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Robert “Bobby” Salgado Sr. led the Soboba tribe off-and-on for more than three decades through good times and bad.
By CRAIG SHULTZ / STAFF WRITER
For indigenous communities grappling with how to preserve their cultures, there's the constant question of how to bridge the gap between historical tradition and a tech-focused world.
But a seemingly unusual medium has emerged as an avenue toward achieving this goal: gaming. And one indigenous tribe in Brazil is using it as a means to tell their story.
The Kaxinawá people have teamed up with anthropologists and game developers to create Huni Kuin: The Way of the Snake, a game for PC and Mac that honors the indigenous community's culture.Huni Kuin, a phrase the Kaxinawá use to refer to themselves, translates to "real people" in the tribe's main language.
Guilherme Meneses, an anthropologist from the University of São Paulo, acted as lead developer on the game, which helps relay the myths, stories and rituals of the Kaxinawá tribe through gameplay.
Meneses told Agencia Brasil that he created the game to help curb some of the misconceptions and prejudice people may have about indigenous communities, hoping the game would help increase the amount of public information available on indigenous life and history.
The five-level platform game follows two Kaxinawá twins, a hunter and an artisan, as they explore a game world steeped in storytelling and tradition. The twins are granted special powers by a snake, using their skills to overcome challenges relating to animals, plants and spirits of the forest — three entities of high importance to the tribe.
The game uses the Kaxinawá language as a main mode of narration, with subtitles to translate, Agencia Brasil reports. It took six months of research and three years of development to complete.
Beyond the adventure in Huni Kuin, there's a single stand-out quality: authenticity.
Beyond the adventure of Huni Kuin, there's a single stand-out quality: authenticity.
The tribe had a heavy hand in the game's development, with around 30 members involved in everything from script development to music and narration. Since the tribe was actually consulted on their representation in the game, players can be assured they're having a culturally accurate, sensitive and responsible experience.
Using gameplay to help preserve indigenous culture isn't unique to this single tribe. Throughout the past few years, indigenous communities across the globe have begun to take advantage of the storytelling abilities of gaming to make their cultures accessible to the connected generation. One recent example is Never Alone, which tells the stories of the Alaskan Iñupiat people and helps provide positive images for indigenous youth.
As of 2010, around 7,500 people of the Kaxinawá tribe lived in Brazil, with an additional 2,400 living in Peru. According to indigenous advocacy organizationSurvival International, there are about 240 total tribes living in Brazil today, comprising around 900,000 people.
Huni Kuin will be available for free download starting in April, according to the game's website.
[H/TThe Huffington Post]
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