Google Earth has trained 30 Native Brazilian groups and traditional communities of the Amazon Region during the Workshop on New Technologies and Traditional Peoples. They are learning how to use satellite images and mobile telephone applications as a tool against two of the main dangers that they have faced: the progress made by woodcutters and other invaders who have been destroying the local ecosystem.

 

Through the features of Google Earth, they can make the cultural mapping and also the monitoring of their territories, and shall then be ready to use the technology available for territorial surveillance. The event was held over six days at the Kanindé Association of Ethnoenvironmental Defence, in the city of Porto Velho, State of Rondônia.

 

This proposal was the brainchild of Native Brazilian leader Almir Suruí

 

The proposal was started by the Native Brazilian cacique Almir Suruí, of the Paiter-Suruí tribe, who used the world leader in Internet services to train hundreds of Native Brazilians. The idea was a great success, and he was followed by other Native Brazilian leaders, and this led Google to decide to expand the project to include quilombolas (descendants of African slaves living in special reserves called quilombos) and rubber tappers.

 

This workshop also had the support of Brazilian cosmetics company Natura, which donated 30 laptop computers and 60 smartphones for the Project. After this training, the Native Brazilians could monitor their territories themselves, by satellite, without having to depend on external help, not even from the Government. This assures greater autonomy to the Native Brazilian community and also greater speed in the solution of possible problems, as the action of a middleperson is no longer necessary.

 

Digital tools of the Google Earth virtual globe shall be used in support of management of territories, following what has been suggested by the National Policy of Territorial and Environmental Management of Native Brazilian Lands (PNGATI). The communities thus trained may create maps, generate impact reports, and also make denouncements in a much more efficient and practical way.

 

Groups have been trained in monitoring and map creation

 

Two groups were trained during the Google Earth workshop. The first group participated in a workshop on cultural mapping, based on a methodology of construction of maps through the Google Earth platform. Thus, they may also make additions to the maps, including any content that is of cultural interest to their tribes and communities, such as legends, traditions, and also practices when hunting and fishing.

The second group has been focused on monitoring, and allowed the participants to learn how to prepare forms and questionnaires, and also how to make it feasible to collect data through smartphones. Google Earth expects that the use of this technology expands and starts spreading to other parts of Brazil and also of the world.