Cutting Throats: Silencing the people of the Amazon

The people of the Amazon provide an insight into its history and ecology. Utilizing this knowledge can be extremely productive and valuable to external societies. Efforts to preserve the natives requires a multilateral strategy to retain the Amazonian forest.  However, the concern is preservation undercuts the voices of the indigenous. Current methods of dealing with these tribes remove their voice in both the long term and short term, exposing the Amazon to further degradation.

The policies designed to protect the natives overwrite the views of the population under the guise of integration and isolation. By integrating inhabitants with little sympathy, they are unable to integrate in a meaningful way. In short, the process nullifies and dehumanizes their existence to that of a burden. Attempting to isolate the Amazonian people exposes them to illegal actions, fails to acknowledge basic human rights, and prevents natives from expressing their knowledge and culture.

The shortcomings in policy can be simplified at the expense of nuance. These simplifications include heuristics, globalization, and the lack of perceived productivity in the Amazon. The examination of heuristics in the area focuses on tunnel vision and shortsightedness. These traits are most strongly found in the neighboring populations outside of the Amazon. Also, corporations demonstrate faulty decision making. A simple example is both parties inability to see the long-term effects of deforestation. Systems need to acknowledge these human shortcomings and deal with them through modified incentives like taxation. In fact, the worsening effects of human irrationality have grown due to globalization.

The advancements of global markets and free trade have overall positive effects but concentrated adverse effects. The indigenous tribes are particularly vulnerable to the negatives while receiving little of the advantages. To counteract the unfavorable consequences, the benefits must be appropriated to the Amazon. The distribution of wealth would best be served as infrastructure for both native and non-native populations. In brief, solving both the issues of inclusion, while limiting the effects of certain heuristics.

Finally, the perception of the Amazon as pristine has created the idea of a lack of productivity in the Amazon. The global community must recognize the economic benefits of the Amazon. Utilizing the knowledge of the Amazonian tribes can change the perception of economic productivity in the region. Several industries where this is possible include the pharmaceutical and homeopathic industries.

There is no one solution to give voice to the Amazonian people. Much of the necessary effort relies on the preserving the Amazon and meaningful integration of the Amazonians. At times these efforts work against one another. Hopefully, the indigenous people of the Amazon have the opportunity to tell their story and are not lost due to an inability to balance isolationism with integration.

6 thoughts on “Cutting Throats: Silencing the people of the Amazon

  1. Will White

    The Amazon’s diminishing resources reminds me of what I did for one of my projects in my COR-330 Istanbul class. In this case, the Amazon being depleted of its resources reminds me of Vienna being sieged by the Ottomans. The word siege literally means to take control of a city or area by cutting of its access to resources. So in this case, the Amazonian people are being “sieged” because their resources are being cut-off. The difference is that the people of Vienna at the time, and currently, are much more apt to defend themselves compared to the Amazonian people.

  2. Rachelle Bish

    These dealings were something I never knew about and I thank you for sharing your knowledge here. In my Gods, Ghosts, and Ancestors class we’ve been learning about the many small groups of people scattered throughout China who practice beliefs that the Chinese government won’t recognize. The government unsympathetically throws these groups into overarching cultural definitions, assigning them to groups whom they are not related at all, basing their decisions on only surface details. These problems sound very similar. I personally made my project about traditional feng shui practices and the deeper relationships within them. Westernization of feng shui is another example of people taking only the surface details which benefit them in order to make their own lives easier, instead of delving into the deeper culture.

  3. Jesse Stevens

    The underlying tone of people in charge making decisions to better themselves, while screwing over the common person is quite similar to what is happening in Yemen currently. In both regions we have people, countries, or corporations in charge making decisions that affect the entire region with little regard as to what happens to the people. Judging by your write up, those in power in the region are aiming to keep that power while also misunderstanding what must be done to preserve the region. From what I understand, they are making decisions that impact the entirety of the area with little or no input from the people this actually affects. In Yemen, those in power care nothing but to stay in power, while all the countries around do their best to attempt to stick their fingers in the so-called pot. The government forces claim they are doing what is best for the country, and the Saudi’s claim they are helping with this, but what is really happening is famine, war, death of innocents, and the blocking of aid organizations such as UNICEF. Much like the companies you write about, decisions are made ‘for the better of the country,’ without any input from those it directly relates to. This often results in the exact opposite of what they say they want, to occur. I believe that what can be taken from these common issues is that, often time, those who make the decisions that affect large areas either do not have the right reasons in mind, or go about the process entirely wrong. In regard to the latter, they may have the correct goals and motivation, but the decision making is severely lacking. In your write up, the policy makers have the correct goal of preservation, and are doing it for the correct (mostly, public opinion is likely also a large influencing factor) reasons, however their method of accomplishing this are severely lacking. By not gaining the input of the local tribes and focusing more on the forest than the indigenous people, they only serve to accomplish, as you said, degrading the Amazon further. Regarding the former, in Yemen those in power have the wrong reasons, the wrong methods, but with the right claims. These claims are that they are following the Koran and working to be good Muslims. However, they butcher this, fail to follow Islam properly, and end up degrading Yemen further through the killing of innocents and the acceleration of famine. One side claims to have the backing of the Koran (which is good, but they fail to use it in such a way), but goes about the process of decision making whole heartedly guided by greed for power which in turn causes suffering. The other side claims to want to preserve the forest, but goes about the process of decision making completely ignoring the indigenous people which in turn causes loss of forest and culture. When looking at these examples from opposite sides of the world, it seems that no matter what the goal, mentality behind, or methods, those in power just cannot get it right.

  4. Griffin Shapiro

    I’m not surprised that corporations are in part responsible for destruction to both the land and the people of the Amazon. It seems normal in todays times for corporations to be making bad decisions which end up hurting the environment and then indigenous people. The connection I first made between this abstract and what I’ve learned in my core 330 sections is how a false perception of a group of people can create very negative effects. You talk about how the false perception of the Amazon being pristine creates the idea of lack of productivity. I saw this when looking at Haitian Vodou. People, especially in the west, have this idea that “voodoo” is almost like witch craft, with magical potions and dolls with needles. Industries like Hollywood have exploited the practice of Vodou by taking very little information from it and using it falsely in their entertainment. This gives people the wrong ideas about what it actually is and creates a false image of what Haitian Vodou is actually about.

  5. Zachary Miller

    This is somewhat of an opposite effect that we were discussing about Afro-Cuban Religion in Shaking The Spirits. In the class we shown that Yoruba culture was practiced in secret and eventually came to be common within the culture of today. With these aspects their culture had been focused more on community which allowed the growth of the community to become stronger. This is unlike the seeming eradication of the culture when talking about growth of corporations within the Amazon. However, whilst your culture is diminishing we both seem to have assignments with spreading the knowledge of these cultures. My assignment portrayed bringing knowledge to US citizens in light of possible less border limits between the US and Cuba, while yours portrays to bringing out knowledge of a diminishing culture. To some aspect do you believe that spreading knowledge of this culture would make US citizens feel more sympathy or try to “preserve” this culture, or would be insult upon them seeming to be unable to protect it?

  6. Jennifer Yee

    This was very powerful and highlights the kinds of policies that inhibit progress being made in the Amazon. I agree with you that there must be a multilateral strategy to accommodate all parties involved. The native Amazonian people, and the environment should be the priority when it comes to coming policies due to then having direct effect on those systems. I also liked the way you acknowledged the pristine Amazon. That theme although paints a positive light on the Amazon, its implications can affect policy and bring the Amazon a few steps back instead of forward.


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