Yanomamo: People of the Rainforest

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Yanomamo: People of the Rainforest

Located in the Amazon Basin of Southern Venezuela and Northern Brazil, the Yanomamo are an indigenous group numbering close to 23,000. They utilize slash and burn horticulture, hunting and gathering to survive within their ecosystem. Napoleon Chagnon termed the group, “fierce people”, citing their numerous disputes within non-allied villages. Aside from their periodic warfare, they have managed to build and sustain their unique culture through adaptations to their environment for generations.

Family Organization

Yanomamo families may live together as simply nuclear, polygnous, or extended (Ramos 1995, 188). Each house may have somewhere between one to six family compartments (Ramos 1995, 36). Alcida Rita Ramos explains that the nuclear family is very often so entangled in the web of kinship that, in order to define it, it is necessary to go through relatives who are primary neither to the husband nor to the wife (1995, 188). She states, "the wife may be the mother of a mans children, the daughter of his mothers brother, and the daughter of his fathers sister" (1995, 188). Frank A Salamone further explains the confusing kinship system they maintain by explaining that children of siblings of the opposite sex on both mothers and fathers side is the preferred marriage termed "bilateral cross-cousin marriage" (1997, 40). Apparently, another explanation for the difficulty in defining direct and indirect kin among the Yanomamo is in part due to their use of Teknonymy (Salamone 1997, 42). Ramos explains that Teknonymy does not allow for the use of personal names, meaning individuals are referred to, for example, as 'daughter of Suli' or 'husband of Suli' (1995, 188). In families, men do outran...

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...mbridge University Press, 1985.

Moore, Randy et. al. Botany; Second Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 1998.

Ramos, Alcida Rita. Sanuma Memories: Yanomami Ethnography in Times of Crisis. University of Wisconsin Press, 1995.

Saffirio, Giovanni and Richard Scaglion. (1982) Hunting Efficiency Among Acculturated and Unacculturated Yanomama Villages. Journal of Anthropological Research 38: 315-327.

Smoles, William J. The Yanoama Indians: a cultural geography. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1976.

University of Manitoba Anthropology Homepage. http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/arts/anthropology/tutor/case_st udies/yanomamo/

Yanomamo Homepage. http://www.wugb.edu/~galta/mrr/yano/yano.htm

CSAC’s Ethnographics Gallery. http://lucy.ukc.ac.uk/EthnoAtlas/Hmar/Cult_dir/Culture.7884

Yanomamo Research Group Homepage. http://www.sscf.ucsb.edu/~cejal/

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