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Embera: The End of the Road

rai dws embera at the end of the roadSeries Disappearing World Series
Director Brian Moser, Ariane Deluz
Country/Production UK
Release 1971
Length 52 mins
Format Colour / DVD or VHS / PAL / All region
Location Colombia, Choco region of Colombia / America
Ethnic Group Embera Indians

Order No RAI-200.12
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The way of life of the 10,000 Embera Indians who live in the Choco region of Colombia, South American, is threatened by the encroachments of Negro Libres (descendants of freed slaves) and by the expansion of the Pan-American highway which cuts through their land. The film's main concern is to show the effects of interaction between the Embera river dwellers and two groups of outsiders: the Libres with whom they trade, and the local Catholic mission which administers education, religion and civil justice. Although the Embera are exploited by the Libres (who, for example, sell them hunting dogs at very high prices) both groups are poor and largely without rights in Colombian society. In an interview, the Embera explain to the anthropologist that they want protection from the physical attacks of the Libres and legal rights over the land which they have inhabited for many years. Sequences such as this bring out the Embera's plight: they are caught between the bulldozers and the banknotes of the Libres. We are shown the material culture and way of life of the Indians (canoe building, pot making, hunting, curing rituals) but not in a romanticised way, and the polemical organisation of the film allows the ethnographic details of the life of these river Indians to be placed in a wide social and economic context. A. Deluz, 1975. `L'initiation d'un chamane Embera'. Bulletin de la Societe des Americanistes, No. 39, pp.5–11. L.C. Faron, 1962. `Marriage, Residence and Domestic Group among Panamanian Choco'. Ethnology, Vol. 1, pp. 13–38. G. Reichel-Dolmatoff, 1960. `Notas Etnograficas sobre los Indios del Choco'. Revista Colombiana de Antropologia, IX, pp.73–158. G. Stipek, Jr., 1974. `The Kindred as a Corporate Group: the Embera Example'. Presented at 73rd Annual Meeting of American Anthropological Association, Mexico.

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