THE NEW TRIBES MISSION: Forced contact results in disease and death

New Tribes Mission (NTM) is an international, evangelical Christian mission organization consisting of around 3,300 born-again believers spread over more than 20 countries. Set up by Paul Fleming in 1942, this Florida-based group has penetrated hundreds of Indian communities across the world in an attempt to “reach the lost” and convert them. The organization has been condemned as one of the key perpetrators of crimes against the Ayoreo people. Branding them as “savage, nomadic and hostile”, the NTM established colonies and, in collusion with the dictator Stroessner, proceeded to convert many Ayoreo Indians. In 1979 and 1986, the NTM even organized manhunts which consisted of using light aircraft to spot members of the Totobiegosode – a group of uncontacted Ayoreo –and sending already-converted Ayoreo back into the forest to kidnap forest-dwelling Ayoreo who were often their traditional rivals. The NTM’s evangelical work triggered a mass exodus of the Ayoreo Indians to Bolivia, and violent clashes with those who wanted to avoid contact with the outside world. Many captured Ayoreo died as a direct result of contact with Western society soon after being brought to the missionary posts, which have been likened to concentration camps. Those who survived the trauma of the forest roundups were forced to abandon their traditional lifestyle, stripped of their cultural weapons and instruments, and force-fed the Gospel. They had to find work on farms or in factories owned by Mennonite colonists in the Central Chaco. Those unable to find work turned to begging or prostitution. Today, there are 19 Ayoreo settlements in Paraguay, most of which were created by NTM.
22 jun. 2015
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