As a boy growing up on a ranch in Brazil, Sebastião Salgado witnessed firsthand the destruction of the native forest. As thousands of acres were cleared for herds of cattle that demanded more and more pasture for grazing, the landscape was inexorably transformed into a dust-filled plain. "They killed the land," Salgado says. "Today the Indians of the rain forest continue to be threatened with the same problem: massive plantations that are cutting down the forest and damming up the rivers."
Because of his childhood experience, Salgado decided to make the remote tribes of South America an essential element of "Genesis," his eight-year collaboration with Rolling Stone to document the planet as it looked at the dawn of time. Now halfway through the "Genesis" project, Salgado marvels at the similarities he's seen between native people around the world. "It's incredible to be among peoples and see the same things that you saw on the other side of the ocean with another tribe," he says. "In the beginning we were all like them — we all had a relationship with the land that was pure and innocent. With 'Genesis,' I am experiencing a kind of communion with the planet."