Brazilian photographer fights to protect remote tribe's rights

Tue Apr 5, 2016 1:41pm EDT
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By Sophie Davies

RIO DE JANEIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When Brazilian photographer Claudia Andujar started working with Yanomami people in the Amazon rainforest in the 1970s, most of them did not know what a camera was.

Andujar spent most of that decade and more in northern Brazil photographing the Yanomami, one of Latin America's most remote indigenous tribes.

She learned their language and joined their daily routines hunting and gathering food in the largest indigenous territory on the continent, an area roughly the size of Belgium.

"Most of them had never seen a non-Yanomami person. They were very vulnerable," the 84-year-old told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from her home in São Paolo.

They are in danger again today, despite decades of efforts to protect them, their advocates say.

The Yanomami's land rights are under threat by a proposed constitutional amendment that would enable changes to the boundaries of current Indian reserves and allow private sector involvement in agriculture, mining and other projects, they say.

"Indigenous land rights of Indians across the country would be drastically weakened," said Sarah Shenker, a campaigner with Survival International, a London-based charity.