Opinion: We can 'save' the Awa Tribe from encroachments
Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012
"The Awá of Brazil are the world's most threatened tribe. Years of illegal logging and land grabs have brought them to the brink of extinction. But apart from the loggers and their guns, one of their biggest problems is the fallacy that Amazon Indians must inevitably conform to "modernity".
Although people have been saying it for generations, it isn't true: tribes are destroyed by labelling them backward, and pretending they stand to benefit from "civilisation". It's fundamentally racist, and the evidence points, glaringly, and to our shame, in exactly the opposite direction.
When land is taken, tribes simply don't survive. On the other hand, when it's protected, most of their problems evaporate. That can happen if no one else wants the land, it's inaccessible to outsiders or, most importantly, there's the political will and strength to ensure it remains with the Indians.
On their own territory, they can adapt to change as they wish. Some individuals might leave to explore the outside, but most will return home to its invaluable advantages: free food and housing, as opposed to scraping a living in shantytowns and slums, where life is usually nasty, brutish and short."
Get the Story:
Stephen Corry: We can save the Awa tribe
(The Observer 4/21)
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