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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 31, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta Whites engage in Amazon massacre _____ Tuelday, Octotm 31, 19J2 THB lETHBRlDGS HERAID 8 Erosion of confidence By James Neilson, London Observer commentator AIRES Ever uKce Christopher Columbus set foot in the western hemisphere 480 years ago Hie original In- dian inhabitants have been in retreat. A wave of revisionist historians in the United States has made many North Ameri- cans ashamed of their ances- tors' ruthlessnes, and some steps have been taken to help the survivors, Few South Amer- icans, however, feel any weight of their consciences, and in some parts of the vast continent, the war Is going on today. The brunt of the white man s onslaught is being borne by the Indians of the Amazon basin Stone-age tribesmen in parts ol Colombia and Brazil are re- garded by many settlers as ver- min and slaughtered without mercy. Earlier this year a Co- lombian jury acquitted seven men accused of clubbing to death a number of Indian men, women and children, because, he said 'they had been taught from childhood that there is nothing wrong with killing In- dians" and had therefore "act- ed in god After numer- ous protests a judge overturned the verdict and ordered the men to stand trial again. In Brazil the conflict is on a far larger scale. A great road beinc built through the Amazon jungle is opening up to white colonization big areas that were formerly the preserve of forest tribes, some of whom had nev- er had contact with whites. Con- tinual skirmishes are taking place between r oa d workers and Indians, while families of settlers are being killed by bands of Indians on the war- path. Only tills year did Brar.ilians hear of massacres perpetrated in 1863 by a gang of white In- dian-hunters employe! by a land-developing company in the huge southern slate of Malo (irosso, where rich mineral de- posits are suspected beneath land up to now occupied by In- dians. The hunter's victims were members of the Cintas Largas (Long Ribbons) Iribo which, after making a nine- year trek to Ihc town of Cuiabu, totd their story to local offi- Book Reviews cials. The white men had car- ried out their task with sadis- lie brutality. Whole villages were massacred with machine- guns. On one occasion a young Indian girl was lied upside down between Iwo trees and the kill- ers hacked open her abdomen. The girl died screaming in agony. Earier the whites had shot off the head of her baby, cuddled in her arms. The Cui- nba court has ordered the ar- rest of the mercenaries, but they are still at large. The Indian population of Bra- zil is steadily dwindling. It was estimaled at about two million when the white man arrived, but is now down to Itaiy anthropologists think tho remnants will be wiped out within 20 years. For much of this century the Brazilian Indians were protect- ed by a special Indian service The fabulously wealthy Onassis "Tlir. Fabulous Onassis Ills Lite and Lovers" by Christian Csfarnliis. (George ,1. McUcml Ltd.. S5.93, 138 I didn't know how poor 1 was until I read this book. Imagine having a yearly trie- phone bill of over Im- agine havinf! fresh bread flown in from Paris daiiy, sometimes at a cost of Imagine, no matter where you are in the world, sending your shirts to a laundry in Athens just because you like tho way they do thorn, imagine sending your chauffeur to Italy just for sausage, or your hydroplane out for cham- pagne. You don't have to ima- gine nil this it becomes a reality when you, at a rough guess, earn a year and are worth, at a conserva- tive estimate, The Fabulous Onassis is loving vorld. As well as dynamite and guns to gel rid of Indians, it had also presented (hem v.itti cloth- ing impregnated with such white man's diseases as small- pox, which the Indians could not resist. Rivers were poison- ed, people were hacked to pieces or fed to gimil ants. Cynical Brazilians baptized it the 'Indian Prostitution S v- vice" because it had rounded up hundreds of girls to serve in primitive brothels. The Brazilian government has been reluctant to shoulder its responsibilities towards tbc country's original inhabitants, It has tried lo dismiss accusa- tions of genocide ss "sensa- tionalism." and has done little to restrain individuals or gov- ernment agencies that are try- ing to open up areas where Indians live, as it sees the de- velopment of the interior as es- sential to its drive to make Brazil a major world power. Some Brazilians are trying to save the remaining Indians. The best known are Hie broth- ers Orlando and Clauriio Villas Boas, who for over 20 years have done their best to stop the war of extermination. They run the Xingu National Park, a reservation which few white men are allowed to enter. Indian-hunters, however, have sometimes penetrated into the reservation to get at their mv. Now a new road is cuffing through (he park. General Jer- onimo Bandeira de Melo, presi- dent of the official National In- dian foundation, has said: "The Indian CKDOOL be an stacle to progress." In Argentina, which long boasted it was the "only white nation south of more pure Indians survive than in Brazil, and they are no lonper subjected to attacks by land- hungry while men. The Indians, who only 100 years ago were powerful enough to threaten Buenos Aires and controlled nearly all of Patagonia, were finally defeated in the J879-1BB3 "War of the Desert" by Gen- era! Julio Roca. Later he be- came president of Argentina. His fiercest enemies were the Tchuelchos, a branch of Hie warlike Arnusanians who fought Ihc Spaniards to a standstill in southern Chile. Roca was followed by ranch- ers who paid a good price for the ears of a dead Indian, and many of the killers who "bene- fited were English mercenar- ies. Nov.- only about 50 Tehuel- ehes survive, but there are Araucanians living in set- tlements in Rio Negro, Neii- quen and La Pampa provinces, as well as some in villages quite near Buenos Aires itself. Since the early 1960s Argen- tina's Indians have been pro- tected by the government, which provides schools, health services and land; and they are slowly being integrated into the national mainstream. Numerous Indians descended from inhabitants of the Tnca empire live in their traditional way in Argentina's mountain, ous northern provinces by the Bolivian border. They weave the. brightly colored ponchos which are prized lourist sou- venirs in Buenos Aires, and are far better off than their rela- tives in Peru and Bolivia- In these two countries most of the inhabitants arc Indian, but re- main apart from national life of their ignorance cf Spanish and the lechniques of modern civilization. This year the Peruvian govern m e n t launched an ambitious program to incorporate the Indians into modern society, and proposed that secondary education should he available in the main In- dian languages. vSo far, how- ever, this project has barely gol underway. "Paraguay has been more suc- cessful in bringing white man and Indian together than any cllier nation in the hemisphere. There is no .stigma there at- tached to being Indian and nearly everyone in the country, whether white, mestizo or In- dian, speaks the musical dian language Guarani as a matter of course. Most whites know Spanish as well, as do many Indians, but Ihe children of some isolated German scl- Mers grow tip speaking only German and There is little chance of tho Paraguayan success stories be- ing repeated clsewr.oiv. limv- ever. as white and Lnlin Americans show no in- clination at riH lo learn oven the major Indian languages. The minor ones, Mich ns Ona in Ticrra del Kuopo, which is spoken by one or Iwo very old people, will disappear within a few years, taking a world with them. H> IlulitTt Hrown, in Tlie grant Irom the Poynter Fund to Indiana University for a five-year pilot project aimed at bridging the credi- bility gap between the citizenry and the institution of American democracy is certainly a giant step in Ihe right direc- tion Nelson Poyntcr, chairman of the of the Petersburg