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naked-aucas-tribe-and-jwJuly, 1972. That’s what these people were known as back in 1972 who lived in the Amazon forests south of the Napo River in Ecuador killing anyone foolish enough to enter their territory. The Quechuas living along the north bank of the Napo were terrified of them, calling them “Aucas” – naked savages. I found them, as you can see, naked but not savage.

This was a true first contact. A helicopter pilot friend, Tony Stuart, and I chanced upon them, landing in their clearing. We were literally space aliens in a space ship from outer space, for all they knew was the jungle. They had nothing from the outside world. I gave them a box of matches which was the most exciting thing they had ever seen. Despite their fearsome reputation for killing outsiders including missionaries, they smiled and laughed like anyone else.

They also understood trade and exchanging gifts. Beside the matches, we gave them some rope and a small machete (first metal they had ever seen). They gave (without our asking) Tony a hand stone axe, and me a blowgun. After a few hours it was time to go. Our goodbyes to each other were with huge smiles. I will never ever forget them. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #113 photo ©Jack Wheeler)