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    The Kalapalo Indians Essay (1583 words)

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    The Kalapalo Indians of Central Brazil are one of a few surviving indigenouscultures that is uniquely protected by a national reserve in lowland SouthAmerica. Through no effort of there own, they have been isolated artificiallyfrom Brazilian social and economic influences that reach almost every otherIndian tribe in Brazil. This unusual situation has made it possible for theKalapalos culture to be undisturbed by the outside world and the surroundingtribes. Much of Kalapalo life is run through a central concept or an ideal ofbehavior, called ifutisu.

    This is an infinite ideological concept that isrepresented in many ways in social life and ideal organization among theKalapalo. The area in which the Kalapalo live is in the northeastern Mato Grosso statecalled Upper Xingu Basin. There are four unintelligible languages by groups inthis region. This makes the Upper Xingu Basin linguistically diverse, but withmany of the groups still sharing the same social and ideological features.

    It isvery difficult to trace back the origins of Kalapalo life because of theintegration of the many different and culturally diverse groups in the UpperXingu Basin. So, many of systems of kinship classification, marriage practices,ceremonial organizations, status allocation, and religious beliefs areconsistent with cultural rules and social practices and not with the originalsystem. Many of the modern local groups can only reconstruct their own historywhich is in limited detail, these systems cant be isolated completely from theexisting society. The two most important social units in Upper Xingu society are the village andthe household groups. Both the village and household can be considered corporatein that both control rights to territorial resources, acts as a unit whenperforming certain economic and ceremonial activities.

    Members of a householdgroup are obligated to pass out food which they collect amongst themselves. Evenwhen one cannot supply food a Kalapalo is assured of a share because everyone istreated with the same kind of respect. Despite this corporate organization,membership in villages and households is constantly changing, and there is muchmovement of people between group to group. The Kalapalo society is a system wherein social units, such as the villagegroups and households exist only because of the individual who decides to livein these systems and choose to cooperate with one another. This is verydifferent from other non-western societies whereas the individual acquire theresponsibility to join in social units, by birth or other means of relationshipto and with each other regardless of the identity of the individual themselves.

    The Kalapalo social organization is characterized by a flexible group membershipand significant differences in the classification of individuals with certaingroups. The choices for the Kalapalo to join groups is based on the personalrelationship between one another instead of certain clan membership, religiousbeliefs, or ancestry. The Kalapalo have an attitude towards cleanliness which encompasses all aspectsof life such as; food, houses, belongings, and physical appearance. During thetime of the year when manioc is being ready to be planted or when it isharvesting time, it is not uncommon to find them bathing three or four times adaily. The Kalapalos attitude towards cleanliness approaches the excessiveside.

    The Kalapalo believe in generosity and peaceful behavior toward every one theyencounter. They reject all acts of aggression and violent expression and find itinappropriate for human beings. Instead the Kalapalo embrace an ideal of non-violence which includes suppression of anger and a passive tolerance of behavior. In Kalapalo society people are incorporated into a cycle of reciprocity andgenerosity . The idea of sharing takes place only along the lines of priorrelations; such as kinship, friendship, or membership of the same household. The residence of the Upper Xingu Basin are settled agriculturists, fisherman andhunting.

    The Upper Xingu Basin is characterized by its two seasons: The dryseason which falls on the months of May and September, where intensivesubsistence activity begins. New gardens are prepared and manioc is harvested. Also fishing is done at this time for the rivers are low and the water is clear. The rainy season occurs during the months of October through early April, wherea decrease subsistence activities begins. The rainy season welcomes the ripeningof new various species of wild fruits.

    During this time river are flooded andthe Kalapalo must depend on little game hunted, stored food and insectscollected. Kalapalo technology is very primitive. With the restricted absence ofmetal and stone tools. The Kalapalo make the best of bone, tooth, and woodenimplements or tools. Manioc is a rooted crop which is the major subsistence itemfor the Kalapalo.

    Kinship relationship are deemed to be the most important of social ties by theKalapalo. Kinship for a Kalapalo is an all-pervasive bond which extends intoalmost every part of their life, such as religion, economic, political andfamiliar relationship are all deeply influenced by kinship. The Kalapalo tracerelationships through either parents regardless of sex. Second, a kindred isusually defined ego-centered: persons classed in such a unit are consideredrelated to a specific individual. This is what the Kalapalo call otomo conceptwhich is similar to the anthropologists concept of kindred.

