April 8, 2001

Amazon expedition meets previously uncontacted tribe

                  RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- A Brazilian government expedition has made
                  contact with members of a remote Amazon Indian tribe never before exposed to
                  Western culture, a local news agency said Sunday.

                  The Tsohon-djapa tribe lives in an area known as the Vale do Javari, wedged
                  between two Amazon river tributaries, the Jutai and Jandiatuba rivers. The area
                  is home to about a dozen tribes that have had little exposure to modern society.

                  The 11-member team from the Federal Indian Bureau met with some 30 tribe
                  members for about an hour, Jornal do Brasil news agency reported. It was
                  unclear whether the contact had taken place on Saturday or Sunday.

                  Calls to bureau authorities went unanswered. But late last month, the bureau said
                  that a team of anthropologists and Indians had embarked on an expedition to
                  locate the tribe, which was discovered last year after a bureau team flying over
                  the region photographed a previously undetected village made of 16 long houses.

                  The expedition sought to confirm the tribe's existence, get an idea of the area the
                  Indians inhabit and then leave them alone, Sydney Possuelo, the bureau's chief of
                  isolated tribes and the expedition's leader, said at the time.

                  On Sunday, however, the news agency quoted Possuelo as saying that the team
                  had made contact with the Indians, but only because they wanted to investigate
                  reports that the tribe is ruled by a neighboring tribe, the Canamaris.

                  Amazon tribes live mainly from hunting and fishing. They also cut down and
                  burn small parts of forests to grow crops.

                  The bureau's expedition departed late last month from Tabatinga, about 2,500
                  miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro, and traveled for three days by boat before
                  setting off into the forest by foot.

                  The Vale do Javari was declared an Indian reservation in 1996. About 300,000
                  Indians live in Brazil in various stages of acculturation. The bureau estimates
                  there are 53 tribes still living in relative isolation from Western culture.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press