Yanomami Ax Fight
The Yanomami Ax Fight, an ethnographic film by Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon, is a classic in anthropology and beyond. I first saw it as an undergraduate in an English class on travel writing. I have shown it in my classes to illustrate how what we may initially see as chaos or senseless can with another look be seen as part of a logical pattern, as an initial answer to What is Anthropology?
Much has been said about the Yanomami and The Ax Fight, but here I want to concentrate on just one point: steel axes. The Yanomami used iron and steel long before anyone ever filmed them for classroom consumption. As Brian Ferguson writes in Yanomami Warfare: A Political History, “the Yanomami have long depended on iron and steel tools. All ethnographically described Yanomami had begun using metal tools long before any anthropologist arrived” (1995:23).
As noted in Myths of the Spanish Conquest, steel arrived with the Spaniards, but steel tools were quickly seized upon and traded far in advance of any European contact or conquest. In 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, Charles Mann argues that the very form of slash-and-burn cultivation practiced by the Yanomami and often portrayed as so traditional, “was a product of European axes” (2006:341).
Similarly in Papua New Guinea, including for the famously and only-recently-contacted New Guinea highlands, steel axes had been in use for many years before anthropologists arrived. From Aaron Podolefsky’s classic article Contemporary Warfare in the New Guinea Highlands: “Enter the ubiquitous steel axe, exit the stone axe. No one in Mul today would use a stone axe. Indeed it was difficult to find someone who recalled how to attach the stone to a handle” (345).
Keep in mind that when Podolefsky says today, he is describing his fieldwork in the early 1970s!
It is very strange that Jared Diamond, who sold the world on the importance of steel as a formidable weapon of conquest, has so little to say about steel axes in The World Until Yesterday. Jared Diamond mentions people in the New Guinea highlands received “a few steel axes, which were prized.” But this doesn’t sound at all like what Podolefsky describes as steel axes being ubiquitous by the early 1970s, so much so that no one knew how to make a stone axe anymore. Jared Diamond also mentions–with regard to the Solomon Islands in the 19th century–that “steel axes can behead many humans without losing their sharp edge.” But those are the only two mentions–otherwise steel axes are unnoticed, even among the Yanomami.
Steel axes are not the cause of violence–rather, they indicate centuries of trade and interconnection, of the interactions between state and non-state societies since well before Europeans arrived and outrunning European contact. It is in this context that we need to investigate the empirical data about violence in non-state societies.
The Yanomami, Counting Violence, & Shaky Science
Following on an overview of what accounts for the rise of European polities 800-1400AD and then a re-appraisal of the colonial enterprise in the Americas, this post means to draw out the major theme running through the earlier work: that anthropological studies are inevitably studies of interconnection. People have never been isolated, but in constant connection, from before the time of European expansion. Moreover, the effects of European expansion outran direct contact with Europeans, as items like steel axes and a host of agricultural products were traded around the world, often without any direct European involvement whatsoever (Charles Mann’s 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created has a host of examples, in many cases based on previous anthropological and historical work that paid attention to global flows). We need to put to rest the idea of Ruth Benedict in 1934–that primitive peoples are a kind of scientific laboratory, each an independent cultural whole.
At a time when Angry Papuan leaders demand Jared Diamond apologizes, this task acquires additional urgency. Prominent claimants to the science mantle close ranks with Jared Diamond. Steven Pinker tweets: “Noble savage myth strikes again–Jared Diamond has data on his side; Survival International confuses human rights with factual claims.” Skeptic Michael Shermer raises the hyperbole: “Another example of the Left’s War on Science: Survival International attacks Jared Diamond (whose data is solid).” Prominent economist Tyler Cowen: “Mood affiliation aside, the facts are on Diamond’s side.”
Science blogger Razib Khan takes a strangely different turn. After remarking that Jared Diamond has been “trading in glib and gloss for years,” Khan revs up his favorite diatribe apparatus against cultural anthropology. Khan concludes that “Jared Diamond may be wrong on facts, but he has the right enemies.” Hey, no use bothering with boring facts when terrific Twitter sensationalism awaits.
Real scientists know better. Jared Diamond has a lot of anecdotes, but very little empirical evidence. The few numbers he does use are suspect, and in any case doing math on numbers does not make it science. Before numbers can count as evidence, as empirical data, as facts, as science, it is crucial to understand the context of those numbers. Numbers usefully summarize what we count as important. Numbers offer glimpses into relationships and processes. But we should not confuse the manipulation of numbers with an understanding of those relationships and processes.
We do need to review some facts. Looking at the empirical evidence reveals a very different story. The story matches what Brian Ferguson wrote about the Yanomami, with ideas developed over 20 years ago:
Although some Yanomami really have been engaged in intensive warfare and other kinds of bloody conflict, this violence is not an expression of Yanomami culture itself. It is, rather, a product of specific historical situations: The Yanomami make war not because Western culture is absent, but because it is present, and present in certain specific forms. All Yanomami warfare that we know about occurs within what Neil Whitehead and I call a “tribal zone,” an extensive area beyond state administrative control, inhabited by nonstate people who must react to the far-flung effects of the state presence. (1995:6)
In other words, the whole idea that we are able to compare state and non-state societies based on ethnographic data collected in the past two centuries is unsustainable. These are all people who are reacting to state presence in various ways, and might just as well be conceptualized as being on the poor margins of state societies as being independent non-state units.
Before launching this investigation of interconnection, I do need to clarify a few points:
- I love numbers. I love counting. I love math. Numbers, counting, and math are especially useful to counter and debunk stories we like to tell about ourselves and other societies.
- This is not about personal quirks or fieldwork ethics. The idea that steel axes were ever introduced by anthropologists is not supported. The point is that the steel axes were there long before the anthropologists.
- I am in no way making a counter-claim of peace, harmony, and gentleness. Countering the claim that others live in a state of constant warfare or endemic violence is not to idealize or prop up equally invalid constructions.
- I am in no way saying that steel axes cause violence. It is simply to say that the influence of steel axes and other trade goods, as well as contact with other peoples and with both European and non-European states, must be considered before we decide that a certain type of people are inevitably violent or warlike.
Investigating Jared Diamond’s Empirical Evidence
The Yanomami. Brian Ferguson already did a complete empirical revision on the Yanomami evidence 20 years ago. After that work, no reputable scholar should be uncritically citing Napoleon Chagnon for empirical evidence. That this even must be done over again is a farce. Jared Diamond cites only Napoleon Chagnon on the Yanomami. He does not mention Ferguson in his book, nor do we ever hear that there may have been a debate about Yanomami warfare. Somewhat ironically, Ferguson and others cleared this up in the scientific journals years ago, but Jared Diamond gets the scientist label without paying attention to science. [Update: I wrote about Jared Diamond’s uncritical use of Chagnon as a farce before Chagnon’s Noble Savages was published. Click Napoleon Chagnon for more and see also The Times, it is Outragin’ by Jonathan Marks.]
