FREE ELECTRONIC LIBRARY - Dissertations, online materials

Pages:     | 1 || 3 |

«Language endangerment in Amazonia: the role of missionaries PATIENCE L. EPPS University of Virginia Viele Sprachen Amazoniens, wie auch anderswo in ...»

-- [ Page 2 ] --

Later, when the Salesian Catholic missions were established in the Vaupés area in the 1920s, the missionaries continued to insist on having just one language spoken. Recognizing that they would be more successful if they promoted a language that was already familiar to many of the inhabitants, they chose Tukano for this purpose. This fos



tered the gradual rise of Tukano to dominant status in the region, whereas previously all the River Indian languages had been perceived as essentially socially equivalent (cf. AIKHENVALD 2002a: 26).

Perhaps the greatest impact on the region’s languages was realized by means of the mission boarding schools, which River Indian children were for many years essentially forced to attend. At the schools, Portuguese was the language of instruction and interaction, and – as has been the case in so many parts of the world – this rule was maintained by force and intimidation. A middle-aged Tukano man on the Tiquié River described his experiences: if a child was caught speaking his native language, the man told me, the priests would often react by hitting him in the face, producing a bloody nose. “They would tell us over and over that we were just no-good Indians, that we were primitive and worthless,” he said. The effects of such treatment on the Indian children are easily imagined. As REID (1979: 317) expressed it, ‘Progress’ [in the eyes of the Catholic missionaries] necessarily entails the abandonment of traditional ways of life for quasi-enforced education and indoctrination of children in mission schools… Such procedures… entail acute alienation of young children not only from their culture but even from their families...

Such a separation and alienation of the younger generation from the older is directly implicated in situations of language shift all over the world (cf. NETTLE / ROMAINE 2000).

3. The experience of the Hupd’äh Among the Nadahup peoples living in the Upper Rio Negro region are the Hupd’äh [jup].4 Unlike most of the River Indians in the region, the semi-nomadic, forest-dwelling Hupd’äh were spared much of the onslaught of European invaders – including the activities of the missionaries – for many years. However, their relative immunity eventually came to an end. The Salesian Catholics had developed an interest in approaching them before the 1960s, but had had little success – largely I have worked with the Hupd’äh as a linguist since 2000.

4 318 Language endangerment in Amazonia: the role of missionaries because the Hupd’äh were simply difMcult to reach where they lived in the depths of the forest. In the early 1970s, however, faced with the threat of tentative incursions by Protestant SIL missionaries across the Colombian border and into Hupd’äh territory, the Salesians stepped up their efforts. The Hupd’äh, the priests maintained, were “ ‘melancholic’, ‘backward’, ‘primitive’, ‘hungry’, and in need of ‘rehabilitation and civilization’.” The best way to improve their condition, they felt, was “to ‘oblige’ them to live in Mxed residences and to expand their dependence on agriculture, as well as educating and evangelizing them” (REID 1979: 296).

The missionaries’ Mrst step was to entice or coerce many small local groups (of around 20-40 people) into new, settled villages of 150-300, located no more than an hour or two by foot from the river. A missionary – or later, a River Indian – was installed to act as schoolteacher and catechist, and to encourage the Hupd’äh to live according to the priests’ wishes. Handouts of food, tools, clothes, and other goods were at Mrst presented liberally to encourage them to come and stay. However, many Hupd’äh soon tired of the new arrangement, especially when the handouts began to taper off; but when they tried to leave, they were in many cases forbidden to do so, and even pursued and brought back (cf. op. cit. 306).

As one man told REID, an anthropologist working with the Hupd’äh in

the 1970s:

[…] the priests come here and tell us to stop chewing coca and drinking beer. They tell us we shouldn’t dance and play the pan-pipes and Jurupari trumpets. This is like one man coming to our village and taking all our food away. What should we do? Without food, without music, there is no movement in the world, and the people are sad, become sick and die. (op. cit. 284).

