2nd Wave of Isolated People Makes Contact with Outsiders in Brazil

Two uncontacted tribe members
Young people from an isolated indigenous tribe in Peru first made contact with a settlement in Brazil in late June. At the time, they reported violent attacks on elders in their community. (Image credit: © FUNAI)

Pushed out of their home territory by violence, a second wave of people who had been living in voluntary isolation in the Amazon rainforest has made contact with villagers in Brazil, according to an advocacy group.

These 24 men, women and children belong to the same tribe as the "uncontacted" people who emerged in a Brazilian village in late June, claiming that they had suffered violent attacks from outsiders, according to Survival International, a group that advocates for tribal people's rights.

When isolated tribes make contact with people in settled communities, they are at risk of being wiped out by common diseases, such as the flu and measles, against which they have no immunity. The first wave of seven people to make contact developed flu-like symptoms last month, Brazilian officials said. They were treated for acute respiratory infections and put in quarantine before they went back to their home territory, which is across the border in Peru. [See Photos of the Uncontacted Amazon Tribes

The second wave of people, who emerged sometime in the last few weeks, is reportedly in good health. They have been residing at the Xinane monitoring post operated by FUNAI, Brazil's indigenous affairs department, in Brazil's Acre state, Survival International officials said.

"It is crucial that the Indians who have made contact receive top-quality health care and monitoring there at the FUNAI base, as they have very little immunity to diseases, which could wipe them out," Sarah Shenker, Survival International's Brazil campaigner, told Live Science by email. "Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet."

Last month, FUNAI released a video clip showing the tribe's initial, voluntary contact with the Ashaninka people in the village of Simpatia. The tribe members, who speak a Panoan language, said through an interpreter that they had been attacked by gun-wielding non-Indians who killed many of the older people in their group, according to Survival International. In another sign of their interactions with outsiders, these tribe members were also carrying a gun, some screws and other items that they may have purloined from a logging camp, a Survival International official told Live Science last month.

This second group of uncontacted people also said they were fleeing violence in Peru, Shenker said.

"The Brazilian government has requested that the Peruvian government investigate this and protect the land. As far as we know, the Peruvian government has not yet committed to anything," Shenker said. "We do know, however, that this area in Peru is invaded by illegal loggers and cocaine traffickers."

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Megan Gannon
Live Science Contributor
Megan has been writing for Live Science and Space.com since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.