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The Yanomami people have, in Brazil, a territory of approximately 9,664,975 ha. or 96,649.75 Km2, and it is located on both sides of the Brazil-Venezuela border (Amazon-Orinoco interfluve). In Brazil, they occupy the areas of the tributaries on the right bank of the Rio Branco and on the left bank of the Rio Negro.

The Yanomami represent a small linguistic family composed of 04 closely related languages that do not belong to any indigenous linguistic branch of South America, being considered totally isolated. The four languages are (linguistic reference by Henri Ramirez): Sanoma Language (Western Roraima); Yanomami language (Yanomami / Eastern and Xamatari / Western); Ninan language (Mucajaí); Yanomae language (Ajarani).

Recent linguistic studies point to the presence of two more Yanomami languages: Yaroamë (400 speakers) and Yãnoma (180 speakers) in use in the southeastern region of the Yanomami territory in the state of Roraima. (Yanomami languages in Brazil: diversity and vitality”  published by Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) in partnership with Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (IPHAN)-Researchers Helder Perri,  Estêvan Benfica Machado and Ana Maria Antunes.

In addition, we have the non-Yanomami language = Ye´kuana

Meninos Yanomami sentados na floresta


The villages are made up of a multi-family maloca - a circular construction with a central courtyard that can hold 30 to 200 people called a xapono - or several houses, and maintain, among themselves, levels of communication, where economic, matrimonial and ritual relationships are developed.  The organization of each family group is under the responsibility of a perioma – traditional leadership, which may have several leaderships in each xapono.

The xapono also represents an effectively social, ritualistic and symbolic space. As a social space, xapono allows permanent interaction between all members, within the space provided by each single-family cell, or even in the central courtyard for community use. The relationship between the xapono occurs through a complex web of relationships.

The Yanomami are traditionally characterized by semi-nomadism, they are hunters and gatherers of forest products, but they also practice subsistence agriculture (mainly bananas, cassava, corn) and fishing. Traditionally, the average time spent in the same xapono (circular village) is 5 to 6 years, after which resources begin to run out, motivating them to seek a new housing area, as part of the territorial mobility strategy. reassembled in a millennial way.


The women take care of daily practices such as cutting firewood, collecting fruits in the forest, preparing food, making baskets and other objects of the Yanomami cultural material, taking care of household chores as well as children.


The men are in charge of activities related to subsistence, through hunting and fishing, clearing the forest and preparing the land for planting and taking care of the construction of houses. In addition, they take care of the group's defense, make their weapons such as bows and arrows, artifacts and ceremonial instruments, among others. The work in the fields is done by everyone, with the felling, burning and slash-and-burning being the responsibility of the men, the planting and cultural treatment mainly of the women.

external threats

threats from government policy

Several factors have threatened Brazilian indigenous peoples. The degradation in the last 10 years of the policies implemented by the government puts indigenous rights at risk.


Increasingly, civil participation and indigenous representatives lose strength in the face of a context of vertical imposition of state policies. The indigenous health subsystem does not meet the preventive needs of the indigenous population, offering a curative service that does not dialogue with traditional health. Formal education still has difficulties in understanding and incorporating differentiated, bilingual and intercultural school education.


Mulheres Yanomami realizando pinturas corporais

The connection of the Yanomami people with their land, with the sky, with their cosmology and mythology, with the xapiri (the spirits) in the relationship that link them to their ancestors, their traditional culture reveals that it is another cultural universe.  


The Yanomami have vast knowledge of the geography of the place, biology, botany, the cycles of nature, fauna and flora, mountains, rivers, fish. They have extensive knowledge about health, identify diseases through the symptoms presented and process healing through the mastery of spiritual practices, capable of warding off evils that affect individual well-being and disrupt the social balance of the group.

The reahu represents without a doubt the most important ceremony in the Yanomami culture, as it corresponds doubly to a festive atmosphere, associated with the gravity of a funeral ritual, in which the participation of the hama – visitors, is of fundamental importance.

The process of implementing the health of the napë left the Yanomami perplexed, dividing them between the need to receive assistance to deal with new health problems and the camouflaged desire to give flow to shamanism and traditional practices of healing and caring for patients. , involving the family, the community and the shamans.

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