Cultural Anthropology

Auca Jungle Brazil Indian

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"Auca Jungle Brazil Indian"
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About fifty years ago, I was recuperating from an insignifcant illness, and very restless in my Chicago apartment bed.
Reading the Wall-Street Journal, I came upon a small ad: HUGE LANDSITES FOR SALE IN BRAZIL.
I phoned the given number, and found that the Brazilian government would sell you vast acreages for about 5 to 8 cents an acre, most of it north of Brazilia, and in the huge forest area running to Peru in the West and to and across the Rio Negro in the north, thus having a connection with the Amazon.
I bought a hundred thousand hectares or about 210,000 acres, and learned that the only restriction on my purchase was that I must have at least 1000 people living upon it engaged in some form of income-producing enterprise in ten years.

The idea of owning a piece of land almost as big as my home-state of Virginia intrigued me though it had cost only $20,000!

Eventually I allied myself with an anthropological expedition, and went to the area, staying at a village called Stanleytown at the junction of the Negro and Amazon rivers.
From there we first covered all of the forest by helicopter, then small parts by boat or canoe.
Eventually, far to the West, we located a break in the forest where close helicopter surveillance showed a long space of green that could accept the landing of small plane.
We arrived at that area in a Cessna 172 and circling, noticed the village down below of very orderly thatched huts and a central gathering place, and then a hundred yards away, the small strip that we landed upon. There was a sparkling creek and pond.
Landing, we were greated by a half-dozen extremely handsome males, wearing only a tight breech cloth, and nothing else. They had bows, arrows and blowpipes, but held them in a non-agressive posotion.
My companion, Cedrick Hardwick, spoke all of the dialects of Brazilian Indians, and found this tribe to have an entirely new language, but with common roots with one of his known dialects.
In other words, he could with difficulty carry on a conversation.
He an his assistant, and educated Indian, Barima, made certain that the Aucas were told of our friendliness and desire only to learn of them.
They had never seen anyone outside their tribe excepting the fly-over we had done two times previously..
Briefly, we found they were contented, not warlike, had a simple constitution of behavior, a religion related to forest and trees but not ultra-serious, and that they did not want to embrace any kind of civilization excepting the one tnat had been so successful for them for thousands of years.
There were three hundred of them.

A small note:

We filmed the birth of a baby.

An attractive pregnant woman at dusk was preparing a meal at a fire. She had pre-prepared a small hammock of straw between two trees near her.
Cooking, she suddenly stopped and went to the hammock, and expulsed the baby, cut the umbilical, buried the detritus, and wiped the now squalling baby clean, then placing him to her breast, where he sucked, she returned to the fire and cooking, baby clinging to breast.
Fifteen minutes!

After supper, she bathed herself and baby in the nearby creek and spring, then retired for the night in the Chief's hut.

(That film was given to Margaret Mead at the next meeting of the American Anthropological Association in San Francisco.)

Meanwhile, I flew over my 200,000 acres, and could not work out a way to get my 1000 people in before my ten-year deadline.
But fate arranged that for me.

A conglomerate company of Volkswagen and Toyota offered me a thousand percent profit for my holdings, and I accepted.
There is now at that location a city of 30,000 by the facrory that assembles the cars from parts shipped in and exports the finished automobiles.

But the Auca, some 400 miles to their West, are still as far as I know, alone, happy, and unsullied.

More about this author: William Cobbs

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