The Jaguar People - Page 1
Believe it or not,
not that far from Iquitos, Peru you can encounter recently discovered tribes
of the Amazon. In the Javari (Yavarí) Valley (the frontier of Peru with
Brazil) the Matis Indians (not to be confused with the Matsés) still live
like they have for thousands of years, hunting and gathering, supplemented
with horticultural crops. At one time
before inventing agriculture and pastoralism, the entire human race survived
as hunter-gatherers. Today, only a hand-full of Amazonian tribes practice
this ancient way of life. An encounter with a tribe like the Matis is more
than a curiosity; it is a glimpse into the past, our past, and gives us
a chance to see how our ancestors were.
And how are the Matis Indians? After spending many years researching them
and related tribes, I can tell you that they are a very pleasant people and have a
society that in many ways is healthier than westernized societies.
I remember a friend of mine from Iquitos telling me that the less time a
tribe has had contact with western civilization, the nicer the people are. After
knowing the Matis tribe, I realize that he was right.
I am a scientist by trade (having studied and taught anthropology as a
graduate student and being awarded a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of
California, Davis) and originally never planned to live permanently in the
Amazon. However after experiencing this ecological paradise and meeting
wonderful people like the Matis, I could not bring myself to
leave and chose to remain in the Amazon Rainforest where I have been living with my
family for over ten years.
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