Glenn Shepard Jr. has been conducting ethnobotanical and anthropological research among the Machiguenga and other native groups of the Manu for the past twelve years, as documented in the Emmy award-winning films, "Spirits of the Rainforest" and "The Spirit Hunters." Shepard was also a consultant for PBS's award-winning Living Edens special "Manu, Peru's Hidden Rain Forest." He will receive his doctorate from the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1998. In addition to his long-term work in Peru, he has pursued anthropological research and documentary filmmaking among the Maya of Chiapas, Mexico, and the hill tribes of Thailand. Shepard speaks a dozen languages, including the native languages Machiguenga, Yaminahua and Piro of Peru, the Tzeltal and Tzotzil Maya languages of Mexico and a Bedouin Arabic dialect.

Shepard recently returned to the United States after 18 months of fieldwork in Peru from 1995-1997. During that time he was accompanied for short periods by a number of colleagues, including tropical biologists, conservationists, doctors and writers. Shepard trained a number of native people as ethnobotanical assistants, especially Mateo Italiano (pictured at right). Together, they collected more than two thousand herbarium specimens of plants that are currently being catalogued and identified by botanical specialists in Peru and the United States. These are the only herbarium collections of the medicinal plants of Machiguenga people in Manu.

Who are the Machiguenga? What is a typical day like for a Machiguenga family? What are the cultural beliefs of these Indians? Explore these questions and more in Glenn Shepard's cultural and historical account of the native inhabitants of Manu. Delve into Machiguenga mythology, shamanism, and folk medicine. Read about the traumatic impact of rubber tappers on native people at the turn of the century. Learn how the Machiguenga are adapting to modern influences such as Western medicines, ecotourism, and oil prospecting.
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See how other cultures perceive the healing and strengthening powers of medicinal plants. Follow Glenn Shepard as he explores how the Machiguenga Indians of Manu use the medicinal sedge to enhance their hunting skills. Learn about the pharmacology of this rainforest plant and understand why the Machiguenga's belief in the medicinal properties of the sedge is more than just superstition.
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