Yanomami Tribe and Their Culture Aspects

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Yanomami Culture

Remedios Cochran

ANT 101

Amy VanSurksum

March 15, 2011

The Yanomami is an Indian tribe that live in the thick rainforest in Venezuela.

They are known to be called the Stone Age Tribe. This tribe was discovered in the eighteenth

century, by a western explorer. The daily social roles of the Yanomami tribes are very different,

and yet similar to the roles of Americans today. Yanomami men and women perform very

different and specific roles within their society. The women, leave everyday to travel miles to

collect some food, water, firewood, for the village, they are still care for the children and

husbands The men are the hunters and gardeners The Yanomami are horticulturalists. Most of

their diet is cultivate from gardens, and a small portion is from hunted animals. The combined

roles of the men and woman benefit the entire Yanomami village.

The Yanomami tribe are also known to be cannibals. After the death of occurs

to a tribe member dies, the body is set afire in a remote area and the bones are pulverized into a

fine powder which is mixed into a beverage. The beverage is consumed by the deceased

person’s relatives. This is a religion belief that the deceased’s soul will enter the body of the

living relatives. (White and Johansen, 2005, chapter 3, Bibliography.)

This tribe relies on a system based upon kinship. This kinship system

distinguishes between parental siblings and opposite sexes. I found this system to be quite

confusing, but the Yanomami Tribe was very familiar with it. In the kinship system, parental

siblings of the same sex are considered to be blood relatives, these siblings are also called

parents. Parental siblings of opposite sex are called aunts and uncles. So a mother’s sister can

be called mother and a father’s brother can be called father. However, a mother’s brother is

called uncle, and a father’s sister is called aunt. Today in America, we view all maternal and

paternal siblings as our first cousins. The Yanomami tribe is very different. They consider

children of parental siblings to be parallel cousins and children of aunts and uncles to be cross

cousins. This allows them to marry relatives. In this tribe cross cousin marriages are highly


Unlike marriages in America today, most marriages are prearranged

between cross cousins. The women have prearranged marriages and marry at a young

age. The Yanomami tribe believes that cross cousin marriages helps produce strong

relationships between families and villages. Marriages are a contract with a certain social

group This tribe believed that this contributes to the identity and status. Once married, a

husband must live with his parents-in-law for several years. (Albert, Bruce(1990),

Current Anthropology 31:558.)

After researching the Yanomami Tribe, I realize that there are many

similarities as well as differences in this tribe and the way we live as Americans. Today

we have more technology and many different laws and religions that sets us apart from

the Yanomami tribes. The way we gather food is very different. In America today, we

have farmers to grow crops to sell, and ranchers to raise cattle to sell. As individuals, we

don’t have to do the individual household hunting and farming. We can just go to the

grocery store and buy the food to prepare. As Americans, we don’t always have

prearranged marriages. I think that it is more of a religion thing. Most women and men

are free to choose their own spouse.

The broad overview helps me to understand that our behavior , the way...
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