When Chief Almir first accessed Google Earth, he did what many others do and scrolled over the map to find his home. His home, however, happens to be a nominally protected swath of forest in the rapidly diminishing Amazonian rainforest. After seeing the tenuous state of his people’s historic lands from on high, Almir, who leads the Surui tribe in western Brazil, enlisted the help of the search engine giant to raise awareness about the nearby illegal logging and mining that threatens his group’s way of life, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday.
Using a technology-rich form of ethnographic mapping, a philanthropic side of the Moutain View, Calif.–based company, Google Earth Outreach embarked on a collaboration with Almir and the nonprofit Amazon Conservation Team to keep tabs on nearby clear-cutting while recording aspects of the tribe’s land and daily life in hopes of drawing attention to their struggle.
“We want to show concretely, practically that you can have a quality of life and economic development in an intact forest,” Almir told the Chronicle through an interpreter. Aside from assaults on their land, the tribe has faced direct violence from loggers and miners. Almir himself has been seeking shelter in the U.S. from a reported $100,000-bounty out for him.
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