Audio: Scott Wallace on the importance of protecting uncontacted indigenous groups in the Amazon

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  • On this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we speak with Scott Wallace, a journalist and author of the New York Times best-selling book, The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes.
  • The Unconquered tells the story of an expedition into remote Amazon rainforests undertaken by the head of Brazil’s Department of Isolated Indians in order to gather information about an uncontacted tribe known as “the Arrow People” and use that information to better protect the indigenous group from the ever-advancing arc of Amazonian deforestation.
  • Wallace discusses his travels in the Amazon, the latest developments affecting the Arrow People, his reporting on the threats facing isolated and uncontacted indigenous tribes, and why allowing these uncontacted indigenous groups to go extinct would be a “great stain” on our humanity.

On today’s episode, we speak with Scott Wallace, a journalist and author of the New York Times best-selling book, The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes.

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The Unconquered tells the story of a 2002 expedition into remote Amazon rainforests undertaken by the head of Brazil’s Department of Isolated Indians, Sydney Possuelo, in order to gather information about an uncontacted tribe known as “the Arrow People” and use that information to better protect the indigenous group from the ever-advancing arc of Amazonian deforestation.

These are particularly perilous times for indigenous peoples in the Amazon. The Bolsonaro Administration in Brazil has announced plans to develop what it calls the “unproductive Amazon” through a variety of mega-infrastructure projects like a bridge over the Amazon River, the extension of a highway from the Amazon River through 300 miles of rainforest to the Surinam border, and a dam on the Trombetas River — all in a region that contains 4 indigenous reserves, 8 quilombo communities, and 5 conservation units. The administration also wants to legalize agribusiness leasing of indigenous lands in order to grow commercial commodities crops. These development and legislative assaults on the sovereignty of indigenous groups and their territories come amidst a growing wave of threats and invasions of reserves that indigenous leaders say have been incited by President Jair Bolsonaro’s incendiary language against indigenous peoples.

Scott Wallace has spent much of his career traveling in the Amazon and studying threats to indigenous peoples. He has covered these threats for National Geographic and wrote about them in The Unconquered, which came out in 2011. On this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, Wallace discusses his travels in the Amazon, the latest developments affecting the Arrow People, his reporting on the threats facing isolated and uncontacted indigenous tribes, and why allowing these uncontacted indigenous groups to go extinct would be a “great stain” on our humanity.

“The uncontacted and isolated tribes represent a true treasure,” Wallace says. “They are the last people living in independence from our industrial, commodified global economy. They have evolved over the millennia to live and thrive in this particular area. Their knowledge of the rainforest, of the medicinal properties of the plants, of all the animals, their spirit world — all of this is an incredibly rich trove of knowledge and represents a precious part of the patrimony of humanity.”

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National Geographic writer Scott Wallace (right) interviews Sydney Possuelo (left) while on expedition in the Javari Valley Indigenous Reserve. Photo Credit: Scott Wallace Collection.

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001

Article Source: Mongabay