Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | March 3, 2011

The Survival of the Nukak Indigenous

The Colombian government has moved about 170 Nukak indigenous, whom the FARC displaced from their native jungle in the Amazon, to a farm in the hamlet of Agua Bonita near San Jose del Guaviare. About 40 families now live in 15 open-aired huts.

But the Nukak are nomadic, and in their jungle, a 900,000-hectare reserve the state had set up for their protection, they once lived off the plants, as well as hunting and fishing. In their new home, the government provides them with food; however, the Nukak take what they find, yuca and bananas and live animals to slaughter, from their neighbors. They also pick whatever crops they come across. This has created much tension.

The Nukak do not understand the concept of private property, authorities say. And none of them speak Spanish.

Nukak elders have made it known that the food of “the white people” makes their children sick, and many have contracted epidemics. Fewer than 500 Nukak have survived, their number cut in half since they first contacted the outside world in 1988.

Even if the Nukak were to return to their ancestral land, the risk of landmines placed by the illegal armed groups is too high.

See a related blog post here.

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