Today – thirty years later – the effects of the Salesians’ efforts on the lives of the Hupd’äh are striking. Most Hupd’äh now live in the semisettled mission villages, where in some cases populations range from 100 to 300 people. In contrast to the relative health and good nutrition of the small nomadic hunting groups described by REID in the 1970s, many inhabitants of the larger mission villages today are chronically


malnourished, due in large part to a depletion of game and Msh in the environs of the village, as well as to the increased parasite load. Illness is common, and the mortality rate for children has been estimated at around 35% (Herma Klandermans, p.c.). Skin problems and scabies are rampant, exacerbated by the perceived need to wear clothes despite the hot, humid environment and the scarcity of soap for washing them.

Fights are also more common, and sometimes more deadly, because the traditional way of resolving quarrels – via a group’s Mssioning and going separate ways – is impractical with a more settled lifestyle. Most villages now have a resident River Indian schoolteacher and catechist (or in some cases even a resident nun), who assumes a position of dominance within the community, and insists on the children’s attendance at school despite the fact that most of them understand little of the Tukano and Portuguese instruction. Finally, not a few aspects of Hup traditional culture have become devalued and are not being passed on to the younger generation, including the kapiwaya song and dance tradition, the preparation of ritual hallucinogens, the fabrication and use of blowguns and dart-poison for hunting, and aspects of Hup cosmology. Only a few groups still regularly practice the Jurupari ceremonies, which are nearly absent now among the River Indian peoples in the same region.

Despite these problems, there is little likelihood that the Hupd’äh will at this point abandon the mission villages. They are kept there by a variety of factors, including their fear of reprisal sorcery on the part of both the priests and the River Indians (cf. op. cit. 314); their dependence on trade goods and occasional access to medical care; their unwillingness to leave their relatives behind and to lead a more isolated life;

and Mnally – as in the case of the River Indians – their gradual identiMcation of some aspects of their traditional life, such as a lack of western clothes and schooling of some kind, as “primitive” and therefore humiliating. At present, the Hupd’äh – who to a large extent escaped the enforced schooling in mission villages – have suffered no loss of their language, which is currently learned by all Hup children. However, given the cultural changes they are undergoing, it is not unlikely that a shift to Tukano – and thence even to Portuguese – may await them within a couple of generations.

320 Language endangerment in Amazonia: the role of missionaries

4. Protestant missionaries Evangelization among most of the Rio Negro region’s native inhabitants has until recently been almost completely monopolized by the Catholics. Nevertheless, particularly since the 1940s, Protestant missionaries have also been a strong force in certain areas, particularly among the Baniwa Indians of the Içana River – as they have been in many other regions of Amazonia. The Protestant missionaries have tended to be even more active than the Catholics in wiping out native beliefs and practices. While the Catholics in general – particularly those present in the region today – tolerate the drinking of manioc beer, dancing, and even a certain amount of syncretism between Catholicism and local beliefs, many Protestant missionaries frown on these activities and do their best to put an end to them.

The most powerful Protestant organizations that have worked in Amazonia over the past few decades are the New Tribes Mission and SIL, both North American evangelical groups, which have fostered countless local offshoots. Endowed with vast sums of American and European money, missionaries from these groups and others have developed a tremendous infrastructure in Amazonia, as in virtually all other parts of the world, complete with their own planes, boats, and regional headquarters and support teams. This entire infrastructure is devoted to the primary objective of evangelizing indigenous peoples. The New Tribes Mission, for example, is quite explicit in its own literature about

its reason for existing, as reported by HEMMING (2003: 259):

“The New Tribes Mission is a fundamental, non-denominational-faith missionary society, composed of born-again believers, and dedicated to the evangelization of unreached tribal peoples; in their own tongue the translation of Scripture; and the planting of indigenous New Testament churches.” The Summer Institute of Linguistics, now known by its acronym SIL, is somewhat more sensitive in its approach than is the NTM – in particular, it presents its members to the public as ‘linguistic investigators’ rather than missionaries. Nevertheless, the primary goal of SIL activities, as of those of its more openly evangelical arm, the Wycliffe Bible


Translators, is incontestably the evangelization of native peoples. According to LEWIS (1988: 106), the linguistic front put forward by the SIL and the Wycliffe Bible Translators was perceived even by some of

its own early members as duplicitous, leading the Wycliffe founder William Cameron Townsend to provide the following argument in its defense:

There is a Biblical precedent for [such subterfuge]. Namely, just as Jesus came out of Nazereth disguised very effectively as a carpenter, Wycliffe missionaries go into the Meld as linguists... Was it honest for the son of God to come down to earth and live among men without revealing who he was?

