Yawalapití - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Yawalapití society was traditionally and remains egalitarian. Nearly all the chiefs of the maloca or the village are men—because of men's greater knowledge of nature and of Yawalapití history. It is the men's craftsmanship (woodcut, basketry, making feather adornments and flutes), language ability (the current chief, Aritana, is fluent in nine languages, including Portuguese), or fishing skills that are important. These abilities have a positive reflection in the political and sexual life of the society. There is marked segregation of the sexes. It is forbidden for women to visit the men's house and attend evening meetings or to smoke in front of the men's house. Women try to influence the society by influencing their husbands and fathers. The Brazilian government made an effort to offer benefits for chiefs and their families.

Political Organization. Kinship and marriage are still the primary links in the community. Each maloca has its own chief, as does the village.

Social Control. Rules fixing the relationships between kin are recognized. One rule that is strictly followed is the extreme respect shown by a man to his in-laws. A man is not allowed to speak directly to his parents-in-laws or to call his brothers-in-law by name. Sometimes a fight between men occurs over a woman, but fatal injuries rarely result.

Conflict. In the past the Yawalapití were at war when defending against raids from the east, especially from the Trumái group and later from the Chikão group. These events are now recalled only by the elders, who heard of them from their parents. The battles were commemorated in the war game ( irharáka ), in which men painted as jaguars fought among themselves by throwing long arrows with a wax-ball tip instead of a point. These games no longer occur: men vent their anger in wrestling ( hukahuka ) or in soccer matches.

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