Review: Searching for the Amazon’s last tribes in “The Unconquered” by Scott Wallace

by Daniel Brindis

October 18, 2011

Its hard to believe that even in 2011, after over 500 years of colonization and generations of new technologies that there still exist uncontacted groups of indigenous people have been able to preserver and maintain their lifestyles. Even more incredible is how, in recent years we are still finding out about communities we never even knew existed in the far-reaches of the Amazon. Today, National Geographic reporter Scott Wallace released a fascinating account of a journey to learn more about the uncontacted with the hopes of protecting these people and their culture.

In The Unconquered, Wallace tells the story of a true adventure he took to track the uncontacted Flecheiros, (the arrow people). He and 33 others, led by Sydney Possuelo, an expert on uncontacted indigenous cultures and a compelling advocate, try to gather information about the Flecheiros without putting them at risk. In the book one feels the urgency of creating a plan to protect these groups as the modern world continues to encroach into the Amazon. It is a wonder that the Flecheiros have survived until the present day and one realizes it is only a matter of time before they are contacted and face danger or assimilation. Further complicating efforts to save this culture is the need to not contact them- not only because it could corrupt their identity but also because we, as denizens of Babylon, carry germs and illnesses that the immune systems of the Flecheiros are unable to tolerate.

The book represents a thoughtful reflection about what it means to be an advocate for communities that you might never know and in some cases, like this one, you shouldnt meet. We know that civilizations invasion of these communities would have a negative impact but what how do we as outsiders determine whats best for them? How do we learn more about these cultures to develop effective solutions without endangering them in the process? As we learn from Sydney Possuelo, working on behalf of distant communities can raise ethical challenges and requires advocates and observers to employ restraint and humility. Accompanying this dialogue in The Unconquered is a real life cast of intriguing characters taking part in an exciting adventure unfolding in some of the remaining areas of true isolation.

Scott Wallace is starting a U.S. speaking tour this Thursday that includes Miami, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, Portland, and Seattle-definitely check these events out if you live nearby:

  • Tuesday, October 18: The Unconquered Launches
  • Thursday October 20, Miami Beach: Books & Books
    927 Lincoln Road # 118, Miami Beach, Fla. 33139. More information at: 305.532.3222
    7:00pm Reading from The Unconquered
  • Thursday-Friday October 20-21, Miami: Society of Environmental Journalists Annual Conference
    Friday, October 21, 3:00pm panelist, “Indigenous People and Climate Change.”
    Available for press interviews at other times. Contact Ellen Folan, Crown Publishing: 202.782.8944; [email protected]
  • Monday, October 24, New York City: The Half-King
    505 West 23rd Street (10th Avenue), New York, NY 10011. More information at: 212.462.4300
    7:00pm The Monday Reading Series.
  • Thursday, November 3, Washington, DC: National Geographic Live! “Quest for Adventure” Lecture Series
    Grosvenor Auditorium, National Geographic Society, 1745 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20036
    7:30pm “The Unconquered: Brazil’s Arrow People.”
    Tickets at or National Geographic Box Office: 202.857.7700.
  • Monday, November 7, New York City: The Explorers Club
    46 East 70th Street, New York. Tel: 212.628.8383
    7:00pm Monday Night Lecture, open to the public: “Uncontacted Tribes of the Amazon.”
    Tickets at
  • Wednesday, November 9, Santa Cruz, CA: Capitola Book Cafe
    1475 41st Avenue, Capitola, Calif. 95010. More information at: 831.462.4415
    7:30pm reading from The Unconquered
  • Thursday, November 10, Menlo Park, CA: Kepler’s Books
    1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025. More information at: 650.324.4321
    7:00pm Reading from The Unconquered
  • Friday, November 11, Pt Reyes Station, CA: Pt Reyes Books
    11315 State Route 1, Point Reyes Station, Calif. 94956. More information at: 415.663.1542
    7:00pm reading from The Unconquered
  • Saturday, November 12, Berkeley, CA: Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore
    2904 College Avenue, Berkeley, Calif. 94705. More information: 510.704.8222
    4:00pm Reading from The Unconquered
  • Sunday, November 13, Corte Madera, CA: Book Passage
    51 Tamal Vista Boulevard, Corte Madera, Calif. 94925. More information at: 415.927.0960
    4:00pm Sunday Reading Series, reading from The Unconquered
  • Tuesday, November 15, Portland, OR: Powell’s City of Books
    1005 W. Burnside, Portland, OR 97209. More information at: 503.228.4651
    7:30pm reading from The Unconquered
  • Wednesday, November 16, Seattle, WA: Elliott Bay Book Company
    1521 Tenth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122. More information at: 206.624.6600
    7:00pm reading from The Unconquered and multimedia show on the Amazon’s uncontacted tribes
  • Tuesday, November 22, Washington, DC: Busboys and Poets Langston Room, 2021 14th Street, NW (14th and V Streets) Washington, DC 20036 7:00pm “The Unconquered: Brazil’s Arrow People.”

Daniel Brindis

By Daniel Brindis

Daniel is the Forests Campaign Director, based in San Francisco. His portfolio includes the Amazon, the Canadian Boreal, and environmental certification schemes like the Forest Stewardship Council. He splits his time between the San Francisco and Manaus offices.

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