As Charles C. Mann notes in a February 2013 review of Chagnon, Fierce Controversies:
Prior to 1492, these researchers say, this portion of central Amazonia was a prosperous, cosmopolitan, multiethnic network of big villages, fed by fish from the great river and reliant upon a multitude of forest products. When that network was thrown into turmoil by the arrival of European slavers and European diseases, the Yanomamö and many other groups fled into the hinterlands, where they now reside.
If this is correct, these people are not “pure” or “pristine”; they are dispossessed. And their existence in small bands is reflective not of humankind’s ancient past but of a shattered society that has preserved its liberty by retreat. It would be risky to base conclusions about the evolution of society on the study of posses of refugees, perhaps especially those who have survived both a holocaust and a diaspora.
The Nuer. Jared Diamond uses E.E. Evans-Pritchard’s classic ethnography on the Nuer to highlight their “prevalence of formalized violence.” However, Evans-Pritchard studied the Nuer because the British colonial government was trying to figure out why they were being so rebellious to colonial rule and how they were organizing their rebellion. As Evans-Pritchard explains, “in 1920 large-scale military operations, including bombing and machine-gunning of camps, were conducted against the Eastern Jikany and caused much loss of life and destruction of property. There were further patrols from time to time but the Nuer remained unsubdued” (The Nuer 1940:135). I should not need to say that a period of widespread resistance to colonial rule, answered with brutal massacres by the colonial state, may not exactly be the most reliable time to objectively tally instances of violence in a “non-state society.”
The Siriono. I have already objected to Jared Diamond’s use of the Siriono as described by anthropologist Alan Holmberg. David Brooks then splayed the Siriono into The New York Times. The first chapter of Mann’s 1491 concerned “Holmberg’s Mistake”–the problem of drawing conclusions about people who were basically a persecuted fragment, a shattered remnant of a former society (see above for Mann’s similar comments with regard to the Yanomami).
Even Holmberg admits in his ethnography that “The Siriono are an anomaly in eastern Bolivia. Widely scattered in isolated pockets of forest land, with a culture strikingly backward in contrast to that of their neighbors, they are probably a remnant of an ancient population that was exterminated, absorbed, or engulfed by more civilized invaders” (Nomads of the Long Bow 1950:8, and I thank the Amazon reviewer Ron Cochran for the reference). No wonder then that according to Jared Diamond “for the Siriono Indians of Bolivia, the overwhelming preoccupation is with food, such that two of the commonest Siriono expressions are ‘My stomach is empty’ and ‘Give me some food.'” Certainly such statements are a testament to something, but they hardly constitute evidence about life in a non-state society.
The !Kung. For the !Kung, Jared Diamond uses Richard Lee’s numbers to calculate 22 homicides from 1920-1969. Diamond then notes that “referred to that base population, the homicide rate for the !Kung works out to 29 homicides per 100,000 person-years, which is triple the homicide rate for the United States and 10 to 30 times the rates for Canada, Britain, France, and Germany.” Diamond then says that state intervention reduced the homicide rate.
Three points: First, Jared Diamond makes a strange comparison to contemporary homicide rates in the industrialized world. If we instead look at intentional homicide rates around the world, the !Kung numbers are roughly equivalent to the country of South Africa today–in other words, there seems to be a broader regional issue. The homicide rates were not worse for the !Kung, and may have even been reduced in comparison to other African locales at the time. Second, grabbing a local homicide number can be tricky–Washington, D.C. had an intentional homicide rate in the low 40s in the early 2000s, which has since come down to mid-20s. I would hope no one suggest Washington D.C. is a non-state society, but Diamond would come close to making such a claim: “Urban gangs in large cities don’t call the police to settle their disagreements but rely on traditional methods of negotiation, compensation, intimidation, and war.”
Third, and most importantly, Richard Lee and Jared Diamond’s choice of time period is instructive. Robert J. Gordon has been for years trying to bring to wider attention The “Forgotten” Bushman Genocides of Namibia. Gordon “examines the Bushman genocide of 1912–1915 which, despite overwhelming evidence of its having occurred, has been largely ignored by both scholars and the local population” (2009:29). If Gordon is correct–and he is one of the only people delving into the German archives for evidence–then the indigenous populations were decimated, with both state and para-state involvement, during the years just before the 22 homicides calculated from 1920-1969. I’ve always wondered if that was one forgotten factor in why Richard Lee got that famous quote about so many mongongo nuts–perhaps because the population of people had been so decimated 50 years earlier (see Agriculture as “Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race”?).
In any case, and as Robert Gordon and Stuart Sholto-Douglas argue in The Bushman Myth: The Making of a Namibian Underclass, by 1920-1969 these populations were hardly detached from wider society. The !Kung may have been more like the Siriono–a persecuted remnant of a former society–than we have hitherto realized.
Papua New Guinea. Jared Diamond here makes the case that a strong state government decreases violence. Following directly from the !Kung material:
This course of events illustrates the role of control by a strong state government in reducing violence. That same role also becomes obvious from central facts of the colonial and post-colonial history of New Guinea in the last 50 years: namely, the steep decrease in violence following establishment of Australian and Indonesian control of remote areas of eastern and western New Guinea respectively, previously without state government; the continued low level of violence in Indonesian New Guinea under maintained rigorous government control there; and the eventual resurgence of violence in Papua New Guinea after Australian colonial government gradually yielded to less rigorous independent government.
Here again, three points. First, as noted above, Diamond seriously underplays the influence of trade and pre-contact transformation. Even before the steel axes, the New Guinea highlanders had incorporated sweet potato horticulture into their diet. As Stephen Corry notes, while there is still debate about where the sweet potatoes came from, the probable answer is from the Americas in the last few hundred years:
Most New Guineans do little hunting. They live principally from cultivations, as they probably have for millennia. Diamond barely slips in the fact that their main foodstuff, sweet potato, was probably imported from the Americas, perhaps a few hundred or a thousand years ago. No one agrees on how this came about, but it is just one demonstration that “globalization” and change have impacted on Diamond’s “traditional” peoples for just as long as on everyone else. (Savaging Primitives: Why Jared Diamond’s ‘The World Until Yesterday’ Is Completely Wrong)
The incorporation of the sweet potato–just like other food crops from the Americas in other parts of the world–most probably led to denser populations in the highlands than had been previously supported. Add steel axes from trade–which by the time of fieldwork in the 1970s had become ubiquitous–and the conditions were surely ripe for an escalation of intertribal conflict.
