Amazon's ancient tribe transcript

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TIM NOONAN: DEEP IN THE AMAZON JUNGLE IS A PLACE OF WONDER ...A PLACE OF DANGER.

PAUL RAFFAELE: You press a button and suddenly, you’re in the stone age, you’re really there!

TIM NOONAN: IT’S TAKEN SEVEN MONTHS OF NEGOTIATIONS TO JOIN THIS EXPEDITION. WE’RE BEING TAKEN BY OFFICERS FROM BRAZIL’S DEPARTMENT OF INDIAN AFFAIRS TO ONE OF THE WORLD’S LAST AND MOST ISOLATED STONE AGE TRIBES. WE’RE IN THE FAR NORTH-WEST OF BRAZIL, NEAR THE BORDER WITH PERU.
WE’RE HEADING TO THE HOME OF THE SURUWAHA. A THREE-DAY BOAT RIDE WILL BE FOLLOWED BY TWO WEEKS IN QUARANTINE, TO MAKE SURE WE BRING IN NO DISEASES. THEN ... ANOTHER TWO DAYS BY CANOE. WITH US IS AUTHOR AND ADVENTURER, PAUL RAFFAELE.

PAUL RAFFAELE: These are some of the last survivors of a time way beyond historical memory, thousands of years ago.

TIM NOONAN: The waterways here are a labyrinth and as the jungle closes in on us we’ve left the steamer behind to go deep into the heart of one of the Amazon’s forbidden zones.

TIM NOONAN: TO PROTECT THE AMAZON INDIANS, THE GOVERNMENT HAS CLOSED OFF THIS REGION TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD. ONLY A FEW ARE EVER ALLOWED IN. THE FINAL LEG IS A TOUGH TREK THROUGH THE DENSE JUNGLE. IT’S TAKEN US NEARLY A MONTH TO GET TO THIS POINT. THEN, OUR GUIDE MAKES THE SOUND OF A JAGUAR; HE’S TELLING THE SURUWAHA THAT OUTSIDERS ARE NEAR.

TIM NOONAN: We’re finally here, we’re literally about to time-travel back 10,000 years.

TIM NOONAN: BUT THEN THE MOOD CHANGES ... THERE ARE THREATS OF MURDER.

PAUL RAFFAELE: Who wants to kill me? The girl? She wants to kill me? Did you hear that? The girl wants to kill me because she’s scared.

TIM NOONAN: HERE, WE’RE OUTSIDE THE PROTECTION OF BRAZILIAN LAW.

PAUL RAFFAELE: We were in Suruwaha land, their laws apply. Had we been killed on that spot, the Brazilian government would not have punished those indians.

TIM NOONAN: THEN A BRAVE GIRL OFFERS HER HAND TO PAUL ... AND THE THREAT IS GONE.

TIM NOONAN: Oh, what a trek!

TIM NOONAN: SIMPLE ITEMS WE’VE BROUGHT INTRIGUE THEM. BOOKS, BOOTS AND MODERN TECHNOLOGY. OVER THE NEXT WEEK I LEARN HOW IMPORTANT PHYSICAL APPEARANCE IS TO THE SURUWAHA. THE BODY PAINT MADE FROM GROUND BERRIES IS ONE WAY OF ENHANCING THEIR BEAUTY. ANOTHER IS GROOMING EACH OTHER.

TIM NOONAN: Yep, they don’t have any hair but I do!

TIM NOONAN: THERE ARE ONLY 155 SURUWAHA, BUT THEY BELIEVE THEY ARE THE PERFECT RACE AND THEIR EXISTENCE APPEARS IDYLIC. THEY MARRY FOR LIFE, BUT NOT AGUNIU ...

AGUNIU: I will not get married. Girls are very annoying and talk too much. They complain about everything!

TIM NOONAN: THE STRENGTH OF YOUNG WARRIORS IS TESTED IN A WRESTLING MATCH CALLED THE WOOLLY MONKEY RITUAL.

AGUNIU IS BARELY OUT OF HIS TEENS AND EAGER TO PROVE HIMSELF AS A MAN. THE SURUWAHA HAVE NO CHIEFS, THE MEN EARN RESPECT BY BECOMING GOOD HUNTERS. HERE, AGUNIU IS ARMING A BLOWPIPE WITH POISON DARTS.

TIM NOONAN: So this is one of the marvels of stone age technology!

PAUL RAFFAELE: You’re seeing almost like the most wonderful movie you could ever see in your life. They live caught in some kind of bubble of thousands of years ago.

