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Rain forest Tribes

The Amazon rain forest is home to various tribes of forest indians. There were thought to be about 3 to 5 million indians living there when the European settlers arrived there in the sixteenth century. Many indians died as a result of slavery but the main reason for the fall in numbers was the indians lack of immunity to European diseases such as smallpox and influenza.
Today there are only about 200,000 indians remaining. They are scattered among small communities and even there existence is threatened by the destruction of the remaining rain forest.

Growing food
The Amazon Indians know that the rain forest soil is thin and will only support crops for a few years. They use a method of shift cultivation in the forest which is known as ' Slash and Burn ' - clearing small patches. If a large area was cut down it would be more open to rain fall and the nutrients would wash away.
The Amazon Indians grow sweet potato, a variety of banana, maize, yams and plants that can be used for fibres ( floor mats ) and medicines.
Rights to the land

The first Indians were thought to have come from the north some 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. In this time they have never thought that the land was theirs.