Anyone interested in the dramatic global interconnections of Papua New Guinea should watch the truly classic ethnographic film, again from the early 1970s, Ongka’s Big Moka: The Kawelka of Papua New Guinea. Ongka’s Big Moka can certainly be used to illustrate gift exchange and traditional life–but it is also instructive to see the appropriation of all kinds of elements–the “Do It In the Road” T-shirt, dentures, money counted in pidgin English, motorbikes, bank accounts for cash-crop coffee growing–all of which seem to not be destroying the traditional exchanges but intensifying them. That was the situation in the New Guinea highlands in the 1970s, and yet Jared Diamond announces on The Colbert Report that they might not know what to do with an electric can opener, that they might try “sticking it through their nose or over their ears.”
Second, Aaron Podolefsky and other anthropologists explicitly sought to explain this somewhat puzzling resurgence in tribal violence in the 1960s and 1970s. Here again, Robert Gordon provided evidence that this could not simply be explained by a “less rigorous” government. Gordon pointed out the paradox that in many of the conflicted areas, police patrols had actually expanded and the jail penalties enhanced, but with no deterrent effect. Podolefsky’s article emphasizes the importance of trade–since highlanders no longer had to go far afield to obtain valued goods, there had been a decrease in intertribal marriage. This decrease in intertribal marriage led to situations in which there were fewer relatives to argue for peaceful relations (we might also recall the role of affines in Ongka’s Big Moka for reducing the intertribal conflict). In other words, Podolefsky argues that it is in fact the decline or abandonment of traditional methods of dispute resolution which led to this resurgence.
Finally, those ethnographers who are most intimately familiar with the violence and warfare in Papua New Guinea–and who do not in any way dismiss it–nevertheless have suggested that state societies may have something to learn:
Acephalous societies may have some advantages rather than disadvantages vis à vis centralized ones in the settlement of disputes including the handling of violence. The projection of disputes in terms of sorcery and witchcraft can be considered in this context. Our observations here turn ideas of the evolution of society upside down: “primitive” societies, rather than being forms to be transcended, may themselves provide valuable models for contemporary postmodern society on how to reintroduce community-based elements into dispute resolution, and on the mediation and transformation of violence into positive forms of exchange. (Stewart and Strathern, Violence: Theory and Ethnography 2003:153)
The Aché. Jared Diamond also brings up the Aché of Paraguay. Here, I’m just going to go with Wikipedia:
The Aché suffered repeated abuses by rural Paraguayan colonists, ranchers, and big landowners from the conquest period to the 20th century. In the 20th century the Northern Aché began as the only inhabitants of nearly 20,000 square kilometers, and ended up confined on two reservations totaling little more than 50 square kilometers of titled land. In recent times they have been massacred, enslaved, and gathered on to reservations where no adequate medical treatment was provided. This process was specifically carried out to pacify them and remove them from their ancestral homeland so that absentee investors (mainly Brazilian) could move in and develop the lands that once belonged only to the Aché. Large multinational business groups (e.g. Industria Paraguaya) obtained title rights to already occupied lands and then sold them sight unseen to investors who purchased lands where Aché bands had roamed for thousands of years, and were still present. The fact that Aché inhabitants were present and living in the forests of Canindeyu and Alto Paraná on the very lands being titled in Hernandarias, Coronel Oveido, and other government centers seems to have bothered nobody.
The Inuit. Jared Diamond uses the Inuit example more in passing, so I originally did not include it in my review–this responds to a comment below. For the Inuit, Diamond’s claim is that the “visits of traders to the Inuit also had the effect of suppressing Inuit war, even though neither the traders with the Inuit nor those with the !Kung purposely suppressed war. Instead, the Inuit themselves abandoned war in their own self-interest in order to have more opportunities to profit from trade, and the !Kung may have done the same.” In other words, Jared Diamond uses this as an example of how European contact, in the long term, suppresses violence and war, and that for the Inuit they do it in order to profit from trade. Such an account is typical of Diamond’s rather narrow definition of European contact. It is instead far more likely that the fur trade–along with weapons and other technologies–arrived far in advance of direct European contact. Undoubtedly Inuit warfare pre-existed European contact, but became mixed up with introducing alcohol and guns for fur–the subsequent observed pacification could very well have been the aftermath of local competition for access to resources. Again, this is not to claim a peaceful pre-Contact Inuit, but to question the idea that European trade was what suppressed Inuit war.
There is one other comment about almost all of the cases Jared Diamond uses: much of the evidence is based not just on the unproblematic acceptance of these texts, but on the stories people told about the old days of raiding and warfare. And here we should remember that war stories are war stories–like fishing stories and hunting stories, the talk of past exploits sometimes needs to be taken with a few grains of salt.
I had been attempting to not support the Jared Diamond juggernaut by purchasing The World Until Yesterday, but for the sake of science I’ve plunged ahead. After reviewing the empirical data, I’m even more surprised than I expected at how Diamond treats the ethnographic record. I’m even more amazed I have not yet heard mention of this from anthropologists who have reviewed the book–see Anthropology on Jared Diamond – The World Until Yesterday. Are we really so far from empirical evaluation that these reviews were conducted on whether or not we support Jared Diamond’s philosophy, his politics, his methods, his field experience, or his writing style? Where are the anthropologists who have taken Jared Diamond to task for his absurd absorption of the Yanomami, the Nuer, the Siriono, the Aché, the !Kung, and in Papua New Guinea? Even Razib Khan says “I want to be clear that I think Jared Diamond is wrong on a lot of details, and many cultural anthropologists are rightly calling him out on that.” But who are the cultural anthropologists calling Diamond out on the empirical and the ethnographic record? Please let me know!
Lest I be misunderstood, I have no desire to dismiss classic ethnographies. Indeed, I urge that we read, teach, and learn from them. But we need to be clear about what these texts can and cannot provide. We also need to place ethnography in the context of critical assessment. Not a critique of writing or literary deconstruction, but an investigation of empirical claims in the light of history. Put differently:
While empirical data never speak for themselves, anthropologists cannot speak without data. Even when couched in the most interpretive terms, anthropology requires observation–indeed, often field observation–and relies on empirical data in ways and to degrees that distinguish it as an academic prcatice from both literary and Cultural Studies. That such data is always constituted and such observation is always selective does not mean that the information they convey should not pass any test for empirical accuracy. The much welcome awareness that our empirical base is a construction in no way erases the need for such a base. On the contrary, this awareness calls upon us to reinforce the validity of that base by taking more seriously the construction of our object of observation. Ideally this construction also informs that of the object of study in a back and forth movement that starts before fieldwork and continues long after it. But the preliminary conceptualization of the object of study remains the guiding light of empirical observation: “What is it that I need to know in order to know what I want to know?” (Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Global Transformations 2003:128)
What does anthropology’s empirical record reveal about violence and warfare?
It is important to first underscore that we cannot read anthropology’s ethnographic record for evidence of whether or not violence is inherent to human nature, as some have attempted. Fortunately, on this point Jared Diamond is clear and correct: “It is equally fruitless to debate whether humans are intrinsically violent or else intrinsically cooperative. All human societies practise both violence and cooperation; which trait appears to predominate depends on the circumstances.”
