During a visit to New York City, Surui Chief Almir proposed plugging the world of his Brazillian rain forest tribe into Google Earth. Image Source: Paiter.org.
At the Rio +20 conference, the chief of Brazil's Surui indigenous peoples signed an agreement with Google to post photographs of his tribe's territory and cultural life on a specially dedicated Google Maps app. One cannot say that this tribe, so accustomed to exchanges with the outside world (their first contact was 40 years ago), exactly inhabits a prehistoric time capsule. They are more a jarring hybrid of the deep past and the cutting-edge present. From news.com.au:
GOOGLE unveiled a cultural map of Brazil's Surui indigenous people, a tool that will help the Amazonian tribe share their knowledge of the forest and fight illegal logging.Chief Almir proclaims that "it is time to put down the bow and arrow and to take up the laptop." His tribal territory directly runs up against totally deforested areas. He has provided his people with portable devices which allow them to state their territorial boundaries via Google Earth, to monitor their borders, and to take censuses of wildlife - from jaguars to toucans - and plants in their forest.
The map, the result of a five-year partnership between Surui chief Almir and the US technology giant, was released online for the first time at a business forum held on the sidelines of the UN Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.
The map, a collection of picture and videos mapping historical sites and offering 3D visualisation of Surui territory in the northwestern Brazilian state of Rondonia, is available on the site http://www.paiter.org/ as well as on Google Earth.
Donning a multi-colored feather wreath, chief Almir hailed the project that "shows the value of our culture to the world through Google."
Almir, who proposed the idea of the map to Google during a visit to the United States five years ago, told a press conference that he was particularly proud of the contribution Surui youths made to the project, including narration.
Find an explanation in English about this project on the tribal Website here. To see the cultural map, you have to first download Google Earth here, and then open the cultural map data here in Google Earth. The map provides clickable information, photos and history (with many accounts of border battle victories) of the intrepid Surui people, along with the location of their villages. There are a couple of Surui Youtube videos about the project below the jump.
Video Source: Youtube.
Video Source: Youtube.
For my other posts on Amazonian rain forest tribes, go here, here, here and here.