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ya·​no·​ma·​mi | yä-nō-ˈmä-mē

The Yanomami are an Amazonian indigenous people that subsist mainly by hunting-gathering and simple horticulture. Yanomami mythology, rooted in the beliefs of the Yanomami people of the Amazon rainforest, often centers around the spirits of the natural world, ancestors, and celestial bodies. Their cosmology features a rich tapestry of mythical figures, including powerful shamanic beings and animal spirits. Stories often emphasize the interconnectedness of all living things and the importance of maintaining harmony with nature to ensure the well-being of both humans and the environment.


The population is estimated at 36,000 individuals within the border regions of southeastern Venezuelan and northwestern Brazilian. Historically, they have been known as one of the world's last remaining indigenous societies to have been relatively isolated from the "outside world" or other non-Yanomami populations. More recently, their microbiome linked to their health status is earning them increasing popularity. However, many experts contend that there are villages that remain entirely isolated.


In recent decades, Yanomami territories have faced significant challenges to their survival, marked by radical changes and threats. Since the 1950s, sustained Western contact has led to the spread of novel infectious diseases, invasion by illegal gold miners, and exposure to complex political and economic policies that disrupt their traditional way of life. An increasing number of Yanomami communities have relocated near major rivers within their land, partly to gain access to Western goods and medicines. This relocation has heightened susceptibility to ailments such as tuberculosis, malaria, and measles, exacerbated by the introduction of processed foods like refined sugar and bleached rice. These foods pose additional health hazards, including poor dental health, malnutrition, reduced microbiome diversity, diabetes, and obesity.

The Yanomami Foundation focuses on supporting communities that balance traditional customs with their increasing integration into national society. The Yanomami are in critical need of support to protect their way of life and maintain the health and welfare of the more vulnerable, less frequently contacted communities in the interior.


Essays on Yanomami Culture


Origin Mythologies


Historical Encounters



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