    The Kalapalodistinguished material and paternal filiation by making use of different symbols. These symbols define the sexual relation between parents as different from otherkinds of sexual relations. The parents of a child doesnt have to be married tobe declared its mother and father. What is importance is knowing who theparents are, since it is very important to establish the childs otomorelationships. Kalapalo marriage takes one of two forms.

    The first is an arranged marriage,which involves a girl being engaged before puberty and to a older man. This typeof marriage is marked by the giving of bridewealth, which is the payment to thegirls parents and their siblings by the parents of the husband to be. Thesecond form of marriage involves people who are lovers and takes place after thedeath or divorce of a spouse. The Kalapalo seek to establish the first of thetwo marriages, which is the arranged marriage on the basis of past relationshipsof kinship or affinity.

    The reason why arranged marriages are important isbecause the create alliances between persons who have prior kinship connections. Also many of the men and women take on different types of marriage such aspolyandry and polygymy. Although the Kalapalo do not have or define position of leadership, there arecertain individuals whose actions have designated them into leadership roles. Kalapalo leaders are people who constantly expand and reinforce social ties. Bydoing this it demonstrates their ability to influence a large group ofindividuals and thus gains a certain amount of respect and prestige. TheKalapalo have a number of special statuses, each with certain duties andobligations to perform services, with this comes payment or rewards for dutiesor services done.

    Some of these special statuses are anetaw village mediatorsbetween households and village groups. Oto sponsors of ceremonies, ifi areceremonial specialist, who preform the ceremonies and then teaches others aboutthe ceremony. Fuati are curers and diviners, persons with unusual skills inhealing others. The Kalapalo do not speak of these status roles in terms ofleadership but believe that a leader is a person who has achieved many greatstatuses and who thus stand apart from the rest of the community.

    The Structureof Kinship in a Tribal SocietyThis research will focus on the topic of the structure of kinship in a tribalsociety, particularly on the kinship connection which structures many areas ofsocial tribal life. From political alliances formed between tribes, to access ofcertain resources, to a status role in tribal groups, and even as important aslife and death. The references include. Keesing, Roger M.

    1975. Kin Groups and Social Structures. Holt, Rinehart,& Winston: New York. This book examines the decent groups, the nature of alliance system andthe internal complexity and diversity of actual societies. Through kinship andkin groups and there social structures. This source has been helpful in myresearch because explains the formal principles of kin group organization, italso shows the kin groups in evolutionary and ecological perspective.

    The bookalso explains the difference between kin groups and social structures and at thesame time explains how kin groups play roles in certain social structures andvies versa . Goody, Jack. 1971. Kinship.

    Cox & Wyman Ltd. : Great Britain. Langara GN 480 G6This book examines the complex kin networks of many tribal societies andshows the vital role in safeguarding social and cultural stability. It alsoexamines the traditional kinship system, kin groups and marriage alliance. Thissource has been helpful to my research because it has explains certainstructure roles and how they affect certain societies.

    It is also helpfulbecause it explores the formations of alliances through marriage. Finally thisbook show the collection of kin groups and the relationship to social andcultural stability. Levi-Strauss, Claude. 1969. The Elementary Structures of Kinship.

    Becon Press. : Boston. Langara GN 480 . L413This book examines the principle of kinship, nature of exogamy. Thetheory of kinship which includes Malinowskis theory and its contradiction.

    Historical analysis, social structures, incest and the connection to marriage. This source has been helpful to my research because it has shown the elementarystructures and theories of kinship. It has also given many kin terms and thereexplanations. Finally it tries to explain the significance of social structuresand there relationship between kin groups. Schusky, Ernest L.

    1965. Manual for Kinship Analysis. Holt, Rinehart &Winston. : New York. Langara GN 480S35This book examines the beliefs and ideal behavior of a people and theiractual behaviors by understanding kinship practices.

    It also examines thetheory of kinship and the development of functional anthropology. This book alsoincludes the theories and perspectives of Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown. Thisbook has been helpful in my research because it has broken down the kinshipsystem and other kinship classifications. It analyze the kinship structure andthe kin groups through simple explanatory graphs.Category: Biographies

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