Last month, this photo was released of an "uncontacted" tribe in the Amazon rain forest. It's an amazing photo, but it's now come out that the tribe had actually been known since 1910. The photographer, José Carlos Meirelles, went to where they were thought to live specifically to take their pictures. Meirelles works for Funai, the Brazillian Indian Protection Agency, and apparently was trying to attract publicity to help protect indigenous people in the area. Meanwhile, a post on the blog of Survival International, the indigenous rights group which works with Funai, denies that there's been any wrongdoing on their part at all. From The Observer:
Survival International, the organisation that released the pictures along with Funai, conceded yesterday that Funai had known about this nomadic tribe for around two decades. It defended the disturbance of the tribe saying that, since the images had been released, it had forced neighbouring Peru to re-examine its logging policy in the border area where the tribe lives, as a result of the international media attention. Activist and former Funai president Sydney Possuelo agreed that – amid threats to their environment and doubt over the existence of such tribes – it was necessary to publish them.
But the revelation that the existence of the tribe was already established will provoke awkward questions over why a decision was made to try to photograph them – a form of contact in itself – in order to make a political point. Link (Thanks, Sean Ness!)
From Survival International:
The only people who ever claimed that the Indians photographed were ‘lost’ or ‘undiscovered’ were…. the press, despite the fact that Survival has been campaigning for the protection of the many isolated Indian tribes on the Peru-Brazil border for more than twenty years.
Indeed, you might have thought that the fact that the Indians are living in a government reserve set aside for isolated Indian groups would tend to indicate that they weren’t exactly ‘unknown’.
For the avoidance of doubt, let’s just make it clear – yes, the tribe is uncontacted, that is to say, has no peaceful contact with outsiders. But no, they’re not ‘lost’ – they know where they are, and anthropologists, Survival, other NGOs and the Brazilian government have known that there are many isolated Indian tribes living in that region for decades. Link
Previously on BB:
• Uncontacted tribe in Amazon Link