Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Unconquered : A Review

I was first introduced to the issues surrounding contact with uncontacted, indigenous tribes when, in 1956, a group five American missionaries were massacred in Ecuador by Huaorani Indians. That tribe is no longer counted as “uncontacted”.

But those are not the only Indians to maintain a life deep in the jungles of South America. Brazil has implemented policies that protect these peoples and their environment - setting up protective reserves where the Indians already make their homes. The purpose is to protect both the health and the lifestyles of those who have inhabited those jungles for generations.

The Unconquered tells the story of one journey into that jungle following the Amazon River Basin from the mouth of the Itaquai River. An expedition led by Sydney Possuelo to track one uncontracted tribe, the Arrow People, an uncontacted tribe in the Vale do Javari Indigenous Land.

The book, a true story written by a member of the expedition, is a fun read - reading more like a novel than an memoir. Yet, as one reads the book, the reader is drawn into the story and gains an appreciation for the efforts others have made to preserve the lives of people who have never heard of a telephone, an automobile, or a railroad.

The book is not just a story of a people - but also of the land they live on. The members of the expedition make their camps from the trees and foliage in which they find themselves. They carry little food - so they must hunt for their food. But the plants and animals they come across are not just for encampments and food - they are also bearers of poison, and, in some cases, medicines.

As a child I was enthralled with the stories of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Unconquered is better - it is the story of real people on a real journey.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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