Lost Tribes of the Amazon by Joshua Hammer Analysis

  • Category: Articles,
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 687
  • Published: 21 April 2021
  • Copied: 187


Scattered throughout the rainforests of South America lives a plethora of endangered indigiounous people who currently live in the stone age. Joshua Hammer’s Lost Tribes of the Amazon is a magazine article for the Smithsonian Magazine in which he covers a trip to the Amazon Rainforests following pilot Eliana Martinez, Robert Franco, an expert on Native Americans, and Cristobal von Rothkirtch, a Photographer and their flyover of the Amazon rainforest. Their main goal was to locate native settlements in order to help governments increase protection of the tribes so that any attempt of outside interaction could be thwarted. Alongside this story, Hammer shared details about various tribes who currently or no longer exist in the Amazon, and how some tribes decided to attempt to open up to tourism, such as the Ticunas, while others flee any interaction, such as the Yuri and Pase tribes. Lastly a major topic that the article covers is how the Columbian, Peruvian, and Brazillian governments have successfully and unsuccessfully interacted with these indigionous tribes in various ways. This article was more like a journey report, so it did not make any major claims.

When mentioning the Governments which have the Amazon in their territory, Hammer mentions various historical decisions that have been made. For example, when explaining the time period when Indigionous people were seen as a burden more than anything, the author mentioned a few instances. Brazil, in the 60’s and 70’s attempted to relocate and pacify natives in order to allow commercial businesses to exploit the rainforest for its natural resources. Peru would secretly allow companies to take visitors to observe isolated natives to make profit, something many conservationists criticized. Alongside that, timberman illegally logged parts of a sanctuary which forced the relocation of Mascho Piro natives. For Columbia, the author doesn’t mention any specific instances, but notes that many tribes living in Columbian territory had to be relocated by force because the country has been too busy dealing with larger problems. Although this seems bad, recently things have been getting better in some aspects. Brazil created the Department of Isolated Indians inside FUNAI (Fundação Nacional do Índio) in 1987 which helped to secure and seal off the native people’s land. Peru would go on to restrict inhabitants of the rainforest to indigionous tribes, and Columbia turned 14.8 million acres of rainforest into national parks and 66.7 million acres into private reserves for natives. 

Franco, however, believes that these countries are still not doing enough to protect the Natives. He cites the Ticuna tribe as an example. Some members had to sell out and put on shows for tourists rather than be genuinely in touch with the culture. Tribes such as the Yuri and Passe reject any possible contact with the outside world in fear of plague, slavery and massacre to the point where its uncertain if they even exist anymore. Hammer tells a story of a jaguar hunter and fur trader who went missing in the jungle in 1969. A search party was assembled for them, and the party came across a tribe speaking a language even native experts didn’t know. However the author fails to mention whether or not this was the elusive Yuri or Passe tribes, or possibly another tribe that had been lost in time. The only thing that the author adds on to this is the Uitotos who have worked to keep their traditions alive which could possibly give a glimpse into the Yuri or Passe culture. However any outsider who listens or sees would be killed, so the mystery of these tribes remain unsolved.

Franco wished for the Amazon rainforest to have more protection concentrated around native tribes, hence his flyover of the immense area.  He believed that pinpointing the tribe's locations would allow for this to happen, and I think that it’s a good idea. The way he finds these locations allows for minimal interaction with natives and is definitely safer than exploring the rivers or forest floor. I couldn’t think of a better way to handle the situation so I definitely agree with this idea. No matter what there will be organizations like logging companies or people like poachers that exist as a threat to the rainforest, and increased defense will help to keep these corrupt people away. It is no question that these tribes have thousands and thousands of years of history and culture to maintain, so defending them and keeping them isolated is a great step in preserving these tribes.