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Wednesday, 24 July 2024, 21:59 (09:59 PM) CDT, day 206 of 2024

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Yanomamö male.

(Peter Biella, Napoleon A. Chagnon and Gary Seaman
© 1997 Harcourt Brace)

Magical Death

(29 min., 1988, UM DULUTH kanopy Yanomamo Collection Magical Death)
(use Virtual Private Network (VPN) (UMD) from off-campus locations)

Magical Death

(8 min., 1988, UM DULUTH kanopy Yanomamo Collection Children's Magical Death)
(use Virtual Private Network (VPN) (UMD) from off-campus locations)

"Darkness in El Dorado"

Abstract Terms / Concepts Notes Reviews
Cultures Sites Individuals Bibliography / Resources

Other Videos:

Yanomami -- Wikipedia

Search for Yanomamö on JSTORE


Yanomamo Magical Death, shaman.

Magical Death

Yanomamo Magical Death, shaman.

Children's Magical Death

Yanomamö Youth

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Magical Death

"Relates the religious activities of a political leader and shaman from a village in Venezuela to the political and social organization in a Yanomamo Indian group. . . . "

"The shaman plays a vital role in Yanomamo society, for it is he who calls, commands, and often is possessed by spirits, or hekura. "Like myriad glowing butterflies dancing in the sky," the hekura come down invisible trails from the mountain tops when they are summoned. A powerful shaman such as Dedeheiwa, who is known even in distant villages, manipulates not only the spirits of the mountains but also those that live within his own body. The body is a vehicle for the hekura: lured by beautiful body paint, they enter the feet and eventually settle in the chest."

"In 1970, Dedeheiwa's village Mishimishi-mabowei-teri was visited by leaders of the village Bisaasi-teri. After twenty years of hostilities, the visitors wished to establish an alliance with Mishimishi-mabowei-teri, and they came to invite their former enemies to a feast. One of the visitors stayed behind when the others had left, and Dedeheiwa asked him: "Brother-in-law, do you have any enemies you want us to kill with our hekura?" The visitor replied that indeed the Mahekdodo-teri had killed his older brother, and he asked Dedeheiwa to send hekura to destroy the souls of this enemy's children."

"For two days following this request, a shamanic drama is enacted, led by Dedeheiwa. Dedeheiwa and other shamans prepare by taking hallucinogenic drugs which enable them to speak to and become the spirits. Dedeheiwa calls a "hot and meat-hungry" hekura to devour the children's souls with fire. Then the shamans become their victims, as they writhe like dying children in a pile of ashes. Becoming hekura spirits again, they devour the ashes representing the dead children. The first day's drama ends when Dedeheiwa himself falls unconscious, attacked by a magical hook sent from another enemy. The second day, the elaborate drama resumes, as Dedeheiwa becomes a young man from the enemy village who dodges the shamans' attacks but eventually is destroyed."

"Three weeks later, men from Dedeheiwa's village visited their new allies and participated with them in a raid on another village. The new alliance, strengthened by the shamans and their spirit manipulation, was reaffirmed, momentarily, by this act of war."

"The film is an exceptionally vivid portrayal of shamanic activity, as well as an exploration of the close connection between politics and shamanism in Yanomamo culture."

"American Film Festival Blue Ribbon" -- Documentary Educational Resources


Children's Magical Death

"Pretending to be shamans, a group of young boys imitates their fathers, blowing ashes into each other's noses and chanting to the hekura spirits." -- Documentary Educational Resources

Terms / Concepts

  • hukura = spirits

  • beliefs / values / attitudes

    • beliefs

      • acceptance of a statement or event as truth

      • "postulates"

        1. existential postulates

          • relate to the question of how things exist

          • "conceptions of reality"

          • "propositions about how the universe works"

          • "When describing our own beliefs . . . we may consider them 'facts' or 'knowledge.'"
            (Bryant, DeWalt, Courtney and Schwartz 2003)

        1. normative postulates

          • relate to how things ought to be

          • people's conception of what should occur in a given situation

          • "norms"

            • "rules, principles, or standards for behavior"

    • values

      • "conceptions of what is desirable and undersirable, good and bad"

      • + / -

    • attitudes

      • individual's likes or dislikes

        • including ambivalent

          • a person can simultaneously have positive and negative views or feelings

          • or no particular views or feelings

  • enculturation

    • education

    • habituation / imitation

    • socialization

  • acculturation
    (H. Barnett, et al)

  • altered states of consciousness (ASC)

    • alcohol / drugs
    • trance
    • shamanistic ecstasy
      • shaman
    • sorcery
    • dance trance
    • prayer ecstasy
    • yoga / meditation
    • dream states
    • "highway hypnosis"
    • . . .

