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WHAT is a Voluntary No-Contact Tribe?

Posted by on November 15, 2013

“Human diversity makes tolerance more than a virtue; it makes it a requirement for survival.”

~ Rene Dubois

Índios Isolados 7

Wikimedia CC Photo by Gleilson Miranda

When we Skyped with Ashli and Zoe, two weeks ago, Ashli told us a bit about “voluntary no-contact” tribes living in the Peruvian Jungle. We were shocked to hear that one of her friends had been shot with a bow and arrow while trekking through the jungle. He must have accidentally stumbled on one of these tribes that had chosen to have nothing to do with the rest of the world.

We couldn’t stop thinking about it. We thought it was even MORE interesting than discovering that some Peruvians enjoy a good meal of GUINEA PIG! We HAD to find out MORE! Our research turned up some INTERESTING information. The picture above taught us to be diligent in our searches and to check MULTIPLE sources. At first, we thought this was taken in the Peruvian Amazon … several other sources sited the photo as being on the border between Peru and Brazil. Our FINAL search stated that this was a tribe in Brazil.

Because borders are not PHYSICAL lines between countries, we think that MAYBE this specific tribe travels in the Amazon Jungle BETWEEN the two countries!

We had SO many questions:

  • WHY would a tribe CHOOSE to have no contact with others?
  • WHY would they shoot at people who were NOT members of their tribe?
  • How MANY tribes are like this in Peru, and around the world?
  • WHY are their bodies painted red or black?
  • HOW do they meet their NEEDS?

First, we spent some time talking about what voluntary and  INDIGENOUS meant:

A quick google search showed us that it mean "native to an area", that these people have lived there as the earliest inhabitants.

A quick google search showed us that indigenous means “native to an area”, that these people have lived there as the earliest inhabitants.

What follows are our initial thoughts about WHY these indigenous people would CHOOSE to have NO contact with people outside their own groups:

“I wonder why Indigenous people choose to be uncontacted? I think it is because they might get sick, or they might think we are there to steal goods such as furniture, food and land. We had this inquiry because we were Skyping with Ashli. She said one of her friends got shot with an arrow.” ~Daniel

“Hi blog readers! Welcome to our new blog post! Do you know why the Indigenous people might shoot you with a bow and arrow? I think it’s because the Indigenous people might think that you could harm them, ruin their homes, burn their land, (Cloud Forest, Jungle, Amazon), take their goods, (like food, homes, land), and maybe, if you have a sickness, the tribes don’t want you because they don’t want to get that sickness, (even flu).”

Ashli ... in the Andes ... on her way to the jungle! Photo shared by Ashli Akins. © Stewart Higgs

Ashli … in the Andes … on her way to the jungle!
Photo shared by Ashli Akins. © Stuart Higgs

“I think tribes don’t like strangers coming in their homes because they think you are going to harm them. And, they think you are going to burn down their village or kick them out of their homes. They’re very proud of what they have and they don’t want to start over. They don’t want to build a new home and get more food.” ~Lane

“I did not know that Indigenous people could harm you with their bow and arrows because maybe they think that you are going to burn the forest and take their food and you don’t look like them.” ~Hilary

“I think that the Indigenous people don’t want us in their territory because we don’t look like them. I am not sure that the Indigenous people point their bow and arrows at airplanes because they think the plane is an alien. I think the Indigenous people don’t like us because we don’t act like them.” ~Isaac

Beautiful plants can be found THROUGHOUT the jungle. Some of them are MEDICINAL. Photo shared by Ashli Akins. © Stewart Higgs

Beautiful plants can be found THROUGHOUT the jungle. Some of them are MEDICINAL.
Photo shared by Ashli Akins. © Stuart Higgs

“This is what I think. I think the Indigenous people don’t want us in their houses because they think we are going to take their food, their land and their homes. Maybe they think we will burn their homes, villages, forest, and land. We don’t have the same skin colour. We are different than them.” ~Aya

