Uncontacted nomads flee loggers’ bulldozers

August 15, 2018

Awá man with bow and arrow. Posto Tiracambu, Caru, April 2000 © Fiona Watson/Survival

This page was created in 2018 and may contain language which is now outdated.

A tribe of 300 Amazon nomads is fleeing from bulldozers as their last forest is rapidly destroyed. Around sixty members of the tribe have no contact with outsiders.

Survival International has launched an urgent campaign for the protection of the Awá, who are one of the last truly nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes in Brazil.

Loggers, ranchers and settlers are invading the Awá’s land, hunting the animals they rely on and exposing them to disease and violence. One group of loggers is only three kilometers from an Awá community.

In the 1970s, the EU and the World Bank funded a huge iron ore mine and railway in the region, bringing an influx of settlers. More than two thirds of the Awá contacted by the government in this period died.

Many Awá today are survivors of brutal massacres. One man, Karapiru, wandered the forest alone for ten years after his family were killed, believing that he was the only Awá left. He was reunited with other Awá in 1988.

The Brazilian government has legally recognized the Awá’s land in the state of Maranhão, but is failing to protect its boundaries.

Survival campaigner Fiona Watson has visited some of the contacted Awá. She said today, ‘The Awá are formidable hunters and expert gatherers, but they need every inch of their forest to provide for themselves. Against all odds, they have survived into the 21st century, but unless the government acts fast they may not see the century out.’

For more information please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International on (44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email [email protected]