Translate page with Google

Pulitzer Center Update June 15, 2015

The Fate of the Amazon's Isolated Tribes Sparks Global Buzz

Media file: amazon-uncontacted-tribes-houston.jpg

Some of the world’s last isolated tribes are poised to make contact with the outside world as...

author #1 image author #2 image
Multiple Authors
Media file: science_0.png
Epa is a liaison between Peru's isolated Indigenous tribes and the modern world. He lives with three wives, a mother-in-law, and many dogs in a hand-built shelter along the Curanja River in the Purús Communial Reserve. Image by Jason Houston. Peru, 2015.

"From Paradise to Peril: The Amazon's Isolated Tribes," the Pulitzer Center-Science multimedia series by Andrew Lawler and Heather Pringle has become a catalyst for conversation among a remarkably large number of international publications as they highlight the Amazon's isolated tribes and the risks incurred by a collision of cultures.

Time asks, "Is It Ethical to Leave Uncontacted Tribes Alone?" Looking for answers, the article references the Science reporting: "Part of what's given the matter greater urgency, as laid out in a striking pair of stories in the journal Science by contributing correspondents Andrew Lawler and Heather Pringle, is the recent, curious behavior of the tribes-people themselves."

In the last 18 months alone three isolated groups have made contact with Brazilian officials. One of the groups reported violent attacks from non-indigenous men in a border area frequented by drug smugglers. But seeking help is perilous, too, because tribes possess little immunity to Western pathogens. Lawler and Pringle's reporting explores what is happening on the ground in the remote Amazon region, how Peruvian and Brazilian officials are currently handling the situation, and what steps governments can take to make first contact safer for the isolated tribes.

The series has provoked publications to ask what is being done to ensure the groups can avoid threats to their health and culture. El Pais, a global publication and the highest-circulation daily newspaper in Spain, published this story about the Science reports, which was then picked up by Brazil's Amazonia.

The Science series has been highlighted in dozens of publications around the world, including Peru This Week, Le Figaro, The Japan Times, The Daily Mail, Le Vif, LeMonde, Le Journal de la Science. Outlets in Canada and Germany extended the conversation to the radio waves.


teal halftone illustration of a family carrying luggage and walking


Migration and Refugees

Migration and Refugees
yellow halftone illustration of two people standing back to back


Land Rights

Land Rights