Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Gunfingers » Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:22 pm UTC

Unless i missed something (which, to be honest, is completely possible) all they know is that a giant shiny bird flew over their village.

And even still, i can't see the downside to just saying "hey, if you're interested, we've got this whole world out here with cooked food and medicine and non-saggy boobs. No pressure, but feel free to join us".

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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Belial » Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:28 pm UTC

You did miss something. The post where someone mentioned an article that said that the tribe is aware of us because they trade with tribes who *are* in contact with us.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jun 05, 2008 8:18 pm UTC

I still fail to see how that means we should stay as far from them as possible?

Maybe ask a neighboring tribe if this isolated tribe is hostile? Then approach?
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Thu Jun 05, 2008 8:26 pm UTC

I still fail to see why anyone should contact them in the first place?
Is there really worthwhile trade to be had with them? Can we really not defend the rainforest without their help?
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Sebeka2 » Thu Jun 05, 2008 8:36 pm UTC

Why not view them like western society people who, for whatever reason, choose to live away from the bustle of cities and cameras? They've chosen to live in some isolated spot miles away from the nearest city or town and seem to prefer it that way. I certainly don't have any business knowing what they used to thatch their roofs.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jun 05, 2008 8:47 pm UTC

Maybe we should stop assuming they are just 'typical tribesmen' and consider the possibility they might have something interesting to teach us?

Because they represent something unknown and as a human being I find the unknown curious?

Because life and knowledge is not neccesarily to be broken down to 'how does this benefit me/them?', and it's possible that with deforestation and other such things changing the face of the world that they won't be around much longer and it would be a disservice to them to not attempt to discover what they where about?
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Thu Jun 05, 2008 8:57 pm UTC

Everything you just said either benefits 'us' (the first world) or them... knowledge, is in fact all about benefit- knowledge being power and all. Curiosity with the unknown is a fine idea, but when the unknown is other people... I am curious about my neighbors but I don't peek into their windows at night.* It's intrusive and arrogant, both to assume that we can improve their lives and that they want us to. Maybe it's a disservice to them to not find out what they're about when they're in peril... but it's more of a disservice to allow them to be in peril. It's the land, the habitat and the space they are in that are the question here, not whether or not we should chat with the red and black gentlemen with bows.



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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby TheStranger » Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:33 pm UTC

I'm unsure what 'harm' could come from the flyover.

If no concrete evidence of these tribes existence had been shown then it seems perfectly reasonable for those interested in the natural resources of the area to ask for such evidence...
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby cypherspace » Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:40 pm UTC

Added to Meaux's points, it's just that there is no way back. This is the last vestige of one of the earliest behaviours of humans. You destroy it by contacting it. There's no concept of "better" or "worse" afterwards, you are inevitably left with something that is completely changed from what it was before. By contacting them you have made an inevitable decision to irreparably change their way of life. I think that's arrogant, irresponsible and interfering. You have no right to do so.

The European explorers of the last millennium destroyed thousands of cultures in their time. Why the hell would anyone want to do the same to another, one of the last remaining examples of independent tribal culture?!
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:52 pm UTC

Meaux_Pas, if meeting with them and engaging them in an exchange, even just a "Hi, we do this and have this, tell us some of your stories and beliefs" raised awareness to save their jungle, would you still hesitate to contact them?

If there was even a slight risk of them being wiped off the map, would you?

If they were in no danger to anyone, nor were they themselves in danger, would you not see the benefit to humanity at large for hearing their songs, stories, beliefs?

On that particular note, if they are openly hostile to all outsiders, I certainly wouldn't suggest continuing to change their ways. But to simply step back and not engage them because we believe they want to be left alone is potentially harming them. The worst that a meeting causes is them saying "Not interested, now bugger off", and we do.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby ascendingPig » Thu Jun 05, 2008 11:22 pm UTC

Sebeka2 wrote:Why not view them like western society people who, for whatever reason, choose to live away from the bustle of cities and cameras? They've chosen to live in some isolated spot miles away from the nearest city or town and seem to prefer it that way. I certainly don't have any business knowing what they used to thatch their roofs.

Because they haven't "chosen" anything. They don't KNOW cities exist. They don't know vaccines and non-open-flame stoves and TiVo exist.

