S.A.L Special: Why we Must Save the World's Most Threatened Tribe
Survival is the only organization working for tribal peoples’ rights worldwide. It seeks to help tribal peoples protect their lives, lands and human rights. It works with hundreds of tribal communities and organizations, and is funded almost entirely by concerned members of the public and some foundations. It does not take national government money.For more information have a look at the great video/article below and check out their website
Visiting the Awa: By Survival's Head of Campaigns Fiona Watson
The first time I visited the Awá was in 1992. It made a huge impression on me.
Two days earlier FUNAI had just made contact with a young Awá family and took me to ‘meet’ them in a small patch of forest, miles from their land. I couldn’t go near them to avoid infecting them with any germ that could be lethal to such an isolated people.
A young woman was sitting in a hammock, staring at the ground and nursing her tiny baby. Her husband was standing nearby his back turned to us gazing out over the river. They seemed bewildered and terrified. I could not imagine what this little family had seen and suffered.
Nobody then knew anything about them but the FUNAI team told me it was likely they were on the run having survived an attack by ranchers’ pistoleiros.
Ten years later I met Takwarenxia and Hacõaĩn whom FUNAI had taken to live in Juriti, where most of the recently contacted Awá were living. They had had two more children and were clearly much happier. Since then they have had two more children.
I realized that however desperate the Awá situation, many are resilient and have survived against all odds. There is nothing inevitable about their destruction. They can and will survive if the Brazilian government upholds their rights, and if we the public act to ensure that it does so. The Awá have the right to decide how they wish to live and that should be respected.
Perhaps what has touched me most about the Awá is their humanity and their humor. This goes to the essence of what it is to be human - to live as a community and to care for one another; to share the good times and the bad times; and to so completely understand your environment that you are among the most self sufficient peoples on our planet.
This humanity extends to animals too - the Awá are tremendous mimics, a valuable skill for the hunters who have often showed me how they attract howler monkeys, by growling low in their throats. Communities are a menagerie of forest pets - baby monkeys, peccaries, coatimundis and owls - who are cared for as part of the family and never eaten.
If we let the Awá disappear I think we stand to lose an entire people and part of our planet’s rich and vibrant human diversity - a unique language, vision and understanding of the rainforest, - but we also lose a part of ourselves and what it means to be human.