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Yanomami

Yanomami Native American tribal group living chiefly in the rainforests of n Brazil and s Venezuela. Traditionally semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, during the 1980s and 1990s much of their land was lost to road-builders, logging companies and gold prospectors, causing the population to fall to c.18,000. Their plight raised international concern.

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Yanomami

Yanomamichamois, clammy, gammy, Grammy, hammy, jammy, mammae, mammee, mammy, Miami, ramie, rammy, Sammy, shammy, whammy •acme, drachmae •Lakshmi •army, balmy, barmy, gourami, macramé, origami, palmy, pastrami, salami, smarmy, swami, tsunami, Yanomami •Clemmie, Emmy, jemmy, lemme, semi •elmy •Amy, cockamamie, flamy, gamy, Jamie, Mamie, samey •beamy, creamy, dreamy, gleamy, Mimi, preemie, seamy, steamy •gimme, shimmy, Timmy •pygmy • filmy •arch-enemy, enemy •synonymy • Jeremy • sashimi •blimey, gorblimey, grimy, limey, slimy, stymie, thymy •commie, mommy, pommie, pommy, tommy •dormy, stormy •foamy, homey, loamy, Naomi, Salome •polychromy

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Yanomami

Yanomami

The Yanomami are the largest group of unassimilated indigenous people in the South American rainforest. Their name, also written as Yanoama or Yanomamö, is derived from their word meaning human being. The Yanomami number around 33,000 and occupy an area covering some 74,000 square miles on both sides of the border between Brazil and Venezuela. They are skilled hunter-gatherers and swidden farmers, who live in villages composed of a single large communal roundhouse or a few smaller houses. Social and political relations are based on kinship and marriage ties. Their family of languages distinguishes them from the Carib- and Arawak-affiliated peoples that surround them. The heart of the Yanomami homeland is the isolated, mountainous Parima section of the Guiana Highlands. The boundary separating Brazil and Venezuela passes directly through their territory, but very few Yanomami have adopted the language or national culture of either of these two modern states.

During the colonial period, Spanish and Portuguese expeditions encountered only a few small outlying Yanomami groups, who usually fought them off. Traditional material culture is perishable in the humid tropical environment; tangible evidence of their past, including stone tools and clay vessels, is extremely rare. The Yanomami are probably the same people that have been referred to since the eighteenth century as Waika, Shamatari, Shirishana, or Guajaribo. The first sustained contact with the Yanomami was not achieved by outsiders until 1947. Since the 1980s, many Yanomami have suffered greatly from encroachments into their territory by mineral prospectors, especially gold miners (garimpeiros). In 1991 and 1992 both Venezuela and Brazil legally set aside large portions of Yanomami territory: a protected ecological zone of about 32,000 square miles in Venezuela, and a federally recognized indigenous reserve of about 37,300 square miles in Brazil.

See alsoGuiana Highlands; Indigenous Peoples.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Borofsky, Robert. Yanomami: The Fierce Controversy and What We Can Learn from It. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

Milliken, William, and Bruce Albert, with Gale Goodwin Gomez. Yanomami: A Forest People. London: Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, 1999.

Tierney, Patrick. Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon. New York: Norton, 2000.

                                       William J. Smole

                                    Gale Goodwin Gomez

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