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Monday, 28 October 2013

The Forest Within; The world-view of the Tukano Amazonion Indians by Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff

A fascinating book although a little difficult to find, my attention was first drawn to it while reading a Schumacher briefing titled Sustainable Education: Re-Visioning Learning and Change by the quote "Many indigenous peoples have been practicing forms of sustainable education in their own contexts over thousands of years". That quote had influenced and inspired my involvement with bushcraft since I first read it four years ago and is part of the reason I started this blog. 

The Forest Within presents the world view of the Tukano Indians as experienced by Anthropologist Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff who spent many years living among the Indians of the North-West Amazon region. The book presents their view on life, their religion and their environment. Much of their belief system revolves around their rain-forest environment and it's wildlife, they believe in a 'Master of Animals' a God to all intents and purposes who they respect and believe will punish them for over-hunting. This among other beliefs profoundly influences their behavior towards their environment and could be a lesson to us in the UK. 

Their bushcraft skills are of course very well developed and they rely on those skills for their survival, in fact although they practice a very basic form of  'gardening', it certainly can't be classed as agriculture, which involves felling trees to provide space for food plats to grow, they don't clear the fallen trees they leave them and allow plants to grow between the fallen trunks. They are also very fond of palm grubs as a food and will also fell pataba palm trees and cut notches into the felled trunks to attract the female beetles to ensure a regular supply of grubs. But this is as far as their 'gardening' goes and they are generally opposed to the idea of domestication. They believe that medicinal plants, fruit trees and other useful plants grow better when left in permanent interaction with their local climate, soil flora, fauna, pollinators and even pests. 

This book provides an excellent insight into the world views and practical skills of the Tukano Indians and makes some very interesting points which could be applied to environmental education in the UK.       

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