The last Hunters
Alto Turiaçu, reservation in the Maranhao state is where part of the Awa people live. The land has been under threat from fazendeiros (ranchers) invasion, and infection and other diseases, passed during the contact with the insidious. At least one of seven Indians had died of malaria during the last five years. Malaria was brought into their domain by the thousands “garimpeiros” gold seekers who invaded their lands and later sold the fortune on the international market.
Here, in the state of Maranhao, goods trains come from Carajas, the world’s biggest iron mine, and cut every hour through the Awa Indians’ land heading for the port of Sao Luiz. The Awa have repeatedly hunted like wild animals, they are the last Brazilian nomadic tribe. Today, forced to seek assistant to the local FUNAI they are leaving in shelters built with their help. However they struggle to embrace the new life style. The Alto Turiacu is only a small part of the Awa Indians’ traditional land, where the diminishing fauna pushed the nomadic hunter to learn how to plant and grow manioc to insured food supply. The first encountered with the FUNAI was done in 1973. The Awa-Guaja live in nomadic groups of five, six people. But today the 45 Awa-Guaja in the Alto Turiaçu are living like a small community, where the FUNAI offers them a real but fragile protection.
“We have been continuously threatened by attacks, invasion and extermination”, the head of the FUNAI, the isolated reserves, had pointed. So even inside the reserve their survival is uncertain. “The FUNAI doesn’t have extra resources to protect them and the land from the rancher who try to occupy it. Since the forest have been cut down and turned into farming lands towns have sprouted over the Awa Indians’ lands. Less than 300 Awa have survived the occupation of their land, that is the estimation, 60 still live uncontacted in small nomadic groups”.
In a world where they cannot longer live as nomads, where they have knowledge about our society, and his brutality, they need time to adjust from the sufferance and the many humiliations. But we do not give them any time. In our world time is money.