If we just leave them alone, we're leaving them to an average life span probably half of ours, an infant mortality rate of 30%, and a life untouched by modern convenience and security.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Thu Jun 05, 2008 11:30 pm UTC

So we're playing the questions game now? Asking why we should do this and getting a solid 'Why not?' isn't even remotely close to getting a good reason. If this and if that are fun but they don't actually say anything at all. You want to learn about them, ok, wonderful... get some webcams and shit and infiltrate FBI style and videotape them from the trees or something. Same result, minimal interaction. Or you could ask the *contacted* tribes that trade with them. I'm sure they have a clue or two. There is no need and no real reason to go hang out with them. I think it's more of a disservice to disrupt their way of life than to leave them alone.

Are people really not getting that if we don't leave them alone, we're not promising them anything but knowledge of a large world in which they are vastly far behind, and uh I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that they're not going to get things like TiVo for another hundred years. They live in the gorrammed jungle, people. I mean, frick. Central and South American jungles aren't exactly easy places to lay gas lines and string cable for the television. Say hello to the tribe, say goodbye to the forest.

Quick, let's bring them out of the jungle, then we won't feel bad about cutting it all down, cause they'll have TiVo!
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Sebeka2 » Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:24 am UTC

ascendingPig wrote:Because they haven't "chosen" anything. They don't KNOW cities exist. They don't know vaccines and non-open-flame stoves and TiVo exist.

This tribe did. As far as your second paragraph goes, there are so many people in this world who are both desperately poor, hungry, and diseased AND asking for help directly and repeatedly. Let's spend our efforts helping those folks (through direct means) first since the other folks have so far shown no signs of wanting to visit or ask to borrow a cup of sugar.

Also, what do you have against open-flamed stoves? Grilled food is awesome food.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby ascendingPig » Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:29 am UTC

The TiVo comment was tongue-in-cheek. You're totally ignoring the medical advances we have.

What this really reminds me of is a scene in Warren Ellis's masterpiece "Transmetropolitan" in which the main character visits special reservations that people join to simulate life in a different culture at a different time. All of their memories are wiped and their communities are infected with the diseases of that culture. The people in the Aztec reservation, for instance, sacrifice people and then drink from the same water that holds their rotting corpses.

That scene really disturbed me when I read it. I guess I just don't feel like anyone should live without the ability to choose another lifestyle.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Jesse » Fri Jun 06, 2008 7:12 am UTC

But in the reservations the people made the choice to enter it in the first place, they wanted to leave their current overly-techonological society and go back to some form of 'simpler' past.

And, once again, these people do have a choice. They may not have seen the western world with their own eyes, but they are in contact with tribes who do see Westerners. They know we exist and have quite clearly chosen to have nothing to do with us. That, there, is a choice.

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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby ascendingPig » Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:25 pm UTC

They don't know what choice they're making. It's unlikely that they've heard of our life-saving medical technology. It's impossible to describe a computer to someone whose life has been spent painting himself orange and shooting arrows at birds.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Fri Jun 06, 2008 2:26 pm UTC

What the hell makes you think that contacting them will give them access to said technology and medicine?
Who would bring them computers? Where would said computers be plugged in? Do you really think they can walk for half an hour, or even half a day, and hit an internet cafe? Maybe buy a latte with their no money?

Seriously, perspective. I'm sure that missionaries could show up with penicillin and blow their minds. Which would be great, sure, if they want it. Which really isn't our call.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Belial » Fri Jun 06, 2008 3:01 pm UTC

ascendingPig wrote:They don't know what choice they're making. It's unlikely that they've heard of our life-saving medical technology. It's impossible to describe a computer to someone whose life has been spent painting himself orange and shooting arrows at birds.


And if they just knew more about jesus.....

They know what choice they're making. There's something big and crazy out there. They're choosing not to learn any more about it. Sending in the technomissionaries, complete with the guns necessary to protect themselves from being shot to death, is pretty severely disrespecting that.

If they want to know more, they'll come to us. They know we're here. It's up to them if they're interested in knowing more.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jun 06, 2008 6:27 pm UTC

Theres a world of difference between the accessibility of the internet (WOULD YOU DEPRIVE THEM OF XKCD?!), and giving them antibiotics or aspirin. Or how to beat copper into arrowheads. Or teaching their midwives why particular custom A B and C is actually really bad for the babies... Or how to clean their water.

