FROM THE ATLANTIC - The Ashaninka
large group travels upstream by boat, to visit neighboring Ashaninka. (© Mike Goldwater)
It is thought that the traditionally semi-nomadic Ashaninka have lived for thousands of years in the Peruvian Selva Central, where the Andean foothills flatten out into the Amazonian rainforest. During the late nineteenth century, some fled across the border into Brazil’s Acre state when Peru conceded vast tracts of rainforest to foreign companies for rubber tapping and coffee plantations. This resulted in the displacement of thousands of Ashaninka from their homes. “The vulcanization of latex and the ‘rubber boom' that swept through this part of the Amazon wiped out 90 percent of the Indian population in a horrific wave of enslavement, disease, and appalling brutality,” says Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International. Today, the Ashaninka of Brazil number around 1,000, living mostly along the Amônia, Breu, and Envira Rivers. The majority still live in Peru. The total Ashaninka population is estimated at approximately 70,000.