The Awa: Faces of a Threatened Tribe

Oldest Awá

The oldest member of the Aw&#225 tribe of Brazil.

(Image credit: ©D Pugliese/Survival)

The indigenous Awá people of Brazil are in a protracted legal battle to protect their lands from illegal settling and logging. Amerintxia is is probably the oldest Awá. She lives on her own in a small palm shelter, along with her many pets. She still gathers her own food in forest. The advocacy group Survival International is trying to save the tribe from encroachment by illegal loggers and settlers.

Skilled Hunters

A young Awa hunter in the rainforest.

(Image credit: ©D Pugliese/Survival)

From a young age, all Awá learn how to hunt. They are extremely skilled marksmen.

Pet Monkey

An Awa woman with her pet monkey.

(Image credit: ©D Pugliese/Survival)

Amererintxia sits with one of her pet monkeys in a hammock, which the Awá make from palm tree fibres.

Awá Gathering Trip

Awá people on a hunting and gathering trip.

(Image credit: ©D Pugliese/Survival)

The Awá live in extended family groups. Families go on gathering trips where everybody collect nuts and berries.

Monkey on Her Back

Awá woman with a monkey on her back

(Image credit: ©D Pugliese/Survival)

Baby monkeys spend much time with Awá women and children enjoying the physical contact. Many monkeys like to sit on their owners' heads.

Baby on Board

Awá woman with a baby in a sling.

(Image credit: ©D Pugliese/Survival)

Like many Amazonian Indians, Awá carry young babies in slings - traditionally made from palm fibres - but nowadays from cloth.

Tribe Member and Devastation

Awa tribesman standing in burnt-out forest.

(Image credit: ©Survival)

Tribe member Hemokoma'á stands in smouldering forest  in the Awá territory - 31% has been burned and destroyed by illegal invaders.

Tribal Girl

A tribal girl of the Awa people in a stream.

(Image credit: ©Survival)

A tribal girl nicknamed "Little Butterfly" bathes in a stream near her community.

Damaged Land

Burned forest on Awa land.

(Image credit: ©Survival)

The charred remains of burned forest on Awá land, only several kilometers from an Awá community.

Awá Man

Awá man with his pet monkey.

(Image credit: ©Survival)

Takwarentxia with his pet monkey. He, his wife and baby son were contacted in 1992, far from the their territory. They were on the run, fleeing from gunmen who murdered some of their family group.

Tribal Ritual

The Awa tribal ritual of karawara.

(Image credit: ©Survival)

During the karawara ritual Awá women decorate the men with parrot feathers and soft white down from the king vulture. They clap and sing so the men go into a trance, and can travel to the sky  to meet their ancestral spirits.

Stephanie Pappas
Live Science Contributor

Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.