Amazon Indian Tribes...
A view on the Amerindian population


It is estimated that, by 1500, time of the arrival of the first European settlers, the number of indigenous peoples in Brazil (povos indígenas no Brasil) totaled 11million Indians living in about 2,000 tribes.

Their history has been marked by brutality, slavery, violence and disease.

Tribal peoples have experienced genocide on a huge scale, and the loss of most of their land.

Within the first century of domination, 90% were wiped out, mainy due to diseases imported by the colonialists.

Flu, measles and smallpox was more lethal to them than actual warfare.

During the following centuries, many more died enslaved in the rubber and sugar cane plantations.

Amazon indian tribes were decimated by other reasons as well.

Since the time of Pizarro's conquest of the Inca empire to the end of the "rubber boom" (visit Manaus and Fordlandia for more info on this) that occurred at the beginning of WWI, the Spanish and Portuguese - in the name of Catholicism - continued the long tradition of abuse against the Amerindian population.

In recent decades, they have suffered the invasion of colonists, rubber tappers and land developers. By 1950s, renowned Brazilian anthropologist Darcy Ribero (author of the superb book "O Povo Brasileiro") predicted there would be none left by the year 1980.

According to Survival International, "...The size of the indigenous population gradually started to grow once more, although when the Amazon was opened up for development by the military in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, a new wave of hydro-electric dams, cattle ranching, mines and roads meant tens of thousands of Indians lost their lands and lives. Dozens of tribes disappeared forever".

As expressed by Mongabay"...Brazil has set aside large tracts of forests - roughly 12.5 percent of Brazil's total land area and 26.4 percent of the Amazon basin - for 450,000 Indians or 0.25 percent of the total population. These indigenous reserves - set forth under Brazil's 1988 constitution - have helped the country's Indian population to rebound after centuries of decline. 60 percent of Brazil's Indian population lives in the Amazon rainforest."

Today, in the deepest recesses of the Amazon, remaining tribes struggle to retain their cultural identity and self-sufficiency in a profoundly-shifting world. See the list of indigenous people here - site in English and Portuguese.

There is also a number of unconctated Amazon Indian tribes. In fact, Brazil is the country with the largest number of uncontacted tribes in the world. In 2007, FUNAI (Fundação Nacional do Índio) reported that it had confirmed the presence of 67 uncontacted tribes in Brazil, up from 40 in 2005.

See the list of uncontacted tribes in South America.

Visit the 3D Photo Gallery about Amazon Indian Tribes at our desktop page.