I'd like to tell you all about a tribe that's been found in the Amazon and photographed for the first time. There is apparently a term for groups like this: "uncontacted tribes." It refers to tribes that have never had contact with anyone from "civilized" society (latter term used loosely).
This photo was taken from a helicopter. You'll notice that all the men are trying to shoot at the helicopter with bows and arrows. That's because they don't know what it is, and they're scared. Alexandre found the article, and we had the same immediate reaction: they must have been terrified, or thought it was some awful bird, or a god, or something. We'll never know because we will absolutely never have the view on the world that the people in this tribe have. It's both sad and fascinating, especially because it's not that far away. I wonder how differently Americans would behave if we had people in our country that did not know that the country existed.
You should be able to see a bigger version of the picture, along with some other pictures, here. You can read an English article about it and see a cool slideshow here.
I spent some time reading up on this today. Brazil has more uncontacted tribes than any other country in the world-- even more than New Guinea, the linguistic stereotype for isolated cultures. It's estimated that there are about 100 uncontacted tribes in the world, and more than half are in Brazil or Peru. There's apparently a difference between "uncontacted" and "isolated" tribes: uncontacted tribes have sincerely never been contacted, usually because they are physically difficult to get to, while isolated tribes have, in fact, had some contact with relatively modern societies, and have chosen to deny their influence. Both types of tribes also make it physically difficult for other groups to reach them.
This research, of course, begs the following questions: if a tribe is uncontacted, how do we know it exists? How do we name a group of people that we've never spoken to or even witnessed? How can we know they exist if they don't know we exist? Is this tribe pictured above still considered "uncontacted" if they've seen the helicopter? The images were publicized in light of deforestation and in an effort to convince the Brazilian and Peruvian governments to recognize the tribe's land and privacy. Is it safe to assume that these uncontacted tribes want to remain uncontacted? What's our responsibility here, if anything? To actively avoid contacting them? I've never thought about anything like this before. I don't know how governments make decisions about this.
I read today that some of the evidence for uncontacted tribes are gaps in language trees (cool), as well as stories of the tribes that other tribes tell to researchers/trackers. Wikipedia has a long list, if you're interested (Jamie).
Yup. I'd love to hear your thoughts about this. Also I'm just vain and I love getting comments.
In the opposite/exactly the same vein (depending on your perspective), I made a cool video last weekend while we were visiting Alexandre's parents. The city has a giant Catholic church that was one of the first modern buildings in the area:
We were walking by it at noon, so I recorded a video of the bells.
I'll leave you with that sound and this picture of the tribe and their houses so that you can maybe reconsider who and what the world is made of.