I think you are approaching the question of conversion or the need to convert from the wrong direction. You start with the premise that there is an untouched pristine innocent community who are then interefered with by these predatory missionaries..and so on.
Why not look at why exactly all the most natural-resource rich areas in our country are inhabited by some of the poorest and least educated of our citizens, the adivasis? No government cared to build roads, bring hospitals, or set up schools and colleges here, which would enable them to "enter the mainstream". They did pass laws to protect homelands in the Fifth and Sixth schedule, and then, a few years later, abrogated them and used state force to get the tribals to vacate their homelands so that the "mainstream" could develop, buildong roads to access the rich lodes of ore, dam rivers and immerse forests, while the tribal children and old people waste away due to hunger and malnutrition. However, there are plainspeople who are there in the region to make a killing out of the forest products collected by the tribals and to marry and integrate into the community - almost always men marrying tribal women - but we know this also means access to the land - but this is not seen as dilution of tribal's rights or culture!
What did the "missionaries" do? By this I do not only mean the Catholic church. I also mean dozens of small groups (mostly non-catholic) who contributed to send subsistence salaries to missionary couples who lived and worked among the tribals, in thier villages, teaching them to read, putting scripts to their dialects, bringing basic health care, sometimes some borewells, with donations...all because they were responding to the call "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers you do to me.." These people also live and often bury children or spouses in these areas but no one knows of them because they are not attached to large or powerful institutions.
I have yet to meet a tribal who has been critical of the material inputs that Christians bring into their lives. Issues of culture need to be more deeply studied. For instance, the culture of consuming alcohol, or tobacco, or even paan - in moderation they are pleasureable but they have the potential to inflict lasting damage to the health of the person and even his family if they substance is abused. And this is an individual choice based on a person's character - but in large numbers, these addictive practices can cause harm to the entire community.
Cynthia Stephen India
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