Proposal: Indigenous groups in Latin America

Initially, learning the language spoken by the young terrorists in Bel Canto prompted me to search for indigenous groups in South America. I believe that poverty and malnutrition are major problems in third world countries. Learning about the Quechua was further sparked by my interest in the effects of poverty and malnutrition on their standard of living. Thus far, I have learned that the Quechua tend to live isolated from civilization as they migrate primarily in the mountains or rainforests. Some of them are open to technology such as solar panels for energy and battery powered radio to maintain one-way contact with the outside world. They are also dependent on sustainable agriculture and the domestication of animals.

The purpose of this research is to further explore the sustainability of the Quechua people in comparison with a more isolated indigenous group. I tried to look up groups that are solitary and are barely touched by the modernization of civilization. I found a group called the Yanomami, an Amazonian tribe that resides in the rainforests of South America. Their way of life depends more on sustaining themselves through hunting, gathering and growing crops. I think this is an interesting avenue to pursue because it may reveal how each group may perceive and cope with poverty. Furthermore, my findings can be applied to most ’average’ indigenous groups and provide me a better understanding to how they live. The primary measure I will use for comparison will be the rate of malnutrition their children may experience. I hope to find how their form of sustainability effectively reduces or increases malnourishment among their members.

Basic questions I would like to start my research with are:

  • How does each group sustain themselves through food?
  • What is the standard of health care provided?
  • What is the age ratio? (Age may indicate health status and till what age the average members of the group live to)
  • Why are these groups isolated? (Are they forced to geographically and economically or willingly to avoid changes brought on by civilization?)
  • How much dependence do they have on modern technology and what are the effects of having it versus lack of? (Is it easier or harder for them to have technology?)

My so what for all this research will be to learn “Do they treat malnutrition and is it a concern for the two groups?” If so, what is being actively done by that country to help these people? My concerns then include: Would these indigenous groups accept help? What is set in the future of these groups? Will these indigenous groups remain in isolation or will they slowly convert to modernization.

I hypothesize that malnutrition is a prominent issue in these ethnic groups because their isolation means that they have limited access to more nutritional foods and proper health care. I think that these groups don’t really consider themselves living in poverty if they have lived like this all their life.

References (very brief research to form ideas)

  1. Education for and about Indigenous People. The Peoples of the World Foundation. 2015. 6 Oct 2015. Web.

  1. The Yanomami. Survival International. 13 Oct 2015. Web.

I have already selected a list of books from the library to further research the Quechua and Yanomami.


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