“I think that why the indigenous Peruvian tribes shot at the plane was that they thought that the plane was going to take their treasures and take over their houses. Guess what my teacher saw on the internet? It said they paint themselves by using a plant! Another reason is that they might burn the forest or ruin their homes. If the people in the plane took my home it would be terrifying. If we would be sick and we pass the sickness on to the indigenous people they might get sick too.” ~Kelly

“I wonder what the Indigenous people in Peru speak. I think the Voluntary No-Contact people in Peru might feel like we might harm them, if we go into their territory. I also think that they might think we might steal their goods from them. They may think that we would want to take over their territory. If that happened to me I would be terrified, angry and sad. I hope some day in the future we learn more about them.” ~Peng Peng

It is EASY to see how a voluntary no-contact indigenous group could live in the jungle ... it is SO dense with plants! Photo shared by Ashli Akins © Stuart Higgs

It is EASY to see how a voluntary no-contact indigenous group could live in the jungle … it is SO dense with plants!
Photo shared by Ashli Akins © Stuart Higgs

“I think the indigenous people do not want to let anyone come into their culture because they might think we are strangers. They might think like that because you look different than them. Or they might think that you will burn their forest. They might think you will take their homes, foods, or their treasures. They may even think you will harm them. When we were doing our Skype with Ashli and Zoe, they said that one of their friends was shot by a bow and arrow.” ~Hannah

“I think that some indigenous people shoot a bow and arrow because they think we will harm them. I also think that we don’t look like them so the indigenous people choose to shoot at outsiders sometimes. Maybe the indigenous people are scared.” ~Melvin

“It was fun to learn about the indigenous people from Ashli and Zoe. I think indigenous people choose to not have other people come because they could think that we were taking their goods such as food, their homes and even their land. They could think that you were there to take the plants. The indigenous people might think we would ruin their houses or their village or burn the forest. Maybe they would think we would hurt their territory. What if you came in as a big group of people? What would the indigenous people think … that we might take their land. If I was an indigenous person I would be terrified if someone came in to my house who was not wanted there. If you go on google you can find some good stuff about them. I hope I can learn some more about them!” ~Jenna

Even the bamboo is AMAZING! We use bamboo for SO many things in our OWN country! Photo shared by Ashli Akins © Stuart Higgs

Even the bamboo is AMAZING! We use bamboo for SO many things in our OWN country!
Photo shared by Ashli Akins © Stuart Higgs

“Hi. My name is Kale and I’m here to tell you about indigenous people in Peru. Where in Peru? Well, in the Andes jungle of course! Well … let’s go on! I think the indigenous tribes choose not to have contact with us because they think we will harm them or take their goods, like their food, land, homes, villages and burn the jungle.” ~Kale

“Hi, around the world! I want to talk to you about indigenous people. Is that ok? I think so. We do not know much about the indigenous people but my class was brain storming about (voluntary no-contact) indigenous people. Here are some of the things we brainstormed:

  • maybe we don’t look like them
  • maybe we would bring sickness
  • maybe they think we will take their goods, (food, homes, land)
  • maybe they think we will harm them (burn or hurt the forest)
  • maybe they think we will ruin their homes and villages

Hey, did I ever tell you that one of Ashli’s friends, (Ashli is one of the people my class Skypes with), got shot with a bow and arrow? But he is still alive. Which is good, don’t you think? I think it is a good thing. Oh and just so YOU know … we are just guessing these ideas … so do some research and that’s when you will find the true answers!” ~Claire

“Well, I think that why indigenous people are scared of us is because they think that we will steal their food, houses and land. Also, I think that they are scared of us because they think we might harm them. So that is why some indigenous people are voluntary no-contact.” ~Catherine

Super Slimy Fiddlehead! Wonder if they EAT these? Photo shared by Ashli Akins © Stuart Higgs

Super Slimy Fiddlehead! Wonder if they EAT these?
Photo shared by Ashli Akins © Stuart Higgs

