Sebastião Salgado is considered one of the greatest and probably the most famous Brazilian photographer. His work is considered documentary photography/photo journalism and his whole career has been focused on social issues, often the undervalued citizens of the world being the subjects of his photographs.
His most recent project, “Amazônia”, is a study about the Autonomous and Uncontacted tribes of Brazil, and it began with an expedition into the Indigenous Reservation of the Javari Valley, on the margins of the Ituí River, which is located near the Brazilian border with Peru, in the West of the Brazilian Amazon. For the first part of this 2 year project, he spent 20 days with a Korubo tribe of around 80 people, part of an ethnic group that has little contact with the outside world. They are classified as “Natives of Recent contact”, speak very little Portuguese and are sensitive to diseases from outside their jungle, which is one of the reasons they avoid contact with the “White People”.
Salgado’s expedition was the first time that a documentary crew or journalists have been hosted at the Korubo village. Their style is more sober and less elaborate than other indigenous tribes of Brazil — they wear almost nothing, they don’t paint their weapons and men’s body paints consists of covering themselves from head to toe with a natural red dye from the Urucum plant. Their main weapons are clubs, spears and blow guns, and they are great warriors when protecting themselves from outside threats.
Despite their protective attitude, the message that the Korubo tribe passed on to the excursionists was simple: They want the government to send better qualified workers to aid them with their needs, and for their presence to be more consistent and efficient. At present, there is usually one or two government workers that visit the tribe, and as the governments change, these roles aren’t always fulfilled and the borders of the protected Indigenous Territory are often violated by loggers, hunters and fishermen from the nearest towns.