They live in the darkness of the Amazon rainforest without technology or running water. Their tribe is so isolated that many of its members have never heard of the United States. Simply reaching them requires taking a two-seat bush plane and landing in a crude clearing deep in the jungle.
They are the Yanomama of the Amazon, a population with little contact with the outside world, and Bert D’Amico of St. Catharines is one of few anthropologists to ever interact with them. He will share his experiences as part of Brock’s Continuing Education winter 2011 season.
D’Amico will offer “The Yanomama of the Amazon” every Thursday from April 4 to 18. He will share his spell-binding personal adventures about the Yanomama, including how their health, land and very existence are in danger.
D’Amico, who taught at Denis Morris Catholic High School for 30 years, visited the Yanomama with a fellow anthropologist in the 1980s. Having done extensive work in eastern Africa, D’Amico jumped at the chance to go to the Amazon.
He was struck by the themes he encountered that were similar to other cultures. The Yanomama had no Biblical influence, yet their culture included a story of a massive flood, and the notion of blaming women for humanity’s indiscretions, “not unlike Eve and the apple,” said D’Amico, author of the book A Touch of Africa.
Upon return, he lectured at several universities about what he saw in the Amazon. People who take his Continuing Education class, which costs $75, or $72 for seniors, can expect “an eye opener,” he said.
“They will see the world through a different set of eyes.”
D’Amico’s course is one of many new additions to the winter Continuing Education line up, said Jacqueline Oscvirk, marketing and registration co-ordinator.
Other new additions include “A taste of Tuscany,” an evening lecture and dinner with instructor Giacamo Folinazzo, and “Aging well,” which examines issues related to aging.
There are also professional development classes for software such as Photoshop, InDesign and Excel 2010, and language classes in French and Italian.
“These are all meant to be sparks of inspiration for people to continue to learn,” Oscvirk said.
People attend Continuing Education courses from across Niagara, she said.
Courses are open to all adults 18 and over. For a full list, see brocku.ca/continuing-education