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The Yawanawa

The Yawanawa tribe is located at the Gregoria River, between Peru and Bolivia, not far from Acre. The tribal language belongs to the Pano linguistic group of Western Amazonia. Hunting and Fishing are two of their main economic activities. Oftentimes the hunted food will be the only resource of alimentation in difficult weather conditions.

The Yawanawá share their territory with the Katukina tribe and most members of one tribe will be married with those of another tribe or with other foreign allies. These connections were made during the time of colonization. Due to resources, like caoutchouc, missioners decided to stay in order to create a profitable business. These days, more sustainable allies that support the culture and stability of the tribes, have been established.

The Yawanawa - or the people of the wild boar - hold a strong belief in shamans. The one to be initiated as a shaman has to go through many processes and tasks, which include that he has to suck on the heart of an anaconda or strike down a bees hive. In addition, the becoming shaman has to go through dietas that prohibit the consumption of meat, fruits or sweets, and solely focus on taking the medicine for a year. During the initiation, certain hallucinogenic plants will be ingested such as ayahuasca, pepper, datura, rapé, and tobacco juices (Jauregui et al. 2011). The most sacred plant for the Yawanawa is a plant called the “rare muca”. Not many members of their tribe have eaten the root of this plant during ceremonies. Only men who are becoming a warrior or a healer would be allowed to go through an initiation with rare muca. The rituals will be guided by special incantations, smudging herbs, and saying prayers.

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