The very first NG issue of this year already provides us with both good reading material and beautiful and interesting pictures. Among the articles there is a gem called ‘Kayapo courage’ about an Amazon tribe that fights for keeping their traditions still alive and being able to live in the modern world at the same time.
After some googling I came across some blog posts that show the article made some impact not only on me but also on other people. Interestingly, and obviously, enough all of us look at and read this article differently and that makes a good point on its own.
I’m as concerned about the environment and indigenous people as many other people but I read this text with great interest not only because it shows how the world has been changing for the Kayapo people (and many other tribes for that matter) and how the local industry and shortsighted government are more than ready to sell their uniqueness and something that doesn’t even belong to them but was just put into their hands for a while to take a good care about it (meaning the environment) but also because it shows how insightful and wise the ‘savages’ actually are!
Pukatire, one of the chiefs, says: ‘You can’t use the white man’s stuff. Let the white people have their culture, we have ours.’ If we start copying white people too much, they won’t be afraid of us, and they will come and take everything we have. But as long as we maintain our traditions, we will be different, and as long as we are different, they will be a little afraid of us.” [underlined by me] The Western modern culture is all about making people exactly the same. National and local traditions disappear and everything becomes just a pulp created by omnipresent pop culture that wants us to buy, have and use without thinking about consequences of our actions. Even the so-called modified who pride themselves with being themselves only tend to be a product of the fashion, business and entertainment. Pukatire shows that there’s a power in being different and being able to respect where you come from and to think what is going on both with us and around us. As long as we maintain our traditions, we will not only be different but also have open eyes and perceptive minds which is enough to at least try to be who you are, not who the others want you to be.
Having said that, I found it very funny (in a bitter way) that to be able to read this article online and look at more pictures I was required to sign in for a free account on the NG site (I could do that via my email address or the omnipresent and strangulating FB monster! ;)) Talk about being an explorer and being able to roam freely on the web, eh?
On a side note, the author of the Kayapo courage mentions: ‘Kayapo pierce their infants’ earlobes as a way of symbolically expanding a baby’s capacity to understand language and the social dimension of existence; their phrase for “stupid” is ama kre ket, or “no ear hole.” ‘