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Yanomamo Indians : The only Culture Without a Big Mac

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Yanomamo Indians : The Only Culture Without a Big Mac

Catholic Missionaries have been visiting untouched villages in remote areas of the world for many years. In search of those who do not know about God these missionaries bring with them disease and unknown customs. In exposing the negative results of progress through examining the massive effects on the Yanomamo Indians an awareness of a growing problem can be brought about. Progress meaning industrial change and the effect it has had on even the smallest parts of the world.

The Yanomamo Indians live in villages located between the Mavaca and Orinoco Rivers in Venezuala and Columbia. The area is filled with tropical forests and is very remotely located in the highlands. They have a complex language with no writing... Their clothing is more decorative than useful. Their lives are relatively easy because they spend about three hours a day working. Their diet is rich in plantains and other things they grow in their garden.

With the help of acculturation by catholic missionaries the yanomamo Indians way of life continues to change. The missionaries have started schools and have economic "cooperatives" in the villages. As a result of this the children wear clothing that they once never needed and have access to items they never needed. Take guns for example. When the missionary camps started trading with guns, initially used for hunting, warfare amongst the Indians reached a whole new level. Because of this other tribes of Indians needed guns to defend themselves. As a result the tribes became dependent upon the missionaries and their culture was forever changed and is slowly becoming lost.

The missionaries encourage the Yanomamo to move in from the highlands to the territory closer to the river, where they are more accessible to Western medicines and influences. This makes them more vulnerable to diseases. An anthropologist named Napoleon Chagnon was allowed back into the field, were he visited 25 of the villages he had worked with twenty years earlier. 'I began to see that this policy was having the effect of increasing the death rate in the resettled villages,' (Chagonon 175). 'In general, the Yanomamo are constantly explaining epidemics in terms of the malevolent actions of anthropologist A, priest B or village X. And you don't want to take too much notice. But this I saw with my own eyes.'(Chagnon 203).

The Yanomamo Indians have a very complex belief system. They believe that all of their ancestors are still on earth and are watching over them. In fact their ancestors are able to punish them for their wrong doings. As the catholic missionaries continue to educate the young children a piece of their belief system is lost. The structure of their social system is based on respecting their elders and leaders. The young boys loose respect as and see their elders as out dated or archaic. These villages in the South American jungles have been functioning well until these changes started occurring.

The villages function on the basis



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