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Opportunity, risk await newly contacted tribe says ASU anthropologist

July 11, 2014

Late last month, an isolated Amazon tribe finally made contact with a team of Brazilian scientists after being sighted by area villagers for weeks.

The tribe’s emergence into the outside world brings them the promise of new resources and expanded human interaction, as well as the threat of exploitation and disease.

Arizona State University anthropologist Kim Hill provided insight into the situation for a recent Science article. A professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Hill has spent several years working with indigenous peoples of the Amazon region.

He notes that is not yet clear what caused this latest isolated tribe to wander into populated areas. They may have been pushed out by logging or cocaine enterprises, or simply gone in search of better hunting grounds or villagers’ provisions.

Now that the group has ventured into the bigger world, their vulnerability has ballooned. With no immunity to common diseases, they will be quarantined and require medical monitoring and assistance. They will also need a place to call home and a slow introduction to their new environs.

On the plus side, Hill believes that typically uncontacted tribal people “would like interaction with more humans on the planet.” He says that past interviews have shown that they “remain isolated out of fear, not from some deep desire to avoid all other human societies.”

Article source: Science

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