A ‘farcical’ megaphone plan

September 18, 2007

What are they thinking?  It would be funny if it weren’t so wrong.

Two companies planning to explore for oil in rainforest inhabited by uncontacted tribes have revealed plans to ‘communicate’ with them using megaphones if their oil crews are attacked.

No one knows the languages the Indians speak, and they are likely to view oil crews as hostile intruders. In the past oil company workers in the Amazon region have been killed by isolated Indians…

Amongst the phrases Barrett’s workers are expected to say to their potential attackers are, ‘How many days (moons or suns) have you walked for?’, ‘We are people just like you’, ‘Is something disturbing you?’ and ‘We haven’t come here to look for women, we have our own women in our own village.’

From Survival International

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2 Responses to “A ‘farcical’ megaphone plan”

  1. benjamin ady Says:

    hey sharon. how funny that you mentioned survival international. I just learned about them last night. I was reading the article on Hugo chavez on wikipedia. I was intrigued by the fact that mr. chavez threw out all the New tribes missions missionaries from venezuela a couple years ago, claiming that they were sometimes operating as reps for pharmaceutical, oil, and/or spying corporations in the U.S. There were some quotes from survival international strongly criticizing new tribes for their destruction of indigenous culture.

    I was intrigued because back in the day, I thought new tribes was pretty kewl, and even thought about actually doing their training and working for them at one point. My perspective has changed so much. On the other hand, I’m convinced that both are true. its no doubt true that the missionares with new tribes are in many cases genuinely loving and helping indigenous people groups when no one else can or wants to. And it’s also no doubt true that they are sometimes taking advantage of them, using their geographical and cultural position to bring in the west in ways that are destructive.

    Nothing is as simple as it used to be. I used to really like Don Richardson. he had a really balanced, intriguing article touching on this whole question in the Perspectives textbook. But since he wrote that book on the Koran/islam a couple years ago, I’m not super sure about him anymore.

    I see I carried at great length here. Hop you are well.

  2. Sharon Says:

    Thanks for your comments Benjamin- always welcome!

    I found the article through OneWorld.net, so I probably don’t know anymore about Survival International than you do, but (if true) the whole concept of using megaphones to communicate with tribal peoples struck me as bizarre and incredibly inappropriate.

    Like you, I used to be very into the whole Perspectives/ Don Richardson missions thing (my Dad used to teach Perspectives classes!) but am increasingly uncomfortable with a lot of it. I am also intrigued with Chavez’ reaction to New Tribes, I don’t know how much truth there is in the accusations but I definately think there are issues of imperialism and cultural destruction that need to be talked about.

    I agree than “its no doubt true that the missionares with new tribes are in many cases genuinely loving and helping indigenous people groups when no one else can or wants to”, and I still feel guilty challenging thier beliefs. It was one the hardest parts of doing my Masters research and something I am thinking long and hard about as I choose my PhD topic.

    Hmmm… I think there might be a full blog post in this one day…


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