An interesting fact to me would be the recent history of the Yanomami people from the Amazon:
The Yanomami first came into sustained contact with outsiders in the 1940s when the Brazilian government sent teams to delimit the frontier with Venezuela.
Soon the government’s Indian Protection Service and religious missionary groups established themselves there. This influx of people led to the first epidemics of measles and flu in which many Yanomami died.
In the early 1970s the military government decided to build a road through the Amazon along the northern frontier. With no prior warning bulldozers drove through the community of Opiktheri. Two villages were wiped out.
The Yanomami continue to suffer from the devastating and lasting impacts of the road which brought in colonists, diseases and alcohol. Today cattle ranchers and colonists use the road as an access point to invade and deforest the Yanomami area.
The gold rush and genocide
During the 1980s, the Yanomami suffered immensely when up to 40,000 Brazilian gold-miners invaded their land. The miners shot them, destroyed many villages, and exposed them to diseases to which they had no immunity. Twenty percent of the Yanomami died in just seven years.
After a long international campaign led by Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, Survival and the CCPY (Pro Yanomami Commission), Yanomami land in Brazil was finally demarcated as the ‘Yanomami Park’ in 1992 and the miners expelled.
However, after the demarcation gold-miners returned to the area, causing tensions. In 1993, a group of miners entered the village of Haximú and murdered 16 Yanomami including a baby.
After a national and international outcry, a Brazilian court found five miners guilty of genocide. Two are serving jail sentences whilst the others escaped.
This is one of the few cases anywhere in the world where a court has convicted people in cases of atrocities committed against natives.
The gold mining invasion of Yanomami land continues. The situation is Venezuela is very serious, and Yanomami have been poisoned and exposed to violent attacks for several years. The authorities have done little to resolve these problems.
Natives in Brazil still do not have proper ownership rights over their land – the government refuses to recognize tribal land ownership, despite having signed the international law (ILO Convention 169) guaranteeing it. Moreover, many figures within the Brazilian establishment would like to see the Yanomami area reduced in size and opened up to mining, ranching and colonization.
To make things even worse, the Brazilian army has built barracks in the Yanomami heartlands, which has increased tensions. Soldiers have prostituted Yanomami women, some of whom have been infected with sexually transmitted diseases.
Blessed be the courageous Native People who have survived centuries of brutal oppression and still strive today.
May they be left in peace very soon, respected in their physical and spiritual integrity.