Letter: Tribal peoples are just like us

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The Independent Online
Sir: On the day (9 June) that you reported on allegations of cannibalism among the Dayaks, I chanced to be reading Alfred Russel Wallace's The Malay Archipelago (1869). His experience in Borneo led him to a high opinion of the Dayaks - above the Malays in mental capacity and undoubtedly superior in moral character. He found them truthful, honest, temperate in food and drink, despite oppression by their Malay and Chinese neighbours.

He gives many examples of their harmonious relationship with their environment and their ingenuity in construction, particularly in their use of bamboo. In these opinions he appeared to have the support of Sir James Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak, and it seems a long way from the impression given by your reports.


Burpham, West Sussex