Indigenous tribe a publicity stunt

Okay, well…not ENTIRELY.

In a previous post, I pointed out that the main reason contact was made with this tribe was to highlight the fact that they exist in order to curb the unchecked clear cutting in the Amazonian rain forest. This morning, the Guardian broke the story that the tribe’s existence has been known since 1910, and:

the mission to photograph them was undertaken in order to prove that ‘uncontacted’ tribes still existed in an area endangered by the menace of the logging industry.

The disclosures have been made by the man behind the pictures, José Carlos Meirelles, 61, one of the handful of sertanistas – experts on indigenous tribes – working for the Brazilian Indian Protection Agency, Funai, which is dedicated to searching out remote tribes and protecting them.

While I do not disparage Funai’s cause or reasoning, their methods may have just set that cause back substantially. Something happens in people’s minds when they feel they have been swindled, whether justifiably or not. There is no question that the clear cutting is a global concern with far reaching effects. But to give the public a focus for that concern, causing an emotional connection, and then revealing that they were, in fact, misled will no doubt garner backlash that has the potential of harming the very thing they wish to protect. Public interest and goodwill only extend so far.

While I do not waver in my support of the cessation of clear cutting or the protection of the Amazon’s indigenous tribes, I find the methodology of this group reprehensible, and fear for the fallout. For those tribes, and that area, this can only be seen as an unfortunate set back.