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The Yanomami Essay

2047 words - 8 pages

Tribes have been present since the beginning of time. They are often smart, innovative and self-sufficient, all without the use of modern technology. A prime example of this is the Yanomami tribe. They are one of the last completely isolated and non-urbanized tribes in the world. The Yanomami have managed to stay secluded from society for over a hundred years and now this is starting to change. Cities along the Brazilian- Venezuelan border are expanding and occupying Yanomami land. Along with the expansion of Brazil and Venezuela, gold miners are invading the tribes land and destroying their environment and their health. The tribe has no real way of protecting themselves; they do not use or have modern day weapons and the government is taking no action to help. The seclusion that the tribe has managed to maintain contributes to their interesting way of life, but outside sources are threatening their culture. Another reason why the Yanomami are under attack is because they live on valuable land that miners are taking great interest in. Although they are under attack may people do not feel empathetic towards their situation, this is because they have a bad reputation surrounding them. Due to mass industrialization, the Yanomami tribe of the Southern Amazon may lose out on their rich existence and culture.

Spreading along seventy thousand square miles in the Amazon forest, the Yanomami tribe resides and maintains their culture without intrusion. Their culture has evolved just like that of a modern society, but their way of life is very different. The tribe chooses to live in communal housing; large round dwellings called shaponos. The shaponos are made out of wood and are completely built by the tribe’s people (1). Families cook and sleep within different sections and daily routines are preformed there as well as trading, fighting and religious ceremonies. For these religious ceremonies a hallucinogen called Yopo is used. The tribe believes that when Yopo is taken they are given a power to interact with the spirits of plants and animals (2). This religion is called animism. Only a shaman can take this hallucinogen and only men can be trained to hold this title. Another unique aspect about the Yanomami is that they partake in bi-lateral cross-cousin marriages (3). This means that a man is not limited to the number of wives he can have, while a women can only have one husband. Their attitude towards sex, marriage and divorce is very laid back. This fact is foreign to Westerners, but they also have traditional, old fashioned views about the roles of men and women. The men’s role is to gather, hunt and provide for the family, and the women are caretakers of the children. Their culture is unlike any in North America though, and it has developed throughout hundreds of years without any influences, but now people are starting to intrude on their land and threaten their way of life.

The seventy thousand square miles of land that the...

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