In a real-life Avatar, natives seek Cameron's help

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

If there were a real-life tribe of Na'vi, a la James Cameron's Avatar, who were threatened by an unscrupulous mining company, who do you think they'd turn to for help?

A: a paraplegic Marine downloaded into the body of one of their own? Or B: a Hollywood movie director?

In the cast of the very real Dongria Kondh tribe in eastern India, the answer is B, according to the U.K. Guardian newspaper:

The Dongria Kondh tribe from eastern India today appealed to film director James Cameron to help them stop controversial mining company Vedanta from opening a bauxite mine on their sacred land as they believe that he will understand their plight better than most.

Like the Na'vi tribe in Cameron's blockbuster Avatar, who are desperately trying to stop humans from mining under their sacred 'home tree' in Pandora, the Dongria Kondh are trying to stop Vedanta from opening its mine on the mountain they worship.

The mining company wants to strip-mine the Niyamgiri mountain in Orissa state, which opponents argue will destroy the ecosystem and threaten the 8,000-person tribe's existence.

To show their Hollywood savvy, the tribe actually took out an ad in the trade paper Variety in which they appealed to Cameron. "Avatar is fantasy ... and real. The Dongria Kondh tribe in India are struggling to defend their land against a mining company hell-bent on destroying their sacred mountain. Please help the Dongria."

It's unclear what Cameron could do, though. True, he's as rich as Croesus and the King of the World. But can he pilot a dragon?

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