Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, July 30, 2015



This week's DUNER BLOG takes our readers deep into the Amazon Rain Forest. Specifically, we'll go deep in the impenetrable jungles of Peru's Manu National Park. Here, numerous indigenous peoples live unaware of the outside world. In fact, it's against the law for other humans to interact with any of these isolated communities. These un-contacted tribes have no immunity to disease and are extremely vulnerable. Even a common cold could kill them.

However, one group, the Mashco Piro, have forced Peru to change the rules. At first, members of the tribe began to appear on riverbanks, gesturing to passersby on boats. After 100 such reports last year, the Adventist Missionary Group left food and clothes for them. Slowly but surely, contact between the tribe and the outside world increased. But in May, things took a turn for the worse. A member of the neighboring Machiguenga tribe was shot by an arrow and killed by the Mashco Piro.

This action forced the Peruvian Government to reconsider its policy. As long as the indigenous peoples remain in the forest...and outsiders stay away...all is well. Now that violent contact is being made, something had to be done. So far, agents from a Native Council have met with the Mashco Piro. They were able to communicate in the Yine language for about 20 minutes. They claimed all they wanted to do was trade fish and bananas for machetes and ropes.

All of which has anthropologists around the world clamoring for more caution. They feel the Peruvian government is being too rash and forcing contact upon the Mashco Piro. After all, these people have proven resilient in the past. They resisted Jesuit missionaries in the 1700's, and fled enslavement during the 'Rubber Boom' of the 1800's. They gained the respect of the Peruvian government last century. Surely, these events in 2015 are just a random occurrence, and not indicative of the true nature of the people..

In summary, we here at the DUNER BLOG see the Mashco Piro people as a very real reminder of the sad history of homo-sapiens in the Amazon region. Prior to Columbus' arrival in the Western Hemisphere in 1492, the Rainforests of South America were teaming with human life. Anthropologists estimate the indigenous population to be 100 million...ten times what it is today. Unwittingly, European explorers brought the common cold to the Amazon. Within 100 years, 90% had perished. Those who remained alive migrated to the remotest of places...like the Manu National Park...to survive.

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