Prosecutors in Brazil are investigating a “massacre” of several members of an uncontacted Amazon tribe. It appears about 10 members of the tribe were out gathering eggs last month when they encountered gold miners by a river in the remote Javari Valley, the New York Times reports.
The victims were found after the miners boasted in a bar about killing them and displayed trophies such as a hand-carved paddle they bragged they took from the victims.
“They even bragged about cutting up the bodies and throwing them in the river,” says a rep from the indigenous affairs agency FUNAI, which reported the incident to authorities.
Federal prosecutor Pablo Luz de Beltrand says the investigation is “difficult work” because the “territories are big and access is limited.”
Two gold miners were arrested, per Survival International, which warned one-fifth of the small tribe may have been killed in what it says was a “genocidal massacre,” if confirmed.
Beltrand says if confirmation is received, the attack would be the second reported slaughter this year of tribespeople, proving that indigenous people are increasingly at risk. Survival International’s site notes that Brazilian President Michel Temer’s government is “fiercely anti-Indian,” beholden to business interests seeking to develop remote areas, and has slashed funding to protect tribespeople.
Budget cuts have shuttered five of 19 FUNAI bases, per the Times, three of them in the isolated west where the killings took place. Called the Uncontacted Frontier, the site is home to the most isolated tribes in the world, per Survival International.