UCLA professor/author, Susanna Hecht, co-authored a piece in National Geographic with Charles Mann, author of 1491 (U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ Keck award for the best book of the year) about how former slaves, or maroons, mixed with Indians to shape the Amazon and have become central to its future.
An interesting excerpt that shows how this occurred:
“Living along the rivers like the region’s indigenous peoples, the masterless slaves survived the same way their Indian neighbors did: The river supplied fish and shrimp, small-scale gardens yielded manioc, trees provided everything else. Two centuries of constant planting, tending, and harvesting structured the forest. Mixing together native and African techniques, they created landscapes lush enough to be mistaken for untouched wilderness.”