“When we were having a Skype with Ashli and Zoe they were telling us about the indigenous people. She said they were voluntary no-contact. Maybe they think we are going to burn the jungle down or we are going to harm them. Maybe they think we will take their food or water because we take their plants for medicine.” ~Ethan

“Why do some indigenous people think we want to harm them? They might think that other people want to hurt them. They also might be scared.” ~Amy

“I think that the indigenous people think we want to hurt them because a lot of planes go by and the indigenous people probably think that they might want to steal their homes. I would be scared if someone stole my home. I don’t know why some indigenous people have chosen not to have contact with others in the world.” ~Alex

“Why are some tribes in Peru scared of us when we come in? Maybe they think we are going to steal their food and their houses! They might have special food or medicine that they need but other people take it. If you don’t look like them they might hurt you.” ~Zyne

We are SURE glad that ASHLI didn't run into any voluntary no-contact people! Photo shared by Ashli Akins © Stuart Higgs

We are SURE glad that ASHLI didn’t run into any voluntary no-contact people!
Photo shared by Ashli Akins © Stuart Higgs

“I think that part of why some indigenous tribes choose to not have contact with other people is because they might think we will bring sickness in. Also, they might think we are there to take their goods, treasures, food, homes or land. They also might think we are there to ruin their homes then take their land. I think some indigenous people paint their bodies red or black because they might feel threatened or frightened.” ~Noam

We quickly discovered, with our research, that Voluntary No-Contact is NOT the same as “never been discovered” before. There are about 100 of these groups living around the world, according to Survival International. They CHOOSE to have no contact for MANY reasons.

Hoksin ... a beautiful bird found in the Amazon Jungle. We wonder if SOME birds are taken OUT of their natural habitats and sold in pet stores? Photo shared by Ashli Akins © Stuart Higgs

Hoksin … a beautiful bird found in the Amazon Jungle. We wonder if SOME birds are taken OUT of their natural habitats and sold in pet stores?
Photo shared by Ashli Akins © Stuart Higgs

Machetes cut paths through the jungles and forest and destroy plants and habitats for animals AND for the Indigenous people living there. Some people illegally log in the jungles to get “red gold” for furniture and hardwood floors. Red gold is a tree that people cut down … it’s mahogany … and it’s worth a LOT of money!

People go in to the rainforests to take plants to make special medicines. If lots of people cut the trees or the plants for medicines it would take a long time for them to grow back. If we took ALL the plants that the Indigenous people have been using for hundreds of years they may not be able to survive living in the jungle. For example the tribes that paint themselves red with the annatto tree, which WE use as medicine. Maybe they even use it as STRONG bug repellent … because it CAN be used that way. There are a LOT of poisonous bugs in the jungle that could harm them. Maybe they won’t be able to survive if we take all the annatto trees.

We wonder:

  • How can people get into the jungle to cut down trees if it is illegal?
  • How can we make sure that EVERYONE’S needs are being met?
  • Can we use the plant DNA to make the medicine without the plant?

18 Responses to WHAT is a Voluntary No-Contact Tribe?

  1. jenna

    Hi Miss Renton

    Wow this a great blog post!
    I loved all the photos!

    You are great 🙂
    What are you doing on the weekend?
    I have to go to my sister basketball game on Saturday 🙁 but it’s ok at the same time then go to my cousins 2 birthday party
    Then on Sunday I will see a football game!

    Hope you have a great weekend!:)

    Jenna:) <3

    • Laurie Renton

      Hi Jenna!

      I LOVE how passionate you are about this blog of ours! It makes me smile from ear to ear! I thought we made some pretty awesome discoveries about voluntary no-contact indigenous groups … and I loved our discussions! Ashli’s photos have really enhanced each of our blog posts – it is SO nice to be able to use photos taken by people we know, rather than having to rely on creative commons photos sometimes!

      Thank you for MAKING my day, Jenna! I feel the SAME way about YOU! It looks like we may have to spend PART of our weekend digging out from snow drifts! 😉 You sound like you have a VERY busy weekend ahead of you. I know how EXCITED you are for your cousin’s birthday party! I can’t wait to hear ALL about it!

