When the Uru-eu-wau-wau were first contacted in 1981, disease and death followed shortly thereafter. With limited antibodies to fight foreign pathogens, infectious diseases like tuberculosis and measles took a disastrous toll. From a vibrant Indigenous community numbering in the thousands in the early 1900s, more than half died. When the coronavirus epidemic arrived in Brazil in March 2020, the events of the 1980s loomed large in the community’s collective memory. “We remember how it happened with first contact. We cannot let that happen again,” said Tari, a Uru-eu-wau-wau elder who vividly recalls the disease and violence that marked that time. So the people of the Uru-eu-wau-wau Indigenous Territory, located in the Amazonian state of Rondônia, made the swift decision to isolate their seven villages completely from the rest of the world: No visitors, no outside contact. As of June 1, 2021, Brazil has confirmed more than 16.5 million COVID-19 cases and 462,791 deaths, with 229,566 cases and 5,758 deaths in Rondônia, according to Johns Hopkins University. But while other Amazon Indigenous peoples have suffered greatly, the Uru-eu-wau-wau held the line, with just four minor cases. But this is not the only grim trial they face. Along with COVID-19, the Uru-eu-wau-wau actively defend their territory against an onslaught of land grabbers, illegal loggers and miners who seek to extract resources from their federally protected territory. The pandemic also brought another new challenge: how to continue telling their story in real time despite a self-imposed COVID-19 quarantine that included outside journalists. Without…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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