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The most fragile of Amazonian cultures are the isolated indigenous groups, those few "lost tribes " that have chosen to avoid contact with the outside world. The recent historic record amply demonstrates that contact can devastate these hunter-gatherer bands: within a few years of making contact, 50 percent of the Nukak tribe of the northwest Amazon and 80 percent of the Akuriyo tribe of the northeast Amazon had perished. And these fatalities were not equally distributed among all age groups: the most vulnerable were the very young and very old. When the elderly members of a small tribe die, because they typically are the repositories of tribal knowledge, much of the culture disappears with them.
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