Experts denounce Amazon Indian cannibalism reports as 'false' and 'slanderous'

February 19, 2009

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World experts on the Amazon tribe accused of killing and eating a white settler cast doubts today on the authenticity of the accusations. The tribe’s supposed cannibalism has been reported by media all around the world.  

Dr Donald Pollock, Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the State University of New York at Buffalo, said, ‘The Kulina have no history or tradition of cannibalism, and have often expressed disgust at the notion. I am confident that the current charges will prove to be false when they are fully investigated.’

Members of the Kulina (or Culina) tribe have been accused of killing a man, variously reported as a handicapped student and cattle farmer, and eating his heart and thighs in a ‘cannibalistic ritual’. The Kulina live in the remote Amazon forest – some in Brazil, others in Peru.

Domingos Silva, an anthropologist at Brazil’s Federal University of Santa Catarina, said, ‘During all the years when I studied and lived with the Kulina they never gave any sign of practicing cannibalism.’

Dr Daniel Everett, Chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Illinois State University and author of the best-selling book ‘Don’t sleep, there are snakes’, said, ‘I have worked with every group of the Arawan family, of which the Kulina are a member. I am not aware of any evidence that the Kulina or any other Arawan group have ever engaged in cannibalism.’

The source of the reports appears to be limited to the mayor of a nearby town, who told police he was informed by a member of the tribe that the ‘ritual’ had taken place.

Ivar Busatto, co-ordinator of the non-governmental organisation OPAN, which has worked with the Kulina for years, said, ‘Facts have been attributed to the Indians without prior investigation. They are being pre-judged, as part of a wider campaign of slander which has hidden interests.’

FUNAI, the Brazilian government's Indian affairs department, released a statement saying, 'The practice of anthropophagy [eating people] does not exist among Indigenous peoples in contemporary Brazil'.

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]  

Brazilian Indigenous People