Study Guide

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon The White Indian

By David Grann

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The White Indian

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One of the biggest misconceptions about the Amazon is that it was named after the online superstore.

Okay, if anyone actually believes that, we will be very, very sad.

We still don't know a lot about the Amazon, because it is such a dangerous place to explore. But back in Fawcett's day, people knew even less. Their ignorance led to a belief in many unlikely things, and one of the biggest mysteries was the existence of so-called "white Indians." As Grann writes, "the notion that the Americas contained a tribe of 'fair' people, or 'white Indians,' had endured since Columbus claimed that he had seen several natives who were as 'white as we are' (14.24).

The racial implications here are they the white native are somehow superior or more civilized than others, purely based on their pale skin color.

One pale native, Dulipe, is dubbed "the White God of the Xingu" (22.59), and he presents himself as Jack Fawcett's son. This is a cruel joke, much more devastating than the Kalapalos turning over fake bones and saying that they are Fawcett's. Dulipe's tribe clearly hopes to profit like the Kalapalos and has no regard for Nina's emotions when they mislead her to believing her son is still alive.

The truth is that these "white Indians" are albinos. Albinism is common in the jungle. This revelation shows us that what is magical in the jungle can really turn out to be mundane—just like Z.

Except George of the Jungle. He's real.

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