Sept. 11 (UPI) -- The Brazilian government said it opened an investigation into the deaths of 10 members of an endangered indigenous tribe allegedly at the hands of miners.
Funai, the indigenous affairs agency, said a complaint was lodged with the prosecutor's office in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, near the Colombian border, after local gold miners bragged in August that they killed members of an unidentified tribe.
Those killed were part of one of 103 tribes in Brazil regarded as "uncontacted," defined by the London-based activist organization Survival Unlimited as having "no peaceful contact with anyone in the mainstream or dominant society."
"These could be entire peoples or smaller groups of already contacted tribes."
While ethnic tribe members are Brazilian citizens, they reside in jungles in independent groups, and have no involvement in modern society.
Miners routinely encroach on the tribal lands, and land disputes have led to the deaths of at least 50 indigenous tribe members, rural workers and land activists through the first seven months of the year, Brazil's Land Pastoral Commission said.
Government and police agents have been accused of some of the deaths, The New York Times reported Monday. The Javari Valley, the area of the alleged killings, is known as the Uncontacted Frontier, and includes more uncontacted tribes than anywhere on earth, Survival Unlimited said.
Speaking of the miners involved in the incident leading to the investigation, Leila Silvia Burger Sotto-Maior of Fumai said, "It was crude bar talk. They even bragged about cutting up the bodies and throwing them in the river."
Fumai said the miners allegedly displayed a hand-carved wooden paddle as a trophy of the killings.