Introduction / History The Mashco Piro is a small isolated tribe in Peru. Though long uncontacted, they made distant communication in the summer of 2013 with the Yine tribe across the Las Piedras river where they live. The event was tense and the tribe apparently asked for (or demanded) bananas, rope and machetes. The Yine responded by sending over a canoe with bananas, which the Mashco then collected. FENAMAD agents prevented the Mashco from crossing the river to ensure that contact with the Yine would not harm the group. Soon after the exchange, the group left the area.
"In 1894, most of the Mashco-Piro tribe was slaughtered by the private army of Carlos Fitzcarrald, in the upper Manú River area. The survivors retreated to the remote forest areas. The sightings of the Mashco-Piro tribe members increased in the 21st century." 1
Interaction with the group has been very infrequent and sometimes violent on both sides. Loggers killed some of the tribe in the 1980s.
"Mashco-Piro were blamed later in 2011 for the wounding of one forest ranger and the killing of a Matsiguenka Indian who had long maintained a relationship with them and provided them with machetes and cooking pots." 2
Where are they located? They live in the Ucayali Region and Upper Purús Region in Southeastern Peru, close to the border with Brazil and Bolivia. They live on the banks of the Las Piedras River in the Alto Purús National Park in huts constructed of palm leaf. In the rainy season, they retreat to huts in the rain forest.
What are their lives like? Because of their isolated existence, little is known about their way of life. Members of the tribe wear very little clothing. Men, women and children alike wear only a yellowish brown cloth above the waist and perhaps arm and leg bands of the same color. They have medium stature and athletic build. All have straight black hair worn shoulder length or longer.
Men probably hunt with the weapons they have been seen carrying, such as bow and arrow, as well as spears. Part of their diet consists of turtle eggs, retrieved from the river banks.
The neighboring Yine say that illegal loggers are encroaching on Yine and Mashco Piro land, probably provoking the recent boldness in asking for food from the Yine. A road has also been constructed near their land, decreasing their living space.
The government of Peru prohibits contact with the tribe to protect them from illnesses they may not be immune to.
The Mashco Piro language is somewhat similar to that of their Yine neighbors.