Documentary explains why Isolated people of the Amazon run away from jungle

21-09-2016.- In June 2014, one of the last isolated people of the Amazon rainforest that had had no contact with the outside world emerge.

That year a footage of a man handing bananas to a group of naked men in the middle of Amazonian river went viral.

Courtesy: FUNAI

In the documentary ‘The Tribe That the Time Forgot’ directed by Angus Macqueen explains how these people lived before and why they leave the jungle.

During the film, the Brazilian anthropologist Carlos Meirelles interviews Xina, leader of the indigenous tribe.

The 14 men, 9 women and 12 children are part of the Sapanahua tribe.

Xina says that two years ago they run away from their territory located in Peru, after a group of men with guns were trying to kill them.

‘A group of men arrived at our place. Forced us to run away because they want to kill us’.

‘The whites came looking for us. They appeared screaming at us. They had guns and machetes. They killed my father, my mother and my two wives’, said Xina.

The 35 people live in a indigenous community based on Brazilian soil under the protection of FUNAI Brazil’s Federation for Indigenous Peoples.

Xina, leader of the Sapanahua.

FUNAI provides clothes, tools and medical help.

The anthropologist Meirelles says the Sapanahua people were facing a real threat in the Murunahua Reserve, Peru, where they used to live.

In that area of the Peruvian Amazon is a constant presence of illegal loggers, drug traffickers and coca farmers.

‘The massacres happened over here (points Peruvian side of a map). So they don’t want to be there anymore. They want to be over the border where they feel more protected. On the Brazilian side’, said Meirelles.

The Sapanahua struggle to identify which whites attacked them.

They think it may have been the Peruvian army, but there is no way of knowing.

‘They were Peruvian army. They talked by radio. They shot at us. Killed us for fun (…) The Peruvians were animals. They wouldn’t leave us in peace. It was too dangerous so we came here (Brazil)’, said Xina.

The documentary was produced 10 months after the Sapanahua people ran away from their territory.

Xina remembers it was not easy living under the constant fear of being killed by white people.

‘We never slept well. We would not sleep at night. Sometimes we’d stay awake to defend our women in case we were attacked’, said Xina.

Despite the information reveals in ‘The Tribe That Time Forgot’ its approach have been criticised by Survival International.

Stephen Corry, Survival International’s Director, said: “We’re glad that this programme has highlighted the violence and atrocities that are still being committed against uncontacted tribes, but much of the programme was pretty dismaying.

“To describe uncontacted tribes as ‘people that time forgot’ who ‘show us what we once were’ is dangerous nonsense. It implies that such peoples are less ‘evolved’ than ‘us’, and is just the kind of prejudice used by those who want to steal their land and resources.

(Jorge Jordan)

Edited by: Donal Kelly