It is also important to underscore that human groups have had varying levels of violence, both historically and across both state and non-state societies. Diamond also realizes this point. What I object to is that following these two acknowledgements, Jared Diamond then portrays non-state societies as generally more violent than state societies, and believes that “the long-term effect of European, Tswana, or other outside contact with states or chiefdoms has almost always been to suppress tribal warfare. The short-term effect has variously been either an immediate suppression as well or else an initial flare-up and then suppression.” (Of course, the duration of this “initial flare-up” could be for centuries as Diamond writes a few sentences earlier, that in some cases “warfare had been endemic long before European arrival, but the effects of Europeans caused an exacerbation of warfare for a few decades (New Zealand, Fiji, Solomon Islands) or a few centuries (Great Plains, Central Africa) before it died out.”)
I hope to have shown above that the empirical evidence for those claims is not reliable. Again, this is not to make a counter-proposal of harmonic peace, but to lessen the distance between ideas of the modern us and the non-modern them. If we do give sufficiently wide berth to historical variability and intra-societal variation, I would propose the following as more general observations:
- Up until about 12,000 years ago, there is little evidence for much violence or warfare:
If you review the published information on the fossil record of humans and potential human ancestors from about six million years ago through about 12,000 years ago you are provided with, at best, only a few examples of possible death due to the hand of another individual of the same species. . . . Examination of the human fossil record supports the hypothesis that while some violence between individuals undoubtedly happened in the past, warfare is a relatively modern human behavior (12,000 to 10,000 years old). (Fuentes Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You 2012:130-131)
In other words, if by “yesterday” we really do mean 12,000 years ago, pre-agriculture, then these non-state societies are indeed examples of non-violence. This was a point that was first tremendously popularized by none other than Jared Diamond in his breakout 1987 article Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race. Widely re-printed and still shared today, if anyone is responsible for promoting Noble Savage ideas in the last quarter century, it’s Jared Diamond. Here’s Diamond in 1987: “Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny.”
- Non-state horticultural, agricultural, and herding societies have demonstrated historically variable levels of violence and warfare.
- Almost all of those non-state horticultural, agricultural, and herding societies, along with almost all of the hunting and gathering peoples in the last several thousand years or so, have lived in interaction with state societies. Some of them have been incorporated into states, others displaced, and those displaced have sometimes displaced other groups. All these groups have been linked by trade. This was happening before European contact, but has certainly intensified in the last 500 years. These state and non-state interactions have sometimes diminished violence and warfare, but have sometimes exacerbated it.
- If, following Max Weber, we define a state as “the form of human community that (successfully) lays claim to the monopoly of legitimate physical violence within a particular territory,” then indeed–although the argument is a bit circular–it may be that a modern state can reduce violence. However, making that claim as a definition should not impede understanding how the establishment of a monopoly on legitimate physical violence was often itself a violent process, and in many case still depends on high levels of everyday violence, surveillance, incarceration, border patrols.
A Final Thought
In the early 1960s, we came very close to an intercontinental nuclear exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. How precisely close we were is a matter for some debate, but it was a distinct possibility that may have only been averted by personality quirks and fortuitous occurrence, not exactly “the better angels of our nature.” This was something the scholars of the 1960s and 1970s seem to know better than we do today: How dangerously close we once came to ending this whole discussion of the-modern-versus-the-traditional. Or as Richard Lee and Irven DeVore put it in Man the Hunter:
It is still an open question whether man will be able to survive the exceedingly complex and unstable ecological conditions he has created for himself. If he fails in this task, interplanetary archaeologists of the future will classify our planet as one in which a very long and stable period of small-scale hunting and gathering was followed by an apparently instantaneous efflorescence of technology and society leading rapidly to extinction. (1968:3)
Update 2015: For an assessment of steel axes and interconnections see History, explanation, and war among the Yanomami: A response to Chagnon’s Noble Savages by Brian Ferguson in Anthropological Theory (December 2015):
For social relations on the ground, nothing–not even massive deaths from new diseases–has more profound implications. Steel axes and other goods produce not only a technological revolution, transforming indigenous subsistence possibilities, but also a revolution in dependency, in that they only originate with aliens. (386)
Update 2013: See Jonathan Marks, Diamonds and Clubs for an important contribution to understanding the history of political attacks on anthropology. For many of the issues discussed in points #1-4 above–and in the comment stream below–see the new edited volume War, Peace, & Human Nature (2013). For more on the new Napoleon Chagnon memoir, see Napoleon Chagnon – Noble Savages and Epigenetics on The Edge of Human Nature.
To cite: Antrosio, Jason. 2013. “Yanomami Ax Fight: Jared Diamond, Science, Violence, and the Facts.” Living Anthropologically website, https://www.livinganthropologically.com/yanomami-science-violence-empirical-data-facts/. First posted 6 February 2013. Revised 15 September 2017.
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Yanomami woman and her child, June 1997
|Regions with significant populations|
|Venezuela (southeastern)||16,000 (2009)|
|Brazil (northern)||19,338 (2011)|
The Yanomami, also spelled Yąnomamö or Yanomama, are a group of approximately 35,000 indigenous people who live in some 200–250 villages in the Amazon rainforest on the border between Venezuela and Brazil.
The name Yanomami
The ethnonymYanomami was produced by anthropologists on the basis of the word yanõmami, which, in the expression yanõmami thëpë, signifies "human beings." This expression is opposed to the categories yaro (game animals) and yai (invisible or nameless beings), but also napë (enemy, stranger, non-Indian).
According to ethnologist Jacques Lizot:
Yanomami is the Indians' self-denomination...the term refers to communities disseminated to the south of the Orinoco, [whereas] the variant Yanomawi is used to refer to communities north of the Orinoco. The term Sanumá corresponds to a dialect reserved for a cultural subgroup, much influenced by the neighboring Ye'kuana people. Other denominations applied to the Yanomami include Waika or Waica, Guiaca, Shiriana, Shirishana, Guaharibo or Guajaribo, Yanoama, Ninam, and Xamatari or Shamatari.
The first report of the Yanomami to the Western world is from 1759, when a Spanish expedition under Apolinar Diez de la Fuente visited some Ye'kuana people living on the Padamo River. Diez wrote:
By interlocution of an Uramanavi Indian, I asked Chief Yoni if he had navigated by the Orinoco to its headwaters; he replied yes, and that he had gone to make war against the Guaharibo [Yanomami] Indians, who were not very brave...and who will not be friends with any kind of Indian.
From approximately 1630 to 1720 the complex river-based societies, previously noted all around them, were wiped out or reduced as a result of slave-hunting expeditions by the conquistadors and bandeirantes. Whether this affected the Yanomami, and how, are matters of pure speculation.
