Gold miners massacred an Amazon tribe that had never met the outside world
There is something unmistakably eerie about the notion of a tribe of pre-historic Stone Age human beings living in the jungles of our modern world. Outside of the omnipresent networks of digital circumference, there exist humans among us who know absolutely nothing of modernity, and see us as utter aliens.
According to Mark Fisher, the eerie itself can be defined as "the existence of something where there should be nothing, and nothing where there should be something". In the jungles of the Amazon, we do not expect to find brains identical to our own, outside of civilization, thinking, dreaming human beings without a language we can understand, or any frame of reference for a common bond to emerge.
Fittingly, then, confrontations between these isolated tribes and modern humans usually result in blood.
Brazilian prosecutors are pursuing an investigation after ten members of a remote Amazonian tribe were massacred by gold miners. Funai is Brazil's government agency that handles indigenous issues, and has commented on the miners' attitudes in the aftermath of the incident:
“It was crude bar talk...they even bragged about cutting up the bodies and throwing them in the river.”
The tribe members were apparently "gathering eggs" beside the Amazon river when a team of miners ran into them. It was guns versus arrows and stone, and the miners won. The miners are not without defense: “they had to kill them or be killed.”
We don't know who drew first blood, but under Brazil's constitution, these 'uncontacted' tribes are supposed to be protected. Killing them is illegal, and the investigation will proceed out of Funai, despite the difficulty of coordinating evidence.
“We are following up, but the territories are big and access is limited...these tribes are uncontacted — even Funai has only sporadic information about them. So it’s difficult work that requires all government departments working together.”
The killing apparently took place last month, and has only recently come to light. Most people would probably freak out and begin shooting if they encountered armed tribesmen in the middle of the Amazon. Our fear of the other is cemented in our mammalian brains, and reflexive violence has saved our ancestors' lives for tens of thousands of years.
What do you think of these tribes? Should gold miners avoid their territories entirely, or risk impeding their space for profit and encountering violence? Is there any way to bring them into the modern world, or will they exist alone for centuries to come, ignorant of every new development that sweeps the world stage, even including nuclear disaster? After all, the nations of South America don't have many mortal nuclear enemies.
From Mark Fisher, once again:
“We could go so far as to say that it is the human condition to be grotesque, since the human animal is the one that does not fit in, the freak of nature who has no place in the natural order and is capable of re-combining nature's products into hideous new forms.”
The undiscovered tribes of the Amazon witnessing our helicopters and guns is similar to our species encountering trans-dimensional alien invaders. It is unmistakably eerie, the calling card of a looming shadow that any day will consume those who gaze up at at the face of its Tower of Babel. For these tribes, Babel is a simple collection of miners, the outcrop of a world they cannot face, speak with or understand.