Tag Archives: AMAZON TRIBE

Antibiotic Resistance Found In Amazon Tribe

In this photo taken Sept. 7, 2012, Yanomami Indians eat from a pot at a village called Irotatheri in Venezuela's Amazon region. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

In this photo taken Sept. 7, 2012, Yanomami Indians eat from a pot at a village called Irotatheri in Venezuela’s Amazon region. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)


There are some people who have never come into contact with Western civilization. These people have microbes, tiny organisms, on and in their bodies that can do something amazing. They can make the most modern antibiotics useless.

That is one finding from new research in the journal Science Advances.” The researchers studied the bacteria and other microbes living in and on the Yanomami tribe. These people live in a village in the Amazon jungle far from other human settlements.

In this photo taken Sept. 7, 2012, a Yanomami Indian is seen at his village called Irotatheri in Venezuela’s Amazon region. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

The Yanomami are some of the last people on the planet to have had contact with Western civilization. To scientists, this tribe provides an opportunity to observe the life of human microbes before humans settled down and developed civilizations.

Western diets and lifestyles have spread across the globe. With those diets and lifestyles also come conditions like obesity, diseases like diabetes and immune disorders. Some researchers wonder whether the microbes humans lost over time are partly the reason why we have some of these conditions.

This question is tied to an important discussion in scientific and medical communities. Some medical experts worry that antibioticsoften life-saving medications — are losing their power to fight diseaseHowever, this new research suggests that the genes that let bacteria resist modern antibiotics may have always been there.

In this photo taken Sept. 7, 2012, a Yanomami Indian holds her son a their village called Irotatheri in Venezuela’s Amazon region.

A remote and uncontacted village

The Yanomami people are hunter-gatherers. They live in small, remote villages deep in the Amazonian rainforest. Westerners first encountered Yanomami people in the 1960s.

In 2008 researchers arrived in one of their villages.People living thereall 54 of themsaid they had never seen Westerners before. The Yanomami people and their chief permitted researchers to collect samples from their body.

A different kind of germ warfare

Scientists expected to find that the Yanomami microbes carried some antibiotic-resistant genes. That would not be surprising to them. In fact, many bacteria found in soil produce natural antibiotics, which help the bacteria survive in competitive environments. Some say it is all part of an ongoing bacterial battle.

But the researchers also found many genes in microbes that disarm man-made antibiotics that no known microbes produce.

This came as a big surprise to the researchers.

One of the researchers is a man named Gautam Dantas. Mr. Dantas is from the Washington University School of Medicine. This was a surprise, he said,because it shows the bacteria have the ability to adapt to many things,possibly even things researchers did not think they have been exposed to.

Silent resistance

This discovery is important. It might mean that antibiotics are losing their ability to fight disease. Antibiotics are currently ourwonder drugs.” This research suggests that even those who have not been treated with antibiotics have bacteria with genes that may defeat them.

Mr. Dantas said these findings demonstrate the need to increase research for new antibiotics. If this does not happen, he warned, we are going to lose the battle against infectious diseases.

And, he said, the findings also show the need to use current antibiotics more carefully. Some doctors are campaigning to reduce the use of the drugs inpatients who would recover without them. Some doctors oppose the widespread practice of treating healthy livestock, the animals we raise for food, with antibiotics to prevent illness.

There is an existing amount of antibioticresistant genes that are waiting to be switched on, Mr. Dantas said. When you use antibioticswhether in agriculture with livestock or in a clinic with patientsyou increase the amount of antibiotic-resistant genes.

Scientists are not the only ones concerned about resistance to antibiotics.Government leaders are also worried. In March, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a new five-year plan to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria. He called the issue one of the most serious modern-day public health threats.

Before meeting with science advisors, President Obama told reporters at the White House that many people take antibiotics for granted. To take something for granted means to not fully see the value of something because it has been around for so long and is so common.  

Here is Mr. Obama:

“We take antibiotics for granted … and we’re extraordinarily fortunate to have been living in a period when our antibiotics work. If we start seeing those medicines diminish in effectiveness, we’re going to have big problems. And part of the solution here is not just finding replacements for traditional antibiotics — it’s also making sure that we’re using antibiotics properly.”

Diverse germs may help you fight disease

A group of Yanomami Indians sit in their village called Irotatheri in Venezuela’s Amazon region, Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Researchers studying the Yanomami people found something else. After studying the population of microbes living in and on the Yanomami‘s bodies, there searchers said they found more diversity than in any other people they have ever studied. This diversity is more than other Amazonian farmers and much more than Americans.

The lead author of the study is Jose Clemente at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.Mr. Clemente said that when traditional societies change to a Western lifestyle they lose this rich bacterial diversity. They also lose the benefits thatcome from having so many different kinds of germs living in and on the body.

For example, he said, the Yanomami carry bacteria that can prevent kidney stones. These bacteria were nearly absent in the other groups studied. He added that this study demonstrates the need to learn about the microbes in non-Western people before their microbial diversity is lost.

But how healthy are the Yanomami?

Another study by some of the same authors said Amazonian tribes that had more westernized lifestyles had higher rates of obesity than the Yanomami. On the other hand, the Yanomami had higher rates of undersized growth. The World Health Organization considers undersized growth a sign of poor nutrition.

New science

Microbiome science is a new field. Not much is known about this area of science. Even the idea that more microbial diversity is healthier is open to debate. Some scientists say that having less microbial diversity makes sense for people living westernized lifestyles. People who live this way spend less time outdoors and eat cooked, cleaned.

But most scientists agree more research into microbes is needed.

Steven Bargona reported on the Yanomami research from Washington, D.C. and Megan Duzor reported on President Obama’s plan.


Isolated Amazonian tribe emerges from jungle, chased by buzz of chainsaws


By Manuel Rueda @thisisfusion

Three members of an isolated Amazonian tribe that had avoided contact with the outside world for decades have suddenly emerged from the jungle — and Brazilian authorities are wondering why.

The encounter occurred on Dec. 28 in Brazil’s northeastern Maranhao State, where an estimated 100 members of the Awa nation live deep in the jungle in intentional isolation.

According to news agency Agencia Brasil, two women and a teenager from the tribe wandered far enough to make contact with other humans, who brought them to the nearest village to receive medical attention and food from government specialists.

The encounter was only reported internationally on Tuesday, when Survival International, an indigenous rights group, published a press release warning that illegal logging in Maranhao state could be responsible for pushing the isolated tribe out of its secluded habitat. The Awa live in an area that is increasingly deforested by illegal loggers and cattle ranchers, the group said.

“The uncontacted Awá…are at risk of extinction,” Survival said. “They could be wiped out by violence from outsiders who steal their land and resources, and by diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance.”


Two of the Awa who emerged from isolation, they use clothes donated to them after encountering outsiders. [photo: Madalena Borges/CIMI]

Awa territories are protected by Brazilian law. Last year the government conducted several operatives to oust loggers from the area.

But Survival fears that the sudden emergence of tribe members could be a sign that loggers have returned to the region. The NGO is calling on Brazil to step up its protective efforts in Awa territory.

At least two more incidents of isolated tribes seeking outside help, have been recorded in the Amazon in recent years.

Last August, a group of Mascho-Piro indigenous people wandered out the jungle and unto a remote Amazonian village in northwest Brazil where they told a community that speaks a similar dialect that loggers had massacred members of their village.

In 2013, villagers in Peru recorded a video of another group of Mascho-Piros making contact with the outside world for the first time in decades. The group asked for machetes, bananas and rope, and attempted to cross a river that would lead them to a village. But locals dissuaded them from crossing, and they went back into the jungle.

Amazon tribe attacks oilfield in Ecuador

Google Maps image showing Arajuno Canton

Google Maps image showing Arajuno Canton


Indigenous leaders are calling for the release of six tribesmen implicated in a raid on an oilfield in Eastern Ecuador that left six soldiers injured, reports Andina and El Comercio.

According to Ecuador’s defense ministry, on January 6th a group of Waorani (Huaroani) tribesmen armed with spears, bows and arrows, blowguns, and firearms seized a facility run by Petrobell in Arajuno canton, in Pastaza province. The action shut down production at the oilfield, which normally produces 3,200 barrels a day.

The army then stormed the facility, resulting in clashes that led to six soldiers suffering gunshot wounds. No one was reported killed.

The defense ministry said the arrests were necessary to stop “looting” and disruption of oil production. The Waorani have been in custody since then.

However Franco Viteri, head of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONAIE), is calling for the men to be released, arguing that they were defending their traditional territory from incursions by oil companies, which have caused substantial damage to forests and indigenous communities in eastern Ecuador in recent decades.

“For 40 years, oil companies, with the consent of the State, have been smashing, looting and sabotaging the good life of indigenous peoples, disrupting the lifestyle of the Waorani people, a situation that has… escalated conflicts,” he said in a statement.

Petrobell is a subsidiary of Synergy Group Corp., a conglomerate headquartered in Brazil.

Survivors Recall Genocide of Amazon Tribe in Brazil

Waimiri Atroari man shows children how to make an arrow, Brazil.

Waimiri Atroari man shows children how to make an arrow, Brazil.

December 13, 2014 | Latin American Herald Tribune

RIO DE JANEIRO – The almost complete extermination of an Amazonian tribe in the 1970s, one of the darkest chapters of Brazil’s military dictatorship, is detailed in a new book.

“The Military dictatorship and the Waimiri-Atroari Genocide,” written by anthropologist Egydio Schwade, brings together accounts from survivors.

The number of Waimiri-Atroaris plummeted from roughly 3,000 in 1972 and to 322 in 1983, according to censuses carried out by the University of Brasilia and the National Indian Foundation.

Recovery did not begin until after the end of the military regime in 1985 and even now, the Waimiri-Atroari population is only 1,689.

The book, which was funded in part by the Amazonas state Truth Commission, drew on contemporaneous official reports about a push to wipe out the Waimiri-Atroaris to make room for a highway through the jungle.

Schwade’s research found that the military razed entire villages, dropping chemicals from aircraft and gunning down the Indians in cold blood.

“Until now we had only suspicions, denunciations of what happened during the construction of (highway) BR-174,” Schwade told Efe. “We now have the story directly from the Indians themselves.”

Egydio Schwade

                                                  Egydio Schwade

Schwade and his wife, Doroti, compiled survivors’ accounts over the course of two years while teaching the Indians as a part of a literacy program.

The story begins in 1972 with the junta’s plan to build BR-174, a 750-kilometer (466-mile) highway across pristine jungle between Amazonas’ capital, Manaus, and Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima state.

The regime first sent a small expedition that attempted to force the Indians to move to a new settlement, but the Waimiri-Atroaris resisted and killed the advance party, which brought about a harsh response, Schwade said.

“A war of extermination was launched” by the dictatorship’s top leaders and the state governors “who demanded the construction of the road at any cost,” he said.

One of the most shocking incidents described in the book happened in 1974, when Indians from a number of settlements gathered in a village 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) away from the Alalau river for a festival.

A military aircraft flew over the village and sprayed a chemical that killed all but one of those present.

“When Indians from other villages who were late to arrive got there they found everyone dead in a town that should have been celebrating amid plates piled high with food,” the anthropologist said.

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is visibly moved while presenting the final report of the National Truth Commission in Brasilia. Photograph: Agencia Estado/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is visibly moved while presenting the final report of the National Truth Commission in Brasilia. Photograph: Agencia Estado/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Crimes against the Waimiri-Atroaris where mentioned, without much detail, in the final report of the report delivered Wednesday to President Dilma Rousseff by the Truth Commission appointed to document human rights violations under the 1964-1985 military regime.

The report does cites an official document in which Brig. Gen. Gentil Nogueira Paes orders soldiers to “stage small shows of strength” if they spotted Indians close to the highway construction sites, including “bursts of machine-gun fire, grenades and dynamite.”

Schwade said he was initially “quite disappointed” about the treatment the Truth Commission’s report gave to the indigenous peoples’ question, but he praised the decision to continue investigations under a special panel.