Thursday, January 23, 2020

Step into my Parlor… : Perceptions of Cultural Survival among the Kyapo and Yanomani :: Essays Papers

Step into my Parlor†¦ : Perceptions of Cultural Survival among the Kyapo and Yanomani When caught in the web of global media, the â€Å"cultural survival† of indigenous communities becomes a potent international issue. As affirmed in a 1997 UN declaration, international communities receive, â€Å"with gratitude, the message of harmony and respect for all life brought to us by ancient [indigenous] people whose culture may†¦make a worthy contribution to the world community† (Neizen 2). With the â€Å"politics of shame† winnowing away at the public integrity of Brazil, the two cultures of the Kayapo and Yanomami are strategically set in the international web as endangered peoples suffering â€Å"onslaught of civilization†, yet still worth some â€Å"contribution to the world†. Yet to what degree is their â€Å"worthy contribution† qualified by dominant international definitions of their ‘culture’? The global reception of "threatened" indigenous cultures is colored with pre-existing values and assumptions. In contrast to the dominant consumerist culture pulsing in global politics, indigenous groups are seen to offer elements of fantasy rather than diplomacy, and provide a kick-back to the â€Å"primitive† ideology of early man. As the general public enjoys indigenous romanticism like a favorite Hollywood movie, romanticizing indigenous cultures through media is quite common. Yet, romanticism creates an indigenous cultural dichotomy. Sustained interaction with governments broker change among indigenous people and elements of culture assimilate. Interaction provokes Kayapo demands for goods â€Å"from fish hooks to cooking pots† (Rabben 48). The Kayapo became dependent on whites â€Å"for goods they wanted but had no way of producing themselves† (47). Dominant society assumes that â€Å"cultural survival† is only achieved by preserving a static and untransformed people. To safe guard indigenous authenticity and exotic appeal, the common assumption is such that native ways of life must not be influenced or changed in anyway. However, to survive as a people in the modern world, indigenous cultures must be aware of their civil rights, for negotiations with imperialistic governments are essential. In 1981, the Kayapo were cheated out of 99.99% of their mining profits because they did not know â€Å"enough arithmetic to perceive the trick† in the white man’s contract (71). Only after years of litigation were they able to win 5% profit. The Yanomami are constantly pressured to â€Å"assimilate into Brazilian society as the poorest of the poor† rather than remain a fractioned culture (86). â€Å"Cultural survival† thus becomes a question of protecting the collective rights of an indigenous people from governmental abuse, while educating the people to the extent that they people may choose and protect their own future in a world of inescapable influence.

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