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Kuini Matis with poison blowgun dart in hand

Matis Indian Tribe

The Jaguar People - Page 4 of 5

Not only do the Matis Indians hunt, but they fish as well. However traditionally they do not use hooks or nets. Instead they rely on their knowledge of the plants of the jungle. They use a plant called "huaca" which they process by adding the plant to clay and fermenting it. When added to a body of water such as a lake, "huaca" depletes the oxygen and the fish float to the surface where the Matis harvest them.

The Matis natives know many other secrets of the plants of the jungle, including medicinal uses. If they lose their traditions and only use western medicine, many of these secrets will be lost and this is precisely why I as a scientist wish to preserve this important knowledge of plants and preserve the Matis culture.

Currently, the greatest danger to the Matis tribe is hepatitis. Consequently I have been working on a project that has been installing clean water systems (water wells) in indigenous communities in the Javari (Yavarí) Valley that will help eliminate the threat of hepatitis and parasites which are currently common sources of illnesses. To combat malaria, I have been donating microscopes and solar-power energy systems to various isolated native communities in the Javari River area in order that they themselves can diagnose and treat malaria. Without their own microscopes, natives are required to make a long and expensive journey to regional health posts, often dying before being diagnosed or receiving treatment. Having their own diagnostic capabilities allow these indigenous Amazonians to be empowered with their own medical care, and not be dependent on and controlled by outsiders.

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