“The Nukabé tribe is a strange, indigenous people of West Columbia. We are very excited to be given this opportunity to go study them.”
Professor Thomas Wiggins was my Archeology professor at UC. I interned under him and was well into the second year where I had worked on various grants for him. Mostly just sorting data. I was still a year away from completing my thesis, but eventually I would have my doctorate.
“This would be your first assignment with us where you actually get to work in the field, is that right, Elizabeth?”
“Yes, professor,” I said.
“Well, Elizabeth, I want you to know, this trip is not mandatory. South America can be a very dangerous place, though the Nukabé tribe is renowned for being perhaps the most peaceful tribe on the continent. There should be no threat of violence there, but still, fair warning and all.”
“That’s good to know,” I said. “All the better to make me feel about coming on this one.”
“Well, I do need to fill you with a few more details before you make up your mind.”
“OK,” I said.
“Even though these indigenous tribes of South America are small and confined, acts of criminality do occur. Missionaries murdered, in-tribe violence, the occasional rape. The Nukabé tribe is unique in that there has never been one reported act of violence in their known history. And they were first discovered in 1891!”
“How often have they had foreigners visit or been studied?”
“More than five known, recorded expeditions. Various missionaries have been there, of course. The tribe has always allowed people to stay or come and go as they pleased, so long as they contributed to the community in some way.”
“Then why is this study so special?”
“Because it’s been almost two decades since anyone last recorded their activities. All the studies we’ve seen to date show an indigenous people that, no matter how much they are exposed to the advancing world, refuse to move with it. It will be interesting to see that hold true today.”
“How many weeks again?”
“Six. We leave in two weeks. But here’s the thing, Liz…”
“Spit it out already,” I said.
“They may be a peaceful tribe, but they do have a rather unusual ‘hierarchy’ to their tribe. For outsiders, it may appear as if women were considered second-class citizens.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, the women there, especially young ones such as yourself, are often subjected to rather humiliating ordeals. Many go naked, not as a matter of practicality, but rather to please the men’s attention. Some even perform sexual acts on them, out of duty as it were.”
“I thought you said they were a peaceful people. It sounds to me like they oppress their women, even treat them like slaves!”
“That’s just it. None of these women do these things unwillingly.”
“Of course, that’s what they say!” I exclaimed. “They’re abused women!”
“It’s not that simple.”
“Of course it is!” I scoffed. No one, man or woman, would want to play slave to another.
“No, listen to me carefully. The first expedition that discovered this tribe in 1891 actually held that belief. That even though the tribe was friendly and peaceful, the humiliation of these women was a cruel and unjust thing. However, as they assimilated with the tribe, they recorded that the women were all quite happy and content. Genuinely happy! The next expedition, in 1921, the next research team recorded the same phenomena.”
“OK,” I said, hesitating. I felt as if there were more to this coming.
“So two years later, in 1923, another expedition was assembled, this time with four women on the team. It was a first as only men had gone before. They wanted to discover if the female tribe members would perhaps bond with these female researchers, even though they would not subjugate themselves to such acts. The thinking was, considering how peaceful a people they are, that the tribe would get a better understanding of their own abusive culture and understand it better.”
“Makes sense,” I said.
“The thing is, when they arrived, three of the girls began getting unnaturally sexually aroused. Within minutes, they were as naked as many of the tribeswomen were and behaving just as audaciously at times.”
“The girls reported that they couldn’t help themselves. That they wanted to perform the actions in which they engaged. Elizabeth, they were subjected to some very shameful things!”
“Like sexual abuse?”
“Yes… and no. It’s not abuse if the person wants it to happen. Every time, this is exactly what happened. The women reported they were okay with behaving this way; that they enjoyed it. If these reports are accurate, some would go so far as to masturbate for an audience. Anyway, though things like this occurred, there were no known incidents of actual rape or sexual abuse.”
“How strange,” I said. “But why would women behave this way in public? Something in the water?”
“Perhaps. We have a theory that it is some kind of natural aphrodisiac that is either in the environment, or perhaps something emanating from the tribesmen; something in their pheromones, perhaps.”
“So let me get this right. You’re saying if I go down there, there is a good chance that I will act lewdly, uncontrollably, in front of you and others, including strangers! And I won’t mind doing it?”
“I am telling you that statistically that is a possibility. Based on the evidence of the report from 1923, as well as much larger study done almost twenty years ago, a majority of the women willfully denigrate themselves. We’re talking something like six or seven in ten. The others won’t be affected at all; just like the men in the group. I will say this, though…”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“We’re going down there to specifically study this phenomena, along with other cultural aspects, too, of course. However, if you are unaffected by whatever makes the female gender respond this way while in the village, we are sure you would not think down on the women that are affected.”