Uncontacted Indian child found dead in Amazon

The body of an isolated Indian child has been discovered in the Brazilian Amazon, in the state of Maranhão. An Indian from the Guajajara tribe came across the remains of the body whilst out hunting. The child’s age is estimated at about eight years old; it is unclear how he or she died.

This tragic and mysterious death highlights the desperate situation of a group of approximately 60 uncontacted Awá Indians, to whose tribe the child belonged. Probably the largest known group of uncontacted Awá, they live in a territory which, despite being officially recognised by the government, has been illegally invaded by loggers for twenty years.

The Awá have been forced to flee deep into the forest, and soon there will be nowhere for them to hide. They are easy targets for the (well-armed) loggers, and are likely to be exposed to fatal diseases.

In May 2005 the Guajajara came across a group of about 15 Awá in the forest who fled in terror, abandoning their bows, arrows and other possessions.

A team from the government’s Indian affairs department has just gone in to the area to assess the situation and possibly make contact, which in itself could lead to the transmission of fatal diseases.

Stephen Corry, director of Survival said, ‘The authorities have failed to protect one of the smallest and most vulnerable tribes in Brazil. They must act now to remove all the loggers and protect the area. If not, this group will be wiped off the face of the earth for ever, like so many before them.’

The Awá are one of the last surviving nomadic tribes in Brazil and have suffered some of the worst persecution at the hands of loggers and ranchers; whole groups have been exterminated by gunmen. Today, some 250 live in four villages and about 100 remain uncontacted, living mostly in small family groups in the remnants of rainforest.

For further information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]