Sustained contact with the outside world began in the 1950s with the arrival of members of the New Tribes Mission as well as Catholic missionaries from the Society of Jesus and Salesians of Don Bosco.
In Roraima, the 1970s saw the implementation of development projects within the framework of the "National Integration Plan" launched by the Brazilian military governments of the time. This meant the opening of a stretch of perimeter road (1973–76) and various colonization programs on land traditionally occupied by the Yanomami. During the same period, the Amazonian resources survey project RADAM (1975) detected important mineral deposits in the region. This triggered a progressive movement of gold prospectors, which after 1987 took the form of a real gold rush. Hundreds of clandestine runways were opened by gold miners in the major tributaries of the Branco River between 1987 and 1990. The number of gold miners in the Yanomami area of Roraima was then estimated at 30 to 40,000, about five times the indigenous population resident there. Although the intensity of this gold rush has subsided greatly since 1990, gold prospecting continues today in the Yanomami land, spreading violence and serious health and social problems.
Increasing pressure from farmers, cattle ranchers, and gold miners, as well as those interested in securing the Brazilian border by constructing roads and military bases near Yanomami communities, led to a campaign to defend the rights of the Yanomami to live in a protected area. In 1978 the Pro-Yanomami Commission (CCPY) was established. Originally named the Commission for the Creation of a Yanomami Park, it is a Brazilian non-governmentalnonprofit organization dedicated to the defense of the territorial, cultural, and civil and political rights of the Yanomami. CCPY devoted itself to a long national and international campaign to inform and sensitize public opinion and put pressure on the Brazilian government to demarcate an area suited to the needs of the Yanomami. After 13 years the Yanomami indigenous land was officially demarcated in 1991 and approved and registered in 1992, thus ensuring that indigenous people had the constitutional right to the exclusive use of almost 96,650 square kilometres (37,320 sq mi) located in the States of Roraima and Amazonas.
The Alto Orinoco-Casiquiare Biosphere Reserve was created in 1993 with the objective of preserving the traditional territory and lifestyle of the Yanomami and Ye'kuana peoples. However, while the constitution of Venezuela recognizes indigenous peoples’ rights to their ancestral domains, few have received official title to their territories and the government has announced it will open up large parts of the Amazon rainforest to legal mining.
The Yanomami do not recognize themselves as a united group, but rather as individuals associated with their politically autonomous villages. Yanomami communities are grouped together because they have similar ages and kinship, and militaristic coalitions interweave communities together. The Yanomami have common historical ties to Carib speakers who resided near the Orinoco river and moved to the highlands of Brazil and Venezuela, the location the Yanomami currently occupy.
Mature men hold most political and religious authority. A tuxawa (headman) acts as the leader of each village, but no single leader presides over the whole of those classified as Yanomami. Headmen gain political power by demonstrating skill in settling disputes both within the village and with neighbouring communities. A consensus of mature males is usually required for action that involves the community, but individuals are not required to take part.
Domestic life and diet
Groups of Yanomami live in villages usually consisting of their children and extended families. Villages vary in size, but usually contain between 50 and 400 native people. In this largely communal system, the entire village lives under a common roof called the shabono. Shabonos have a characteristic oval shape, with open grounds in the centre measuring an average of 100 yards (91 m). The shabono shelter constitutes the perimeter of the village, if it has not been fortified with palisades.
Under the roof, divisions exist marked only by support posts, partitioning individual houses and spaces. Shabonos are built from raw materials from the surrounding rainforest, such as leaves, vines, and tree trunks. They are susceptible to heavy damage from rains, winds, and insect infestation. As a result, new shabonos are constructed every 4 to 6 years.
The Yanomami can be classified as foraging horticulturalists, depending heavily on rainforest resources; they use slash-and-burnhorticulture, grow bananas, gather fruit, and hunt animals and fish. When the soil becomes exhausted, Yanomami frequently move to avoid areas that have become overused, a practice known as shifting cultivation.
Children stay close to their mothers when young; most of the childrearing is done by women. Yanomami groups are a famous example of the approximately fifty documented societies that openly accept polyandry, though polygyny among Amazonian tribes has also been observed. Many unions are monogamous. Polygamous families consist of a large patrifocal family unit based on one man, and smaller matrifocal subfamilies: each woman's family unit, composed of the woman and her children. Life in the village is centered around the small, matrilocal family unit, whereas the larger patrilocal unit has more political importance beyond the village.
The Yanomami are known as hunters, fishers, and horticulturists. The women cultivate cooking plantains and cassava in gardens as their main crops. Men do the heavy work of clearing areas of forest for the gardens. Another food source for the Yanomami is grubs. Often the Yanomami will cut down palms in order to facilitate the growth of grubs. The traditional Yanomami diet is very low in edible salt. Their blood pressure is characteristically among the lowest of any demographic group. For this reason, the Yanomami have been the subject of studies seeking to link hypertension to sodium consumption.
Rituals are a very important part of Yanomami culture. The Yanomami celebrate a good harvest with a big feast to which nearby villages are invited. The Yanomami village members gather large amounts of food, which helps to maintain good relations with their neighbours. They also decorate their bodies with feathers and flowers. During the feast, the Yanomami eat a lot, and the women dance and sing late into the night.
Hallucinogens or entheogens, known as yakoana or ebene, are used by Yanomami shamans as part of healing rituals for members of the community who are ill. Yakoana also refers to the tree from which it is derived, Virola elongata. Yopo, derived from a different plant with hallucinogenic effects (Anadenanthera peregrina), is usually cultivated in the garden by the shaman. The Xamatari also mix the powdered bark of Virola elongata with the powdered seeds of yopo to create the drug ebene. The drugs facilitate communication with the hekura, spirits that are believed to govern many aspects of the physical world. Women do not engage in this practice, known as shapuri.
The Yanomami people practice ritual endocannibalism, in which they consume the bones of deceased kinsmen. The body is wrapped in leaves and placed in the forest some distance from the shabono; then after insects have consumed the soft tissue (usually about 30 to 45 days), the bones are collected and cremated. The ashes are then mixed with a kind of soup made from bananas, which is consumed by the entire community. The ashes may be preserved in a gourd and the ritual repeated annually until the ashes are gone. In daily conversation, no reference may be made to a dead person except on the annual "day of remembrance", when the ashes of the dead are consumed and people recall the lives of their deceased relatives. This tradition is meant to strengthen the Yanomami people and keep the spirit of that individual alive.
The women are responsible for many domestic duties and chores, excluding hunting and killing game for food. Although the women do not hunt, they do work in the gardens and gather fruits, tubers, nuts and other wild foodstuffs. The garden plots are sectioned off by family, and grow bananas, plantains, sugarcane, mangoes, sweet potatoes, papayas, cassava, maize, and other crops. Yanomami women cultivate until the gardens are no longer fertile, and then move their plots. Women are expected to carry 70 to 80 pounds (32 to 36 kg) of crops on their backs during harvesting, using bark straps and woven baskets.