TIM NOONAN: THE MEN FROM THE SURUWAHA FAN OUT ACROSS THE DENSE JUNGLE, HUNTING FOR MONKEYS BIRDS AND WILD PIGS.

TIM NOONAN: Finding prey in this jungle is tough enough but keeping up with these guys is even harder. We’ve been walking all day, probably five hours, they’ve got to be the fittest men in the world.

TIM NOONAN: THE FRESH FOOD MAKES THEM AMONG THE HEALTHIEST PEOPLE ON EARTH. THERE ARE VERY FEW DISEASES, BUT I ALSO NOTICE THAT THERE ARE VERY FEW OLD PEOPLE.

TIM NOONAN: Well the average life expectancy here is just thirty-five, but it’s not because of bad health, I’ve just found out this is home to one of the most extreme and bizarre euthanasia practices on the planet.

TIM NOONAN: AGUNIU CONFESSES THAT HE PLANS TO COMMIT SUICIDE BEFORE HE REACHES THIRTY.

AGUNIU: I don’t want to be here for a long time. I will never be an adult, I will take the poison before that and I will die.

TIM NOONAN: HE’LL KILL HIMSELF BY TAKING A DEADLY POISON MADE FROM A GROUND UP ROOT CALLED, TIMBO.

PAUL RAFFAELE: This is a true suicide cult and I wondered what is the reason for this?

TIM NOONAN: Why do so many people take the poison?

WAHIDIANI: A lot of Suruwaha take the poison because they miss each other.

TIM NOONAN: WAHIDIANI EXPLAINS WHY THEY KILL THEMSELVES ... TO BE REUNITED WITH THEIR RELATIVES IN THE AFTERLIFE. HIS BROTHER AND SISTER HAVE ALREADY TAKEN THE POISON.

WAHIDIANI: And this one, then this one take the poison and it goes on forever.

TIM NOONAN: Right now I’m being painted by Urucum, it is vibrantly red and it’s because the Suruwaha believe it’s the most beautiful colour in the world. It’s not this I’m worried about, it’s the initiation that comes next ...

TIM NOONAN: EVERY NIGHT THEY INHALE A POTENT DRUG CALLED KUMADI, MADE FROM TREE BARK. EVEN THE CHILDREN TAKE IT ... I WASN’T GIVEN A CHOICE!

TIM: Oh man, my head is spinning now. The Suruwaha believe it opens the door to the spiritual world, I can’t ... I don’t know if you can see but I’m starting to sweat, my feet are tingling and numb and my hands are equally as numb.

TIM NOONAN: THE MORE I GOT TO KNOW THEM, THE CLEARER IT BECAME THAT THERE WERE OTHER, MORE DISTURBING PRACTICES.

TIM NOONAN: THESE LOST TRIBES ENCOURAGE THE MURDER OF DISABLED CHILDREN.

PAUL RAFFAELE: The Suruwaha believe that children born with birth defects or born to a single mother are evil spirits and should be killed in the most gruesome way possible. They take these poor little innocent babes out into the jungle to be eaten alive by the wild beasts or jaguars or they bury them alive, this is one of the worst human rights violations in the world.

TIM NOONAN: IN BRAZIL’S BIGGEST CITY SAO PAULO, WE FIND ONE LITTLE GIRL WHO SURVIVED. IGANANI WAS BORN WITH CEREBRAL PALSY.

TIM NOONAN: WHEN SHE WAS A BABY, HER MOTHER WAS FORCED TO LEAVE HER IN THE JUNGLE TO BE EATEN BY JAGUARS ... BUT LATER, SHE WENT BACK. THEY MADE THEIR WAY THROUGH THE JUNGLE AND EVENTUALLY TO SAFETY. A BRAZILIAN HEALTH OFFICIAL TOOK THEM IN.

TIM NOONAN: Do you believe that infanticide still occurs in the Suruwaha?

MAIRA BARRETO (HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER): I wish they didn’t but I think that they still do.

AGUNIU: We haven’t killed babies for a long time. Even though we kill some, some we don’t kill, we let them grow up.

PAUL RAFFAELE: I believe this is one of the most profound questions facing the world today. What to do with these stone age tribes? To let them live as they have for thousands of years protected from outside or to let them come out into our modern world?

AGUNIU: Is there and end to the land? Do the oceans go forever? We don’t know.

TIM NOONAN: THERE IS GOOD AND EVIL IN THIS LOST WORLD, BUT THERE ARE NO EASY ANSWERS AS TO WHAT WILL OR SHOULD HAPPEN NEXT.

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