RIO DE JANEIRO — In December 2014, three “non-contacted” Amazon tribespeople – a young man, his mother and an elder female relative – were led out of the forest they had lived in their whole lives and taken to a village.

A year and a half later, in an extraordinary twist, the two women have escaped back to the forest – taking just an ax, a machete and their pet birds. They left clothes they had been wearing strewn on a path – and their escape left a clear message.

We don’t want your civilization. Instead, we choose our ancient way of life.

“It was a rejection,” said Rosana Diniz, a coordinator for the Indigenous Missionary Council, a nonprofit group connected to Brazil’s Bishops, who has worked with the women’s tribe, called the Awá, for nearly 20 years.

“What is important for them is not television,” Diniz said. “What is important for them is to be in their home, in the forest, with plenty of hunting, with rivers, with the animals.”

The Awá is an endangered tribe of about 450 people who mostly live in villages in three reserves on the southeastern fringe of the Amazon. But an unknown number of others, like these three, still live an ancient hunter-gatherer existence.

The Brazilian government has registered 110 “uncontacted” groups in the Amazon who are increasingly threatened by illegal logging, mining and farming.

Today the Awá practice some farming, but most still hunt with rifles. The two women, Jakarewãja, in her 40s or 50s, and Amakaria, who is about 60, and Jakarewãja’s son Wirohoa, in his 20s, were found by an Awá hunting party in December 2014.

The three were persuaded to come back to a village where the tribe has electricity, rudimentary health care – and television.

But the two women fell seriously ill with tuberculosis. All three were taken by helicopter to a nearby city, where Jakarewãja and Amakaria spent months in a straw hut built on the grounds of a hospital. They later returned to live in the village of Tiracambu. But sometime in the first week of August, they left, Diniz said. Now they face new dangers – fires have decimated parts of their reserves, reducing prey, and farmers and loggers are encroaching.