Amazonian Tribes Struggle Against Deforestation, Disease, And Attacks To Survive [PHOTOS]

Amazon14REUTERS/Lunae ParrachoThe Xinane river runs through Ashaninka Indian territory in Brazil’s northwestern Acre state.

For hundreds of years, the Ashaninka, Madija, and Huni Kui peoples have made their home in the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon rainforest, living off the land. Until recently, the groups have lived peacefully amongst each other, struggling to survive in the often harsh, but bountiful environment.

Over the last three years, logging by Peruvians has led to widespread deforestation, putting strains on what the environment can support. The deforestation has led other indigenous tribes, considered “uncontacted” because of their complete lack of peaceful contact with mainstream society, to begin invading the territories of the Ashaninka and other peaceful tribes. These “uncontacted” Indians, called “Bravos” by Brazilians, have been raiding peaceful villages.

Reuters photographer Lunae Parracho recently took a trip through the Amazon rainforest with the attacked tribes to see life from their perspective.

The Ashaninka, Madija, and Huni Kui people live in northwestern Brazil in the Acre state, which borders Peru. They live in small villages and use traditional medicine.


REUTERS/Lunae Parracho


Despite threats over the years from drug traffickers, oil companies, and even conservation groups, the people have remained fiercely independent.

REUTERS/Lunae Parracho


Ashaninka, Madija, and Huni Kui live primarily by hunting and fishing local wildlife and farming yucca roots, sweet potato, corn, bananas, rice, coffee, cacao, and sugar cane using traditional environmentally conscious methods that promote biodiversity.

REUTERS/Lunae Parracho


The Huni Kui are the most prominent users of “traditional” medicine. Here a Huni Kui shaman prepares ayahuasca, a powerful psychedelic brew, to use in a healing ritual.

REUTERS/Lunae Parracho


The Ashaninka are friendly to the Brazilian government. For a time, the Brazilian government manned a base nearby called the Envira Front of Ethno-Environmental Protection. The base was meant to protect Brazil’s indigenous people from threats, but has since been abandoned. The Ashaninka have debated taking over the facility.

REUTERS/Lunae Parracho


Illegal logging has devastated the Amazon rainforest over the last 20 years. It has become a serious issue for Brazil’s indigenous tribes recently, as it has put pressure on territory and on the natural resources they live off of.

REUTERS/Lunae Parracho

The “Bravos,” indigenous people with no contact to the outside world, have begun moving into Ashaninka territory.

“They steal pots, knives, cloth. They live naked, speak another language and don’t want to talk. They are at war with everyone. If they get close, they shoot arrows at us,” Ashaninka chief Txate told Parracho.


REUTERS/Lunae Parracho


.Poshe and Biana, an Ashaninka couple, say that their three-year-old daughter Sawatxo was kidnapped by the Bravos a couple of years ago.

REUTERS/Lunae Parracho


The Bravos are not the only threat that the indigenous people face. The most common cause of death for children is diarrhoea. The groups are not opposed to modern medicine, but there is no health clinic nearby and a trip for help can take up to ten days. This man’s niece died of diarrhoea two weeks prior, as they went in search of medical help.

REUTERS/Lunae Parracho


“The Bravos are coming at us because Peruvian loggers are heading straight for them. And nobody ever explained to us … why [the government] fled the base. Now we know that we need to take care of our territory, because if we have to leave here we don’t have any place to go,” Txate told Parracho.

REUTERS/Lunae Parracho


The groups have asked the Brazilian government to step in for their protection and send troops to patrol the area. That has yet to happen. Some of the groups are armed, but they maintain that they have no desire to fight the invading tribes.

REUTERS/Lunae Parracho

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