The Fierce People

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  • Topic: Ya̧nomamö, Napoleon Chagnon, Mind
  • Pages : 2 (808 words )
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  • Published : July 18, 2010
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The Fierce People by Napoleon Chagnon

As mentioned in the introduction before “The Fierce People” by Napoleon Chagnon, each human group has its own culture, meaning that they have their own language, beliefs, values, norms behaviors, and even material objects that characterize a group, then passed on from one generation to the next. Napoleon Chagnon’s passage on coming in contact with the Yanomamo Indians of Northern Venezuela, (known as the “fierce people,” because they still actively conduct warfare), was something completely different than what he expected. He essentially experienced a culture shock. In the beginning of the passage, he expresses how he was anxious to meet the Indians, stating “Would they like me?” He felt that this was important and he was determined to work his way into their moral system of “kinship” and become a member of their society.

When Napoleon arrived at the village, he was perplexed by the behavior the tribe members were displaying, saying that they had “immense wads of green tobacco were stuck between their lower teeth and lips making them look even more hideous” (18). As the passage continues, he describes how he feels about the tribe, slowly starts adapting to their ways of living, events that occur by just the simple process of making oatmeal/other meals, becoming dependent on the Indians at times, having to limit the food he gives out, how the Indians demanded food or tools from him, situations that he had to endure because of how the Indians were treating him, how the Indians usually refused to take “no” for an answer, ways in how men would beat their wives, taboo that accounted for fear and respect, learning how to manipulate the Indians to gain an advantage, having to collect accurate genealogies for research, the experience with Kaobawa, speculating on how the Indians had multiple wives and how they were viewed/treated, and finally, how leadership was shown amongst the Indian people.

After reading this passage, I...
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