Rare footage of an isolated Amazon tribe has been released, giving the public a very small glimpse of their lives. The footage is of the Kawahiva tribe, which lives in the Amazon jungle and is thought to have very little contact with humans. Video footage, as a result, is incredibly rare. The just over one minute video was taken by FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s agency that oversees indigenous matters, in 2011. In the video, naked men carrying large bows and arrows cross the screen first, followed by a woman carrying a child on her back, who looks at the camera curiously. One child cries out, and the mother runs away from the camera. A few more men walk past, possibly investigating what had caused the woman to cry out, and then the footage ends.
The Kawahiva are known for having little contact with other indigenous tribes, let alone non-indigenous people. Loggers, who pose a threat to the Kawahiva people and their home, the jungle, first reported the Kawahiva tribe in 1999. Because they have so little contact with the outside world, it is impossible to know how many of them exist. Loggers and farmers pose the greatest threat to the Kawahiva tribe, in spite of the fact that the government created a 411,848 acre reservation in the western Mato Grosso state, The Telegraph reports. This particular group of Kawahiva were traveling between villages in the area between Mato Grosso and Amazonas when they were caught on tape. FUNAI employee Jair Candor filmed the video on one of his trips to monitor and protect the tribe, whom he has never sought contact with.
Of approximately 100 uncontacted tribes worldwide that are believed to still exist, 85 are believed to live in the Amazon rainforest between Brazil and Peru, says Business Insider. Experts believe that only 50 Kawahiva may still be alive, but since they are so isolated it is difficult to be precise. This newly released footage is the closest footage filmed of an uncontacted Amazon tribe, but it is not the first footage, period.
The BBC and the Brazilian government joined forces to capture aerial footage of another uncontacted village in 2011. In the video from that attempt, naked men are also seen holding bows and arrows, this time pointing them at the plane. Indigenous-rights activists and employees of FUNAI, who work to protect tribes like the Kawahiva, urge protection of lands for the tribes to live on, such as the lands that were protected last year. Still, loggers, miners and even drug gangs are infiltrating the open land, threatening not only the tribes’ ancient ways of life, but their lives themselves.