Uncontacted Tribe Missing, Drug Traffickers Suspected

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

An uncontacted tribe of Indians living in Brazil near the Peruvian border is missing after what looks like a skirmish with drug traffickers. Aerial pictures of the tribe quickly circulated the globe earlier this year. The tribe is now feared for since the guard post near their territory has been taken over by suspected drug traders using the remote area as a route to pass product between Brazil and Peru. Authorities found a backpack with a broken arrow inside it and a 20kg package of cocaine nearby. According to a Survival International press release, men with sub-machine guns and rifles now occupy the area that once held the guard post.

Carlos Travassos, head of a Brazilian government department that deals with isolated peoples, said: “Arrows are like the identity card of uncontacted Indians… we are more worried than ever. This situation could be one of the biggest blows we have ever seen in the protection of uncontacted Indians in recent decades. It’s a catastrophe.”

Drug traffickers may not have only endangered the tribe by violence, they could also likely carry diseases or bacteria that the tribes have no resistance to. For example, half of the previously uncontacted Nahua tribe of Peru was wiped out in the 1980s after the government allowed Shell to drill for oil nearby. For this reason, approaching uncontacted tribes is illegal in many places, even for missionaries who are deeply concerned with saving their souls. Logging and deforestation are also threats to uncontacted peoples. To see the tribe that’s recently disappeared for yourself from a safe distance, Survival International’s aerial video footage of them is below.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate