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|The indigenous Awá people of Brazil are in a protracted legal battle to protect their lands from illegal settling and logging. Amerintxia is is probably the oldest Awá. She lives on her own in a small palm shelter, along with her many pets. She still gathers her own food in forest.|
CREDIT: ©D Pugliese/Survival
A new international campaign hopes to save a group of people who have been dubbed "the most threatened tribe in the world" — the Awá tribe of Brazil — from encroaching outsiders who are gobbling up their land.
The Awá live in the Brazilian state of Maranhão on lands set aside for their hunter-gatherer lifestyle. But according to the tribal advocacy group Survival International, which is leading the new campaign, the tribe is increasingly under threat by illegal settlement and loggingon their lands. One reserve set aside for the tribe, the Awá Territory, is one-third deforested, its trees stripped by illegal logging operations, some with sawmills operating only miles from Awá land.
"When the forest is destroyed, they either flee or they simply die," said Survival's field director Fiona Watson, who has worked with and interviewed many of the 360 surviving Awá who are in contact with society. On her last visit, she told LiveScience, "They were saying to me, 'We're suffering from hunger now.'" [Photos: One-of-a-Kind Places on Earth]
Tribal life under threat