The Tapirapé Indians

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In South America, there are many indigenous groups that have been studied and analyzed by anthropologists. The Tapirapé Indians is an indigenous Brazilian tribe that has a very interesting culture that has been influenced by other indigenous groups in Brazil, while being preserved from Europeans influences. Most ethnographic research about the Tapirapé Indians has been performed by Herbert Baldus and Charles Wagley from the early 1900’s to the 1970’s. In this paper, I will analyze the language, power, social relations, material practices, belief system and institutions and rituals of the Tapirapé Indians and discuss how each category plays a role in their culture. Tapirapé Indians lived in villages that were designed uniquely for their culture. Their village consisted of nine longhouses that formed a circle (Wagley 1977, 87). “The houses were not dwellings for a single nuclear family, but rather multifamily longhouses containing from three to eight nuclear families. They were, therefore, never of the same size – one or two were 20 meters long and 5 meters wide, but others were smaller” (Wagley 1977, 87). Inside of the longhouse each nuclear family had an area for sleeping and cooking. The Tapirapé Indians moved their village and build new homes every five to seven years due to infestation of cockroaches, the need for more space to bury relatives and to acquire new land for food (Wagley 1977, 88). The Tapirapé Indians used two modes of subsistence: food-producing and food-foraging. They planted manioc and a variety of vegetables, beans and fruits in their gardens. To balance their diet, they hunted certain animals such as wild pigs and anteaters on land and relied on two types of fish to eat. Although there were animals that co... ... middle of paper ... ...ividual. The egalitarian approach to power had an effect on the degree of equality among social relations. The systems of beliefs work as a framework to design and maintain rituals within the culture. Finally, material practices are important because the set-up of the village contributes to the beliefs and how rituals should be performed. The six elements of the social model work together in many ways to produce the framework of the Tapirapé Indian culture. Works Cited Neto, Gorete. "The Impact of Bilingual Education on Indigenous Language and Culture: The case of Tapirape." Proceedings of the Sixteenth Annual Symposium About Language and Society. (2008): 59-69 Wagley, Charles. Welcome of Tears. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977. Wagley, Charles. "World View of the Tapirape Indians." The Journal of American Folklore. 53, no. 210 (1940): 252-260.

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