Darkness in El Dorado Controversy - Archived Document

Internet Source: VHeadline.com, September 28, 2000
Source URL (Archive.org): http://www.vheadline.com/0009/9464.htm

US Scientists Conducted Nazi Experiments on Venezuelan Native Amazonian Indians?

US scientists are being accused of conducting Nazi experiments on Venezuelan native Amazonian indians which killed hundreds of primitive tribesmen, women and children in macabre experiments the world thought had best be left forgotten in Hitler's Third Reich archives from seventy years ago.

Survival International, a UK-based the international organization supporting tribal peoples' rights, says it has information which shows that leading anthropologists and geneticist James Neel conducted a secret program of experiments for the American Atomic Energy Commission, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Yanomami indians.

American journalist Patrick Tierney's book "Darkness in El Dorado" claims that one of the anthropologists involved was also responsible for racist theories that have seriously compromised Yanomami safety and welfare for more than 30 years ... he claims that geneticist James Neel and anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon were involved in experiments for the American Atomic Energy Commission which "greatly exacerbated, and probably started, a severe measles epidemic that killed hundreds of Yanomami in the late 1960s" ... the experiments were designed to provide support for Neel's belief in eugenic theories.

Tierney reports that Neel ordered colleagues not to provide medical assistance to dying Yanomamis, but simply observe and record the epidemic.

Survival says that, if the allegations are true, they constitute a crime against humanity and urges authorities in Venezuela and the United States to launch an immediate investigation ... the book will begin serialization in the New Yorker magazine from Monday's and will be published in book form in November.

Chagnon produced a 1968 book entitled "Yanomamo the fierce people" while he was involved with the research project ... the book remains as a set text in anthropology courses worldwide and, according to Survival International, "focuses on supposed Yanomami fierceness and propensity for warfare, presenting them as an outstandingly violent and aggressive people."

Journalist Patrick Tierney, however, says that Chagnon repeatedly "created conflicts in which tribes people were both maimed and killed ... in a letter to Chagnon, Yanomami spokesman Cesar Timanaxie writes "people should know that you are a big liar..."

Meanwhile, for a long time, a number of anthropologists have condemned Chagnon's view of the Yanomami as "unsubstantiated and inaccurate" ... Fiona Watson of Survival International has worked with the Yanomami for more than 10 years and says "they are no more or less violent than any other society."

Survival International had publicly criticized Chagnon's theories way back in in 1990, but much of modern anthropological and development thinking is still influenced by racist theories ... the British government (1997) refused funding for a education project with the Yanomami saying that any such projects with the tribe "should focus on reducing violence."

Sir Edmund Leach, a leading British anthropologist of the 1960-70s, was influenced by Chagnon when he refused to support Survival International's campaign for Yanomami land rights, claiming that "the Yanomami would then exterminate one another." Meanwhile, Survival International has been campaigning for the Yanomami since it was founded in 1969 and claims it was instrumental in persuading both the Venezuelan and Brazilian governments to recognize land rights to the native indians in 1991 and 1992.

The Yanomami are the largest isolated tribe (about 23,000) in the Americas ... they are more reliably described as hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists living in communities of up to 400 people. Their history has been of extreme violence against them and they still suffer high mortality rates from diseases introduced by goldminers who invaded their lands in the late 1980s ... many have been killed by goldminers ... just recently a Brazilian tribunal rejected an appeal by five Brazilian miners against a conviction of genocide for massacring a whole Yanomami village in 1993.

Survival International director Stephen Corry says 'the Yanomami have suffered horrendously at the hands of miners and officials, as well as unscrupulous "scientists" ... it is time to ensure that they are properly protected and respected by recognizing their right to own their own land, a right which Brazil still refuses to all indian peoples."