June 10, 2007

Google aids Indians

Google to harness satellite power for an Amazon tribe

When the Brazilian government failed to defend his tribe against loggers and miners, the leader found a high-tech allyAlmir says loggers and miners have already killed 11 Surui chiefs--Surui is both the common surname and name of the tribe--who tried to prevent them from entering their lands over the past five years, and he says Brazilian government officials have failed to stop the violence. So the 32-year-old indigenous leader, a stocky man who often dons a headdress made from feathers of Amazonian birds, opted for another route--an appeal to Google.

During his visit to the Bay Area late last month, Almir, the first Surui to graduate from college, asked the folks at Google Earth for high-quality satellite imagery that would allow the tribe to monitor loggers and miners, who have no legal right to operate on the tribe's 600,000-acre reserve about 1,600 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro.

His plea fell on receptive ears with company officials in Mountain View, who are now at work on a plan to let the Surui use Google's technology to raise awareness of their plight by working with satellite providers to vastly improve image resolution.

No comments: