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Communicating the tribal way – Actions speak louder than words

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The director of Tribal Research Center located in Ooty, C. Maheswaran has revealed some very intersesting facts about the tribal communities while addressing the audience at the Vanavarayar Foundation. The event, ‘Lifestyles of Kongunadu Tribes’ was organized by the foundation as a part of the monthly lecture series.

Mahaswaran talked about one of the tribes, where the people from the boys side approach the potential bride’s family by asking, “We have some seeds, will you give us some land to sow it in?’ and if all goes well, a stick representing the boy will be left behind on the girl’s house, denoting that a bond has been created.

In another instance, the Malayaalis go swirling round a stick over their heads to declare that they are seeking for a bride. The probable sequence that will follow be either that the woman’s family accepts the stick or else they will throw it out, without facing any protest from the boy’s side.

He also mentioned a extremely thoughtful custom practiced by the Todas, is which the husband of a pregnant woman will gift her a Toda shaped house constructed from grass blades and shrubs. This is the way of proclaiming to the world, that the husband is the child’s father and the infant will be heartily welcomed in his clan.

Apart from the ceremonies relating to selection of mates and marriage, there are also tribal traditions of respecting each other’s territory and dedicating one’s life to the community.

Mahaswaran explained about the Aalu Kurumbas, where once every year, seven members of the tribe travel to live in the forest secretly, for a whole week. This is done in hope that the Nature will grant protection to their villages. On their return, the seven of them cooks a meal of pongal in seven pots and feeds the villagers.

While, in a different case the Pazhiyar tasks themselves to dig into the hard ground searching for edible tubers. After a hard work of half a day, the person will tore off the half of the tuber for himself and keep the rest for the community. It is also known that if the similar person finds a honeycomb in the forest while going on the search for tubers, he will mark the tree. And if the same tree is noted by anyone else from the tribe, they will refuse to touch the honeycomb, showing respect for other’s territory.

Finally, C. Mahaswaran concluded that, “This is how tribals communicate. Without many words being spoken”.

To give a little more information, it is established that Kongunadu which is home to six vulnerable tribals like Todas and Kotas, also is the place of origin for the 14 out of 36 tribal communities in the whole of Tamil Nadu.

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Illegal Loggers Threaten ‘Uncontacted Indigenous Tribes’ In The Amazon

The environmental protection agency Ibama responded by sending in patrols in May, which temporarily halted the logging.

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Members of an uncontacted Amazon Basin tribe and their dwellings are seen during a flight over the Brazilian state of Acre along the border with Peru. VOA

Illegal loggers and militias cleared an area three times the size of Gibraltar in Brazil’s Amazon this year, threatening an “uncontacted” indigenous tribe, activists said on Tuesday.

Satellite imagery collected by Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), a Brazilian advocacy group, detected about 4,600 acres (1,863 hectares) of deforestation this year in the Ituna Itata indigenous land in northern Para state.

“This situation is very worrying,” Juan Doblas, senior geo-processing analyst at ISA, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“There is a series of risks, not only to indigenous territories of uncontacted tribes, but also to other indigenous territories in the area.”

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Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest. Wikimedia Commons

The indigenous affairs agency Funai and the federal police were not immediately available to comment. The environmental protection agency Ibama said in a statement that official data on Amazon deforestation will be released in November.

Brazil’s uncontacted tribes, some of the last on earth, depend on large areas of unspoiled forest land to hunt animals and gather the food they need to survive.

They are particularly vulnerable when their land rights are threatened because they lack the natural immunity to diseases that are carried by outsiders, rights groups say.

Forest loss in Ituna Itata — from which outsiders were banned in 2011 to protect the uncontacted tribe — spiked to about 2,000 acres in August from 7 acres in May, said ISA, which has monitored the area through satellites since January.

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This Sept. 15, 2009 file photo shows a deforested area near Novo Progresso in Brazil’s northern state of Para.. VOA

South America’s largest country is grappling with scores of deadly land conflicts, illustrating the tensions between preserving indigenous culture and economic development.

ISA filed a complaint in April to federal and state authorities about forest destruction and illegal logging in the area during the rainy season, which is unusual, said Doblas.

“It was a sign that something very serious was going to happen,” he said. “It was a preparation for the invasion.”

Also Read: Spix’s Macaw Parrot from Brazil Is Now Extinct

The environmental protection agency Ibama responded by sending in patrols in May, which temporarily halted the logging, he said, adding that ISA plans to file another complaint this week, using updated data and satellite images. (VOA)