The Yanomamo

The Yanomamo
The Fierce People
One of the oldest and last remaining ancient cultures in
the world
Their existence wasn't really known to the world until
the 20th century
1940-1960 first missionaries
got infected with an illness that caused many deaths
1970-1980constant compact with the regional border by
development projects, large losses
1980, rich mineral stores were discovered, gold diggers
1993, Haximu massaccre where 16 people of the
Yanomami were killed by Gold Diggers
In the Amazon region of Venzuela and Brazil
Tropical Rainforest of Northern Amazonia on the border
between Brazil and Venezuela
(Ornico-Amazon interfluvial region where there is fertile
land near the Amazon river)
Past Location: Headwaters of Parima and Orinoco Rivers
Parima Mountain range and the watershed between the
upper orinoco and right bank affluents of Rio Branco
• Very warm
• During the rainy
season it is
Migration of Culture
Migrated across the Bering Straits between Asia and America some 40,000
years ago making their way slowly down to South America
Inhabited the region of Orinoco and Parima Rivers for the past 1,000 years
Past 700 years, split into subgroups and developed different languages
In the Early 1800's migrated from Parima mountain regions to nearby
Considered "Primitive" because they have not discovered wheels and metals
Isolated Culture, haven't really spread around much
Missionaries have come in hopes of converting them to Christianity, others
have come introducing them to new technologies but it hasn't worked
Live in their own little world, best for them
Rainforest plants are rich in secondary
metabolites, particularly alkaloids
At least 3000 fruits are found in the
rainforests; of these only 200 are now in use
in the Western World. The Indians of the
rainforest use over 2,000
One-fifth of the world's fresh water is in the
Amazon Basin.
Fertile Land for growing crops, diverse
Economic Lifestyle
Hunter because they hunt
Horticulturalists because they have an advanced
knowledge on crops and gardening
Also may use slash and burn technique to clear gardens
and nurture growing seeds
Trade is important among tribes for acquire basic
resources and distribute surplus items, also trade for
political reasons to form alliances
Trading items include recreational drugs, cotton,
Decline or Rising Status
Stagnant/slow decline
1,000 goldminers are working on thier land
Cattle Rancher's are invading and
deforestating the eastern fringe of land
malria, polluting rivers with mercury
Survival efforts are there
Leadership determines' the village's relationship with
other villages
The result of kinship/marriage
Leaders "big men" come from the largest kinship; do not
recognize Chiefs
Consider males more important/powerful than women
Clear Gardens, plant crops, collect wild foods and hunt
Leaders are peace makers/warriors, referred to as fierce
because peirce making takes forcefulness
Relationships between groups are maintained through
alliance and warfare
In this patrilineage, fellow lineage members are close
relative, call each other brother and sister
If they aren't as close may develop hostile relationships
which results in segmentation of the village which forms
new settlements
People may be tied together by affinal ties or consanguine
ties ( house/village)
Settlements not linked by marriage or divided by way
invite each other to elaborate feasts which includes gifts
Exogamy rare, usually for military alliances
Marriages not for love
Neo Indians with Culture that date backs to 8,000 years
Descendants of an indigenous group that had remained isolated for a remote
period of time
Populations kept dispersing, process of internal differentiation, forming new
Each community is independent from each other
Descisions are made my a consensus
Consider women to be inferior, male dominant
Men hunt for prey, women tend the gardens
Mutifamily houses called shabanos/Yano (in the shape of a cone)
Each collective village an autonomous economic/political entity
Approxamately 200-250 villages, about 40-350 in one village
Daily Life includes: gardening, collecting
firewood, making crafts, fetching water,
gossiping/visiting with eachother
Contributions to
Have not made and significant contribution the the world other than being
a topic of study
Research their diets because they have high potassium levels
Religion/Belief System
Practice Animism (every creature, rock, tree, mountain has a spirit)
Shaman's control these spirits by inhaling a hallucinogenic material.
Inhaling the hallucinogen gives the shaman the power to control these
spirits or Xapripe Davi Kapenawa
Believe there is a God called Omama, who blessed them with forest, trees
and animals
Believe that animals were once humans to but were made animals because
of the bad things they did
Men become Shaman's, main job is to heal the sick. Ironically, they also
believe that illness is called by the shaman who is making the hekura, or
spirit sicken the body
Training period with food depravation and abstinence from sex
Pull the demon out with the help of his own demons
Religion/Belief system
Cosmos consist of 4 layers
The top layer is empty but was once occupied by ancient beings duku ka
Second Layer (sky)) contain spirits of dead men and women It resembles
earth but everything is better hedu ka mis
Third Layer is the earth hei ka mis
The fourth layer is the underworld hei ta bebi
The Amahi Teri are spirits who live in the underworld and cause
misfortune to humans
• Pass information orally, not from writing
• Play on words, chanting, myth telling,
story telling to preserve thier history and
entertain themselves
No Musical instruments, women sing
Drawing and paintings
Sparse geometric designs, bold symbols,
black/red, adorn common objects such as
Men wear little more than string around thier waist, it is
is a clear indication that a boy has become a man when
he does that
Women use cotton and yarn to make clothing, also
make waistbands but it covers close to nothing
Halter neck adornaments
Feathers may be worn on the head upper arm or
earlobes; express the relationship between man an
animal, social status, personality, etc
Customs (Marriage)
• Older kin, usually men, brothers, uncle's or father
• Girls usually marry right after thier first period
• Practices Endogamy by marrying within thier village,
exogamy in thier culture would be marrying from
another village
Settlements wouldn't be linked
Bilateral cross cousing marriage
Polygamus marriages, more specifically polygany with
one man with multiple wives
The oldest wife has precedence of the other wives
Customs (Death)
• Called Reahu
• Lament by singing and chanting
• Corpse is quickly burned, women and children absence
• After cremating their dead, they crush and drink thier
bones in a plantain pure
• A way of showing affection for the dead, intended to
keep the loved ones with them forever
• Helps ensure that the soul of the dead will find its way
back to hedu (paradise above earth)
• Settlements not linked by marriage or
divided by war invite each other to
elaborate feasts which includes gifts of
valuable trade items given by the host to
the guest village
Celebrate good harvest with a big feast
Snakes, Wild Pigs, deers, insects, larvae, fish, crabs, wild honey, nuts,
shellfish, plantain, sweet potato, palm fruits, fish
80-90% of its food is eaten from their gardens
Hunting accounts for about 10% of its food supply, as is shared equally
A Brazilian research study showed that the Yanomamo tribe has
significantly low body fat and sodium, and also contain high levels of
potassium, compared to other distinct populations in other continents,
Wild Honey is greatly valued
Behavior is learned and taught by parents
Number system is 1, 2 and more than two
Children practice shooting and throwing, no formal school
Finished cords made from twisted inner bark. Used as materials to make
Tools are devised from materials that can be made immediately from the
Curare and Timbo, poison used for catching fish
Special pots used to prepare food deasts
Bow Staves; 5-6 ft longs made of palm wood very dense
Bow Staves are also made by shaving the sock with incisors
Fire Drill, a two piece gadget. The one piece of wood about 10 inches long
that has several holes due to friction. The lower piece is held down by the
foot while the other piece is spun until a fire ignites by feeding from the
glowing dust with tinder
"Hands Around the World." Native American Indian Cultures. Web. 05 June 2012. <>
"Pilot Tribe." Pilot Tribe. Web. 05 June 2012.
"The Yanomami." The Yanomami. Web. 05 June 2012.
"People." ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation. Web. 05 June 2012.
"Yanomamo." Yanomamo. Web. 05 June 2012. <>.

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