In the mornings, while the men are off hunting, the women and young children go off in search of termite nests and other grubs, which will later be roasted at the family hearths. The women also pursue frogs, terrestrial crabs, or caterpillars, or even look for vines that can be woven into baskets. While some women gather these small sources of food, other women go off and fish for several hours during the day. The women also prepare cassava, shredding the roots and expressing the toxic juice, then roasting the flour to make flat cakes, which they cook over a small pile of coals.
Yanomami women are expected to take responsibility for the children, who are expected to help their mothers with domestic chores from a very young age, and mothers rely very much on help from their daughters. Boys typically become the responsibility of the male members of the community after about age 8.
Using small strings of bark and roots, Yanomami women weave and decorate baskets. They use these baskets to carry plants, crops, and food to bring back to the shabono. They use a red berry known as onoto or urucu to dye the baskets, as well as to paint their bodies and dye their loin cloths. After the baskets are painted, they are further decorated with masticated charcoal pigment.
Female puberty and menstruation
Main article: Yanomami women
The start of menstruation symbolizes the beginning of womanhood. Girls typically start menstruation around the age of 12-15. Girls are often betrothed before menarche and the marriage may only be consummated once the girl starts menstruating, though the taboo is often violated and many girls become sexually active before then. The Yanomami word for menstruation (roo) translates literally as "squatting" in English, as they use no pads or cloths to absorb the blood. Due to the belief that menstrual blood is poisonous and dangerous, girls are kept hidden away in a small tent-like structure constructed of a screen of leaves. A deep hole is built in the structure over which girls squat, to "rid themselves" of their blood. These structures are regarded as isolation screens.
The mother is notified immediately, and she, along with the elder female friends of the girl, are responsible for disposing of her old cotton garments and must replace them with new ones symbolizing her womanhood and availability for marriage. During the week of that first menstrual period the girl is fed with a stick, for she is forbidden from touching the food in any way. While on confinement she has to whisper when speaking and she may only speak to close kin, such as siblings or parents, but never a male.
Up until the time of menstruation, girls are treated as children, and are only responsible for assisting their mothers in household work. When they approach the age of menstruation, they are sought out by males as potential wives. Puberty is not seen as a significant time period with male Yanomami children, but it is considered very important for females. After menstruating for the first time, the girls are expected to leave childhood and enter adulthood, and take on the responsibilities of a grown Yanomami woman. After a young girl gets her period, she is forbidden from showing her genitalia and must keep herself covered with a loincloth.
The menstrual cycle of Yanomami women does not occur frequently due to constant nursing or child birthing, and is treated as a very significant occurrence only at this time.
Main article: Yanomaman languages
Yanomaman languages comprise four main varieties: Ninam, Sanumá, Waiká, and Yanomamö. Many local variations and dialects also exist, such that people from different villages cannot always understand each other. Many linguists consider the Yanomaman family to be a language isolate, unrelated to other South American indigenous languages. The origins of the language are obscure.
In early anthropological studies the Yanomami culture was described as being permeated with violence. The Yanomami people have a history of acting violently not only towards other tribes, but towards one another.
An influential ethnography by anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon described the Yanomami as living in "a state of chronic warfare". Chagnon's account and similar descriptions of the Yanomami portrayed them as aggressive and warlike, sparking controversy amongst anthropologists and creating an enormous interest in the Yanomami. The debate centered around the degree of violence in Yanomami society, and the question of whether violence and warfare were best explained as an inherent part of Yanomami culture, or rather as a response to specific historical situations. Writing in 1985, anthropologist Jacques Lizot, who had lived among the Yanomami for more than twenty years, stated:
I would like my book to help revise the exaggerated representation that has been given of Yanomami violence. The Yanomami are warriors; they can be brutal and cruel, but they can also be delicate, sensitive, and loving. Violence is only sporadic; it never dominates social life for any length of time, and long peaceful moments can separate two explosions. When one is acquainted with the societies of the North American plains or the societies of the Chaco in South America, one cannot say that Yanomami culture is organized around warfare as Chagnon does
Anthropologists working in the ecologist tradition, such as Marvin Harris, argued that a culture of violence had evolved among the Yanomami through competition resulting from a lack of nutritional resources in their territory. However, the 1995 study "Yanomami Warfare", by R. Brian Ferguson, examined all documented cases of warfare among the Yanomami and concluded:
Although some Yanomami really have been engaged in intensive warfare and other kinds of bloody conflict, this violence is not an expression of Yanomami culture itself. It is, rather, a product of specific historical situations: The Yanomami make war not because Western culture is absent, but because it is present, and present in certain specific forms. All Yanomami warfare that we know about occurs within what Neil Whitehead and I call a "tribal zone", an extensive area beyond state administrative control, inhabited by nonstate people who must react to the far-flung effects of the state presence.
Ferguson stresses the idea that contrary to Chagnon's description of the Yanomami as unaffected by Western culture, the Yanomami experienced the effects of colonization long before their territory became accessible to Westerners in the 1950s, and that they had acquired many influences and materials from Western culture through trade networks much earlier.
Lawrence Keeley questioned Ferguson's analysis, writing that the character and speed of changes caused by contact with civilization are not well understood, and that diseases, trade items, weapons, and population movements likely all existed as possible contributors to warfare before civilization.
Violence is one of the leading causes of Yanomami death. Up to half of all of Yanomami males die violent deaths in the constant conflict between neighboring communities over local resources. Often these confrontations lead to Yanomami leaving their villages in search of new ones. Women are often victims of physical abuse and anger. Inter-village warfare is common, but does not too commonly affect women. When Yanomami tribes fight and raid nearby tribes, women are often raped, beaten, and brought back to the shabono to be adopted into the captor's community. Wives may be beaten frequently, so as to keep them docile and faithful to their husbands. Sexual jealousy causes much of the violence. Women are beaten with clubs, sticks, machetes, and other blunt or sharp objects. Burning with a branding stick occurs often, and symbolizes a male’s strength or dominance over his wife.
Yanomami men have been known to kill children while raiding enemy villages.Helena Valero, a Brazilian woman kidnapped by Yanomami warriors in the 1930s, witnessed a Karawetari raid on her tribe:
They killed so many. I was weeping for fear and for pity but there was nothing I could do. They snatched the children from their mothers to kill them, while the others held the mothers tightly by the arms and wrists as they stood up in a line. All the women wept... The men began to kill the children; little ones, bigger ones, they killed many of them.
See also: Gold mining
Gold was found in Yanomami territory in the early 1970s and the inevitable influx of miners brought disease, alcoholism, and violence. Yanomami culture was severely endangered.
