Tribal Survival in the Amazon: The Campa Case
John H. Bodley
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Latin America, América Latina
At the time of the release of this publication the Campa Indians of the Peruvian Amazon was experiencing steady shrinking of their homeland and being in the pathway of major economic development efforts, which threatened and still threatens the Campa Indians traditional way of life. The publication take a careful look at the Campa case as it provided an opportunity for a reappraisal of the question of tribal survival throughout the Amazon.
In 1542 Western civilization first encountered and began to systematically destroy the peoples and cultures of the Amazon basin. This destruction has continued for over four hundred years and is now nearly complete. It has taken many forms and has been justified in many ways, but today economic development is the prime factor at work to exterminate the remnants of tribal life. Most authorities maintain that the final disappearance of free tribal Indians is a necessary and inevitable step in the modern economic conquest of the Amazon. This premise has quided all previous attempts at “protecting” Amazonian Indians and is now being used by missionaries and developers to justify the continued destruction of tribal cultures.
This publication argues that tribal destruction is neither necessary nor inevitable and certainly not in the best interests of the people involved. Many tribal people prefer to maintain their own distinctive life styles and must be allowed to reject economic development and its detrimental effects.