Throughout the world there exists many types of people, cultures and ways of life. Perhaps the most authentic and unchanged in today's society are the indigenous tribes that exist throughout the world.
Many different types of indigenous exist on all continents.
Today, the highest concentration of indigenous can be found in the Amazon Rainforest. The further the tribe is located in the rainforest, the more they follow a traditional way of life. These people haven’t changed their traditions for the last hundreds of years.
Outside influence, colonization and contact now threaten these traditions.
These people have suffered disease, genocide and destruction of their land over the centuries. Many have been wiped out. Even then, a minority of tribes are still managing to continue their traditional ways of life.
Over the recent decades, many charitable groups have been working closer to protect and preserve the Amazonian Indigenous way of life. at the same time, these organizations are trying to understand more about the traditional indigenous ways in order to further help and protect these people.
The Amazon is spread amongst 8 countries. These countries are Brasil, Peru, Columbia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Guyana, Ecuador and Suriname.
before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, it was said that approximately 8 to 10 million indigenous inhabited the Amazonas. These numbers were reduced, according to some estimates , by 90%.
Most tribes lived by white waters and on the main river ways which were the first to be explored (and attacked) by European colonials. This resulted in tribes fleeing too deeper areas in the jungle. the survival of the tribes today is directly related to their location and how well hidden they are inside of the jungle.
Although currently 20 Million people are classified as indigenous, 1 million indigenous are said to live in the Amazon rainforest. These Indigenous are otherwise divided into 400 different groups with each of them possessing a unique language and culture.
Brazil has the largest proportion of Amazon territory and logically has the largest population of Indigenous peoples. It is estimated that amongst the 400 different tribes living in the Amazon, Brazil is home to 197.
Indigenous tribes are mainly hunter and gatherers. Spears and bow and arrows with poisonous tips are typical ways of hunting. Nowadays, these have become rarer and rarer as contacted tribes will opt for guns when they can afford it. As for gathering, it is uncommon that the today's indigenous will be completely independent farmers. Many will have small gardens and buy the rest of their necessities in the towns.
Many tribes have their own ways of farming, fishing, hunting, marrying and even ways to dress.
Nowadays, with the ease of access to neighbouring cities, it is very common that many tribes will be wearing western clothes.
To afford these “luxuries” the indigenous will often work with tourists, offering the ability to visit their land, participate in rituals and sell their arts and crafts (which are very beautiful).
The indigenous live off of the land and historically will remain in an area until the natural resources have reduced (typically 3-5 years). Normally, this is due to a growing population size, overhunting and over use of the territories or war with neighbouring tribes.
In recent years deforestation, illegal loggers, gold miners and farmers have led to conflict with native tribes. This has caused more outside world contact and subsequently has caused fightings, killings and disease.
This has caused the tribes to be forced to abandon their native lands and flee deeper into the jungle. This has also caused a deep distrust of the “white people”.
Many indigenous now live in contact with the urban world. As for ‘un-contacted tribes’, there is said to be over 100 different un-contacted tribes in the Amazon – numbering in the low thousands of individuals. These tribes intend for themselves to be left this way.
Although not very popular in the past, today, measures to protect the Amazon are continued being put into place and enforced. Currently, just under 50% of the Amazon River basin is under some form of protection.
Recently (2021), Amazonian delegates presented their case to protect 80% of the Amazon Rainforest by 2025.
There has been evidence that having more indigenous living in their native lands has a direct effect on protecting the related area of the Amazon. This is because it is much less enticing for illegal loggers or gold miners to enter a territory where they will be met with fighting from the indigenous inhabitants.
Brasil has been showing promise amongst their programs and government policies put in place to protect the indigenous. Brazil has set aside large areas of the Amazon, roughly 12.5% of its 60% to approximately 450 thousand 'Indians'. This is obviously not popular amongst poor farmers and other non indigenous land owners, however it is a necessary step to protect the region.
Oftentimes, it can be hard to manage disputes between indigenous and non indigenous locals. Brasil has created FUNAI in 1967 to manage the relationships between the government and indigenous, also to endure that their rights are respected.
The organization was founded after the Figuereido report in 1967. This report exposed the old ‘Indigenous Protection Services” of Brazil who was accused ignoring the slavery and genocide of the indigenous people. This led to public outcry all over the world and ultimately Funai was born.
Since then, Funai has led to many policy changes.
Since its creation ‘un-contacted’ tribes are only to be contacted under situations of extreme need. This avoids spreading disease and death since their immune system and way of life is not adapted to ours and vice versa.
In 1988, The Constitution of 1988 was created and it recognizes the indigenous peoples as the first and natural owners of the land and guarantees them their right to land.
Exploration and extraction of mineral wealth on indigenous lands must be carried out solely with authorization from the National Congress. This involves listening to the native communities, who also must be guaranteed participation in the benefits of the mining activities.
Eviction of indigenous peoples from their lands is prohibited.
Fortunately there are many ways you can help the indigenous of the Amazon and preserving their environment. Here are a few of the ways you can help.
1. Educate yourself – by learning about the issues you are one step closer to support or find new solutions to inspire and incite change.
2. Write to the local governments – You can help the change by writing about issues to your local government or even to the governments which are responsible for the amazon.
3. Donate to charity – There are many charitable organizations involved with helping indigenous and preserving the Amazon. Feel free to donate to help the cause. Two great charities are: The world wildlife foundation https://www.wwf.org.uk/ and Survival https://www.survivalinternational.org/
4. Be Consumer Conscious – What happens in the Amazon isn’t an isolated event. The decisions made in the Amazon trickle down into are society. If you want to make a change, be conscious of what you are eating, products that you consume (i.e gold, lumber) and even the animals and fish you see in the local pet stores. All are related to the Amazon and changing our consumer behavior can change the way the world preserves this territory.
5. Start a discord – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all of these platforms offer tremendous opportunities to spread the message and to get people talking about the issues and ways for change. Today we are able to share are thoughts and ideas instantaneously to raise awareness and don’t hesitate to take advantage of these tools.