miércoles, 6 de febrero de 2008

Awa Guaja In Danger

Women Of A Tribe
In The Amazon Jungle
Breastfeed Small Primates
And Other Animals

By Jack Boulware - May 3, 2000

Deep in the Amazonian jungle, a rare Indian tribe extends the maternal instinct beyond its own species. In a remote village, the breasts of female humans also feed the urgent lips of hungry baby Monkeys. For centuries, this monkey-feeding tribe, called the Awa Guaja, has survived in an isolated area in northern Brazil. And they are very definitely animal oriented. Whenever a tribal member dies, the Awa Guaja believe the person’s spirit is taken by a Jaguar. Also, women are expected to breastfeed jungle animals from puberty. Monkeys are considered the most sacred of all creatures. Baby Monkeys eat and sleep with the women, are breastfed to their heart’s content and are raised alongside human children. But this strange nomadic tribe may soon be wiped out. Many members of the tribe are seriously ill with malaria and tuberculosis. A nearby mining project also threatens their habitat, as do the ever-encroaching settlers, ranchers and loggers. At first glance, the Awa don’t appear to be much different from other tribes in the jungle. The males go naked except for headbands of bright orange Toucan plumage and armbands of yellow and red Macaw feathers. The women have small Monkeys clinging to their bodies, with some perched on their heads like hats, their tails wrapped around the women’s necks. Not surprisingly, the Awa Guaja are a matriarchal society. Their female chief is an old wrinkled woman named Merikidia, who lives in a central hut and is responsible for everything from arranging marriages to delivering babies. As chief, she often wears a Monkey on her head, perhaps a couple of them wrapped around her thighs, and she shares her home with 12 Monkeys, which chatter loudly as she walks past. But until an organization or government takes steps to preserve the tribe, extinction appears imminent for this unique society of Monkey nursers. “Monkeys are a very important part of their culture”, said Renildo Matos dos Santos. “I have also seen them breastfeeding small Pigs and Raccoons”.

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