Amazon tribe shares culture with armchair explorers
Google has unveiled a cultural map of Brazil’s Surui Indigenous people, a digital tool that aims to help the Amazonian tribe share their vast knowledge of the forest and fight illegal logging.
The map is the result of a five-year partnership between Surui chief Almir and the US technology giant.
It offers pictures and videos of historical sites alongside 3D visualisation of Surui territory, in the north-western Brazilian state of Rondonia.
Donning a multi-coloured feather wreath as the map was launched, chief Almir hailed the project that “shows the value of our culture to the world through Google”.
Almir, who proposed the idea of the map to Google during a visit to the US five years ago, says he is particularly proud of the contribution Surui youths made to the project, including narration.
Rebecca Moore, Google Earth Outreach leader, says it is Google’s first such project with an Indigenous group.
“We really believe that this is ground-breaking, ground-breaking for Google,” she said.
“The Surui people and Google worked together to bring the story of the forest to the global community.
“When you fly over Surui territory, you can see it’s a beautiful virgin forest, but it is surrounded by deforestation.”
The map was released online for the first time at a business forum held on the sidelines of the UN Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.
Almir says he chose to announce the project at the conference to raise awareness of the need for a sustainable use of the forests and to preserve the way of life of Indigenous peoples.
He says his 1,300-strong tribe plans to use the map as well as smart phones provided by Google to monitor and denounce illegal logging around its territory.
Deforestation is a key theme at the Rio gathering, which aims to steer the planet toward a greener economy that recognises the need to protect and restore vital natural resources such as the Amazon rainforest.
Caused by logging, agriculture and development, deforestation in the tropics accounts for up to 20 per cent of global emissions of carbon dioxide, making it the second largest driver of global warming after the burning of fossil fuels.
Meanwhile Ms Moore says that by developing the map, Google had perfected a methodology that can be used to help other indigenous peoples around the world.
“It has taken us five years [to launch] the first cultural map with the Surui and now we feel we have the methodology that can work with other tribes,” she said.
“There’s a project already planned for two tribes who are neighbours of the Surui and the Surui themselves would be trainers of this technology.
“We hope that the Surui cultural map will be the first of a number of maps that will be coming out over the coming years.”
Ms Moore says Google had been contacted by tribes all over the world, including aboriginal First Nations in Canada, Maoris in New Zealand and many others in the Amazon.
Via ABC News