My new husband, who was born in South Africa, brought my attention to a remarkable group of peoples living all around the world who have no interest in development at all – tribal peoples. Many of these peoples remain un-contacted by the developed world, through their own choice. They live off of the land and are entirely self-sustainable. Governments are aware of them, and monitor their lands, populations and safety. But governments are not the only ones aware of them, nor do they always act in their best interests.
These peoples are increasingly harassed by economic interests such as logging companies and diamond miners. As well as suffering violence, slavery, racism and forced progress in many parts of the world. Often this forced progress threatens their lives and their livelihoods through eviction, environmental impact, disease and an increase in what we consider a normal part of society such as substance abuse, depression and imprisonment.
These people can be found in the USA, Canada, Africa, Asia, Australia, Central and South America; see a map of the world’s threatened tribes here.
You might be wondering who is helping these people. The answer is, Survival International. The only organisation working for tribal peoples rights worldwide. Survival celebrates diversity and they do not see tribal peoples disappearance as an inevitability; they rather hope that for humanity’s sake we can continue to learn from tribal people. Many of our modern crops and medicines have tribal origins. Tribal people continue to show us alternative and successful values and ways of life.
Let me shed some light on just one tribe, the Awá. They are the most threatened tribe on Earth. Nestled in the Brazilian Amazon they hunt, gather and live in fear of illegal loggers. These loggers kill the Awá on sight, invade their lands, burn and destroy the forest and cause irreparable damage. Survival International have launched a huge campaign to urge the Brazilian Minister for Justice to answer their plight; tens of thousands of you have answered.
Recent reports tell us that the Brazilian Minister is listening. An operation has been launched and 8 saw mills have been closed. But the operation has not yet moved onto the Awá’s land itself where yet more illegal logging is taking place at a devastating rate. As global citizens we need to keep up the pressure on the Brazilian government; take action here.
The Awá are just one tribe who are threatened with extinction. I urge you to visit the Survival International website and find out more about these incredible and fascinating peoples. I intend to do just the same!
written by Jesamine Somerville