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The Yanomamo (Yah-no-mah-muh) also called Yanomami, and Yanomama Tribe in Amazonia. A closer look. Some Basic Information.
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The Yanomamo (Yah-no-mah-muh) also called Yanomami, and Yanomama Tribe in Amazonia
Some Basic Information • Area: The Yanomomi territory covers an area of approximately 192,000 km2, located on both sides of the border between Brazil and Venezuela. Each area is roughly twice the size of Switzerland. • First Contact: 1929 • Population: 11,700 in Brazil (in 2000) and 15,193 in Venezuela (in 1992); largest of the Amazon tribes • Today: Continuous active genocide including the senseless massacre in September, 1993. An estimated 23 persons died, mostly women and children. Sixty two percent of Yanomami tested positive for new strains of malaria introduced by garimpeiros (gold miners) which have brought every conceivable disease known to modern man, from the common cold (Yanomami have no immunity to combat our most common ailment) right up to and including AIDS. The adult life expectancy is only 45 years; and most children don’t live past infancy.
The Yanomami • They are deep jungle Indians living in the Amazon basin in Amazon rainforest among the hills that line the border between Brazil and Venezuela. The Yanomami are believed to be the most primitive, culturally intact people in existence in the world. Their numbering system is one, two, and more than two. They cremate their dead, then crush and drink their bones in a final ceremony intended to keep their loved ones with them forever. They are hunters and gatherers also tend small garden plots. They are one of the most successful groups in the Amazon rain forest to gain a superior balance and harmony with their environment.
Stone Age People or Not ? • Some reports claim that the Yanomami are literally a stone age tribe. Cataloged by anthropologists as Neo-Indians with cultural characteristics that date back more than 8,000 years, these are a Last Encyclopedia. They have never discovered the wheel and the only metal they use is what has been traded to them from the outside. • However, another source claims that this characterization is inaccurate in that the Yanomami are horticulturalists, possessing a relatively advanced knowledge of crops and their culture. In addition, they possess advanced bow and arrow technology, whose use was only introduced about a thousand years ago in the Americas. Even the advanced civilization of the Incas lacked this level of technology.
Living in the Shabono • The Ya̧nomamö live in villages usually consisting of their children and extended families. Village sizes vary, but usually contain between 50 and 400 people. In this largely communal system, the entire village lives under a common roof called the shabono. a characteristic oval shape, with open grounds in the center measuring an average of 100 yards. The shabono shelter constitutes the perimeter of the village, if it has not been fortified 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 and tree trunks. They are susceptible to heavy damage from rains, winds, and insectinfestation. As a result, villagers build new shabonos every 1 to 2 years.
Food & Language • The Ya̧nomamö are known as hunters, fishers, and horticulturists. The women cultivate plantains and cassava in gardens as their main crops. Men do the heavy work of clearing areas of forest for the gardens. Another food source for the Ya̧nomamö is grubs. Traditionally they did not farm. • In the language has four main subgroups and many additional variations, such that people from different villages cannot always understand each other. Linguists believe the Ya̧nomamö language is unrelated to any of the other South American indigenous languages. The origins of the language are unknown.
Conflict • Historically, about 40% of adult males have killed another person and about 25% of adult males will die from some form of violence. Anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon observed that the majority of internal violence within the Yanomamo was related to reproductive opportunity. Chagnon also asserted that men who participated in killings had more wives and children than those who did not. Some Ya̧nomamö men, however, reflected on the futility of their feuds and made it known that they would have nothing to do with the raiding.
Gold & Culture • In the mid-1970s, garimpeiros(small independent gold-diggers) started to enter the Ya̧nomamö country. Where these garimpeiros settled, they killed members of the Ya̧nomamö tribe in conflict over land. In addition, mining techniques by the garempeiros led to environmental degradation. In 1990, more than 40,000 garimpeiros had entered the Ya̧nomamö land. • Disoriented by the influx of miners with their unfamiliar culture, technology and diseases, Yanamomi self-respect has plummeted as their belief and cultural systems are undermined. The Yanomami are not being integrated into Western society; instead begging, prostitution and drunkenness are being introduced into theirs.