Uncontacted Brazilian Tribe

The Brazilian government released some dramatic pictures of one of South America's last remaining uncontacted indigenous tribes. It says it took the pictures to prove that the tribe existed, because there apparently were some people who doubted this.

When I saw the pictures, I couldn't help but be reminded of the Stone Age Tasaday from the Philippines. The Tasaday were a tribe that was discovered in 1971. Unlike the Brazilian tribe (who are seen shooting arrows at the helicopter taking their picture), the Tasaday were entirely non-violent. They were often called the "Gentle Tasaday." In fact, it was said that they didn't even have a word in their language for "enemy" or "conflict".

But the Tasaday were outed as a hoax in 1986. It was alleged they were actually local farmers who had been paid by the Marcos government to dress up as a Stone Age tribe. Recently, however, the tribe's reputation has been rehabilitated. The consensus among academics now seems to be that the Tasaday were, in most respects, a "real" tribe living in Stone-Age-like conditions.

The problem with calling any tribe "uncontacted" is how you define contact. I doubt there's any tribe in the world that is truly isolated. There's usually some kind of contact (trade, intermarriage, etc.) with neighboring tribes, and so bits and pieces of the modern world find their way to the tribe.

Exploration/Travel Places

Posted on Fri May 30, 2008


I was coincidentally reading about this just the other day. While it's true that no known tribes haven't had some form of contact with the outside world, it is true that in a couple of cases that contact has been extremely minimal - something along the lines of waving, leaving gifts out to see if they're accepted, and attacking and killing anthropologists. Some people just don't want to talk to outsiders.
Posted by Charybdis  on  Fri May 30, 2008  at  10:59 AM
Dont believe the hype, there not looking for lost tribes they are taking the land from them, every day on the news you see more and more footage of the army fighting with these people..
Posted by Pat  on  Fri May 30, 2008  at  11:56 AM
The Tasaday haven't been rehabilitated. The actual "Tasaday" have admitted it was a complete crock.

This is a total hoax as well.
Posted by Joe  on  Fri May 30, 2008  at  12:41 PM
Joe, I'm assuming you didn't read my article about the Tasaday that I linked to. Yes, at one point a few of the Tasaday admitted they were a hoax. But those same Tasaday later insisted they had been bribed to make that confession.

When it comes to the byzantine world of post-Marcos Philippine politics, few things are as they seem on the surface. The linguistic and anthropological evidence collected by researchers over the past two decades now suggests the Tasaday really were a tribe that had been almost totally isolated for the past two hundred years.

See Robin Hemley's book, Invented Eden, for a more thorough discussion of the Tasaday case.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Fri May 30, 2008  at  03:25 PM
I swear we were separated at birth, Alex. When I read about this tribe, I immediately thought of the Tasaday, too. I think we both know WAY too much about things most people don't know (and don't care) about.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sat May 31, 2008  at  01:11 AM
Alex, I did read your article and no matter how you slice it, the Tasaday were a hoax. (I'm firmly in the camp that believes the "Tasaday" themselves were more proactive in the hoax than you suggest--they saw a chance to make a buck and did so.)
Posted by Joe  on  Sat May 31, 2008  at  11:21 AM
those little red guys remind me of the pair of pixies in the movie "Willow"... high little voices with French accents... I never got that part, French pixies swimmimg in beer and kissing cats after too much pixie dust... always laughing and blowing raspberries and talikng trash... damn French pixies
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Sat May 31, 2008  at  05:47 PM
>>I think we both know WAY too much about things most people don't know (and don't care) about.<<

Yeah, I suppose it's a bit of a curse, really. To think that I could have been obsessed with something that might have made me some money, like law or medicine. Instead I fixated on hoaxes.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Sat May 31, 2008  at  09:45 PM
It's such a catch twenty two - Imagine if they truly were an uncontacted tribe... I would be so fanscinated to learn about them, their culture, their believes, their practices, their language... but in learning and investigating, you're inevitably intruding and destroying any chance they'd have at remaining uncontacted...
Posted by Puck  on  Sun Jun 01, 2008  at  07:28 PM
"Yeah, I suppose it's a bit of a curse, really. To think that I could have been obsessed with something that might have made me some money, like law or medicine. Instead I fixated on hoaxes."

Man, TELL me about it! That's been the curse of my life, too.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Jun 02, 2008  at  02:41 AM
I think good 'ol Professor Krippendorf is back in action lol

Posted by Tim  on  Mon Jun 02, 2008  at  03:45 PM
'Lost' Amazon tribe a publicity stunt
Posted by Smiler  on  Tue Jun 24, 2008  at  03:18 AM
I ran across the Friends of the Tassaday site in my travels around the web last night. (You can find it <a >Here.</a>

It looks like this story is MUCH more complicated than what one sees at first glance.
Posted by daveprime  on  Sun May 03, 2009  at  05:58 AM
Sorry, the link didn't come through...

You can find it here:

Posted by daveprime  on  Sun May 03, 2009  at  05:59 AM
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