Change in Attitudes Beliefs and Practices Regarding Gender

Contact with the Venezuelan society is increasing and the need to interact with non-Yanomami has become unavoidable in accessible areas. Names are traditionally tabooed, but it has become customary to use Christian names to address others in the context of the mission stations or schools. This is a decisive step toward a cultural change. Traditionally, every person is placed in particular relationships within social interactions by referring to one another using kinship terms. These are intimately linked with gender meanings, as every term specifies a certain form of conduct and commitment. Now other forms of social distinction have been introduced, like jobs with different salaries or diverse access to modern resources; these will inevitably lead to a higher level of social inequality.

In some parts of Brazilian territory the Yanomami have suffered tremendously from the intrusion of illegal miners. Again and again the Yanomami are being threatened by the presence of prospectors as well as by the Brazilian Armed Forces. Sexual relations between foreigners and Yanomami women result in the spread of venereal disease. Sexual relations, which are traditionally a form of generosity embedded in a complex of friendship and alliance, now threaten death and social instability on a large scale.

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