Virus kills Brazil tribal boy
A Yanomami indigenous boy has died after contracting COVID-19, authorities in Brazil said on Friday, raising fears for the Amazon tribe, which is known for its vulnerability to disease.
- The Yanomami, also spelled Yąnomamö or Yanomama, are a group of indigenous people who live in some 200–250 villages in the Amazon rainforest on the border between Venezuela and Brazil.
- Like most tribes on the continent, they probably migrated across the Bering Straits between Asia and America some 15,000 years ago, making their way slowly down to South America. Today their total population stands at around 38,000.
- The Yanomami first came into sustained contact with outsiders in the 1940s when the Brazilian government sent teams to delimit the frontier with Venezuela.
- The Yanomami do not recognize themselves as a united group, but rather as individuals associated with their politically autonomous villages.
- Yanomami communities are grouped together because they have similar ages and kinship, and militaristic coalitions interweave communities together.
- The Yanomami have common historical ties to Carib speakers who resided near the Orinoco river and moved to the highlands of Brazil and Venezuela, the location the Yanomami currently occupy.
- Villages vary in size, but usually contain between 50 and 400 native people. In this largely communal system, the entire village lives under a common roof called the shabono.
- Shabonos have a characteristic oval shape, with open grounds in the centre measuring an average of 100 yards (91 m). The shabono shelter constitutes the perimeter of the village, if it has not been fortified with palisades.
- Yanomaman languages comprise four main varieties: Ninam, Sanuma, Waika, and Yanomamo. Many local variations and dialects also exist, such that people from different villages cannot always understand each other.
- Many linguists consider the Yanomaman family to be a language isolate, unrelated to other South American indigenous languages. The origins of the language are obscure.