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September 07, 1990 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-09-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I OBSERVATIONS I

Ns.

1114fto

The Road Home
Can Be Savage

End Of Season

IRA RIFKIN

Special to The Jewish News

TENT SALE

T

Save 30-70%

Thurs., Sept. 6 Thru Sunday, Sept. 9th

For this four-day annual event we've marked down
every set of patio furniture, every umbrella, and
every accessory item in stock — for a one-time
clearance price. Now you can save big on the
finest name brands including Brown Jordan,
Telescope, Allibert, Meadowcraft and many other
fine makers. So hurry to the Terrace Casuals tent
sale now!

33021 Grand River Ave., Farmington 476-6550

Mon., Thurs., Fri. 10-8
Tues., Wed., Sat., 10-5; Sun. 12-4

SUPER HOLIDAY
SPECIAL

BROKEN WINDSHIELD

SAVE $25.00

• When you pay cash/or off your deductible • Must be replaed in shop
• Domestic cars only
0 42
vioso

Soy

PURITAN AUTO GLASS

Offer Expires 12/1/90 — By Appointment

$5000 OFF ANY DEDUCTIBLE

On Collision Over $500.00
Conditional FREE Loaner Car — Please present ad with order

FREE RUB-OUT with any collision job over $50000
10 YEARS' EXPERIENCE — BODY REPAIR — PAINT WORK

• Corvette & Mustang Specialists • Insurance Claims • Touch Ups L.

Puritan
Auto Service
355-1200

N1-E S din-5

34

s (1111-vito.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 1990

ALL
WORK
GUARANTEED

21545

Teleciraph

itist ~truth ()I :zin•

envy's
dy
op

Lenny's
Body Shop
357-3020

I ' ant-5

Sdt S din-noon

he week that Richard
M. Nixon left the
White House in
August, 1974, I was in the
Amazon rainforest of
Ecuador visiting a family of
Waorani Indians in the com-
pany of an evangelical Prot-
estant missionary named
Jim.
Traditional Waorani cul-
ture was extremely violent.
The Waorani viewed all out-
siders — meaning almost
anybody outside their ex-
tended family circle — as a
threat (as, in truth, most
were in one way or another)
and they dealt with this by
making the concept of first
strike a tenet of their socie-
ty. Their feuds would rage
for decades and they never
forgot or forgave. Their
neighbors called them
Aucas, a Quechua Indian
word that means "savage."
I had gone to South
America alone in a futile at-
tempt to escape from myself.
Another relationship had
ended and I was lonely and
withdrawn. My most satisfy-
ing personal contact was
with a woman who showered
me with anonymous corn-
passion the nights I was able
to reach her at the local tele-
phone crisis hotline.
I desperately needed to
reveal myself to people. But
I did not have the courage to
do so with those who knew
me. I could not reveal my
pain to people I had so long
presented with a false image
of inner strength. Instead, I
opted for putting myself into
the middle of an unknown
and dangerous environment
so that I would be forced to
open up to others, if only for
my physical survival.
To get around, I hooked up
with American oil com-
panies drilling in the jungle
and with Christian mis-
sionaries looking for Indian
converts. I presented myself
as a journalist and they
agreed to provide me with
food, shelter and transporta-
tion during my sojourn
through the rainforest. I
chose the Waorani as my
destination because of a
magazine story I had read
about them years before that
told how they had killed
several American mis-
sionaries back in the 1950s.
If you're going to the edge, I
figured, why not go all the
way?
After some doing, I

managed to hook up with
Jim, who was really more of
an anthropologist and lin-
guist than Christian pro-
selytizer. By 1974, few
Waorani still killed out-
siders on sight, so it was
relatively safe to accompany
Jim as he visited Waorani
families still living a tradi-
tional nomadic lifestyle, but
within a day or so from his
missionary base camp.
So it was that Jim and I
entered a clearing one day in
which an extended family of
perhaps 15 Waorani lived; a
handful of men, their wives
and children. The women
and children scurried to the
rear of the thatch- roofed
communal but as the men,
wearing an odd assortment
of old bathing suits or vine
and bark genital coverings,
approached us offering bowls
of a foul-smelling drink

This "savage"
knew something
about the meaning
of real community
that I had still to
learn.

made from a potato-like root.
They giggled and spoke
nervously among them-
selves. One man touched my
light-brown hair. Another
examined the stitching on
my shirt. A third opened my
hip pouch and looked inside.
I just stood there, smiling
and trying to remain open to
their curiosity.
Then the headman, a
squat fellow who couldn't
have been more than 5-foot-
5, proceeded to ask me the
sort of questions he asked
everybody: Who were my
relatives? Where did I live?
Whom did I live with?
The questions were in-
tended to determine whether
I was friend or foe; whether I
was allied with someone
with whom he might be
feuding. If so, I would be
considered a threat. Despite
his previous contact with
Jim and other outsiders, he
still lacked an understan-
ding that the world was far
bigger than his forest home.
I thought it best to
simplify my response. I said
I lived by myself beyond the
mountains and left out all
details about a son living
with an ex-wife and parents
who were as perplexed as
this Waorani chief about
what I was up to. Jim trans-

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