Subtitled In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes, this memoir details the author’s experiences spending three months in the Amazon in search of the People of the Arrow, an elusive indigenous tribe known for using bow and arrow to hunt and to scare away persons to get too close to them.
Leading this expedition is Brazilian explorer Sydney Posseulo, who lays down the law with his team, instructing them to observe and not actually try to contact the tribe they seek. Posseulo had been instrumental in securing local laws meant to keep exploitative firms and freelancers out of the rain-forest.
I will say many of the adventures were exciting and Wallace’s experiences read like an interesting travel journal at times. At other times, it was slow, and made me wish the book would end.
Wallace raises some interesting points between Posseulo’s approach and others’ (namely anthropologists) interest in the tribes. Posseulo is convinced contact with the modern world is harmful to the natives. Not only are they not protected from modern disease, but even the most well-meaning action can forever alter the culture of the indigenous people. Ultimately, despite Posseulo’s efforts, observation without contact proves impossible. Which leads, of course, to the question: “What gives us the right to even observe these people?” Every good intention has its roots in arrogance.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2011
Amazon Book Preview of The Unconquered