  • deviance, "normal" / "abnormal"

    • "normal" vs. "deviant"

  • shaman

  • Yanomamó Kin Terms = Iroquois Terminology



            • structure
            • function
            • meaning

            • emic
            • etic

            • synchronic
            • diachronic


  • For a look at how the Yanomamö changed in the next few years after this film was made see Ocamo is My Town (VC 1339), a film / video first released by Pennsylvania State University in 1975. For a more recent portrait see Warriors of the Amazon (VC 2667), by WGBH Educational Foundation, ca. 1996.



Other Videos


  • Darkness in El Dorado Controversy --Texas A & M

  • Yanomamö -- Anthro.Net

  • The Yanomamö -- Brian Schwimmer

  • Yanomamö Interactive Video -- John Kantner, UC Santa Barbara

  • The Anthropology Resource Center. 1981. The Yanomami Indian Park: A Call for Action. Boston: MA.

  • Baker, Paul. 1972. Review of 16 mm film, Yanomamö: A Multidisciplinary Study. American Anthropologist, 74:195-196.

  • Chagnon, Napoleon A. 1967. "Yanomamö -- The Fierce People." Natural History Magazine 76:1:22-31.

  • Chagnon, Napoleon A. 1968. "The Culture Ecology of shifting (Pioneering) Cultivation among the Yanomamo Indians," Proceedings of the VIII International Congress of Anthropological land Ethnological Sciences, 3:249-255. (Reprinted in D. Gross, ed., Peoples and Cultures of Native South America. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.

  • Chagnon, Napoleon A. 1968. Yanomamö The Fierce People. NY: Bolt, Rinehart, and Winston.

  • Chagnon, Napoleon A. 1968. "Yanomamö Social Organization and Warfare in War: The Anthropology of Armed Conflict and Aggression by Morton Fried, Marvin Harris, and Robert Murphy (eds.). NY: Natural History Press.
  • Chagnon, Napoleon A. 1972. "Tribal Social Organization and Genetic Micro- differentiation," in The Structure of Human Populations, G. A. Harrison and A. J. Boyce, eds., Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 252-282.

  • Chagnon, Napoleon A. 1967. Studying the Yanomamö. NY: Bolt, Rinehart and Winston.

  • Chagnon, Napoleon A. "The Ecology of Swidden Cultivation in the Upper Orinoco Rain Forest, Venezuela." The Geographical Review 64:4:475-495.

  • Chagnon, Napoleon A. 1972. "Tribal Social Organization and Genetic Micro- differentiation," in The Structure of Human Populations, G. A. Harrison and A. J. Boyce, eds., Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 252-282.

  • Chagnon, Napoleon A. 1973. "Yanomamo," in Primitive Worlds, Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, Special Publications series, pp. 141-183.
  • Davis, Sheton H. 1976. Victims of the Miracle: Development and the Indians of Brazil. Cambridge Univ. Press.

  • Davis, Sheton H. 1984. "Highways and the Future of the Yanomamo." In Conformity and Conflict, Ed. by James P. Spradley and David W. McCurdy, pp. 374-383. Boston: Little, Brown.

  • Hannah, Joel M. 1972. Review of Yanomamö: A Multidisciplinary Study, American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 36: 453-454.

  • Harris, David R. 1971. "The Ecology of Swidden Cultivation in the Upper Orinco Rain Forest, Venezuela." The Geographical Review, 61 (4) 475-495.

  • Kensinger, Kenneth M. 1971. Review of The Feast, American Anthropologist, 73: 500-502.

  • Lizot, Jacques. 1985. Tales of the Yanomami. Cambridge Univ. Press.

  • MacCluer, J., J. Neel, and N. Chagnon. 1971. "Demographic Structure of a Primitive Population: A Simulation," American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 35:193-207.
  • Neel, James V. 1970. "Lessons from a 'Primitive' People." Science, 170: 815-822.

  • Neel, J. V., W. R. Centerwall, N. A. Chagnon, and H. L. Casey. 1970. "In a Virgin-Soil Population of South American Indians," American Journal of Epidemiology, 91:418-429.

  • Neel, J., et al. 1971. "Studies on the Yanomama Indians," Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress of Human Genetics. Human Genetics, September 1971, pp. 96-111.

  • Neel, James V. and Richard H. Ward. 1970. "Village and Tribal Genetic Distances among American Indians, and the Possible Implications for Human Evolution," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 65 (2):323-330.

  • Salamone, Frank A. 1997. The Yanomami and their interpreters : fierce people or fierce interpreters? Lanham, Md. : University Press of America.

  • Ward, Richard H. 1971. "The Genetic Structure of a Tribal Population: The Yanomama Indians. V. Comparison of a Series of Networks," Annals of Human Genetics.

  • Yanomamö women --
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