Saturday, July 5, 2008

Uncontacted Tribe of the Amazon Recently Photographed

While the majority of indigenous peoples' cultures and languages have been decimated, it is great to see stories like this that educate the public about the existence of a handful of uncontacted and autonomous peoples relatively free of the forces of Westernization and globalization even after 500 years of colonization. This is our chance to learn about the complex issues of politics and globalization like when governments struggle to curb illegal logging, oil drilling and other activities that will eventually expose that remaining peoples to the path of cultural destruction. This story appeared on various mainstream media sources, both online and on television. I only hope that this exposure opens Westerners' eyes to the importance of protecting these uncontacted peoples and does not have the opposite effect of claims that, "I can't believe people still live like that in 2008. We need to spread to them the wonderful material things that we enjoy." This is an extremely ethnocentric view that assumes that they would want to adopt our ways and that homogenization and the loss of their culture is acceptable, assuming that our culture and technology is better anyway. The study of anthropology is one way to expose ideas such as cultural relativism, which provides a different kind of view by judging cultures on their own terms. After all, who are we to say that the way we live and think is the best? Sounds a little arrogant to me. See the whole story here: Survival International and Cultural Survival are the two main non-profit organizations working to protect indigenous peoples' rights.