Publicity Stunt Backfires: Indigenous Tribe Outted

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Filed under: Propaganda and Disinformation, Publicity Stunts

Secret of the ‘lost’ tribe that wasn’t
by Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor
The Observer
June 22, 2008

Tribal guardian admits the Amazon Indians’ existence was already known, but he hoped the publicity would lift the threat of logging


They are the amazing pictures that were beamed around the globe: a handful of warriors from an ‘undiscovered tribe‘ in the rainforest on the Brazilian-Peruvian border brandishing bows and arrows at the aircraft that photographed them.

Or so the story was told and sold. But it has now emerged that, far from being unknown, the tribe’s existence has been noted since 1910 and the mission to photograph them was undertaken in order to prove that ‘uncontacted’ tribes still existed in an area endangered by the menace of the logging industry.

The disclosures have been made by the man behind the pictures, José Carlos Meirelles, 61, one of the handful of sertanistas – experts on indigenous tribes – working for the Brazilian Indian Protection Agency, Funai, which is dedicated to searching out remote tribes and protecting them. Read the whole story here.

Original Story

  • The Amazonian tribe that hid from the rest of the world – until now, by Daniel Howden, Deputy Foreign Editor, The Independent, 30 May 2008
  • thanks Erin