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(July 2004) Dr. Thomas N. Headland recently celebrated his long friendship with the Agta people of the Philippines in a bittersweet article written for the magazine, Cultural Survival Quarterly. As members of SIL Philippines for over 40 years, Dr. Headland and his wife, Janet, began work with the Agta hunter-gatherers in 1962. Since that time, they have watched as the outside world and its influences have impacted the Agta people, their social contexts, and their physical environment. Some changes have been welcome and served the community well. Others, though, have had a seriously destabilizing effect, despite the best efforts of the Philippine government (for instance through the Philippine Nation's 1997 Republic Act No. 8371, also called the Indigenous People's Rights Act) and the work of many nongovernmental institutions such as SIL.
Excerpt from "Basketballs for Bows and Arrows: Deforestation and Agta Culture Change":
Until the 1970s, all Agta boys knew how to shoot small bows and arrows by the time they were four, and by age ten they often came home with small birds they had shot in the nearby forest. These children would typically pluck and clean their birds (often just one tiny sparrow), roast the meat on coals, and then divide and distribute small portions among their playmates. Today, bows and arrows are no longer seen, and young men know neither how to make nor shoot them. Young men are skilled, however, at playing basketball on cement courts in nearby lowlander settlements.