Murderous Drug Traffickers Force Isolated Group in Amazon to Make Contact
The same group of red-painted indigenous warriors famously photographed in 2008 aiming arrows at the photographer’s aircraft now tell their own story: the story of massacre and suffering in their remote territory along the Peru-Brazil border. Gunshots, many dead. A tall, bald man leading a murderous group of white men, presumably drug traffickers. Survivors escaping into the jungle while elders and children were slaughtered. The days following the massacre were marked by profound sadness and mourning; the dead were buried in mass graves. A hasty evacuation meant they were short of food and supplies. They decided to pursue a final, desperate resort: to seek out settled indigenous villages along the adjacent Rio Envira and beg for food and mercy.
Seven survivors made their way to the Ashaninka community of Simpatia (“Sympathy”) to ask for food, but since they spoke no common language the encounter was tense. Not until two Yaminawa interpreters were brought was communication finally established. The language they speak is a dialect of Yaminawa so communication has been extremely fluent. It was already suspected, based on their location and body adornments, that they belonged to an isolated Panoan group. The Yaminawa interpreters confirmed their linguistic affiliation and suggest they are closely related to the Chitonahua of Peru (rendered as ‘Xitonawa’ in the Brazilian orthography), however they call themselves “Xatanawa,” which means, “Macaw-Tribe.”
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