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The Mbuti are egalitarian: Conflict between Yanomamo

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The Yanomamo has always been a class of people with their own way of life. They have believed that their ways are and will always be the right way. Even today their system of endogamy survives. They hold strong to their beliefs in family. Their beliefs are somewhat contradictory to the egalitarian beliefs of equality. The Yanomamo Indians marry through an exchange system and many times families separate and make new locations because they can’t settle disputes of brides.

The newly formed daughter lineages retain no ties with each other and are normally opposed as enemies. The religious viewpoint includes genealogical connections are forgotten with the passing of the generations because of a stipulation forbidding the mention of the names of the dead and, thereby, of any connecting ancestral links (Chagnon 62). There is clearly a high level of hostility among these people. They rely heavily on the emotional outlook and must hold an exceptional respect for each other in order to get along.

Tumbull went into the same direction that Chagnon did but his point of view was a bit easier to describe. The pigmies were calm and laid back but hard workers. They were more along the lines of the equalitarian thinkers. The men and women hunted. Bother gathered food and prepared it.

There were festivals of joy for women and men who came of age. The idea of women hood for them was a spiritual adulthood. The Yanomamo believed the blood was evil but the Mbuti rejoiced the blessing to reproduce. They are still today a family oriented people. Focusing on food conservation and peace made their submissive way of life ideal for generations to come.

They were also describes as imitators but only while in the presence of others. The ideas of the Mbuti Tribe connecting with the rest of the world in such a way that they look primitive is backwards. They are a very peaceful tribe with the ideas of teamwork and family celebrations (Collins, 197)

The Yanomamo live in a constant state of warfare with other tribes and even within their own groups. Marriages are often arranged according to performances of one’s relatives in battles. Ideal marriages are thought to consist of cross cousin marriages and the males of the family and the religious leaders of the tribe perform all marriages. In addition to their strong kinship ties, political alliances and thirst for revenge, the Yanomamo have a detailed religion, based on the use of hallucinogenic drugs and the telling of mythical tales

These are the situations that keeps the Yanomamo down because it is still a system based on the performance of the individual instead of the teamwork of the entire tribe The world as a whole are led by emotion not clear judgment. The egalitarians believe in the equality of all people and the life of the Yanomamo is hypocritical of this.

In reality we should look more closely at civilization as a whole. Its propaganda for Progress, destroying presence/place and linear Historical consciousness (over myth) keeps us from being truly equal.


Turnbull, Colin M., The Forest People. NY, Simon and Schuster, 1962.

Chagnon, Napoleon A., 1938-Yanomamo, the fierce people. NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winton, c1977.

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