Introduction: Yanomamo Culture. Origin and Background
Several decades ago, hardly anyone knew about the culture of the Yanomamo people, the residents of one of the most remote corners of the Amazon and Brazil rainforests. Preferring a settled way of life, the people of Yanomamo engage in fishing and hunting (Sponsel, 1998).
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The tribe lives by patriarchal traditions, women dealing with child rearing, while men handle the process of food procurement (hunting and fishing). Like many other tribes, which are deprived of efficient healthcare, the Yanomamo people suffer from several diseases. Taking hallucinogenic drugs is a part of most of the Yanomamo rituals.
Challenges of the Present-Day World for the Yanomamo Culture
Even though the life of the Yanomamo people was far from being idyllic before the representatives of the European and American civilization reached them, with the visits of the people from the American and European countries seem to have made the situation even more complicated.
The people visiting the tribe kept the process of intrusion to a minimum. In a retrospective, however, one must admit that the process of introducing the Yanomamo people to the perquisites of the industrialized society had its flaws. Because of the influence of the European and American cultures on the Yanomamo one, the latter seems to be losing its uniqueness.
Culture Shock: A Museum of Oddities for the European Dwellers
Despite the positive effects of the European and American visitors on the Yanomamo people, the communication process has been going admittedly long, with some major misconceptions that could be crucial to the termination of relationships between the Yanomamo people and the rest of the world.
Perhaps, the greatest difference between the Yanomamo society and the one of Europe and the USA, explicit violence, not only towards their enemies but also towards the members of their society, must be mentioned. According to the existing evidence, Yanomami fight over resources and women.
Their violence towards the rival tribes is shocking; raping and beating the women of their tribe, as well as the ones from the tribes of rivals, is commonly accepted.
Solutions to the Problem: Further Expansion vs. Careful Retreat
A complete cessation of communication between the Yanomamo culture and the rest of the world is hardly reasonable. According to the current state of affairs, death rates among Yanomamo people have gone through the roof, which seems to be the effect of numerous diseases, and the lack of medication. Leaving the Yanomamo people to themselves at present would mean sentencing them to death.
With that in mind, it will be reasonable to restrict the communication process to delivering humanitarian aid to the representatives of the Yanomamo culture. It is obvious that the Yanomamo people have no clue of how to retain their culture and cognize one of their visitors.
However, as time passes, the Yanomamo people will be able to figure out how to learn more about what the European and American culture has to offer, keeping their unique Yanomamo culture intact (McKay & McKay, 2013).
The issue of violence, however, begs the question of whether preserving the Yanomamo culture is worth allowing for their regular abuse of the Yanomamo women. To address the issue of violence, one might try to introduce Yanomamo people to the principles of good will, equality, and value of human life.
Associated Challenges: Retaining the Culture vs. Evolving Further
It would be wrong to assume that the Yanomamo culture is completely unsusceptible to embracing the specifics of other cultures; quite on the contrary, the Yanomamo people seem rather open towards learning new facts and enjoying new experiences.
The question is, however, whether the introduction of new communication opportunities is worth destroying the unique culture. Therefore, at present, the Yanomamo people are facing a difficult choice between acquiring new knowledge and skills, as well as gaining new experiences, and keeping their cultural heritage intact (Hume, n. d.).
There are several factors that speak in favor of the Yanomamo people expanding their cultural experiences. To start with, it is necessary to keep in mind that the culture of every nation evolves unceasingly and that the Yanomamo people will not be able to retain every single element of their culture in the future. Thus, it will be much more reasonable to start introducing new elements into their culture gradually (Ferguson, 2001).
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It is worth mentioning, though, that the outside influences, which the communication with Europe and the USA will result for Yanomamo people in, will trigger the changes that would not have happened to the given nation otherwise. Therefore, the positive effect of the changes above is highly questionable (Albert, 1989).
Even though the abuse of women in the Yanomami culture is a despicable phenomenon, making the representatives of this culture accept female rights by applying force will not have any good effect on either the Yanomami men or women. Instead, it will be much more reasonable to help the Yanomami people conclude that every human creature is equal. Thus, they will be able to pick their own pace of evolution.
That being said, the Yanomamo people still should try establishing stronger contact with the European and American civilization. While the given communication will not necessarily be productive, it gives a plethora of opportunities, which they could use for the economical and financial benefit of their nation.
Conclusion: The Who-is-the-Savage Question Solved
Even though at present, the people providing the Yanomamo population with the help that they need currently, tend to envision the Yanomamo culture as savage and primitive, the link with the unique and nearly extinct nation has been established.
It will take years of political dialogues before the Yanomamo nation will become a member of the political dialogues between the states of the world. Nevertheless, the first major step has been made; now that the Yanomamo people receive help and support, it will be easier for them to integrate into the globalized society.
Albert, B. (1989). Yanomami „violence“: Inclusive fitness of ethnographer’s representation. Current Anthropology, 20(5), 637–640. Retrieved form http://horizon.documentation.ird.fr/exl-doc/pleins_textes/pleins_textes_5/b_fdi_20-21/27627.pdf
Hume, D. W. (n. d.). Darkness in El Dorado. Retrieved from http://anthroniche.com/darkness_documents/0257.htm
Ferguson, R. B. (2001). Materialist, cultural and biological theories on why Yanomami make war. Anthropological Theory, 1(1), pp. 99–116. Retrieved from http://anthroniche.com/darkness_documents/0559.pdf
McKay, B. & McKay, K. (2013). The Yanomamo and the origins of male honor. Retrieved from http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/06/10/the-yanomamo-and-the-origins-of-male-honor/
Sponsel, L. E. (1998). Yanomami: An Arena of Conflict and Aggression in the Amazon. Aggressive Behavior, 24, pp. 97–122. Retrieved from http://nku.edu/~humed1/darkness_in_el_dorado/documents/0603.pdf