news Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 05:30

The News Minute | July 26, 2014 | 6.49 pm IST

The Yanomami tribe live in the tropical rainforests of northern Brazil and southern Venezuela. Despite being somewhat protected by a Brazilian law, their land is eyed by mining and agricultural firms which have significant clout. 

In a photo essay published by Washington Post, Brazilian photographer chronicles the lives of the tribe for the third time in three decades. 

The Washington Post report states: “In the mid-1970s, with Brazil’s military regime eager to develop the Amazon Basin, a northern section of the trans-Amazonian highway reached into Yanomami territory, introducing influenza, measles and malaria and resulting in thousands of deaths. Although the highway was later abandoned, survivors of 13 decimated communities came together to build a new village at Demini.

“Maturacá, in contrast, was engulfed in a gold rush in the late 1980s which attracted over 35,000 freelance gold-diggers to traditional Yanomami lands, not only bringing new diseases but also using violence against Indians and poisoning their rivers with the mercury they used to separate gold from mud. Once more, uncounted thousands of Indians died.”

The Yanomami tribe form a single ethnic group, but speak four different languages. Two-thirds of the tribe lives in the forests of Brazil and the rest in Venezuela. Salgado had first visited the Yanomami villages in 1984 and later in 1998. Now, he has noticed some changes in their life style. Earlier, people would live in a communal round house, but now individual huts have appeared; also, while in the past the men would be completely naked, now some have started wearing shorts.

Show us some love! Support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.