By Nellie Werner The treatment of indigenous and tribal peoples, the world’s largest minority, is a major humanitarian issue. It shapes world history and raises profound questions about what it really means to be human. Tribal peoples for tomorrow’s world explains who these peoples are, how they live, why governments hate them and why their disappearance is nevertheless far from inevitable.
It looks at many aspects of tribal peoples’ lives, including their attitudes to sex, religion, and money. Concepts such as ‘culture’ and ‘the noble savage’ are examined, as well as the impact of big business, globalization, backpackers and the internet.
Easily accessible, the book is a distillation of Survival International Director Stephen Corry’s 40 years’ work with and for tribal peoples. It argues passionately, and controversially, that hunting and nomadism are neither backward nor primitive, but intelligent and conscious choices – and that upholding the law and understanding racist prejudice solves most tribal peoples’ problems. It shines a light on the ground-breaking, but entirely unrecognized, contributions they have already made to the world, and exposes the inconvenient truth that their survival is in everyone’s interest.
There is no other book which covers the same ground. Aimed primarily at those seeking an ‘introduction’ to the subject in non-academic language, it has no references or footnotes.
It is an ideal introduction to tribal peoples for anthropology undergraduates and high school students; often controversial, it frequently challenges current orthodoxy, calling into question deeply held notions of race, modernity, progress and development.
The book gives new definitions for ‘indigenous’ and ‘tribal’, and explains the difference. It coins terms such as ‘Amish error’ (the mistaken belief that people are backward because they don’t use aspects of ‘modern’ technology) and the ‘Curtis device’ (the exclusion of ‘modern’ items from images of tribal peoples to make them appear more exotic). In its explanation of what ‘culture’ really is, it shows how governments are fundamentally opposed to any that fall outside the mainstream.
The ‘guide’ presents evidence to support the case that tribal peoples are not ‘primitive’ or ‘backward’, and are no more ‘savages’ than anyone else, but it also roundly rejects romantic portrayals of the ‘noble savage’.
It asserts that the problems faced by tribal peoples are nothing to do with any failure to adapt to ‘modernity’, but arise simply from the theft of their land and resources and accompanying attempts to force them into the mainstream. These crimes are a legacy of slavery and colonialism and will only end when there is a groundswell of opinion which recognises this.
‘Corry has devoted his lifetime of energy and intelligence to the cause of tribal peoples. He offers an astonishing wealth of knowledge and a multitude of insight in language that is clear and yet impassioned. Here is a book that is both fun and luminous’. Anthropologist Hugh Brody.
‘A book everyone must read – powerful stories of the harsh realities of both assimilation and rejection of our peoples and our struggles around the world’. Jolene Ashini, Innu.
‘Corry is a liar, devil and loose cannon.’ Botswana government ministers (evicting Bushmen from their lands).
Tribal peoples for tomorrow’s world (paperback, 303 pages, Freeman Press) is available from Survival International’s online shop: www.survivalinternational.org. If you live in the Netherlands you can order the book via http://www.survivalinternational.nl/helpons/winkel (students can benefit from a special discount). It is also available from Amazon.co.uk in Kindle book format: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tribal-Peoples-Tomorrows-World-ebook/dp/B005UNKSHM/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1318430804&sr=8-4and
Nellie Werner works at Survival International, an organization dedicated to the cause of indigenous peoples in today’s world.