It’s a 500 page encyclopedia of the knowledge of five shamans on the uses of local plants in treating ailments. This is a brilliant project, but there’s one kink that bugs me
The Encyclopedia is written only in Matsés. It is by and for the Matsés and no translations will be made into Spanish or English. No scientific names are included nor photographs of flowers or other easily identifiable characteristics of the plants to outsiders.
This is extremely logical, as pharmaceutical companies will sweep in and rip them off immediately. They’ll likely have someone learn Matsés just to glean hints of what to explore and exploit from a pirated copy of the encyclopedia. Currently, I don’t see that the work is copyrighted in any way. Copyright is one of those things that is abused horribly, but if anyone deserves the protection of copyright law, it’s an indigenous culture with unique knowledge that could be of great benefit to mankind. It’s the first thing that popped into my head when I read that passage. It’s also currently the top comment on the article on the site. Hopefully this will be addressed, because this encyclopedia is obviously a great work.