We now live in the “age of information” with technologies such as the internet or smartphone. This usually is looked at positively by first world countries. Even though this may be true, not all groups have been introduced to the technological innovation that we have seen. This has risen the debate whether the groups of people, mostly indigenous tribes, should be introduced to technology we see today. If so, how will this affect them? As with many issues, the answer is not so black and white. Because of this, to fully analyze the topic, we must look at the pros and cons of technology for indigenous tribes.
First, we should define what an indigenous tribe is. These are groups of people who identify as the original inhabitants. Some indigenous people have been introduced to technology and have grown up with the lifestyle we have. Others have maintained their traditions and other aspects of life in early culture. In this articles, we will focus on those who haven’t been introduced.
- Technology provides opportunities that did not exist before. This can give tribes the tools to create complex communities. If you want to maintain cultural integrity, you can divide the tribe based off of special skills. Things such as hunting or agriculture can be developed in a more advanced way. Technology also allows the tribe to create a more complex system of laws and procedures. On a more international scale, technology can provide the tools for an indigenous tribe to compete on a global level. This gives an opportunity for economic development and the possibility to trade in a global market. For example, PEOPLinks provide 100,000 indigenous people internet training and allows for villages to trade globally. This has drastically increased the opportunities for over 100 indigenous tribes.
- Provides an increased quality of life. In advanced societies, we may take simple things such as air conditioning or refrigeration for granted. Simple technologies can increase the quality of life for indigenous tribes by introducing them to things that make their daily lives easier. This, in turn, can increase comfortability and increase the level of production in that society.
- Technology can increase the average lifespan. As medicine has been studied more, advanced technology can diagnose and prevent diseases leading to longer, healthier lives. More importantly, infant mortality rates can be lower as modern medicine can help them before and after childbirth process. Younger children can be treated for outdated diseases leading more children to live into adulthood. The medication can be specific to the region of the indigenous tribe.
- Technology opens the indigenous tribe to other cultures. As technology has created more ways for communication, it has allowed for information to be easily accessed. Because of this, more people are able to research or learn about different cultures. This can help others make informed decisions on religious or political views. Even further, this allows for cross-cultural integration with food, animals, and even ideas.
- Introducing technology can change or alter traditions. Indigenous tribes have a long history of tradition and culture that define them and make their tribe unique. These can be religious in nature or rooted in their society. Introducing technology can disrupt these traditions in many different ways. One way is it distracts them from what is important. As technology has created faster-moving lifestyles with more production, many people in advanced societies get distracted and lose focus. Another way this can happen is over a long period of time, the indigenous tribe might conform to an ideal culture. Much like people strive to be more American or European, indigenous tribes could lose touch over time as cultures become more integrated.
- Although a positive is that technology can increase the lifespan through modern medicine, on the other side it could introduce new diseases. This is seen throughout history. For example, Spain, when finding the Mayan empire, introduced a number of diseases wiping out a large part of the population. Since the indigenous tribes have different immune systems, introducing them to more developed viruses could have negative effects.
Of course, these pros and cons just scratch the surface of the topic.There are many viewpoints on the subject that differ depending on how indigenous tribes are defined. They also change whether the discussion is centered around isolated indigenous tribes or those who have already been introduced to technology. For more information on the topic, the United Nations releases articles on their viewpoints.