Living in the Amazon (Amazon project part 3)


There are hundreds of tribes in the Amazon. One of them is the Jackoona tribe. They were contacted during the 16th century, and since then, their traditions have changed, although some still many remain.  

Most of the time, their main priority is food. They only have a basic diet. On land,  they grow crops using a technique called shifting cultivation. This is where they clear an area of forest, maybe a few hectares. Then they plant and grow crops around tree stumps. They keep the tree stumps because the roots will hold on to the soil making sure the nutrients doesn’t wash away when it rains because there are no trees. When the land becomes infertile, they move and clear another few hectares while the first few hectares grow back into dense forest. The cycle carries on like this, and about 30 years after they cleared the first hectares of land, those first hectares of land is now fertile and ready to clear again. In the land, they grow mainly root vegetables, pineapples, bananas and beans.


Another source of food is fishing. Most of the fish in the Amazon are freshwater fish. This is their main source of protein. One way they fish is by hollowing out a tree to make a canoe, then canoe down the river and use a net to collect fish, and then stab them so they die or shooting fish with an arrow with deadly accuracy. Another way is to build a dam in a stream. Then, get some poison roots from a tree and slit them. Meanwhile, some women will weave some baskets out of grass. They then wave the roots in the stream. This stuns the fish so they have to come up for air. They then catch them with the baskets.

Sometimes this food is not enough. If they have any left over food they do not need they take it to the market and trade it for modern clothes and other things like guns, but they mainly rely on the surrounding environment. If one man has any bullets to shoot, he will try to kill a monkey or bird. However, the bullets are expensive and successful shots are rare.

The Jackoona build there homes on stilts to keep them safe, dry and cool. These indigenous people use everything around them without destroying their environment. They all help each other, even the children.


Now, businesses are trying to take over. Already they have forced or killed over half a million indigenous people like the Jackoona. The Jackoona children are now being taught Portuguese, maths and other useful skills just so they can survive in the growing world that is leaving them behind.

Another tribe is the Kabocka tribe. These people are more damaging to the environment and have some very different traditions. One of these traditions is when a child has gone through puberty; they are given an alcoholic drink during a special ceremony to make them unaware of what is going on. Next, they kneel down and everyone else in the village pulls out all of the hair on there head as a punishment for their sins as a child.

Their way of cultivation plays a major part in deforestation. Unlike the Jackoona tribe, when the soil becomes infertile, they just make that cleared area of land bigger. Therefore, instead of them using it as land to grow crops, they use it as pasture for the few cattle they keep for food, but of course the pasture is rubbish as the soil is infertile and hardly anything will grow there. This technique is called slash and burn cultivation. As their area of cleared and is so huge, children as young as six have their own plot to take care of.


Another way the Kabocka get there food is by growing a poisonous plant called manioc. They have somehow managed to work out how to extract he poison. First they peel it and but in a special weaved basket made from palm leaves to squeeze out the poisonous juice. Next, they bake it in a massive pan to make a flour like substance, which is their main source of carbohydrate.

A different Kabocka tribe live on one of the many flood plains In the Amazon. During the wet season, they cut down long grass and feed the cattle and other animals they have. They fish, but it is harder to catch lots, as there is a bigger and deeper area of water. When the water gets shallower, the use fishing as a source of income, as well as saving some as a food supply for the winter months. During the dry season, they can grow many crops as the flood brings silt onto the flood plain, putting lots of nutrients back into the soil. They often find levees (natural mounds of silt) on the riverbanks.

The indigenous people having to change. As you move further east across the Amazon, the more these once independent tribes are becoming more involved with the outside world, like becoming more involved in trade. Living in the Amazon is an ongoing struggle between them and the growing pressure from the outside world. There are still uncontacted tribes out there but how long is it before the indigenous people are forced out of the way?


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