Adventures in National Geographic

Every month since I was maybe eight years old I would anxiously wait for my family’s monthly issue of National Geographic to arrive in our mailbox. I loved poring over the magazine and discovering new worlds, peering over every distinct photograph, each telling a different story about a different corner of the universe. I still eagerly await each month’s issue, ready to see what new adventures and far off places have been discovered and documented. When the December issue arrived this Friday, I immediately devoured it, sitting in complete silence for an hour while I read the thing cover to cover. Nearly every article in the magazine interests me in some way; it is such a perfect muddle of history, archaelogy, nature, culture, and science. In this particular issue, however, one article in particular caught my attention.

This article was about the Hadza people in the East African bush. Though not completely isolated from the outside world (they trade honey for tobacco), they are one of the last hunter-gatherer cultures left in the world. They are nearly completely self-sufficient (again, except for trading for tobacco with other settled tribes), and are able to sustain themselves on the animals they hunt in the bush. The Hazda lifestyle has survived for 2,000 years or more. They use the same techniques their ancestors have used for thousands of years, and very few have a desire to look at the outside world that is always knocking on their door. The writer of the article, Michael Finkel, and the photographer, Martin Schoeller, were the first visitors into the tribe from the outside world ever. They vaguely have an inkling of what happens in the area immediately surrounding their hunting lands, but apart from that, they feel no other information is needed.

This, in my mind, is the ultimate demonstration of survival in the wild. While poachers need a Jeep and rifles to take down a grown giraffe, the Hazda need only their bow and arrows covered in the poisonous desert rose sap. They are experts at tracking bees to get honey to eat and trade for tobacco. True, it has taken two thousand years to perfect these methods, but unlike the surrounding sedimentary tribes, the Hadza have never once experienced famine. When I look to someone surviving in nature, I would look to the Hadza. They are not doing much more than surviving. They are not progressing in terms of technology, however, they are happy with the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and refuse to part from it.

Here’s the link to the article online:

<http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/12/hadza/finkel-text>

 

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