According to FENAMAD (Native Federation of the Madre de Dios River and its Tributaries), the Madre de Dios region in southeastern Peru, where Tambopata National Reserve and other state protected natural areas are located, has been occupied by diverse ethnic and cultural groups for some three thousand years. Belonging to seven linguistic groups, the indigenous peoples of the Madre de Dios region are:
In addition to these peoples, other groups came to the Madre de Dios region at the height of the rubber boom, during the early 20th century. These include:
In the face of increased encroachment as the Peruvian economy sought to develop, in the early 1970s indigenous peoples began to form native communities officially recognized by the government of Juan Velasco Alvarado, and under Velasco’s government they were allocated specific geographic areas. Today, the Native Federation of the Madre de Dios River and its Tributaries (FENAMAD) is the organization representing all the indigenous peoples of this part of southeastern Peru. FENAMAD was founded in 1982 in order to defend indigenous rights and to analyze or support plans, projects and actions conceived with the aim of ensuring the wellbeing of the indigenous peoples of the Madre de Dios forests.
According to Peru’s Ministry of Culture, “FENAMAD is an example of what other countries are trying to organize […], the struggle to defend the collective rights of indigenous peoples in isolation [or] initial contact [and] to defend [human] life in harmony with nature”.