A group of isolated Indians in Peru – unseen by people for decades – have created a stir after they suddenly emerged from hiding and began attacking tourists with bow and arrows.
The advocacy group Survival International released photos of the tribe, which they describe as the "most detailed sightings of uncontacted Indians ever recorded on camera."
Known as the Mashco-Piro Indians, this once insular Peruvian tribe has been seen recently near Manú National Park. And with the sightings, have come attacks from the tribe that have startled and scared away environmental tourists.
Just one of a 100 uncontacted tribes in the world, it is believed that illegal logging and low flying helicopters have forced the Indians from their natural dwellings. Since the tribe has become more visible, and because environmental tourism to the area has increased, they have posed a greater threat to those who attempt to make contact.
Peruvian authorities have struggled to keep outsiders away to avoid conflict.
The danger of making contact with isolated tribes was reaffirmed after an indigenous Matsigenka man, Nicolás “Shaco” Flores, was killed when a tribe arrow pierced his heart.
Friends of Shaco have come forward with details about his relationship with the Mashco-Piro Indians.
Diego Cortijo, a member of the Spanish Geographical Society, said that because Shaco spoke two related dialects, he was able to communicate with the tribe and even provided them with machetes and cooking pots.
The worst part, as Cortijo said, is "that 'Shaco' was the only person who could talk to them," and "now that he's dead it's impossible to make contact."
Another friend of the victim, anthropologist Glenn Shepard, wrote "Shaco’s death is a tragedy: he was a kind, courageous and knowledgeable man. He believed he was helping the Mashco-Piro. And yet in this tragic incident, the Mashco-Piro have once again expressed their adamant desire to be left alone."
A Peruvian expert on uncontacted tribes, Beatriz Huertas, can only describe the relationship between Shaco and the Indians as "unusual, complex and extremely delicate."
The Peruvian government is implementing preventative measures with local authorities in order to prevent such an incident from happening again.
However, this continues to be difficult as the Mashco-Piro Indians increased visibility drives the culture clash between two opposing worlds.
Based on Reporting by the Associated Press
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