Indigenous Group Keeps Ecology All in the Family

<< Back to Page 1   Page 2 of 2

The notion of wilderness, he adds, carries the connotation that "humans are bad for the environment."

"If the language doesn't include that connotation, then again it shapes that kind of thinking," he continued.

Since the Raramuri care for the environment as they care for family and neighbors, they are prone to protect it, keep it healthy, Salmón says.

But the ethno-ecologist predicts that within a generation or two, the Raramuri language will disappear, and with it their kincentric land ethic.

More than a decade of drought and the pressures of globalization are pushing Raramuri youth from their traditional lands in the remote mountains of Sierra Tarahumara.

The youth are moving to the cities, adopting a different language and a new frame of mind, Salmón says.

"Those choices are affecting this next generation of speakers and potential land managers," he said.

Lost Archives

The scenario of indigenous languages and beliefs fading away is being seen throughout the world.

Salmón cites the work of anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis, a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, who has documented this decline. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.)

In a 2003 essay for National Geographic News, Davis wrote that there are roughly 6,000 languages spoken today, but half are not being taught to the speakers' children.

"Unless something changes, effectively [those languages] are already dead," he wrote.

(Read the full essay: "Explorer on Initiative to Document Cultures on the Edge")

According to Davis, losing languages and cultures also means the loss of a "vast archive of knowledge and expertise" of the human experience.

"Every view of the world that fades away, every culture that disappears, diminishes a possibility of life and reduces the human repertoire of adaptive responses to the common problems that confront us all," he wrote.

Free Email News Updates
Sign up for our Inside National Geographic newsletter. Every two weeks we'll send you our top stories and pictures (see sample).

<< Back to Page 1   Page 2 of 2


SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES

ADVERTISEMENT

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S PHOTO OF THE DAY

NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.