      See you Monday, kiddo!

      Mrs. Renton 🙂

      • jenna

        Hi Miss Renton

        Did you know that when I left a comment first ( on this post ).

        My cousin birthday was great no not great AWSOME!
        He is now 2! He is so cute!! He is just learning how to talk so when we got to there house I said hi and he was like hi hi hi hi hi. Then I said are you cute and he said yes. Hours went by and we got ……… gift bags! We had cake and cupcakes and they were so good!

        You are great! Sorry to my other teachers but you are the best (so far , but that would be so hard to get over you in the best teacher awards ) 😉

        See you Monday great teacher

        Jenna 🙂

        • Laurie Renton

          Hi Jenna!

          The very FIRST comment you left for us was on October 20th! Since then, you have left MANY great comments!

          I am so glad to hear that the birthday party was fantastic! I knew it would be! Two year olds are SO adorable! They are SO curious about the world! Does he ask TONS of QUESTIONS? I think that’s one thing we can learn from two year olds … NEVER stop asking questions!

          Jenna … thank you so much for your kind words! Your teachers will be lucky to work with you because you are passionate about learning! You will have MANY teachers you love over the years! I think the thing I love MOST about teaching is that I get to learn right along WITH you! Until now, I really didn’t know MUCH about voluntary no-contact indigenous groups, or the plants they used, or the issues they are facing. I LOVE learning right along with you all!

          See you Monday, awesome blogger!

          Mrs. Renton 🙂

          • jenna

            Hi Miss Renton

            My cousin did not ask a lot of QUESTIONS but just a few.
            He is so cute!

            You say that you are lucky I am lucky. I love learning. I love learning (with you) very much because you make it nice and easy. Whoever gets you as a teacher next year will be VERY lucky.

            I did not know any thing about Peru or the Amozon Jungle, or the voluntary no-contact indigenous groups, or the plants they use.

            See you tomorrow great teacher

            Love Jenna

          • Laurie Renton

            Hi awesome blogger!

            I am glad that you had so much fun with your little cousin! I bet he LOVES hanging out with YOU!

            I agree with you, Jenna! I knew quite a bit about Q’enqo and the mountain region of Peru, because we have learned so much about it with our Skypes with Ashli over the years. This time, though, it was SO cool to be able to ask her more about what WE wanted to know. I LOVE how her Amazon adventure came up naturally in the conversation. I learned SO much through this last couple of Skypes! Stuff I knew NOTHING about! The research we did as a class, to find out more about the voluntary no contact indigenous groups living in the jungle REALLY taught me a lot! I also loved seeing some of the places they live around the world. I think THAT might even end up being ANOTHER mini inquiry!

            See you tomorrow, awesome blogger!

            Mrs. Renton 🙂

  2. Elisa Waingort

    Hello Grade 3’s!
    Very interesting blog post. Ecuador also has “voluntary no contact tribes”. To tell you the truth, when I lived here before I don’t remember anyone talking about them. However, now that we’ve moved back (after living for 6 years in Calgary) there is talk of these groups all the time. I’m still figuring out what it’s all about but I think the government is trying to make contact without disrupting their way of life, which is difficult since the moment contact is made everybody’s life changes. Keep writing. I enjoy reading your posts.
    Regards,
    Elisa Waingort

    • The Battalion Bloggers

      Hi Elisa!

      Thank you for leaving us another great comment! We really appreciate it! We found it very interesting that when you lived in Ecuador the first time around no one really talked about the voluntary no-contact tribes that live there. We wonder why people seem to be talking about them more now. Maybe it’s because the government is trying to find out more and make contact with them that people are hearing more about them.

      Maybe if people were learning more about them by observing but NOT letting them know they are there, (maybe like wearing camouflage or hiding out in something like a duck blind) might be the only way you could observe without disrupting their ways of life). Even then … we think you are right. The moment contact is made everybody’s lives are changed.

