Amazon nomads celebrate land victory

March 10, 2003

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Triumph for Brazil's last hunter-gatherers after 20-year Survival campaign

Brazil's last hunter-gatherer Indian tribe face the future with more confidence this week, after the demarcation – mapping out and marking on the ground – of the Awá Indians' land was completed. This legal recognition of their territory, ordered by a judge, was the main objective of a 20-year Survival campaign.

Much of the Awá's rainforest has been invaded by ranchers, loggers and settlers, who killed many Indians. Only 300 Awá remain: about 60 still live uncontacted in small nomadic groups. The EU- and World Bank-funded Carajás industrial project was responsible for much of the devastation.

On Wednesday 12 March Survival will hand in a petition of over 40,000 signatures to the Brazilian authorities urging the government to implement a long term programme to protect the Awá area – particularly the uncontacted Indians – and to ensure that the illegal ranchers and settlers are permanently removed.

To'o, an Awá leader, explains why preserving the forest is so crucial: 'We live in the depths of the forest and we are getting cornered as the whites close in on us. Without the forest we are nobody and we have no way of surviving. Without the forest we'll be gone, we'll be extinct.'

Photos and footage available. For more information contact Fiona Watson on (+44) (0)20 7687 8730 or email [email protected]