Preserving the wild humans | Lessons from the last remaining indigenous


The indigenous people of the world are a reservoir of knowledge, wisdom, and possibilities long abandoned and forgotten by those of us living in the “modern” world. At home in their environment, indigenous people live and travel lightly, secure in the understanding that they can make, or gather, what they need, when they need it. We urban dwellers suppose their lives are hard, but those who have studied them say that indigenous people work far less than we do, have far more time for leisure, and enjoy richer social lives. We who depend on wages for our survival are in far more precarious conditions—as our depression, drug abuse, crime, and suicide rates attest.

Moreover, just as our world will be poorer without rhinos and rainforests, grizzlies and gorillas, it will be poorer without the imaginative possibilities kept alive by Mongolian falcon hunters, Mbuti forest people, San Bushmen, Australian aborigines, and Inuit narwhale hunters. It is already impoverished by the indigenous people we have decimated, or forced onto reservations or into urban slums.

Our interview this month is with Dr. Louis Herman, political science professor at the University of Hawaii – West Oahu, who not only cherishes the time he has spent with indigenous people—principally, the San Bushmen of the Kalahari—but proposes that their political and economic structures actually offer a model for a way forward—out of the mess we have made of the planet, and political and economic systems that serve only the few.

We also share an excerpt from his book, Future Primal: How Our Wilderness Origins Show Us the Way Forward; a memoir by Lynx Vilden of twenty-five days in the wilderness equipped with Stone Age tools and little else; an essay by Benjamin Franklin, who held the “savages” of North America in high regard; an essay by Stephen Corry, of Survival International, asking whether indigenous people are served by “development”; and an essay by Helen Dziadulewicz, on inspiration from the indigenous spiritual teachings she has studied; plus MOON Shine and Movies You Might’ve Missed.

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