We, as a global community, are perhaps at a pivotal point in our history. Our human condition is changing in form, nature, and substance. This is an alchemical transmutation, as we are interacting with a globalized world to the extent that humanity has never before experienced. Macro-scale global development impacts are evermore conglomerating and generating tangible micro-scale footprints, and vice versa.

Indigenous peoples are knowledge keepers of nature. In ways, they are the representative-core of what it truly means to live as a human being, regulated by nature’s natural ecosystems. If their traditional knowledge becomes entirely lost to the trappings of modern world materialism, what hope is there for all our survival?

These ethnic Lahu boys are perched beneath this satellite dish: one is using his bare hand for establishing a focused glimpse into his world environment; the other is peering through a manufactured object. Synthetic blue pipes are wrapping around their bamboo constructed home. What is the significance of this looming satellite dish, as it’s channeling messages from the “outside” world? What is really being piped in? Metaphorically speaking, how much longer before they become wholly plugged into and engulfed by the global market matrix system?

At this scene’s center-point, we transition through a fire-like boundary line. Beyond this you can observe layers of handmade textiles, which represent an ethnicity’s cultural socio-fabric. Perhaps this is the beauty that remains. Indigenous peoples do, for awhile longer anyway, also still harness some indigenous voices that can reveal about their traditional ways. Is a form of ethnocide ensuing?

Finally, like a candle that’s been lit on both ends, we can observe that modern-world development is relentlessly approaching. There is now a smoldering tattered edge, where the contrast between two worlds, two paradigms of our human existence, resides. 

Indigenous peoples, perhaps all humans for this matter, are positioned precariously amidst an expanding global market system, and its tenets of land, labor, and capital. What, then, is the ‘de’ of development? What is being environmentally and societally taken away? What are the replacements?

What does this mean for us all? The time-window through which we can glimpse into and ponder this is closing. … We can choose our destiny.

View the entire ‘De’ of Development research project (thesis), or the Indigenous Voices photo book.