As one might expect under the circumstances, the quality of the academic linguistic contributions of SIL missionaries varies widely. While some missionaries do produce sound linguistic documentation, as well as useful orthographies and materials for native-language literacy programs, there are clearly many who do not.

The tactics used by Protestant missionaries in their efforts to save the souls of Amazonian Indians have been generally questionable — at best. The NTM in particular has been known to resort to force and intimidation. LEWIS (1988) describes a litany of events that took place in the 1970s and ’80s and in some cases were no less than atrocities, including mission-sponsored hunts for ‘wild’ Indians in the forest (usually with converted Indians as the hunters). Brought to mission camps at gunpoint, sometimes injured or killed in the process, large numbers of intended converts would die of disease and despair — but as long as their souls had been saved, many missionaries considered this to be of little importance. LEWIS (1988: 231) quotes a NTM missionary in Venezuela as saying, “they say that all’s fair in war, and for us this is a war for souls.” In many other cases, missionaries have focused on persuasion of the psychological variety. For example, CHAGNON (1967) reports a Protestant missionary terrifying the Yanomami [wca] with the prospect of Hell by showing them lifelike paintings of Yanomami-like people burning in agony in pits of Mre — apparently quite aware that the Yanomami did not differentiate between a painting and a photograph.

LEWIS (op. cit., 203) gives a Venezuelan Ye’cuana [mch] Indian’s report

322 Language endangerment in Amazonia: the role of missionaries

of the “psychological terror” by which the local missionaries brought

about his people’s conversion:

In particular he cited the appearance of a comet, described by the chief missionary in the area as heralding the end of the world. The missionary had gather the Ye’cuana together and given them three days, on pain of suffering a Mery extinction, to break with their wicked past.

The missionaries among the Panare [pbh] Indians, also in Venezuela, “went so far as to encourage the belief that they were in regular radio contact with God” (op. cit., 207).

Many other missionaries use gentler tactics — simply coming to live among the people and talk to them on a personal level about religion.

In fact, however, coercion is virtually never really absent, because of the missionaries’ status as supremely powerful outsiders, equipped with planes, boats, and a seemingly endless supply of material wealth.

Moreover, the indigenous peoples with whom the missionaries come to live – such as those in the Rio Negro region – have in many cases already suffered brutality, intimidation, or at least discrimination at the hands of non-Indians for generations. Many of these people have grown up with an ingrained sense of insecurity and awareness of their disempowered status — or their social structure is already compromised by disease, alcoholism, and loss of land and livelihood. Whether intimidated or desperate people are really in a position to make free and informed choices is questionable.

In many cases, the effects of the Protestant missionaries’ intervention on local culture are even more extreme than those of the Catholics. The Baniwa [bwi] of the Içana River in the Upper Rio Negro region, for example – unlike most of their Catholicized neighbors – have given up drinking manioc beer and have renounced many of their native rituals and dances. LEWIS (op. cit., 101) describes the outcome of many Protestant missionaries’ involvement as […] the banning by the missionaries of Indian ceremonies of all kinds, of Indian dances, of the playing of native instruments, of the self-treatment of Indians by their own medicinal remedies, of self-decoration in any form...


Pages:     | 1 || 3 |

Similar works:

«Vitamins History Purified diets of carbohydrate, protein, fat, minerals and water were not capable of normal growth “Accessory growth factors” Casimir Funk, a Polish biochemist, isolated an antiberberi substance from rice polishings Named it vitamine An amine Vital for life Vitamins Essential organic compounds required in very small amounts (micronutrients) involved in fundamental functions of the body Unrelated chemically Not only amines so “e” was dropped 1 Vitamins Not metabolic...»

«Notes from 2005 Wesco Financial Annual Meeting May 4, 2005 By Whitney Tilson Note: This is not a transcript. No recording devices were allowed at the meeting, so this is based on many hours of rapid typing, combined with my memory. I have reorganized comments by subject matter. Words in [brackets] are my comments or edits. For my columns and notes on previous Berkshire and Wesco meetings, click here.CHARLIE MUNGER’S OPENING REMARKS I feel a duty in these later years to talk a little bit...»

