Amazon leader – uncontacted tribes suffer worst experience in 500 years

November 8, 2007

A Nahua man. More than 50% of the Nahua died after first contact. © Survival

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An Indigenous leader from the Peruvian Amazon has said that Peru’s uncontacted tribes are experiencing problems equal to or worse than anything Indigenous Amazonian peoples have experienced in 500 years.

Alberto Pizango Chota, president of AIDESEP, Peru’s Amazon Indian organisation, also said that AIDESEP supports and will defend the uncontacted tribes’ decision to live in isolation.

‘Since the entry of the first colonists into the Amazon, the aim has always been to exploit our natural resources,’ Mr Chota said. He was speaking at a debate on uncontacted tribes in Iquitos, a city in Peru’s northern Amazon.

In total, there are an estimated fifteen uncontacted tribes in Peru. All of them are under huge threat from oil and gas exploration that the Peruvian government is promoting on their land, and from the invasion of their territories by illegal loggers.

Uncontacted tribes do not have immunity to outsiders' diseases because of their isolation, and any form of contact can be fatal for them. In the 1980s, following oil exploration on their land, more than 50% of the previously uncontacted Nahua tribe died.

Uncontacted Tribes of Peru