Hands Around the World introduces unique Native American Indian cultures from Mexico and various parts of South America, particularly the Amazon basin and the Andes Mountains. We are rapidly becoming a global culture. Many of the Native American cultures, especially in North America, have been lost forever and are still honored only in myth and memory. Fortunately there are some Indian cultures that are relatively intact, especially in Amazonia. Hands Around the World feels that it is important to preserve the art, stories, myths, belief systems, details of day to day life, in short all aspects of Native American culture while we still can. This web site is an educational resource to introduce these unique indigenous tribes. We have provided web links to use as additional educational resources. We encourage you to browse this site to learn more about these interesting cultures.
Much of the cultural diversity of our world is disappearing. In South America, not only are the cultures and traditions in danger of disappearing, but some of the Indians themselves are in danger of actual extinction. The Yanomamo is a well known tribe that is rapidly losing its members through the ravages Western disease. Also, many of the Yanomamo tribe are losing their members and culture by assimilation, literally as slave labor, into the society of the South American gold miner. The Yanomami are only the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of other less well known tribes who are also fighting for their literal as well as cultural survival. A case in point is the Assurini, a group of people living in Amazonian Brazil. Their tribe, known for their finely crafted pottery, is down to fifty-seven members. The child population is now seven and the women who are carrying on the artistic tradition of pottery making now number ten. Most of these tribes have their own language which is rarely in written form. If their art and culture are not protected and recorded, they may soon disappear forever.
Hands Around the World is trying to play a small part in preserving Native American cultures by encouraging the continuation of their native art forms. The goal is not only to preserve the art itself but also their culture by giving them a viable means of support using their traditional skills. Many times the Native American, especially in the Amazon Rain Forest, is forced to revert to non-traditional and often ecologically unsound methods of supporting their families, such as slash and burn farming of our precious remaining rain forests. By encouraging and supporting their traditional art forms, Hands Around the World hopes not only to preserve the Native American Indian culture and way of life, but also the conservation and preservation of our natural resources.
A special note of thanks to David Richardson, founder and director of the Center for the Preservation of Indigenous Art and Culture in Alter de Chao, Brazil. Mr. Richardson’s extensive study and work with the Native Americans in Brazil has provided much of the information on the Brazilian tribes. His beautiful museum and cultural center near Santarem, Brazil contains one of the most extensive collections of Amazon Indian tribal art in the world, with over 75 tribes represented. Also, thanks to Milan Harris of Rain Forest Crafts and the book Arts of the Amazon published by Thames and Hudson for additional information.