About 3 000 Indians from different groups live on the border between Brazil and Peru in the Javari valley: Kanamari Indians, Marubo Indians, Mati Indians and Korubo Indians for example. Some other groups remain unknown because they refuse all contact with the outside world. These men and women are not from the Stone Age; they just live differently and have a special relationship with nature. Nature provides them with the food and medicines they need and in return, they preserve and protect it. This is in stark contrast to other civilisations that develop by destroying nature to make way for fields and cities.
Here, in the heart of the Amazon Forest, people are growing cassava, bananas and papayas very far from the “outside world” and they are not alone. In almost 70 countries, indigenous peoples as they are called live in harmony with nature. They are mainly sedentary or nomadic hunter-gatherers and there are about 370 million of them in the world.
The traditional lifestyles of most indigenous peoples are severely threatened by the progress that has been forced on them. Some indigenous peoples have managed to maintain some of their traditions and lifestyles with the help of NGOs but others have not been so fortunate. The rights of these people, who are often scorned by the populations in the countries where they live, are ignored daily. Because their land is often rich in resources such as minerals, metals, medicinal plants and rare wood, they are driven away from their homes and their very survival is threatened.
Some people believe that those in the Javari valley who refuse all contact with the outside world are the last people on Earth who are really free. Today, this freedom is increasingly threatened but living together also means respecting other people’s wishes to keep their distance and not live like us.