Finished reading THE STORYTELLER by Peruvian writer and Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa.
This book, a novel and memoir rolled into one, deals with historic relations between indigenous Amazonian Indian tribes in Peru and creole white Peruvians and foreigners.
The storyteller character is Saúl Zuratas who attended the same university as Mario in the 1950s and who abandons his law studies for ethnography, a field that leads him to the Amazonian Indians. He sums up his attitude thus: "We know now what an atrocity bringing progress, trying to modernize a primitive people, is. Let's not commit this crime. Let's leave them with their arrows, their feathers, their loincloths. When you approach them and observe them with respect, with a little fellow feeling, you realize it's not right to call them barbarians or backward."
Of course, Mario and others disagree with him, though sympathetic.
By the end of the 1970s Saúl is living full time among the scattered Machiguengas people and had become a troubadour of sorts, a reteller of their ancient myths and a source of news of other tribesmen. By then, too, there were big changes: industrial culture and modern technology combined to facilitate the rape of the forest and the acculturation and westernization of many Indians.
I enjoyed reading this book and plan to look deeper into the affairs of Amazonian Indians throughout South America.