Of course, if they don't want it, they don't want it. We've all seen The Gods Must be Crazy.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby ascendingPig » Fri Jun 06, 2008 6:52 pm UTC

If they don't want pennicillin AFTER we've shown them what it does, that's their call, fine. But if they're anything like us, the people who don't want to contact the Big Scary Unknown are the elders, the leaders. Kids can handle change. And their parents have no right to deprive them of life-saving medicine because they're afraid of the outside world.

But then, we don't even know if any of them are opposed to getting medicine -- because we haven't asked them. To ask them, we'd need to contact them. That would corrupt our fetishized ideal of purity and primitive innocence, though. Instead we treat them like some sort of animal on a reservation.

Anyway, to anyone who thinks that American Indians living on reservations have chosen this ancient lifestyle, thus justifying the view of regarding the uncontacted tribes' isolation as a "choice": They build their own cars out there. They have access to medicine. At the very least, the Brazilians can offer their citizens the same opportunity.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Vaniver » Fri Jun 06, 2008 8:29 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Sending in the technomissionaries, complete with the guns necessary to protect themselves from being shot to death, is pretty severely disrespecting that.
For the record, the majority of modern Christian missionaries seem to prefer martyrdom. I'm less familiar with the missionaries of other religions; I would imagine it's the same for many.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Sebeka2 » Fri Jun 06, 2008 8:30 pm UTC

We have offered, indirectly. At the very least, this "undiscovered" tribe knows we're here and how to contact us if they want. Don't fret. Since they already trade with people who do trade with the outside world, it's conceivable that they also already have a means of collecting Western merch without having to talk to us directly.

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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jun 06, 2008 8:49 pm UTC

Sebeka2 wrote:We have offered, indirectly. At the very least, this "undiscovered" tribe knows we're here and how to contact us if they want. Don't fret. Since they already trade with people who do trade with the outside world, it's conceivable that they also already have a means of collecting Western merch without having to talk to us directly.


Just because they are 'aware' of civilization through their trading contacts does not mean they are aware of what we can potentially offer them. Just as we shouldn't assume they want our television and sneakers, we shouldn't assume they don't want our antibiotics and water purification technology.

So we've only done a fly over? Perhaps they already have machete's and nylon nets and the like. If this is so, what sort of 'preserving' of their culture should we worry contact will cause?
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Fri Jun 06, 2008 8:57 pm UTC

what I'm basically assuming is that they don't want to associate with other people who have sneakers and tivo and hair gel and jesus and therefore believe they know what's best for all of mankind.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Sebeka2 » Fri Jun 06, 2008 9:47 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Just because they are 'aware' of civilization through their trading contacts does not mean they are aware of what we can potentially offer them. Just as we shouldn't assume they want our television and sneakers, we shouldn't assume they don't want our antibiotics and water purification technology.

If so, the "contcted" tribe trading with them can arrange it, if they haven't already. Which means the contacted tribe gets a chance to make a good deal and the "uncontacted" tribe gets the merch though a source they prefer to us. Yay commerce.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:40 pm UTC

Yes, yay commerce.

And the 'contacted' tribe is going to tell them the wonders of our medicine and how we make shiny rocks so sharp, and tell us of their legends and lores?

Fine, if you want to do everything through the 'contacted' tribe, so be it, why don't we ask them to ask the 'uncontacted' tribe if they would mind a small team of anthropologists coming in and speaking with them? If they say yes, do we still owe it to them to keep them isolated?
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Sebeka2 » Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:10 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Fine, if you want to do everything through the 'contacted' tribe, so be it, why don't we ask them to ask the 'uncontacted' tribe if they would mind a small team of anthropologists coming in and speaking with them?

Already done, I'm thinking, except it was probably first phrased along the lines of, "we have anthropologists at X location who'll make it worth your time if you ever feel like coming out to say hi". So far they haven't, but it's still on the table.

If they say yes, do we still owe it to them to keep them isolated?

