“New tribe discovered”… could be the title of an old movie about Christopher Columbus’s times. In today’s reality, it is the western centric language used in the media to report on an incident that must feel like a lived horror film to the people it involves: A previously unknown group of indigenous people recently escaped massacre in the Amazon.
The 87 men, women and children of the isolated indigenous group, belonging to the Metykire ethnicity, were attacked by probably either illegal gold miners or loggers. With 15 of their people killed the Metykire group fled from their jungle home, a remote area in the northern part of the state of Masso Grosso bordering Bolivia to the southwest. This area, covered almost completely by equatorial forests- a biodiversity hot spot- is under federal protection and not open to commercial exploitation. This makes what happened to the Metykire a multi-level tragedy.
The Metykire found the indigenous Kayapo village of Peixoto de Azevedo in western Brazil after trekking for five days. Then they were relocated to the nearby village of Kapot.
Steps are being taken currently to protect the Metykire from foreign diseases that they have no immunity from, so that the Metykire are not immediately wiped from the face of the Earth. No intention though can yet be seen that government officials are going to investigate the possible illegal mining or logging operations in the northern forest and take further action to stop those illegal activities. This is a clear reminder that people are endangered of losing their traditional ways of life. Their lives and cultures are being destroyed, without the world taking notice.
The fact that the outside world did not have any knowledge of the existence and contact with the Metykire population speaks of Brazil’s richness in cultural diversity. According to estimates there are more than 100 indigenous peoples without contact to outdside populations world wide, inhabiting the last untouched regions of our planet. With the “wanting it all” greed of development, the ongoing loss of biodiversity, environmental pollution and consequently the run for the last pristine areas, these indigenous communities the world over are under imminent threat.
It is surely important to save the rain forests. It must be equally important to save the indigenous cultures living in them. In other words, maintaining biological diversity should go hand in hand with maintaining cultural diversity. Keeping traditions and culture alive, remembering stories, doing ceremonies and teaching traditional values of caring, sharing, love and honouring one’s own ways is crucial for the health and survival of all humankind.
Should not we all ask ourselves these questions repeatedly: Does it all have to be like this?
How can we turn this world around so it can be good again? It is in our hands……….
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