Brazilian prosecutors are investigating reports that gold prospectors may have killed members of a so-called uncontacted tribe in the Amazon.
If the alleged killing is confirmed by investigating public prosecutors it would mean up to 20 percent of the total tribe, which includes women and children, was massacred.
Even though the killings took place last month as members of the tribe were collecting eggs along the river, the massacre only came to light recently after the goldminers started boasting about the slaughter at a bar in a nearby town. They even disturbingly showed off a hand-carved paddle as a “trophy.”
“It was crude bar talk,” a spokesperson for Funai [the National Indian Foundation in Brazil], told the New York times. “They even bragged about cutting up the bodies and throwing them in the river.”
Unfortunately, Funai’s budget was recently halved by Brazil’s current President Michel Temer to around £14 million a year. According to Survival International, Temer’s government is “fiercely anti-Indian and has close ties to the country’s powerful and anti-indigenous agribusiness lobby.”
This is in stark contrast to Brazil’s previous president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who issued a presidential decree in 2003 that categorized Quilombo indigenous people as “self-designated ethno-racial groups who have their own historical trajectory, specific territorial relations, and a presumed black ancestry related to the historical oppression they have suffered.”
Survival International’s director, Stephen Corry, released a statement saying, “If these reports are confirmed, President Temer and his government bear a heavy responsibility for this genocidal attack. The slashing of Funai’s funds has left dozens of uncontacted tribes defenseless against thousands of invaders — goldminers, ranchers and loggers — who are desperate to steal and ransack their lands.”
“All these tribes should have had their lands properly recognized and protected years ago — the government’s open support for those who want to open up indigenous territories is utterly shameful, and is setting indigenous rights in Brazil back decades,” he added.
This is not the first time that indigenous peoples’ lives been threatened. The territories of two other uncontacted tribes — the Kawahiva and Piripkura — have also been invaded by landowners, hunters and miners.
According to Adelson Kora Kanamari, leader of the Warikama Djapar tribe, “Many [indigenous] people are being killed in insolation, but we don’t know the exact dates or number of deaths.”