Thanks to everyone who emailed me about the Uncontacted Brazilian Tribe hoax that's now making headlines (and is already noted in the forum
). I was at the library all yesterday, so I didn't have a chance to post anything.
Anyway, to summarize: Last month
the Brazilian government released photographs of an "uncontacted" tribe living in the Amazon. At the time I noted it would be very strange for a tribe to be truly uncontacted, and sure enough this week brings the revelation that anthropologists have known about the tribe's existence for almost one hundred years. From the Guardian
It has now emerged that, far from being unknown, the tribe's existence has been noted since 1910 and the mission to photograph them was undertaken in order to prove that 'uncontacted' tribes still existed in an area endangered by the menace of the logging industry. The disclosures have been made by the man behind the pictures, José Carlos Meirelles, 61, one of the handful of sertanistas – experts on indigenous tribes – working for the Brazilian Indian Protection Agency, Funai, which is dedicated to searching out remote tribes and protecting them.
So the hoax was to describe the tribe as "uncontacted." But it's not that much of a hoax. It's not like the tribe members are actors (as was alleged to be the case with the Tasaday), or are popping over to their local Starbucks every day to get some coffee. The tribe (it seems) truly is living very close to nature and has had hardly any contact with the modern world.