The Chenchus we serve have been depicted in broad stereotypes – often as primitive, innocent, flawed people isolated from the outside world. One of our core missions is to help see the Chenchu communities more expansively, with more nuance and depth. Their heritage as a small indigenous population with deep roots to the Nallamala forests, their local knowledge, folklore, religious traditions, and change over time do make them different and unique. And yet, each Chenchu person is not just a stand-in for the whole: Like all of us, she or he is an individual human being with particular dispositions, challenges, and hopes.
At Lokana, we believe in the power of stories. Portraits and narratives can help us connect with people we perceive to be different from us, but only if we work to be aware of our own biases. We are conscious of how such efforts in marginalized communities, even when done with good intentions, can be exploitative; and we welcome thoughtful commentary. Whenever possible, we have sought the involved individuals’ permission to be included here.