Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Anthropology and the Prime Directive

The Brazilian government department FUNAI is charged with Indian relations. Mention Brazilian government policies and normally you get a shudder. They have had military government. There are subsidies to deforesting the Amazon. They had a dirty war like Argentina. They have huge wealth and income disparity, shacks next to mansions. The police have run their own death squads. It is nice to have a political-economic story coming out of Brazil that isn't a horror story.

FUNAI used to hunt down and locate "lost tribes" in the Amazon, it was how they promoted their staff. One of their woods runners, Sydney Possuelo, developed a different policy to locate but not contact isolated groups. As described in this NPR program, Uncontacted Amazonian Tribes, it sounds a lot like the Prime Directive from Star Trek.

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