In the mid-1970s, garimpeiros (small independent gold-diggers) started to enter the Yanomami country. Where these garimpeiros settled, they killed members of the Yanomami tribe in conflict over land. In addition, mining techniques by the garimpeiros led to environmental degradation. Despite the existence of FUNAI, the federal agency representing the rights and interests of indigenous populations, the Yanomami have received little protection from the government against these intrusive forces. In some cases the government can be cited as supporting the infiltration of mining companies into Yanomami lands. In 1978, the militarized government, under pressure from anthropologists and the international community, enacted a plan that demarcated land for the Yanomami. These reserves, however, were small "island" tracts of land lacking consideration for Yanomami lifestyle, trading networks, and trails, with boundaries that were determined solely by the concentration of mineral deposits. In 1990, more than 40,000 garimpeiros had entered the Yanomami land. In 1992, the government of Brazil, led by Fernando Collor de Mello, demarcated an indigenous Yanomami area on the recommendations of Brazilian anthropologists and Survival International, a campaign that started in the early 1970s. Non-Yanomami people continue to enter the land; the Brazilian and Venezuelan governments do not have adequate enforcement programs to prevent the entry of outsiders.
Ethicalcontroversy has arisen about Yanomami blood taken for study by scientists such as Napoleon Chagnon and his associate James Neel. Although Yanomami religious tradition prohibits the keeping of any bodily matter after the death of that person, the donors were not warned that blood samples would be kept indefinitely for experimentation. Several prominent Yanomami delegations have sent letters to the scientists who are studying them, demanding the return of their blood samples. These samples are currently being taken out of storage for shipping to the Amazon as soon as the scientists can figure out whom to deliver them to and how to prevent any potential health risks in doing so.
Members of the American Anthropological Association debated a dispute that has divided their discipline, voting 846 to 338 to rescind a 2002 report on allegations of misconduct by scholars studying the Yanomami people. The dispute has raged since Patrick Tierney published Darkness in El Dorado in 2000. The book charged that anthropologists had repeatedly caused harm—and in some cases, death—to members of the Yanomami people whom they had studied in the 1960s. In 2010, Brazilian director José Padilha revisited the Darkness in El Dorado controversy in his documentary Secrets of the Tribe.
From 1987 to 1990, the Yanomami population was severely affected by malaria, mercury poisoning, malnutrition, and violence due to an influx of garimpeiros searching for gold in their territory. Without the protection of the government, Yanomami populations declined when miners were allowed to enter the Yanomami territory frequently throughout this 3-year span. In 1987, FUNAI President Romero Jucá denied that the sharp increase in Yanomami deaths was due to garimpeiro invasions, and José Sarney, then president of Brazil, also supported the economic venture of the garimpeiros over the land rights of the Yanomami. Alcida Rita Ramos, an anthropologist who worked closely with the Yanomami, says this three-year period "led to charges against Brazil for genocide."
Main article: Haximu massacre
The Haximu massacre, also known as the Yanomami massacre, was an armed conflict in 1993, just outside Haximu, Brazil, close to the border with Venezuela. A group of garimpeiros killed approximately 16 Yanomami. In turn, Yanomami warriors killed at least two garimpeiros and wounded two more.
In July 2012 the government of Venezuela investigated another alleged massacre. According to the Yanomami, a village of eighty people was attacked by a helicopter and the only known survivors of the village were three men who happened to be out hunting while the attack occurred. However, in September 2012 Survival International, who had been supporting the Yanomami in this allegation, retracted their support after journalists could find no evidence to support the claim.
Groups working for the Yanomami
David Good, son of the anthropologist Kenneth Good and his wife Yarima, created The Good Project to help support the future of the Yanomami people.
UK-based non-governmental organization Survival International has created global awareness-raising campaigns on the human rights situation of the Yanomami people.
In 1988 the US-based World Wildlife Fund (WWF) funded the musical Yanomamo, by Peter Rose and Anne Conlon, to convey what is happening to the people and their natural environment in the Amazon rainforest. It tells of Yanomami tribesmen/tribeswomen living in the Amazon and has been performed by many drama groups around the world.
The German-based non-governmental organization Yanomami-Hilfe eV is building medical stations and schools for the Yanomami in Venezuela and Brazil. Founder Christina Haverkamp crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1992 on a self-made bamboo raft in order to draw attention to the continuing oppression of the Yanomami people.
The Brazilian-based Yanomami formed their own indigenous organization Hutukara Associação Yanomami and accompanying website.
Comissão Pró-Yanomami (CCPY)
CCPY (formerly Comissão pela Criação do Parque Yanomami) is a Brazilian NGO focused on improving health care and education for the Yanomami. Established in 1978 by photographer Claudia Andujar, anthropologist Bruce Albert, and Catholic missionary Carlo Zacquini, CCPY has dedicated itself to the defense of Yanomami territorial rights and the preservation of Yanomami culture. CCPY launched an international campaign to publicize the destructive effects of the garimpeiro invasion and promoted a political movement to designate an area along the Brazil-Venezuela border as the Yanomami Indigenous Area. This campaign was ultimately successful.
Following demarcation of the Yanomami Indigenous Area in 1992, CCPY's health programs, in conjunction with the now-defunct NGO URIHI (Yanomami for "forest"), succeeded in reducing the incidence of malaria among the Brazilian Yanomami by educating Yanomami community health agents in how to diagnose and treat malaria. Between 1998 and 2001 the incidence of malaria among Brazilian Yanomami Indians dropped by 45%.
In 2000, CCPY sponsored a project to foster a market for Yanomami-grown fruit trees. This project aimed to help the Yanomami as they transition to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle because of environmental and political pressures. In a separate venture, the CCPY, per the request of Yanomami leaders, established Yanomami schools that teach Portuguese, aiming to aid the Yanomami in their navigation of Brazilian politics and international arenas in their struggle to defend land rights. Additionally, these village schools teach Yanomami about Brazilian society, including money use, good production, and record-keeping.
In popular culture
- The Yanomami reputation for violence was dramatized in Ruggero Deodato's controversial film Cannibal Holocaust, in which natives apparently practiced endocannibalism.
- Peter Rose and Anne Conlon, Yanomamo, a musical entertainment published by Josef Weinberger, London (1983)
- The 2008 Christian movie Yai Wanonabälewä: The Enemy God featured one of the Yanomami in the telling of the history and culture of his people.
- In the 2006 novel World War Z by Max Brooks, a Brazilian doctor named Fernando Oliveira, in the aftermath of the titular zombie war, is living with the Yanomami. It is unclear whether he is being kept as a hostage or taking refuge.
- In the animated seriesMetalocalypse (season 2, episode 9), a Yanomami tribe is shown, and they share with the main characters their drug made of yopo.
- ^Povos Indigenas no Brasil: Yanomami. Fordggddgehrvbwhich may be duplicated between sources in Venezuela and Brazil, see 
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- ^Francisco Michelena y Rojas, Exploracion Oficial, Nelly Arvelo-Jiminez and Horacio Biord Castillo, eds., 1989. Iquitos, Peru: IIAP-CETA; pp. 171-72.
