The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon's Last Uncontacted Tribes
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THE UNCONQUERED TELLS THE EXTRAORDINARY TRUE STORY OF A JOURNEY INTO THE DEEPEST RECESSES OF THE AMAZON TO TRACK ONE OF THE PLANET’S LAST UNCONTACTED IN DIGENOUS TRIBES.
Even today there remain tribes in the far reaches of the Amazon rainforest that have avoided contact with modern civilization. Deliberately hiding from the outside world, they are the unconquered, the last survivors of an ancient culture that predates the arrival of Columbus in the New World. In this gripping first-person account of adventure and survival, author Scott Wallace chronicles an expedition into the Amazon’s uncharted depths, discovering the rainforest’s secrets while moving ever closer to a possible encounter with one such tribe—the mysterious flecheiros, or “People of the Arrow,” seldom-glimpsed warriors known to repulse all intruders with showers of deadly arrows. On assignment for National Geographic, Wallace joins Brazilian explorer Sydney Possuelo at the head of a thirty-four-man team that ventures deep into the unknown in search of the tribe. Possuelo’s mission is to protect the Arrow People. But the information he needs to do so can only be gleaned by entering a world of permanent twilight beneath the forest canopy.
Danger lurks at every step as the expedition seeks out the Arrow People even while trying to avoid them. Along the way, Wallace uncovers clues as to who the Arrow People might be, how they have managed to endure as one of the last unconquered tribes, and why so much about them must remain shrouded in mystery if they are to survive. Laced with lessons from anthropology and the Amazon’s own convulsed history, and boasting a Conradian cast of unforgettable characters—all driven by a passion to preserve the wild, but also wracked by fear, suspicion, and the desperate need to make it home alive—The Unconquered reveals this critical battleground in the fight to save the planet as it has rarely been seen, wrapped in a page-turning tale of adventure.
From the Hardcover edition.
said he couldn’t spare any, had mouths to feed. He did have ripe lemons if we wanted to send a crew back upriver to pick them. “Five beaches up,” he said. Possuelo thought about it. Too far, he concluded. Fish were getting scarce, Santos explained, ever since a fat cat called Carlão—“Big Carlos”—began coming up this way. “He brings lots of men in motorboats. They cover the entire river with their nets, from here clear across to the other side. They take everything.” Big Carlos was also buying
America’s skyrocketing demand fueling the boom. During the final quarter of the nineteenth century, the United States imported half of the world’s entire output, transforming the Amazon River ports of Belém, Manaus, and Iquitos from sleepy backwaters into thriving centers of culture and trade. The decade from 1897 to 1907 saw the value of rubber exports from Iquitos increase fourfold, a period coinciding with the emergence of Julio César Arana as the unrivaled kingpin of Peru’s Putumayo River.
wheelhouse. Traveling on the river lent itself to lengthy chats; there wasn’t a whole lot else to do. The cockpit was barely large enough for the pilot to squeeze behind the wheel, which was outfitted with round wooden spokes in the mariner style. But the doors were open and fastened back on both sides, effectively opening the space to conversation with those standing on the narrow decks to port and starboard. Beneath his wide-brimmed khaki bush hat, Adelson cut a classic Indian profile—the
50-volt battery, big enough to power a truck, discarded long ago. “Maybe they used it to light up the runway.” It made sense. Clandestine flights often relied on the cover of darkness to avoid detection, but doing so also heightened the pilot’s risk of losing his way. “It was a lot of trouble,” Possuelo said, mopping the sweat from his brow with a shirtsleeve. “But it’s so rare for federal authority of any kind to pass through here, we couldn’t just go by without taking a look.” Traffickers
others, like interlocking pieces of a mind-boggling puzzle, ran along the ridgelines and through the labyrinth of hollows we were traversing. The headwaters. Birthplace of rivers. Givers of life. Shrouded in mystery. Sacred. Remote places of near-impossible access. The quest to find the ultimate source of any river always seems to lead away from the lowlands and their madding crowds, traveling back in time, toward wild, primordial beginnings and mist-shrouded heights. Yet here, the waters were