Survival International

Jarawa of India

I’ve just recently been made aware of an incredibly important organization, Survival International, the “movement for tribal peoples.”

Started in 1969, the UK-based (the US home is in Berkeley) charitable group works to educate and advocate on behalf of tribal communities throughout the world, from the Amazon to India. Indigenous people have been settled away from their home lands since the earliest days of the discovery of “others”—still today, in the name of progress and development, oil and minerals, timber and cattle land all take precedence over human culture and ancestral tradition. We want to drill there—where you and yours have lived as long as memory—but don’t worry, we’ll just put you over here. Your welcome. The arrogance is dumbfounding.

Explore the website, http://www.survival-international.org, and you’ll discover tribes and traditions with which you never knew you shared the planet. It is amazing to see photos and hear testimonials and thoughts from tribes that are truly in crisis, trying, against all odds, to maintain their health (settlers, in addition to stealing land to which they have no rightful claim, bring disease against which communities have no immunity: in the Amazon it is common for more than half of a newly-contacted tribe to be wiped out by disease within the first year of contact) and vitality. Think of what it would be like to have 50% of Americans die within a year because another culture wanted to “discover” us and improve our lives (of course, that’s ironic in itself, considering what we’ve done to indigenous Americans). Even some humanitarian aid organizations with the best intentions wreak havoc.

Batak of the Philippines

Spend some time and learn. There is no downside to knowing more about our world, and being inspired to take action on behalf of others is a bonus.

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