Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ye'kwana Marriage and Motherhood

(This young mother is expecting her fourth child.
She has two living children, having lost one to malaria.

Amanda of Baby Bangs had a lot of questions for me in response to the post I did about Ye'kwana marriage customs. I'll try to answer them.

She asked;
"I need to know more about the married couples giving their firstborn children to the mom's parents to raise. So does the child think of its mom as its sister? Do the moms have a hard time doing this? Do they stay involved in its life? So many questions!"

When a newly married couple has a child, tradition dictates that the child be given to the mother's parents. The child will know who is it's mother but the grand parents have final say in all matters. When that grand child marries, the son-in-law will move in with the grand parents.

Giving up the child is not as terrible as it may at first sound when you realize the mother and her husband will usually live with her parents for several years and even then, they will build right next to her parents. The son -in -law is responsible for the upkeep of his wife's parents and it is his duty to stay nearby to do so. This may even play into the tradition of giving them the first born, as it will encourage the parents to stay near by. Also, the girls are quite young at marriage and often need the support of their mother. The girl is marriageable shortly after her first menses.

The parents do stay involved in the child's life but are not the highest authority. This does cause conflict at times when a Christian girl marries and her parents are not Christin. She will not want her child raised out of the faith. This encourages Christians to marry children of other Christian families so as to avoid this conflict, which does cause the Christian families to be stronger.

The encroachment of the outside culture is causing much of this to be abandoned and is a great source of concern for the tribe. Without the in-laws staying to care for the elder parents, and the young child to provide for them, what is to become of the elderly? These are issues one does not see without spending time on the culture.

And now, allow me a rant!

The Venezuelan government often tries to move Indian teachers, malaria workers and such, around at their own whim and are not aware of all the difficulties they are creating. The government has placed Cuban and criollo Venezuelans into the community, even military, which often impregnate the young tribal girls, and then leave them to fend for themselves, not knowing where they fit in the community, once the workers are relocated elsewhere.

This creates grave problems and no one is left to deal with it. This has even led to armed confrontations between military and tribal peoples. Very sad, and the instances are happening more and more frequently as the military is moving more and more into the tribal communities.

This type of behavior is what will ultimately destroy the tribal cultures and is the true case of ethnocide in Venezuela. It is being quietly covered up and unreported, but it is happening!

The missionaries who were accused of such things, but never proven to have committed them, are no longer on sight to report such atrocities and the government claims to have 'saved' the tribes from the evil influence of foreigners, all the while destroying the very people they claim to be helping.Adorable children!


Bob said...

The truth is often hidden.

Amanda said...

Thank you for elaborating for me. I always learn something when I come over here. Blessings to you!

Dawn said...

What a darling little baby! Very interesting customs, and sad that they are being forced out.

The Merry Widow said...

Of course the government knows exactly what it is doing! The indians are too "independent" of the government, soooooooo, you try and destroy the system of family and tribal support and force EVERYONE to turn to the socialistic system!
It is disgusting and distressing that a "leader", who is indian, is deliberately setting out to destroy his own people!
But then, he is a socialist/communist, and they give up ALL right to call themselves a part of another group!
Good morning, G*D bless and Maranatha!


Thursday's Child said...

What an adorable baby! I hope the Yekwana (and other tribes) manage to survive Chavez and his superiority complex.

Gayle said...

Good morning, Rita.

I believe their custom makes more sense than ours. They have a close family bond, and they are wise enough to understand that usually the older person is wiser than the younger one. They honor their elderly and take care of them, unlike we who hide them away in institutions so they are less of an inconvenience to us. It seems to me that between our culture and their's, they are the superior one.

It doesn't surprise me that a socialist is attempting to destroy their family structure. After all, look at what they've already done to this country! If only people would wake up from their apathy. *sigh*

Brenda said...

Another great post. What a tragedy for the indian societies to have to put up with invasion of their culture. I appreciate you posting these things. . . maybe someone of influence will read your blog and it will make a difference.

Starla said...

I am glad she ask these questions I was wondering about the same things, but I would not ask. Thanks for posting the answers.

Findalis said...

We forget about caring for our elderly and the benefits of the extended family. It seems that the Ye'kwana know more about mental health issues than today's modern medical persons do and we could learn a thing or two from them.

WomanHonorThyself said...

the government claims to have 'saved' the tribes from the evil influence of foreigners, all the while destroying the very people they claim to be true Rita!...keep tellin it like it is!.Vaya con Dios!

Liz said...

Hi Rita,
just visiting to say hello... I do have the time to read you during my new schedule, but no time to comment (sorry).
Good post, as always.

Un abrazote!

Karma said...

Wow, you are truly an amazing person and I hope that God blesses you and your family to the fullest extent!

Rhonda in Chile said...

Hey, Jungle Mom!
Two things, we really enjoyed all the photos of the wedding, especially the minigolf and the grocery cart! You guys are great!
Is this your son that is praying about coming to Chile?
2, I think its totally cool that Amanda Moore Jones reads your blog!