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This piece covers the personal research of an anthropologist who came across a very primitive tribe in the woods which were already going into extinction.
Deep in the Amazon lives the world’s most endangered tribe, an ancient group who trudge through the forests of eastern Brazil carrying everything they own, their children, their weapons and their pets.
They have been pushed to the brink of extinction by European colonists who enslaved them and ranchers who stole the land they needed to survive. And yet, they live in complete harmony with their jungle home. Most Awa families adopt several wild animals as pets and remarkably, the women breastfeed them until they are fully grown.
Pugliese first met the Awa in 2009, after a journalist friend suggested he accompany him and an anthropologist on the two-day journey down the river to then unprotected piece of rainforest the tribe called home.
‘They heard the sound of the speedboat’s engine and they came down to the river bank,’ he recalled. ‘The impact was like being in another world. The sensation could not be explained.’
But, in amongst this feeling of awe, it was the social niceties which started to concern Pugliese.
‘You extend your hand to shake it [in greeting] and then think, I do not know what I need to do,’ he told MailOnline. What the Awa thought of this stranger arriving in their world was not immediately clear but they soon found something to laugh at.
‘They do not understand what a grown man is doing being single, without a family. They look at me and they try to give me advice. They do not know where I am coming from. They do not have a concept of the world.
‘I cannot explain to them where I’m coming from, I can’t explain the lifestyle to them. For them, it is unbelievable to be a man who does not have a family.’
Family is all important to the Awa, and it is not confined to humans. Their pets, who help them with everyday tasks such as cracking nuts, gathering fruit from high trees and even watching over them while they sleep, are as much a part of the family as their children.
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