Brazilian Indians

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Apr 21, 2004
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Recently there was an (heated) discussion about Native Americans. I'd came across an interesting passage from the book "The Testament" that talks about the Brazilian Indians, which had similar problems as Native Americans, past and present. As you know, I love history. When someone does something and I say "Don't do that!" they say, "Why?" and I will dig myself into historical ramblings to remind the person not to make the same mistakes again. After you read this passage, I hope people learn their "mistakes" and help aid the Indians rather than trying to destroy them. Anyways this passage came from "The Testament" p. 209-211 written by John Grisham.

PS Read this book will see not only are the poor are freeloaders but the rich are freeloaders too!

anyways heres the story: "When the Portuguese exlorer Pedro Alvares Cabral first stepped on Brazilian soil, on the coast of Bahia, in April of 1500, the country had five million Indians, scattered among nine hundred tribes. They spoke 1,175 languages, and except for the usual tribal skrmish they were peaceful people.
After five centuries of getting themselves "civilized" by Europeans, the Indian population had been decimated. Only 270,000 survived, in 206 tribes using 170 languages. War, murder, slavery, territorial losses, diseases--no method of exterminating Indians had been neglected by those from civilzed cultures.
It was a sick and violent history. If the Indians were peaceful and tried to cooperate with the colonists, they were subject to strange diseases--smallpox, measles, yellow fever, influenza, tuberculosis-for which they had no natural defenses. If they did not cooperate, they were slaughtered by men using weapons more sophisticated than arrows and poison darts. When they fought back and killed their attackers, they were branded as savages.
They were enslaved by miners, ranchers, and rubber barons. They were driven from their ancestral homes by any group with enough guns. They were burned at the stake by priests, hunted by armies and gangs of bandits, raped at will by any able-bodied man with the desire, and slaughtered with impunity. At every point in history, whether crucial or insignificant, when the interests of native Brazilians conflicted with those of white people, the Indians had lost.
You lose for five hundred years, and you expect little from life. The biggest problem facing some modern-day tribes was the suicide of its young people.
After centuries of genocide, the Brazilian government finally decided it was time to protect its "noble savages." Modern-day massacres had brought international condemnation, so bureaucracies were established and laws were passed. With self-righteous fanfare, some tribal lands were returned to the natives and lines were drawn on government maps declaring them to be safe zones.
But the government was also the enemy. In 1967, an investigation into the agency in charge of Indian affairs shocked most Brazilians. The report revealed that agents, land speculators, and ranchers -- thugs who either worked for the agency or had the agency working for them--hadbeen systemically using chemical and bacteriological weapons to wipe out Indians. They issued clothing to the Indians that was infected with smallpox and tuberculosis germs. With airplanes and helicopters, they bombed Indian villages and land with deadly bacteria.
And in the Amazon Basin and other frontiers, ranchers and miners cared little for lines on maps.
In 1986, a rancher in Rondonia used crop dusters to spray nearby Indian land with deadly chemicals. He wanted to farm the land, but first had to eliminate the inhabitants. Thirty Indians died, and the rancher was never prosecuted. In 1989, a rancher in Mato Grosso offered rewards to bounty hunters for the ears of murdered Indians. In 1993, gold miners in Manaus attacked a peaceful tribe because they would not leave their land. Thirteen Indians were murdered, and no one was ever arrested.
In the 1990's, the government had aggressively south to open up the Amazon Basin, a land of vast natural resources to the north of the Pantanal. But the Indians were still in the way. The majority of those surviving inhabited the Basin; in fact, it was estimated that as many as fifty jungle tribes had been lucky enough to escape contact with civilization.
Now civilization was on the attack again. The abuse of Indians was growing as miner and loggers and ranchers pushed deep into the Amazon, with the support of the government."
Tragic isn't it?