Amazon expedition meets previously uncontacted tribe
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- A Brazilian government expedition has made
contact with members of a remote Amazon Indian tribe never before exposed to
Western culture, a local news agency said Sunday.
The Tsohon-djapa tribe lives in an area known as the Vale do Javari, wedged
between two Amazon river tributaries, the Jutai and Jandiatuba rivers. The area
is home to about a dozen tribes that have had little exposure to modern society.
The 11-member team from the Federal Indian Bureau met with some 30 tribe
members for about an hour, Jornal do Brasil news agency reported. It was
unclear whether the contact had taken place on Saturday or Sunday.
Calls to bureau authorities went unanswered. But late last month, the bureau
that a team of anthropologists and Indians had embarked on an expedition to
locate the tribe, which was discovered last year after a bureau team flying over
the region photographed a previously undetected village made of 16 long houses.
The expedition sought to confirm the tribe's existence, get an idea of
the area the
Indians inhabit and then leave them alone, Sydney Possuelo, the bureau's chief of
isolated tribes and the expedition's leader, said at the time.
On Sunday, however, the news agency quoted Possuelo as saying that the
had made contact with the Indians, but only because they wanted to investigate
reports that the tribe is ruled by a neighboring tribe, the Canamaris.
Amazon tribes live mainly from hunting and fishing. They also cut down
burn small parts of forests to grow crops.
The bureau's expedition departed late last month from Tabatinga, about
miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro, and traveled for three days by boat before
setting off into the forest by foot.
The Vale do Javari was declared an Indian reservation in 1996. About 300,000
Indians live in Brazil in various stages of acculturation. The bureau estimates
there are 53 tribes still living in relative isolation from Western culture.
Copyright 2001 The Associated Press