- ^John Hemming, Red Gold: The Conquest of the Brazilian Indians, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978.
- ^Ritchie, Mark Andrew. Spirit of the Rainforest: A Yanomamo Shaman's Story.ISBN 0-9646952-3-5
- ^Smiljanic, Maria Inês. "Os enviados de Dom Bosco entre os Masiripiwëiteri. O impacto missionário sobre o sistema social e cultural dos Yanomami ocidentais (Amazonas, Brasil.)". Journal de la Société des Américanistes. 2002: 137–158.
- ^"The Gold Rush," Povos Indigenas no Brasil.
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- ^"Alto Orinoco-Casiquiare", MAB Biosphere Reserves Directory, UNESCO, retrieved 2017-04-02
- ^"Venezuelan tribes protest against violent mining gangs," Survival International News, 18 June 2015.
- ^Early, John (2000). The Xilixana Yanomami of the Amazon: History, Social Structure, and Population Dynamics. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. p. 4.
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- ^ abLizot, Jacques. 1985. Tales of the Yanomami: Daily Life in the Venezuelan Forest, Cambridge Studies in Social Anthropology, Cambridge University Press, Worcester; ISBN 0-521406722; pp. xiv–xv. Original volume in French: Le Cercle des feux: Faits e dits des Indiens yanomami, (1976)
- ^ abcdGood, Kenneth, with David Chanoff (1988) Into the Heart. London: The Ulverscroft Foundation.
- ^Napoleon A. Chagnon (1992). Yanomamo. NY: Harcourt Brace College Publishers. Fourth edition.
- ^ abKenneth Good (1991). Into the Heart: One Man's Pursuit of Love and Knowledge Among the Yanomami. NY: Simon and Schuster.
- ^ abAlcida Rita Ramos (1995). Sanuma Memories: Yanomami Ethnography in Times of Crisis. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
- ^Schwartz, David M, with Victor Englebert. Vanishing Peoples Yanomami People of The Amazon. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books.
- ^Cruz, Valdir (2002). Faces of the Rainforest: The Yanomami. New York: PowerHouse Books.
- ^ abChangon, Napoleon (February 2013). Noble Savages: My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes -- the Yanomamo and the Anthropologists. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684855119.
- ^Biocca, Ettore (October 1969). Yanoama: The Narrative of a Young Woman Kidnapped by Amazonian Indians. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-0045720187.
- ^ abcChagnon, Napoleon A. (1992). Yanomamo. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
- ^ abChagnon, Napoleon A.. (1974). Studying the Yanomamo. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
- ^ abcR. Brian Ferguson (1995). Yanomami Warfare: A Political History. Santa Fe: School for American Research Press.
- ^Ramos, A. R. (1987), Reflecting on the Yanomami: Ethnographic Images and the Pursuit of the Exotic. Cultural Anthropology, 2: 284–304. doi:10.1525/can.1987.2.3.02a00020
- ^Harris, Marvin. 1984. "A cultural materialist theory of band and village warfare: the Yanomamo test". in Warfare, Culture, and Environment, R.B. Ferguson (ed.) pp. 111–40. Orlando: Academic Press.
- ^Marvin Harris. 1979. "The Yanomamö and the cause of war in band and village societies." In Brazil: Anthropological Perspectives, Essays in Honor of Charles Wagley. M. Margolis and W. Carter (eds.) pp. 121–32. New York Columbia University Press.
- ^Ferguson, R. Brian. 1995. Yanomami Warfare: A political history. SAR Press. p. 6
- ^Lawrence H. Keeley (1996). War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage. Oxford University Press.
- ^ abChristine Fielder, Chris King (2006). "Sexual Paradox: Complementarity, Reproductive Conflict and Human Emergence". LULU PR. p.156. ISBN 1-4116-5532-X
- ^Rabben, Linda (2004). Brazil's Indians and the Onslaught of Civilization. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 96.
- ^Kottak, Conrad Phillip (2004) Anthropology: the exploration of human diversity, 10th ed., p. 464, New York: McGraw-Hill.
- ^Chagnon, N. Yanomamo: Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology. 6th edition, Wadsworth Publishing, January 1, 2012; pp. 231–232.
- ^Couzin-Frankel, Jennifer. "Researchers to return blood samples to the Yanomamö". Science. Vol. 328, No. 5983: 1218.
- ^"Never Mind", Inside Higher Ed, 29 Jun 2005
- ^Ramos, Alcida (1995). Seduced and Abandoned: The Taming of Brazilian Indians. Iowa City: University of Iowa.
- ^John Hemming, "Roraima: Brazil's Northernmost Frontier." ISA Research Papers (20); University of London, School of Advanced Study.ISSN 0957-7947
- ^ abRabben, Linda (2004). Brazil's Indians and the Onslaught of Civilization. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 103.
- ^Ramos, Alcida (1995). Sanuma Memories: Yanomami Ethnography in Times of Crisis. Madison, WI: University Wisconsin Press. p. xvi.
- ^"Venezuela investigating alleged massacre of indigenous people in the Amazon". MercoPress. 30 August 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- ^Jonathan Watts (11 September 2012). "Campaign group retracts Yanomami 'massacre' claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- ^"Join the Good Project". Retrieved 31 July 2015.
- ^Kremer, William (29 August 2013). "Return to the rainforest: A son's search for his Amazonian mother". BBC News Magazine. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
- ^"The Yanomami". Survival for tribal people. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- ^WWF Musicals for Schools
- ^Yanomamo: An Ecological Entertainment
- ^Christina Haverkamp. "Campaigns & Projects". Yanomami-hilfe e.V. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- ^Christina Haverkamp. "Bamboo raft trip (1992)". Yanomami-hilfe e.V. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- ^"Hutukara". Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- ^Comissão Pró Yanomami - CCPY
- ^Berwick, Dennison. "Savages, The Life And Killing of the Yanomami" Macfarlane Walter & Ross (1992) ISBN 0921912331
- ^Davi Kopenawa, The Falling Sky, Harvard University Press, 2013.ISBN 0674726111
- ^Macauley, Cameron (2005). "Aggressive active case detection: a malaria control strategy based on the Brazilian model". Social Science & Medicine. 60: 563–573. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.05.025.
- ^The work of URIHI in the Yanomami Area, 2000-2004
- ^Posey, Darrell (2006). Human Impacts On Amazonia: The Role Of Traditional Ecological Knowledge In Conservation And Development. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 241.
- ^"Cannibal Holocaust—Yanomamo".
- ^Andrew N. Woznicki. "Endocannibalism of the Yanomami". The Summit Times.
- ^"Yanomamo". Rose-Conlon Music.
- ^"Yanomamo Chorus Book". Josef Weinberger.
- ^"Yai Wanonabälewä review". Focus on the family.