Google Teams up with Indigenous Tribe to Create ‘Cultural Map’

Posted on June 22, 2012


The idea of custom mapping has been taken to the next level with Google’s new ‘Cultural Map’ of the Surui people of South America.  MarketMAPS has the ability to produce a map of every country in the world, but this kind of custom mapping is quite different.  Combining the knowledge of the Surui people with Google’s advanced technology, the Surui ‘Cultural Map’ will hopefully help the Amazonian tribe share their vast knowledge of the forest and fight illegal logging. 

Five years ago, Google began working with the Surui people on a digital map based on their knowledge of the Amazonian forests.  The map, the result of a partnership between Surui chief Almir and the US technology giant, was released online for the first time at a business forum held on the sidelines of the UN Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.  The map, a collection of pictures and videos mapping historical sites and offering 3-D visualization of Surui territory in the northwestern Brazilian state of Rondonia, is available on the site as well as on Google Earth.

Chief Almir claimed that the project “shows the value of our culture to the world through Google.”  With various historical sites marked, as well as places where certain animals can be found, the Surui ‘Cultural Map’ certainly displays the tribe’s familiarity with, and intimate knowledge of the land.

Rebecca Moore, Google Earth Outreach leader, described it as Google’s first such project with an indigenous people.  “We really believe that this is ground-breaking, ground-breaking for Google,” she added. “The Surui people and Google worked together to bring the story of the forest to the global community.”

The younger members of the tribe were especially interested in contributing to the project, viewing the map as a way for the world to experience and carry on their family traditions.  Kristen Coco, a deputy spokesperson for the business forum, hailed the map as an “excellent example of innovation and successful collaboration between the private sector and indigenous peoples.”  Google also aired the world premiere of a new documentary titled ‘Trading Bows and Arrows with Laptops: Carbon and Culture, which chronicles its five-year partnership with the Surui people.  By bringing to light a relatively secluded way of life, Almir hopes to draw attention to the deforestation occurring near the tribe’s homes.  He said his 1,300-strong tribe plans to use the map as well as Android smartphones provided by Google to monitor and denounce illegal logging around its territory.

Google and the Surui people hope that indigenous cultures can continue to prosper with the aid of cultural maps like these.  Clearly maps have a lot to offer to everyday people as well as businesses.  They can be used to educate, to help visualize areas of interest, and much more.  MarketMAPS is the leading provider of business and educational maps throughout theUS.  Our maps have been, and continue to be used in classrooms, as home décor, and on business sites as tools for site selection and market analysis.  With a variety of finishing options available, our maps are both professionally detailed, and aesthetically attractive.

Contact MarketMAPS today and discover how our maps can serve your educational and business purposes.


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Posted in: Business