New Encounter with Uncontacted People in the Peruvian Amazon

25/11/2020.- Early this month the Matsés people, one of the 64 indigenous tribes living in the Peruvian Amazon reported a chance encounter with uncontacted people.

The encounter happened in a remote headwater of their ancestral territory, located in the Loreto region, according to Acaté Amazon Conservation Group. 

Aerial footage of an uncontacted indigenous community in the Peruvian Amazon (2019). Source: ORPIO

“On a follow-up survey from the Matsés Indigenous Mapping Initiative,  in the headwaters of the upper Yaquerana river, the Matsés had a chance encounter. They were there to verify some data points from a previous journey and to check on the status of an abandoned exploratory oil well”, says Acaté.  

While walking along a stream, the Matsés survey team noticed a trail marked by plant stems bent in half, not cut with a machete. 

Source: Acaté Amazon Conservation

“When we were mapping, I found a path made by uncontacted people next to a stream. We found some undergrowth that had been cleared very recently” says on a video a member of the Matsés Indigenous Mapping Initiative. 

“We heard someone imitating spider monkeys. The spider monkey responded to the imitations. Then we realized that they were uncontacted people so we ran away worried they might kill us.” Add the Matsés man. 

Over the years, the Matses have reported similar encounters in the jungle although this one occurred closer to their communities. It is generally thought that isolated groups come across the river from Brazil in the low water season, although this group may reside semi-permanently on the Peruvian side.

There are about 2200 Matsés living in the Yavarí Valley of Peru and Brazil, with the majority residing in Peru.The Matsés speak a language of the Panoan linguistic family that is closely aligned with the dialects that the Matis and Korubo peoples speak.


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