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The Yanomamo Essay

1647 words - 7 pages

The Yanomamo’s or also referred as Yanomami and Yanomama, are a group of nearly 35,000 indigenous people who live in some approximately 200 villages in the Amazon rainforest of South America between Venezuela and Brazil. Like most other tribes the Yanomamo migrated across the passages between Asia and America about 15,000 years ago making their way down to South America and is one of the last ancient cultures still remaining. The meaning of Yanomamo is “Human Being.” The Yanomamo are made up of four subdivisions within their tribe and have their own language which consists of: The Sanema which live in the Northern Sector, the Ninam which live in the southeastern sector, the Yanomam that ...view middle of the document...

Therefore the Yanomamo will spend as much as 60% of their time walking. Trade also is another important aspect of Yanomamo life and helps to reduce the chances of fighting between villages. Often one village will have manufactured goods that are really needed by another village.
The Yanomamo live in hundreds of small villages, grouped by families in one large common home called a Shabono, which is a disc-shaped structure with an open-air central plaza with open grounds in the center measuring an average of 100 yards and is a material version of their god’s home. Villages are separate but constantly will cooperate with each other. The shabono shelter constitutes the perimeter of the village, if it has not been reinforced with palisades. Under the roof, divisions exist marked only by support posts partitioning individual houses and spaces. Shabonos are built from raw materials from the surrounding jungles, such as leaves, vines, plums and tree trunks. They are exposed to heavy damage from rains, winds, and insect infestation which result as villagers building new shabonos every 2 to 6 years that can be a hassle. The villages, which contain between 50 and 300 individuals, are spread lightly throughout the amazon rainforest. The distance between villages may differ from a few hours walk to a ten day walk. The Yanomamo live in villages usually consisting of their children and extended families. Village sizes change, but usually contain fewer than 400 people.
The Yanomamo people's traditions are shaped by the belief that the natural and spiritual world is a unified force of nature that creates everything and is sacred. They believe that their destiny and the fate of all people are certainly related to the fate of the environment; with its destruction, humanity is committing suicide. Their spiritual leader is a shaman. The shamans, which are the one who are called upon to heal the sick, help someone in need or to send demons which he controls to endanger enemies. They also are known to be able to cast spells on people using plants. To become a shaman, a man must go through very difficult training, including a fast from food and abstinence from sex. Rituals are a very important part of Yanomamo culture. The Yanomamo celebrate a good harvests with a big feast to which close villages are invited. The Yanomamo village members gather huge amounts of food, which helps maintain good relations with their neighbors and they also decorate their bodies with feathers and flowers. During the feast, the Yanomamo tend to eat a lot and the women dance and sing late into the night. Though many ceremonies ignore female involvement or participation, they are a large part of the preparation. In the preparation process for large ceremonies, the Yanomamo women make alcoholic drinks for the men. The use of hallucinogenic drugs is very common, yet women are prohibited from involving themselves in this practice of consuming it. The women do participate in the practice of...

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