The map, the result of a five-year 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 here.
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 www.paiter.org as well as on Google Earth.
Donning a multi-colored feather headdress, chief Almir hailed the project that “shows the value of our culture to the world through Google.”
Almir, who proposed the idea of the map to Google during a visit to the United States five years ago, told a press conference that he was particularly proud of the contribution Surui youths made to the project, including narration.
“We really believe that this is ground-breaking, ground-breaking for Google,” said Rebecca Moore, Google Earth Outreach leader. “The Surui people and Google worked together to bring the story of the forest to the global community.”
Almir 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.
Moore said that by developing the map Google now had a methodology that can be used to help other indigenous peoples around the world, including in Canada and New Zealand.
Almir said his goal was to raise awareness of the need for a sustainable use of the forests.
“We understand the forest, Google understands the technology and we have established a partnership for the good of the forest,” he said.