      Many of us think that we shouldn’t be able to disrupt their lives, especially if they’ve chosen to be no-contact. Their environment might be ruined and their culture and traditions might be changed or lost forever!

      Thank you for making us THINK this morning. We are glad to hear that you enjoy our posts!

      The Battalion Bloggers 🙂

  3. jenna

    Hi great teacher Miss Renton.

    Learning about voluntary no contact indigenous groups living in the jungle is so fun. I love it!

    See you tomorrow great no not that, AWSOME teacher!

    • Laurie Renton

      Hi Jenna!

      I agree. I have really enjoyed our little inquiry about the voluntary no-contact groups living in the jungles of Peru. What did you find MOST interesting about what we discovered?

      Mrs. Renton 🙂

  4. Lily

    Hi Battalion Bloggers

    I have been on the blog very many times and I love it! You guys have some GREAT post’s. I like the snow in the background. Great touch!

    I now know about the nice man Ross. He gives you guys gifts and that is so nice of him.

    I love ALL your things about the voluntary no-contact groups living in the jungles of Peru.

    Keep up the great work

    Lily:)

    P.S I am with Jenna and her family

  5. Ava

    Hi Battalion Bloggers

    I have been on the blog very many times and I love it! You guys have some GREAT post’s. I like the snow in the background. Great touch!

    I now know about the nice man Ross. He gives you guys gifts and that is so nice of him.

    I love ALL your things about the voluntary no-contact groups living in the jungles of Peru.

    Keep up the work
    Ava:)

    P.S I am with my family

    • Laurie Renton

      Hi Ava and Lily!

      We think it is AWESOME that Jenna was sharing our blog with you and Lily! We are SO glad to hear the you visit it often and that you are enjoying our posts!

      We love the snow on the blog too! Mrs. Renton chose that setting last year and forgot about it … she was surprised to see the snow as well!

      We wonder if YOU knew anything about the voluntary no-contact tribes before Ashli and Zoe told us about them?

      Thank you for your awesome commente!

      The Battalion Bloggers 🙂

  6. Ella

    Hello Miss Renton,
    It is Ella from last year. Does your new class enjoy the class blog? Because personally I do! Well, I haft to go now. Bye!
    From: Ella 🙂 <3 😉

    • Laurie Renton

      Hi Ella!

      What a LOVELY surprise! I am SO happy that you have left a comment on the blog for us … especially because you were a Battalion Hawk Blogger LAST year! It makes my heart sing!!!

      Yes, I think they are really enjoying the blogging process, Ella. You know it’s a lot of work, but it is SO much fun to share and learn with the world. What’s funny is, writing the actual blog posts is quite a seamless process … but staying on top of all the awesome comments that are left, and making sure we are writing QUALITY replies back … now THAT takes work! You remember how it was SO worth it though. The learning through the comments is probably my most favourite part! I am GLAD that you still love to follow the blog, kiddo! I hope you keep checking back and leaving comments!

      *I love how you still remember how to make the smiley faces and the hearts! Stay WARM, Ella!

      Mrs. Renton 🙂

      • Elisa Waingort

        Hello Mrs. Renton and the Batallion School Bloggers,
        I think the recent interest in the news regarding the no contact tribes in Ecuador has to do with an ambitious government project called Yasuni-ITT. The government pledged to protect this very diverse eco area in the rainforest as long as have nations would voluntarily donate money so that Ecuador would not exploit the land for its rich oil reserves. Sadly this did not happen and the government has had to commit a small portion of this “park” to oil exploration and drilling. Although this is not what everyone wanted, there are dire needs in Ecuador that prompted the government to opt for this route. Poverty is still a major concern here despite the great advances that have been made since the current government has been in power. The government has been working to make contact with these groups in order to respect their traditional cultures. I will try to find out more information and get back to you about it.

  7. Laurie Renton

    Battalion Bloggers … check out the LINK that Zoe shared with us … called Culture Shock: http://www.wimp.com/cultureshock/ I love the way it gives us a DIFFERENT insight into voluntary no-contact tribes!

    Mrs. Renton 🙂

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