Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Yanoama are foraging horticulturalists living in the dense tropical forest of South America. Their language is not affiliated with any major South American language family. Yanoama are egalitarian and live in large circular communal dwellings. There is some status differentiation based on age, sex, and personal accomplishments within combat, oration, and shamanism. Endemic feuding and warfare has marked inter-village relations.


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South America --Amazon and Orinoco




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Collection Overview

The Yanoama collection consists of eleven documents all in English. Of these eleven documents three are translations from German and three others are translations from Spanish. The documents in this collection concentrate on specific Yanoama villages or subgroups, especially Waica and Surara and Pakidai. The monograph by Shuster is on the Waica and contains a sociological analysis of inter- and intra-community relations. The two documents by Barker, an American Protestant missionary, are also on the Waica. The main subject of the article by Layrisse et al. is blood groups among the Waica. Some comparative information is included. Ethnographic information on material culture, religion, and political structure of the Surara and Pakidai is contained in the document by Becher. The Yanoama language of the Surara and Pakidai is the subject of the document by Rodrigues. The chapter from Wilbert's book is on the Sanema primarily, with information on other Venezuelan Indians included as well. The two monographs by Chagnon are general ethnographies of communities especially in Venezuela with comparative data from communities in Brazil. A recent addition to the collection is that by Early and Peters on population dynamics of Mucajai Yanoama in Brazil from the late 1950s to 1987. Finally, the manuscript by Human Relations Area Files is a bibliography compiled in 1993 containing approximately 100 items. The ethnography of the Yanoama is controversial. People interested in more information on the Yanoama should see the HRAF bibliography.

The culture summary of the Yanoama is taken from the article written by Raymond B. Hames for the 'Encyclopedia of World Cultures'. The synopsis was written by John Beierle in 1993.

Overview by

John Beierle

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