Isolated Peruvian Tribe Tries to Make Contact: Pushed Out By Drug Smugglers?
Tensions were high in June as more than 100 members of the Mashco-Piro clan, an Indian tribe that lives in voluntary isolation, attempted to make contact in Peru’s southeastern Amazon region.
According to the Associated Press, authorities are unsure what provoked the indigenous encounter that lasted from June 24 to 26, but say that illegal logging, drug smuggling, and oil and gas exploration in their territory could be a cause.
A similar encounter happened in 2011, as members of the tribe appeared along the riverbank in Madre de Dios, which was a result of gas and oil projects and illegal logging in the area at the time, according to Survival International.
This most recent encounter saw the tribe appear across the Las Piedras river and asking for bananas, rope and machetes from the local Yine people before being dissuaded by FENAMAD rangers according to the AP.
In 2011, the clan members were allegedly to blame for two attacks along the riverbanks, one of which saw Nicolas “Shaco” Flores fatally wounded by an arrow.
Flores, however, was the only person able to communicate with the Mashco-Piro because he spoke two related dialects. Since his death communication with the tribe has been difficult.
According to Peruvian law, physical contact is prohibited with the estimated 15 “uncontacted” tribes in Peru, the AP reported. The main reason for the law is the safety of the tribes from disease.
Anthropologist Beatriz Huertas said via AP, “What’s strange is that they came so close to the population of Monte Salvado. It could be they are upset by problems of others taking advantage of resources in their territories and for that reason were demanding objects and food of the population.”