by Cathy Anderson Corn
Recently, an MSNBC news article riveted my attention, for it told of Amazon Indians in Brazil who were "uncontacted." Photos showed two men painted bright red in loincloths looking up at the aircraft, ready to shoot arrows at it. Which makes you wonder, did they think the plane was a UFO? Did they imagine aliens had come to take them away? Better yet, did they perceive the object in the sky as a big bird? ("I could feed the whole village for a year if I bag this one. Shoot hard and far, boys.")
This tribe is endangered by illegal logging in the area, which reminds me of the prime directive on the old Star Trek series--to not interfere with other societies. Get this, too--there are one hundred uncontacted tribes in the world. How do they do it? How do they stay isolated in their microcosms, mercifully unaware of antiperspirants, liposuction, computers, big screen tv's, suspension bridges, and convenience stores? Medical care is the part I'd want to share with them, but maybe they have shamans or herb healers. Maybe they chew on leaves from plants when the arthritis kicks in. (Maybe they don't get arthritis.)
The notion that we're somehow better or more civilized has plagued men and missionaries for centuries. Could they be complete as is, living close to nature? Margaret Mead studied tribes and found some where the adults were loving and took care of each and every child as their own. A part of me harbors the urge to contact the uncontacted, to learn from them rather than to teach.
This brings me to a writer's perspective on all this, where I find myself part of the uncontacted tribe of publishing. I'm here in my world, aware agents, editors, publishing houses, and readers exist. Instead of a bow and arrows and loincloth, I've a pen and yellow legal pads, and a computer in my bedroom where I hang out in a T-shirt and sweats writing novels. I don't peer skyward, but into the mailbox. It's out there, something bigger and grander, and I wait to be contacted. (No, I haven't sent anything out lately, but still...)
I'M HERE! GO AHEAD AND CONTACT ME!! I KNOW YOU'RE OUT THERE, SO DON'T BE AFRAID!!!
(You contacted writers are welcome to tell your stories of how contact affected your tribe. You uncontacted are encouraged to share your tales of isolation from the publishing community.)
HAPPY SUMMER SOLSTICE!