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Amazon: One of World's Most Endangered Tribe Threatened by Illegal Settlers

Update Date: Apr 20, 2013 06:20 PM EDT
Awa people, one of world's most endangered tribes. (Photo : Reuters)

A Brazilian indigenous rights group has said that their government is effectively failing to protect the Awa people -- one of the world’s most endangered tribes.

Recent numbers points that the small Amazonian tribe totals just 450 members, and, according to indigenous rights group Survival International, things couldn’t look grimmer now for the Awa people. Their territory has become increasingly attractive to settlers and loggers who are rushing in like an estampede.

“If their forest is being destroyed they will end up living on handouts from the government and lose their way of life,” Alice Bayer, from Survival International, said in an interview to BBC.

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A local judge, last year, issued an order demanding the outsiders to leave the area within 12 months.

The deadline has expired and no evictions have occurred, according to Survive International.

The Amazonian tribe lives in the northeast of Brazil, making a living as hunter-gatherers in remote areas of the rainforest. About 100 of them have never had contact with outsiders.

But, in the recent years it has become a trend for settlers and loggers to establish themselves in one of the four territories ruled by law as Awa’s property.
These settlers and loggers presumably outnumber the Awa by ten to one now.

In one case, an Awa’s territory of 120,000 hectares has had over 30% of the forest cover removed. Logging trucks are reported to enter and leave the area day and night.
"The Awa talk about hearing chainsaws and their game being scared away," Bayer said.

"They find when they go to hunt there are less animals there because of all the noise."

The Awa have attempted to use the courts to enforce their rights to these territories to which they are guaranteed by the Brazilian constitution. A judge, Jirair Aram Meguerian ordered that all the loggers, ranchers and other settlers who have come into the area should leave by the end of March this year.

Until now, authorities haven't done anything to evict invaders.

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