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Gregory Ballas
Professor Katsanos
LBST 2102
10 October 2016
Kayapo People
The Kayapo people are a group of a few thousand Indians that are native to Brazil. They
are one of the main groups that live in the amazon jungle. This group lives in scattered villages
along the Xingu River in the Amazon rainforest. This group of Indians fought to stay separate
from the dominant culture and is often called fierce warriors. The Kayapo people have a very
specific set of rituals that help them keep balance within their tribe.
The Kayapo people did not come in contact with Europeans until the 1950s but after that
they had no difficulty when they encountered other types of people (Countries and their
Cultures). Contact with different groups of people has posed a threat for the Kayapo people. For
example, any type of destruction or harm to animal or plant life in the Amazon jungle directly
effects the Kayapo people because they work to maintain the balance in the forest. If that balance
is disturbed, then it affects the groups way of living and their means for survival. Despite the
obstacles they are faced with, they continue to be a peaceful group.
Due to the fact that the Kayapos live along a river, their main source of food is fish
(Countries and their Cultures). This tribe also harvests vegetables and eats the exotic fruits from
the trees of the Amazon. Monkey and turtle are also very popular in their food culture and are
hunted by the skilled hunters of the Kayapo tribe. There are specific animals that are only eaten
during certain festivals. Kayapos use curare, paralytic poison, on their darts and blowguns to
hunt their prey.

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The Kayapo people are very interesting when it comes to their beliefs. A full cycle of
festivals is considered extremely important to their culture. Singing and dancing is always
incorporated in the Kayapo everyday life. Men and woman sing as they create a beat with the
maracas as they go out to hunt or tend the fields. The festivals and special days for the Kayapos
that I mentioned are based off of the seasons. There are only two seasons in the Amazon and that
is wet(rainy) and dry season(Countries and their Cultures). Young Kayapo children receive
special ancestral names to enable them to fully immerse themselves into the Kayapos way of
living and help them develop social skills. This ceremony takes place in both wet and dry
The Kayapos religion is based off of traditional indigenous beliefs. They believe that
when a person dies, they go to the village of the dead. In this village it is said that old people
become younger and children become older. The Kayapos had to adjust once different
communities and settlers started to interrupt their way of life. This caused them to move and
settler elsewhere but the problem was that they were settling in areas that they considered to be
antisocial(Kayapo Folklore, Ritual and Ceremony). This area that they considered to be
antisocial seriously affected the Kayapos but they had no choice so instead they formed different
types of rituals and ceremonies to make this new land their home. When they settle in a new
area, they give special names to almost everything; this is how they make their new land become
social(Kayapo Folklore, Ritual and Ceremony). When the men go out and hunt, once they kill
their prey they have to sing a specific ritual song based off of the animal they have killed. These
rituals are essential to the Kayapos because it is creating a connection between man and nature
and that is considered extremely important in the Kayapo culture. This hunting ritual is
considered to be technological because they are trying to create a change in nature so they can

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benefit. The Kayapos have a couple other rituals, which are the ceremonies to receive a special
ancestral name and ceremonies that are linked to rites of passage. These ceremonies that are
linked to rites of passage are known as mereremex(Kayapo Folklore, Ritual and Ceremony). The
Kayapos fit all of the rite of passage stages when they are receiving a unique ancestral name and
it is known as initiation. The rite of passage stages start with separation, then transition and
finally incorporation. When a young Kayapo child is born, he/she receives a temporary name and
once the child reaches an age when they start to acquire motor skills, this is when the Kayapos
will hold a ceremony for the child to receive a unique ancestral name. The loss of the childs old
name is the first step of separation in the rite of passage. The transition stage is when the child
has lost their old identity and still hasnt been reincorporated into the community. During this
stage a ritual is performed that is associated with the loss of their name. After this, the child is
reincorporated into the community with their new unique name and everyone in the community
participates. The Kayapos also have a series of body rituals. The Kayapo men traditionally wear
a large ring/disk in their lower lip that stretches it out(Indian Cultures by Hand Around the
World). This disk wearing shows that the man wearing it is strong and aggressive.
The Kayapo Indians are a very strong traditional group of people. They have a bond and
connection with nature and that is what they base their rituals and every day life off of. These
rituals help to define who they are and what they believe in.

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