August 17, 2000

                  Lost Brazilian tribe emerges deep in the Amazon

                  BRASILIA (Reuters) -- A Brazilian Indian tribe thought to have been extinct for
                  nearly 100 years has resurfaced deep within the Amazon jungle, coming forward
                  to protest creation of a national park on their land, government officials said on

                  They said some 250 members of the long-lost Naua tribe, which once dominated
                  Brazil's state of Acre, emerged from their jungle isolation.

                  "They said they should not have to leave their land, since they had always been
                  there. They said they were Naua," Antonio Pereira Neto told Reuters from the
                  headquarters of the National Indian Foundation (Funai) in Acre state.

                  Neto said the most recent document on the Naua was a newspaper article dated
                  1906, headlined "Last Naua woman marries."

                  "We thought there were no more Naua," he said. "Our job now is finding them
                  land ... No humans are allowed in the park, just the forest and the animals."

                  He said the Naua were once the most populous ethnic group in the Acre region.
                  Theatres, streets and even a popular soft drink bear the tribal name.

                  But the surviving Naua have lost most of their native customs, Neto said, with
                  many working as rubber tappers in a remote jungle region near Brazil's border
                  with Peru.

                  Not all tribal members are fluent in the Naua language, which shares a common
                  linguistic origin with dialects spoken by tribes in Peru and Bolivia, he said. One
                  third of the tribe were children, with most below the age of 10.

                  "They have had a lot of contact with the white man, probably through the rubber
                  tapping industry," Neto said. Most spoke Portuguese, the language of Brazil's
                  165 million inhabitants.

                  Neto said that despite the contact, the Naua remained highly isolated on their
                  lands which can only be reached from the nearest semi-urban hamlet by
                  travelling two days upriver.

                  Before the arrival of Portuguese explorers in Brazil, there were an estimated six
                  million Indians. But disease, forced labor and war has reduced the population to
                  350,000 today.