Amazon rainforests are home to multiple indigenous tribes. While some of them have been acquainted with the rest of the world others seem to avoid any contact. These native people live in harmony with nature and understand the ways of living to minimize any damage to the wildlife. There are some tribes that have accepted to live with the madness of the modern era and use western products as well while other Amazonian natives just seem to shut off any attempt of contact and prefer to live with their old ways.
Who are the indigenous people of Amazon rainforests?
The rainforests in South America are an essential habitat for thousands of plants and animal species. However, people native to this land have been living here for thousands of years in different groups with each one having its own culture and distinct tonal language, known as tribes. People are extremely faithful to their tribe and always remain with them, some of them are nomads, who are living on the go while others tend to remain stationary.
Their Secret Life
Although there are many tribes that have adapted to the change of westernization. These still live in protected lands but earn a living via tourism and still practice their traditional skills. However, here we will look at the life of rarely contacted and/or uncontacted tribes.
- Clothing: These tribes believe that it’s only natural to remain naked as it exposes our skin to the elements which are necessary for a healthy body. Though they do wear loincloths when going hunting and other celebratory clothing is used on special ceremonies. The primary source for this is of course the forest. Sometimes, they apply paint on their faces made from berries and seeds to show hostility or represent their role in the tribe.
- Food: As you can imagine, there are no grocery stores in the forests. Therefore, natives grow their own crops and harvest them as well though it is not the main source of their food. In addition to agriculture, their primary sources for food are hunting and gathering. Typically males are the ones who hunt down an animal in groups which are later shared by the entire tribe, it is brought back, skinned, and cooked over flames. It is interesting that no part of the animal is wasted, it is used in one form or the other, the game most animals from capybaras and tapirs to giant boa constrictors and crocodiles. If the animal isn’t big enough to satiate the hunger, berries and fruits are gathered and consumed as well along with the grain. Fishing is something that is performed by the entire tribe and they usually enjoy piranhas. Maggots and other insects are also a part of their diet.
- Cooking: As mentioned previously, agriculture is a part of their life. While on some occasions the entire tribe participates in this process, mostly it is a task handed to females. Women also cooks whatever catch is brought back to the village and cater to children as well.
- Shelter: As they are constantly on a move, these tribes don’t build extremely strong and long-lasting shelters. Their homes are made out of wood, straw, and dried leaves. Sometimes humungous structures are built that can house up to 200 individuals. Communal decisions are made prior to the construction of these structures. Hammocks are also a part of the housing, which are made of ropes and leaves.
- Youngsters: Children of the tribe live mostly with their mothers in the early stages of life, however, start to engage in hunting and venturing out as they cross puberty. There is the concept of school per se in their culture, they do, however, teach life skills that have been passed down to them through generations in a similar fashion. Children from a young age start to learn about various plants and the importance of forests to them. These tribes believe that puberty denotes a special moment and a big change in a child’s life and different ceremonies for girls and boys are performed which can seem cruel to us, for example, in the Sateré-Mawé tribe, boys are made to wear gloves full of bullet ants that bite them for hours, according to the old tribesmen it converts them into men.
- Medicines: Natives strongly believe in the power of nature and consider it the source of everything and a healer as well. Though they rarely fall sick, if one happens to get sick they have a very keen understanding of what herbs and plants to combine together in what proportions to start healing. Interestingly, it does work. Though allopathy is considered the pinnacle of modern medicine, we must invest some time and effort into learning about medicines in a more natural way.
- Spirituality: Believe it or not, ethnic groups of the Amazon Rainforests are extremely spiritual and it is a huge part of their lives. They have this idea that all humans inhabit the spirit of an animal, the idea of spirit animals came from these, though Native Americans believed had a similar understanding. In spiritual ceremonies, hallucinatory plants are inhaled or consumed to get closer to these spirits under the supervision of shamans, people who claim to have magical and spiritual tendencies to connect to the spirit world. It should also be noted that shamans cure diseases as well via ancient practices.
- Animals: These groups live very close to the wildlife and encounter various animals on daily basis. While they eat most animals for survival, it is also seen that they care for orphaned or injured animals and nurture them back to health and also keep them as pets. They also share their food with animals like monkeys and parrots. Not only that, in some cases females are known to breastfeed small animals as well.
Dangers to the tribes
Although, these tribes live happily in their own land and have been doing it like this for ages. However, modernization is posing fatal threats to these groups.
- Colonization: Since the first encounter, Europeans have brought nothing but misery to these groups. Diseases like smallpox were given to these tribes thanks to colonization, these diseases were not native to rainforests and naturally, they had no immunity towards them and as a result, they turned fatal. It may not sound like much, but due to these diseases and of course, slavery over 90 percent of these tribes have been perished.
- Modernization: Processes like deforestation, illegal gold mining, and building dams are causing conflicts between these groups and the rest of the world. Sadly, in these encounters, the fate of indigenous people is already sealed, as blow darts and arrows are no match to modern guns. These activities are destroying the forests which are their home, they are forced to fight and get killed in this nonsensical drama under the name of modernization. No wonder uncontacted tribes wish to remain isolated.
As much as we appreciate our lives and amenities, we must not forget that these ethnic groups ask, for one thing, to be left alone. As humans, we must respect their decision and not interfere with their land or the very least act to stop illegal activities. If anything we can learn from ethnic groups how to live in perfect harmony with nature and reduce the damage that we are causing to our planet.