«Login or Sign up Search Stories Firehose All Popular Polls Deals Submit 93 Topics: Devices Build Entertainment Technology Open Source Science YRO Follow us: Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system Nickname: Password: 6-20 characters long Public Terminal Forgot your password? Log In Sign in with Google Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Close Electric Fork Simulates a Salty Flavor By Shocking Your Tongue (med.news.am)...»

«Inspection report for Hope Sure Start Children’s Centre Local authority Wigan Inspection number 362500 Inspection dates 22-23 September 2010 Reporting inspector Marian Thomas Centre governance Local Authority Centre leader Mr Peter Dahlstrom Date of previous inspection Not previously inspected Centre address Hope School, Kelvin Grove, Marus Bridge, Wigan WN3 6SP Telephone number 01942 824150 Fax number 01942 230361 Email address headteacher@admin.hope.wigan.sch.uk Linked school if applicable...»

«Deakin Research Online Deakin University’s institutional research repository DDeakin Research Online Research Online This is the authors final peer reviewed version of the item published as: Bradford, Clare 2004, Transformative fictions: postcolonial encounters in Australian texts, Children's literature association quarterly, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 195-202. Copyright : 2003, Johns Hopkins University Press Transformative Fictions: Postcolonial Encounters in Australian Texts Clare Bradford Within...»

«Centennial Celebration AUGUST 1877 TO AUGUST 1997 FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH Burnet, Texas We have no record of the circumstances which led the organizers of this Church to the final conclusion to form a Baptist Church in Burnet, however, we do feel it was the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the lives of a few Christens who made this decision—— and we have the original Certificate of organization, which we quote verbatim, as follows, intimated to us their desire to be organized into a Church of...»

«Columbus reports on his first voyage, 1493 1 Introduction On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Spain to find an all-water route to Asia. On October 12, more than two months later, Columbus landed on an island in the Bahamas that he called San Salvador; the natives called it Guanahani. For nearly five months, Columbus explored the Caribbean, particularly the islands of Juana (Cuba) and Hispaniola (San Domingo), before returning to Spain. He left thirty-nine men to build a settlement called...»

«KUOPION YLIOPISTON JULKAISUJA C. LUONNONTIETEET JA YMPÄRISTÖTIETEET 261 KUOPIO UNIVERSITY PUBLICATIONS C. NATURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES 261 PEKKA TIIHONEN Novel Portable Devices for Recording Sleep Apnea and Evaluating Altered Consciousness Doctoral dissertation To be presented by permission of the Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences of the University of Kuopio for public examination in Auditorium L3, Canthia building, University of Kuopio, on Friday 27 th November 2009, at 12...»


«Glossary of Digital Media Terminology A AAF (Advanced Authoring Format) – Refers to the standardized metadata definitions that are used to exchange metadata between creative content workstations. This “format” has been created primarily for postproduction use. The AAF includes a rich set of composition metadata that can be used to describe the components making up a program or production. It is worth noting that the definition does provide for “essence” exchange as well as metadata...»

«The “State of DRR at the Local Level” A 2015 Report on the Patterns of Disaster Risk Reduction Actions at Local Level Immediate concerns and imminent threats: Disaster resiliency in Kathmandu Jishnu Subedi Center of Resilient Development, Kathmandu, Nepal Email: jishnusubedi@gmail.com Abstract This paper discusses immediate concerns and imminent threats in Kathmandu valley, initiatives in disaster risk reduction and current status of essential initiatives for resilient development. One of...»

«NYS Common Core ELA & Literacy Curriculum DRAFT Grade 9 • Module 2 • Unit 3 • Lesson 2 9.2.3 Lesson 2 Introduction In this lesson, having firmly established Mosley’s opening claims about guilt in the previous lesson, students will read seven more paragraphs in the Mosley article (paragraphs 5–11 from “This is because most of us see ourselves” through “and the world in general, getting worse?”). Students will examine how Mosley uses these paragraphs to develop his second...»

<<  HOME   |    CONTACTS
2016 www.dissertation.xlibx.info - Dissertations, online materials

Materials of this site are available for review, all rights belong to their respective owners.
If you do not agree with the fact that your material is placed on this site, please, email us, we will within 1-2 business days delete him.