It's more that it's more desireable for the tribes to have control over how much or how little contact they get, not the anthropologists. Stores built outside the borders, not door-to-door salesmen deliberately spilling slop on your carpet to demo their vacuums. What's being protested is that no one said "yes" to having low-flying planes zoom overhead with cameras, if they were even asked in the first place.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby poxic » Sat Jun 07, 2008 4:24 am UTC

This has happened many times before. I'll run along and see if I can dredge up a reference for you, but I recall reading statements from a man who made his living keeping track of indigenous tribes for the Brazilian government.

The most heartbreaking thing I read was (and I misquote based on faulty memory): [redacted, see edit below]

I'm kind of on the side of "leave them alone". After all, if we get another black plague that wipes out most of "civilisation", these are our best hope for repopulation. (Not entirely serious on this last point, but about 15% so.)
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Edit: found the article I'd read (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=syd ... sertanista -- not going to link it since I don't want to be mistaken for newbie spam) (re-edit: so it became a link anyway...). Here's the quote that convinced me:

"[Q:] What does contact do to the Indians?

"[A:]First the whole visual thing. When you are in an expedition, in the bush, you have to keep an eye on the guys who are there. The guys fight you with bows and arrows, they kill you, they speak up to you, they assault you. But you eventually make contact. One year later they are slack, emaciated, bowing their heads and begging for food and money by the roadside, more and more dependent on you and on the state. They come into contact with you and start to die off like flies. Everything, everything, everything plays against them. They become so subordinate to us, for we break up their education, their health, their means of work, their mythical system. They become outcasts. For how long? Well, some of them have been outcasts for 500 years. Please name to me a single tribe in the last 500 years that became better off after contact. There is none! So, seeing all that, I came to develop a new method of work, and to work for a decade before being eventually heard and creating within FUNAI a department dedicated to the protection of isolated peoples."

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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Vaniver » Sat Jun 07, 2008 4:09 pm UTC

poxic wrote:I'm kind of on the side of "leave them alone". After all, if we get another black plague that wipes out most of "civilisation", these are our best hope for repopulation. (Not entirely serious on this last point, but about 15% so.)
The strongest argument against contact is that anti-contact groups predict a 50% death rate from disease exchange (for them). I'm not sure they should be your last hope for repopulating the Earth if another epidemic hits.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby william » Sat Jun 07, 2008 4:19 pm UTC

The Black Plague only wiped out 30-60% of Europe's population.

No disease since has had anything like that percentage.

The only thing even comparable, the 1918 influenza pandemic, killed at most 5% of the world's population. It killed a similar raw number of people only because there were more people in 1918 than during the Black Plague.

There's not going to be a world-killing supervirus. If a supervirus kills all the world's population, then it'll be because one of the survivors went crazy and launched a nuke and it snowballed from there.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby zealo » Sat Jun 07, 2008 5:18 pm UTC

poxic wrote:Please name to me a single tribe in the last 500 years that became better off after contact. There is none!

the japanese seem to be doing ok
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Kizyr » Sat Jun 07, 2008 5:55 pm UTC

zealo wrote:
poxic wrote:Please name to me a single tribe in the last 500 years that became better off after contact. There is none!

the japanese seem to be doing ok


The Ainu seem to be doing pretty lousy, though.

Also, the "Japanese" wouldn't fit the definition of a tribe. If you're going to argue along these lines, you'll probably need to figure on a definition of "tribe" that distinguishes it from a nation or nation-state. Not to mention that the Japanese have been aware of outside countries since 660BC; they only chose to go isolationist for a 700-year stretch. KF
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby zealo » Sun Jun 08, 2008 4:53 am UTC

you also need a definition of contacted;)
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Dream » Sun Jun 08, 2008 10:44 am UTC

poxic raises an excellent point. These people wouldn't get the benefit of developed world technology and science the way we do. They would get a handed down tattered facsimile of what the developed world has to offer, and would become subservient to it as even that would be superior to their current situation. But the current society there would die off quickly, perhaps in less than a generation, leaving them with neither their existing culture nor our supposedly superior one.

