Brazil rejects calls for forced contact with isolated tribes

    by Jo Griffin, Thomson Reuters Foundation
    Friday, 8 July 2016 09:51 BST

Members of the Mashco-Piro tribe observe a group of travelers from across the Alto Madre de Dios river in the Manu National Park in the Amazon basin of southeastern Peru, as photographed through a bird scope October 21, 2011. Survival International has the Mashco-Piro tribe listed as one of around 100 uncontacted indigenous tribes in the world. Picture taken October 21, 2011.

The Brazilian government has strongly criticized a call by two U.S. anthropologists to force contact with South America's most isolated tribes to ensure their survival.

In an open letter signed by 18 experts, Brazil's Department of Indigenous Affairs (FUNAI) on Thursday rejected Robert Walker and Kim Hills' suggestion that remaining hidden was "not viable in the long term" for the estimated 50 to 100 remaining tribes in Brazil who have had no contact with the outside world.

The professors, from the University of Missouri and Arizona State University, argued in an article published last year in Science magazine that "controlled contact is the only possible strategy for protecting these people".

But FUNAI specialists said contact carries greater dangers including the loss of land and resources to violent outsiders, exposure to diseases such as measles and flu to which they have no immunity and the loss of autonomy and self determination.

Read in full
Sign up for our weekly newsletter