The Forest People
The Mbuti are a pigmy tribe living in the Itori Forest in Zaire. They are classified as specialized hunter gatherers. The research that will be discussed in this paper will show that the method of subsistence, and the environment in which it is practiced, has a profound impact on the way the Mbuti live. Because they are hunter gatherers, there is closeness to nature that is realized in the way their social structure is set up, as children of the forest. The Mbuti pattern their entire lives on the belief that the Itori is a living sphere, and the community lives within that sphere (Mosko, 1987). Because of their diet and relative isolation, risk of disease is fairly low (Fabrega, 1997). Sickness is a very public concern, since each individual is a contributor to the existence of the whole unit. The Itori is a rainforest in Northeastern Zaire, and does not provide enough food throughout the year to sustain the tribe. They depend on trading for foods, as well as hunting and gathering (Bailey, Head, Jenike, Owen, Rechtman, & Zechenter, 1989). The combination classifies them as specialized hunter gatherers. This particular tribe believes that the forest is everything in life. They consider it to be their God, parent, provider, and even lover (Mosko, 1987). They perceive themselves as the children of the forest and according to Mosko (1987); all tribes who are not Mbuti live outside of the Itori forest. Although they do have knowledge of lineage, the Mbuti do not practice any recognized type of kinship patterns in their social organization (Mosko 1987). There are recognitions of kinship in some practices; for instance, in rules of exogamous marriage, or when setting up camp. The huts are laid out according to patrilineage, for mutual support, but no acknowledgement of kinship is given (Mosko, 1987).
The Itori, for as much as five months out of the year, does not provide the fruits and nuts the tribe needs to subsist (Bailey, Head, Jenike,
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Fabrega, H. Jr., (1997). Earliest phases in the evolution of sickness and healing. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. New series 11(1) pp.26-55 Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/649276
Mosko, M.S., (1987). The symbols of “Forest”: a structural analysis of Mbuti culture and social organization. American Anthropologist. New series 89(4) pp.896-913. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/677863
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