National Geographic : 2003 Dec
Forum August 2003 The story on Sydney Possuelo's quest to protect isolated Amazonian Indians from contact with the outside world generated the most mail. Is Possuelo a hero or a misguided romantic? The spirited argument spilled over onto our website's Forum (nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0308). An online poll asked, "Should isolated, uncontacted peoples be left alone?"Almost two-thirds said yes. Into the Amazon I am surprised there are still tribes like the Flecheiros able to avoid the onslaught of our so-called civilization. We have wiped out so much knowledge of the first people to populate North and South America. The Flecheiros live in harmony with nature and don't need interfer ence or salvation. Their Garden of Eden should be spared. JAMES O. YOUNG Represa, California Having lived with isolated tribal populations throughout Amazo nia since 1966, I take exception to the quote attributed to Sydney Possuelo: "Uncontacted Indians live in a lost paradise."Not exactly. It is often a brutal world of lives cut short by disease and homicide from intertribal war fare. Ask the Indians of Ecuador and Peru if they wish to go back to the days before the introduction MEMBERSHIP Please call 1-800 -NGS-LINE (1-800-647-5463). Special device for the hearing-impaired (TDD) 1-800-548-9797. Online: nationalgeographic.com/ngm AOL Keyword: NatGeoMag Online index: nationalgeographic.com/ publications of modern medicine and the end of revenge killings. Cultural change is inevitable. To think otherwise is misguided romanticism. JOHN WALDEN, M.D. Huntington, West Virginia Is the life of the Indians tough? By our standards, yes. But I bet they could survive forever if just left alone. What about us, the "educated" and "civilized" people? We are the ones who need to be saved, not them. OCTAVIO CAMPOS SALLES Sdo Paulo,Brazil Supposedly, isolated Amazon tribes are protected from out side contact for their own good. But who are we to choose what is good for another group of people? Through the vigorous "protection"espoused in the article, they are being denied choice, and by being denied choice, they are being denied their humanity. They are being treated like endangered animals, all for the sake of someone else's sense of wild beauty. JENNY TENNANT Morgantown, West Virginia I appreciated Sydney Possuelo's decision to let the uncontacted NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * DECEMBER 2003 SI I NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY "Forthe increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge." The National Geographic Society is chartered in Washington, D.C., as a nonprofit scientific and educational organization. Since 1888 the Society has supported more than 7,000 explorations and research projects, adding to knowledge of earth, sea, and sky. JOHN M. FAHEY, JR., Presidentand CEO Executive Vice Presidents TERRENCE B. ADAMSON LINDA BERKELEY, President,Enterprises TERRY D. GARCIA, Mission Programs JOHN Q. 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