The Yanomamö Culture

Published: 2021-06-29 07:06:49
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The Yąnomamö Culture
The Yąnomamö are one of the last cultures to come in contact with the modern world. Living in almost complete seclusion in the Amazon rain forests of South America, the Yąnomamö reside in round communal huts, also known as "shabanos". Much of the daily lives of the Yąnomamö consist of gardening, hunting, gathering, making crafts and visiting with each other. The Yąnomamö think very highly of the men in the tribe, making gender relations something interesting to talk about, as well as their beliefs and values, and their sicknesses and how they heal their people.
Although the children of both genders devote much more of their time with their mothers, the boys are taught multiple sex-specific roles and attitudes by their fathers and are encouraged to learn 'masculine' things by observing them. Based on research conducted by Napoleon Chagnon, "A girls' childhood ends sooner than a boy's. By the time a girl is 10 years old or so, she has become an economic asset to the mother and spends a great deal of time working" (Chagnon, 1992, p. 127, para. 3). By the time the little girls are teenagers, they have been married with a child or two.
As Napoleon Chagnon states, "The social dynamics within villages are involved with giving and receiving marriageable girls. Marriages are arranged by older kin, usually men, who are brothers, uncles, and the father" (Chagnon, p. 7, para. 4). Brian Schwimmer, from the University of Manitoba, wrote that, "The Yąnomamö follow a bilateral cross-cousin marriage system whereby marriage partners are doubly related to one another as matrilineal and patrilineal cross-cousins as a consequence of similar marriages among their parents" (Schwimmer, 2003). Chagnon (1992) writes, "The general Yąnomamö rule about marriage, insofar as it can be phrased in terms of a decent rule, is simply that everyone must marry outside of his or her own patrilineal group" (p. 140, para. 3).
In Chagnon's book, "The Yąnomamö consider it very inappropriate to be familiar with the mother of the woman you may marry or have married. Indeed, they describe it as 'yawaremou', or incest" (Chagnon, 1992, p. 139, para. 1). This also means that the men should not make eye contact, say their names, go near them, touch them, or speak to the mothers-in-laws. "The most flagrant cases of incest I have in my records - men marrying parallel cousins or, in one case, a half-sister - are cases of men who are not only headmen but headmen with reputations of 'ferocity'" (Chagnon, 1992, p. 158, para. 3).

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