Brazil Investigates If US Missionary Encroached on Isolated Amazon Tribe


The South American rainforest is home to a majority of the uncontacted indigenous groups left on earth.

An American missionary in Brazil is under investigation and possibly faces charges of genocide for entering protected lands inhabited by an isolated tribe in the Amazon.

Unlike John Allen Chau—an American missionary who was killed last year during one of his initial encounters with a remote tribe halfway around the world—Steve Campbell and his family have lived among indigenous people in northwest Brazil for more than 50 years.

Campbell, a second-generation missionary with Baptist Bible Fellowship International, is accused of venturing outside of his longtime home among the Jamamadí people onto territory belonging to the Himarimã, the only isolated tribe among eight ethnic groups in the area, according to the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

He claimed that he crossed the neighboring land while teaching the Jamamadís how to use GPS to map the boundaries of their own land, and promised not to re-enter. The head of the government’s indigenous protection agency, Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI), has enlisted the prosecutor’s office and federal police to determine whether Campbell violated the law and put the tribe at risk.

“If it is configured, in the investigation, that there was interest to make contact, to use his relationship with other Indians to approach the isolated ones, he can be accused of a crime of genocide by deliberately exposing the safety and life of the Himarimã,” said Bruno Pereira, FUNAI coordinator. The tribe is estimated at just 100 people.

In response to Campbell’s investigation, indigenous rights groups have condemned his presence in the area and raised concerns of the possible spread of disease killing …

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