Re: Indigenous folks protect environment?

Kenneth Gauck (C558382@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU)
Tue, 20 Sep 1994 12:38:35 CDT

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The question is, however, do we as anthropologists want to
undercut the political positions being taken by 4th world
peoples in a last-ditch attempt to gain some control over
their natural resources, by publicizing stories of how they are
themselves bad stewards? Compared to Exxon, nothing the Yanomamo
can do is a drop in the ocean.

Rick Wilk

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There are several things academics (with an obligation to seek the truth)
can and should do as we discuss these issues. We can draw cross-cultural
comparisons to illustrate the relative mismanagement of resources rather
than just pointing up the defects in one or another system. We can
identify why certain systems came to be adopted, what need *were* they
meeting. One thing we certainly don't want to see is 4th worlders wishing
they had their own Exxon. VP Gore has several times proclaimed the "right
do development" in forums like the Earth Summit and the Population
Conference. While some form of change is neccessary, the development of
the first world is not the model anyone (including the first world) should
be applying. To go back to what Rob Quinlan said, the population of
England and then Europe at the dawn of the industrial revolution permitted
practices that were not sound as the population (and density of industry)
grew. With a present population that dwarfs the 1900 AD estimates, our
insistance that real progress be made in ecological practices in anyones
economic activities needs to be maintained and cannot be sacrificed to
nice political objectives. In short we must point up the errors of indiginous
peoples without ever letting anyone else think they are therfore saints.

Kenneth Gauck