If there was any precedent that these people would end up with hospitals, schools with good teachers, public transport and so on, and it was all free, AND they were guaranteed that they could keep whatever of their culture they felt attached to, then there would be a strong case for contact. If not, then those arguing that the developed world has anything to offer them are deluded. All contact is likely to do is ruin their existing culture and knowledge, and offer them a rung on our ladder so low most of us don't even know it exists. And that is not a choice we can offer them in good conscience. They'll take the penicillin, but it will be a Faustian pact that they can't possibly forsee the consequences of. We have no right to offer them such a thing, knowing what the consequences will probably be.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Jun 08, 2008 2:23 pm UTC

Dream wrote:poxic raises an excellent point. These people wouldn't get the benefit of developed world technology and science the way we do. They would get a handed down tattered facsimile of what the developed world has to offer, and would become subservient to it as even that would be superior to their current situation. But the current society there would die off quickly, perhaps in less than a generation, leaving them with neither their existing culture nor our supposedly superior one.


What?! No one is saying 'clear your land and start growing coffee and cattle'! No one's even suggest we build anything there!

People are assuming that we're going to go in and start a chain gang with these people so we can make a technology grinding factory from the fruits of their labor.

I'm just a little surprised no one is curious as to what their up to, or what they believe in, or what sort of local folk remedies they use...

The world is changing, and that these people are likely some of the last to remain outside the shadow of progress goes to show you how fragile their existence is. Would you have it disappear without a trace, or would you do the human thing and try and talk to them?
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Dream » Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:47 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:What?! No one is saying 'clear your land and start growing coffee and cattle'! No one's even suggest we build anything there!

If the rainforest continues to be cleared at the present rate, that is what they will be told. But that isn't the point I was making. It was that they would doubtless end up just like the indigenous populations in peripheries all over the world. Dirt poor and treated like shit. These people are not going to start getting open heart surgery two weeks after they're contacted, but they will lose their existing culture and society. It is entirely false to claim that they will get the benefit of developed world lifestyles. They won't.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby ishikiri » Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:22 pm UTC

Its really a matter of informed consent.

These people are completely unable to even comprehend our world, never mind make an informed choice about whether or not to join it.
At a conserative estimate we have about a thousand years of development more than them - a millenium of technological, political, scientific, social advancement - we actually are comparing Bows+arrows to Satellite guided missiles, the sky-scrapers of New York to a rather large tree, a string bridge to the Eurostar tunnel.

If some deceide to "come over" then they will be completely lost: ostracised from their tribe (possibly for leaving, or for their new knowledge) and at the bottom the rung of our society. Thats if they don't just put an arrow in the face of the first person to come near the village.

Whenever this usually happens the tribe loses most of its identity and they forget or lose a lot of their bush-craft. Hell there is an episode of one of Ray Mears's shows where he shows a S.American tribe how to make fire again; they'd become so dependant on matches. They'd only been contacted about a century previously and they were already losing this basic knowledge.

This discussion isn't about them losing their land, thats never going to happen, this discussion is about trying not to lose another unique culture by contacting them; because it never works out the way people hope. If they wanted/needed to contact us then they would have.

They aren't going to any happier because they have some drugs (which clearly they don't need all that much) and a nintendo DS for the kids.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:42 pm UTC

I'm not arguing with the supposition that integrating them into our society is a bad idea, or that setting up a travel lodge so people can come and look at the primitives is a bad idea, or that dumping 'welcome to civilization' packages of gameboys and coca-cola is a bad idea. We all realize they won't be getting organ transplants or dialysis or taking public transit into the big city and working a desk job.

But this is a people that could potentially be lost forever, possibly some of the last vestiges of humanity pre-western influence. They are ISOLATED, their mythologies and beliefs and technologies and songs and customs are UNAFFECTED by ours. Doesn't that make you curious? Isn't that worth hearing about, or asking about, or recording? I think we owe it to them to preserve their culture, and I think there are ways to document them without ruining them.

We could ask a neighboring tribe to ask them if they'd mind if someone came and spoke to them. We could ask a neighboring tribe to go speak with them. But this sentiment of 'Baaah we must run away from them before they are tainted!' isn't solving anything. If anything, it's paving the way for less scrupulous individuals or agencies to move in and have their way with things.
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby zealo » Mon Jun 09, 2008 4:24 pm UTC

why do you assume they and the neighboring tribes get along well enough to ask each other things like this?
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Re: Photographs of un-contacted tribe make the news...

Postby 4=5 » Mon Jun 09, 2008 4:35 pm UTC

the fact that they are trading with them.


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