Category: "Tsunami Dec 2004"
Traditional knowledge handed down from generation to generation helped to save ancient tribes on India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands from the worst of the tsunami, anthropologists say. Samir Acharya, convenor of the Society for Andaman and Nicobar Ecology (Sane), said the aboriginals have a collective memory of earthquakes and tsunamis so they knew to move to higher ground. >> continue
Kai Friese, Outlook India
Yes, anthropology is alive and well, in the islands and it’s having a field day in the news. The Indian Express on Sunday gave us a double-page spread (slugged ‘Black and White’) with a field guide to "the tribes and their survival tricks". The Great Andamanese "whose strongest physical characteristics are distinctly Negroid"; the Jarawas who "look at heavenly bodies and can decipher what is to come"; the Shompen, "the only primitive tribe of the islands with Mongoloid features", and so on.
It’s revealing that most journalists have invoked racial labels like Mongoloid or Negroid (I’ve even read ‘Negrative’) only as a marker of primitivism. Meanwhile, NDTV’s more sensitive reporter wittered on about the "dignity" of Nicobarese tribals, and the BBC’s web edition fretted about the fate of "some rare indigenous tribal groups". >> continue
KUTV.com / ap
PORT BLAIR, India (AP) The last few dozen remaining members of an ancient indigenous tribe in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands said they raced up a mountain to escape a devastating tsunami - and avoid extinction.
"I am the king. They follow what I say," said Jiroki, the king of the Great Andamanese tribe, wearing a red T-shirt and shorts. Contrary to speculation by some anthropologists, his wife said the Great Andamanese did not sense the impending arrival of the tsunamis. >> continue
Remark: Interesting to see how anthropologists "speculate" ... they still dream about the nobel savage. Interesting to see how journalists like the Andamanese to be like. Derogatorily and romantizingly at the same time! they presented them first (example )as "stone age peoples" that want to be left alone. Interesting to read about the king telling us in this article: "We feel nice interacting with the outside world. Earlier our heart was only in hunting," the king said. "There were no movies, nothing."
UPDATE: Michael I. Niman, Alternet, writes:
"The indigenous populations of the Andaman and Nicobar islands have had extensive contact with the outside world. These descendents of African peoples were first visited by Marco Polo who described them as "No better than wild beasts." European slave-traders later raided the islands for slaves. Anthropologists report that slavers continued to raid the islands well into the second half of the 20th century, long after the international slave trade was thought dead."
Linda McQuaig, The Toronto Star
About the same time the tsunami was hitting the shores of southeast Asia, North Americans were hitting the stores in the usual Boxing Day shopping frenzy. North Americans were behaving in a way we consider "normal." Indeed, the desire to accumulate ever more material possessions is regarded today as not just normal, but basic to human motivation.
The outpouring of concern and generosity toward helpless people halfway around the globe came as something of a surprise here. Could it be that there's more to the human personality than our business-dominated culture encourages us to believe? Maybe we're not all just walking replicas of Homo Economicus — the robot-like character whose motivation revolves around his insatiable appetite for material gain — that lies at the heart of modern economic theory.
Karl Polanyi, the late economic historian and anthropologist argued that the most basic human characteristic — found in every human society across the ages and around the globe — isn't material acquisitiveness but rather a need to relate to other humans, to feel part of a larger community. >> continue (link updated)
Guardian / ap
Government officials and anthropologists believe that ancient knowledge of the movement of wind, sea and birds may have saved the five indigenous tribes on the Indian archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar islands from the tsunami that hit the Asian coastline Dec. 26.
``They can smell the wind. They can gauge the depth of the sea with the sound of their oars. They have a sixth sense which we don't possess,'' said Ashish Roy, a local environmentalist and lawyer.
It appears that many tribesman fled the shores well before the waves hit the coast, where they would typically be fishing at this time of year. >> continue
Anthropologists worry that the tsunami could be the final blow to some cultures that were already thought to be endangered.
“My suspicion is that we may be seeing … perhaps as many as three or four different nations (specific indigenous populations) that would be completely wiped out,” says Dr. Rudolph Ryser, chairman of the U.S.-based Center for World Indigenous Studies.
He notes that tiny islands that dot the west coast of Sumatra and the east coast of India are so close to the epicenter of the earthquake that they would have been hit within minutes. Many have no high ground to provide refuge. >> continue
Indian authorities search for aboriginal tribe on remote islands (ABC News Online)