The women of this Amazon tribe raise animals... and breastfeed them themselves

Deep in the Amazon jungle, with its vast network of river tributaries there are still numerous undiscovered regions. It's not uncommon for researchers to discover completely new animal or plant species. And sometimes, they even come across indigenous people who have barely had any contact with the outside world. The Awa people are an example of this.

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Their way of living is characterized by a strong bond among group members as well as a closeness to nature. This closeness has led to a rather extreme practice: the Awa actually breastfeed the animals they care for! Anthropologists had not encountered this before.

To the Awa, humans and animals are members of the same family. They enjoy a symbiotic relationship. In return for protection and food, the animals fetch fruits from the trees or crack open nuts.

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This indigenous group lives in the eastern part of Brazil and have been unfamiliar with the outside world because of their distance to the nearest western settlement.

Because of illegal plantations and poachers, indigenous tribes of the Amazon have been almost completely eradicated. There were once tens of thousands of peaceful people living in the rainforest, but now population estimates are just a little over 300.

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To an outsider, this intimate relationship with nature can be difficult to comprehend, but for the Awa, it is a normal feature of every day life. Whether these traditions will continue is questionable. The tribe's continued existence is fragile as their living space is encroached upon more and more by developers. Surrounded by nature, it's understandable that the connection these people feel with their animal neighbors is so strong.

The Awa tell their story in their own words (with English subtitles) in this video:

It's quite amazing how isolated cultures have adapted to their environment and developed unique traditions and customs. Hopefully, the Brazilian government will increase protections of the Amazon rainforest, not only for the overall survival of our planet, but so that ancient and pristine cultures such as the Awa can continue to live in their home undisturbed.

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