By I. M. Friedmann
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Extra info for Helping Resolve Conflict: True Experiences of a Christian Anthropologist
Despite their heroic tales, these people had been defeated so decisively they now lived in constant fear of being massacred by soldiers. Their first peaceful contacts with Western civilization were apparently with sugarcane growers. They employed the Aloso for five or six months of each year to harvest sugarcane. The sugar industry had wisely made its agreements with the chiefs, to whom the employers gave retainer wages. The chiefs did not actually work. They merely made the agreements and settled the disputes between employers and their Aloso laborers when difficulties Page 29 arose during the contract period.
Now problems, when they arise, are usually caused by the way we express such insights rather than by the insights themselves. At different times or in different settings, the same expression may convey very different meanings. During World War I, Mennonites in Russia found service in Russian forests a meaningful alternative service to the state. However, when a similar forestry service was begun in the forests of British Columbia during World War II, many of the well-meaning young Mennonite volunteers were severely disillusioned.
There was to be no stealing at all! The tribespeople's suspicions were further Page 38 heightened by variations in the settlers' reaction toward them. During the cotton harvest, for example, the colonists pampered them so they would work hard at gathering the cotton. But the colonists' welcome passed with the harvest season. Then the colonists refused to feed those indigenous people who came begging for food. Sometimes they even drove them away. To the locals, this was an indication that the whites hated them; they only tolerated them for personal gain.