close encounters of the tribal kind

Pictures from an uncontacted tribe in Brazil:

What were they thinking when they saw the camera? How do distant planes and close encounters play into their lives, their culture, their worldview? It boggles the mind that there are still tribes out there – roughly 100, according to this article in the Toronto Star – that haven’t come into contact with the larger world.

And there are so many questions: why haven’t they developed technology the way our ancestors did? How is it that the same culture can go unchanged for so long? Is it even true that the culture is unchanged?

Whether or not to contact these tribes is a fascinating and critical question given how contact has tended to harm the tribes. Yet, of course, the world is shrinking all the time and Amazon expert Thomas Lovejoy may be right in saying that "The right answer is to have the kind of contact and change that the tribes themselves manage the pace of it."

I have to say that as amazing as it is that Hillary Clinton still can’t concede the nomination to Obama, I’m quite glad the world still holds amazements of a richer, less cynical kind.

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