographic - January 20, 2006
Tests with Amazon villagers hint at innate geometrical sense. Children of an isolated Indian group in the Amazon jungle have a seemingly natural understanding of geometry concepts, even though their language doesn't have words for them, according to a new study. This doesn't necessarily make the children unique, the study authors say. Instead, it may mean that most human brains, regardless of education, are hardwired for a basic level of geometry comprehension. The Mundurucu people of the Amazon River Basin don't seem to have words for "triangle," "parallel," or other geometry concepts. Even so, they are able to understand these concepts about as well as U.S. schoolchildren. Given the same geometry exercises, U.S. adults, however, performed slightly better, on average, than Mundurucu adults. The relatively similar abilities of the two cultures are striking, the authors said, given that the Mundurucu test subjects had received little or no schooling and lived mostly in isolation.

Amazon 'stealth' logging revealed BBC - October 21, 2005
Scientists from Brazil and the US say new research suggests deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has been underestimated by at least 60%. Deforestation in the Amazon is on such a massive scale that the only way of measuring it is by using satellites. The trouble has been that while traditional aerial images can show areas that have been completely destroyed, they do not reveal selective logging of valuable trees such as mahogany.