Helicopter photographs hostile Amazonian natives

1 minute read

Am I the only one who noticed that the pictures of an “uncontacted” tribe in the Amazon were released the same week as the Indiana Jones movie, in which an uncontacted Amazonian tribe is a major plot point?

Anthropologists have known about the group for some 20 years but released the images now to call attention to fast-encroaching development near the Indians' home in the dense jungles near Peru.

OK, so I get it. It’s all an allegory. The “city of gold” represents the wealth of the untrammeled forest. And the Soviets are the fast-encroaching developers. And the indigenous people are … the indigenous people!

And Indiana Jones is… um… the grave-robbing anthropologist who does nothing for the natives and leaves the forest a despoiled wasteland?

Oh well.

I like Culture Matters’ take:

While I certainly agree that small pockets of cultural diversity should not be aggressively assimilated, I feel a little queasy that we have to sell the drive for cultural autonomy and respect for foraging peoples with the whole 'never seen a white man' drivel. The term 'uncontacted' is part of the problem; 'isolated' would be better, as these groups have seldom 'never seen a white man.' They usually have developed a habit of reacting hostilely when they do, perhaps suggesting that it's not so much lack of contact, but certain kinds of contact that they have experienced.
The FUNAI website, for example, is very clear that four isolated groups living in the region in which the aerial photographs were taken in late April and early May have been observed for twenty years, and the FUNAI site focuses on the news that the groups appear to be reasonably healthy (which is news). They put the photographs up with the statement that they are for 'cultural dissemination'...

“Cultural dissemination” along with international movie releases? Maybe we’ll get a release about Roswell too?