Story

Keeping With Tradition: One Indigenous Community’s Struggle with Technology

finalyorkin1.jpg

Schoolbooks on the Pitterson dinner table. In Yorkín, children only have to go to school until the age of 12. At that time, they make the decision whether to continue or drop out. There hasn't been a graduating class in Yorkín since 2010. Image by Diana Crandall. Costa Rica, 2015.

finalyorkin2.jpg

Roberto, 71, uses his mobile phone to call and message members of the community in Yorkín. Image by Diana Crandall. Costa Rica, 2015.

finalyorkin3.jpg

Vidalia, 39, has 8 children, ranging from ages 5-22. She’s concerned about the lack of graduates, but thinks technology can push students to attend school. Image by Diana Crandall. Costa Rica, 2015.

finalyorkin4.jpg

Minor, 23, was a member of the last graduating class of students in 2010. When he was in school, he had to travel to a different community to attend high school because there wasn’t one built in Yorkín yet. He hopes someday to be a biologist. Image by Diana Crandall. Costa Rica, 2015.

finalyorkin5.jpg

All of the Pitterson children are enrolled in school. Jimmy, 18, is one of two graduates this year. Image by Diana Crandall. Costa Rica, 2015.

finalyorkin6.jpg

Graby, 13, who started high school this year, says his friends use technology more than he does. Still, he admits he “gets distracted” while using it. Image by Diana Crandall. Costa Rica, 2015.

finalyorkin7.jpg

Cacao beans, which are crushed to make chocolate, are Yorkín’s main export. The tradition of making chocolate is incredibly important to the Yorkín society. Elders are concerned that technology is making children less interested in their cultural traditions and values. Image by Diana Crandall. Costa Rica, 2015.

finalyorkin8.jpg

The cacao plant is one of Yorkín’s primary exports. Image by Diana Crandall. Costa Rica, 2015.

finalyorkin9.jpg

Cacao can be combined with condensed milk to make "chocolate dip," or boiling water to make hot chocolate. Image by Diana Crandall. Costa Rica, 2015.

finalyorkin10.jpg

Daisy and her two children “hanging out.” Image by Diana Crandall. Costa Rica, 2015.

finalyorkin11.jpg

Cacao beans are crushed with a large stone so they can be combined with food or drink. Image by Diana Crandall. Costa Rica, 2015.

finalyorkin12.jpg

A young boy runs into the Yorkín River, chased by his dog. The river separates Costa Rica from Panama and is the main access way into the Yorkín community. Image by Rebecca Gibian. Costa Rica, 2015.

logging5.jpg

In 2008, a flood and an earthquake devastated Yorkín's land and homes. Since then, community members have created this "greenhouse" to try to grow plants that they will then use to reforest their land. Image by Rebecca Gibian. Costa Rica, 2015.

The Bríbri, a community of indigenous peoples in Costa Rica, are often referred to as the "hidden people" of Costa Rica because they live apart from the general public. It’s only been in recent decades that economic necessity has led the historically isolated community into developed areas of Talamanca, the province in which they live.

Recent contact with outside society has exposed Yorkín to an unprecedented amount of technology—which the elders say is now causing children to drop out of school and to lose their focus on community beliefs and traditions.

Diana Crandall and Rebecca Gibian illustrate the conflict between the old and the new—a community enmeshed in old traditions now struggling with the consequences of technology.