The Matis tribe were first contacted by the Brazilian agency FUNAI during 1975-1976, although it was not until two years later in 1978 that FUNAI employees began visiting the then-five Matis villages, after Matis men overcame their fears about visiting the FUNAI station.
The 1980s proved most difficult for the tribe in modern times, with the arrival of Western diseases devastating roughly a third of their population, devoid of natural immunity or any remedies for these western diseases. In 1981, over 50 Matis people died of disease, so the survivors moved to the Ituí River. By 1983, only 87 Matis people survived. The decade also saw the loss of three of their villages which now, completely abandoned, are occasionally visited by the Matis to harvest fruit trees.
Time has probably given the Matis a better understanding of events surrounding and following their first contact over 30 years ago. Whereas elder Matis traditionalists are keen to retain and in some cases readopt their old way of life, the younger Matis have been influenced by the modern outside world and want closer ties with modern Brazil, particularly for education.
On October 31, 2009, members of the Matis tribe located nine survivors of a plane crash near the Ituí River and then contacted the Brazilian Air Force.