Friday, November 13, 2009

Ye'kwana Marriage and Motherhood

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

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 its 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 in 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, perhaps unknowingly, but with the same results, none the less.

Adorable children!


Brooke said...

Interesting custom, and SO frustrating that the gov't will now be destroying it.

Anonymous said...

Tribal people haven't fared too well here in the states, and I guess the same processes will eventually overwhelm the people you are writing about. I am continually bemused to see some blond headed, blue eyed guy on tv with a pony tail, pronouncing himself something like Richard Soaring Eagle of the Bohunka tribe. There can't be much Bohunka left in the gene pool.

Linda said...

Oh, wow! I think this custom is not one I would have liked to do. It is hard enough for a mom and dad to raise their children, but I don't feel it is right for the grandparents to automatically have the responsibility for their care. It is good to have some imput sometimes. Maybe, the part about the son-in-law taking are of his in-laws might be good. I wonder how my son-in-law would feel about that? Or how my sons would feel? Something to ponder!

Miss Footloose said...

Interesting post! All over the world governments and others have messed around with local cultures and habits causing great stress.

In Africa a lot of national borders run straight through tribal areas. In West Africa for instance, the Ewe tribe is "cut up" by the borders of Ghana, Togo, and Benin.

When we lived in Ghana in the 70s (we lived there more recently as well) I went to Holland to visit my family with our 9 month old daughter. Coming back to Ghana, the people were appalled I'd brought back my daughter. I should have left her with my "poor, lonely, widowed" mother!

My mother raised four children and had other things to do now!

Betty said...

That is so sad. I didn´t know.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Wow, that is an interesting custom. I'd love to see it firsthand. I hate that the government is doing that. So frustrating!

Kathy said...

How difficult. I'm so clueless about so many things. I'll add these things to my prayer list.

theotherryan said...

Jim Dakin once said "You want a strong three generation family? Take away alimony and Social Security."

Interesting stuff.

Journeyman said...

Thank you for your honesty. Barq. is so far removed from these areas we can often forget what He is doing. However, this is so typical of all that is being done to that formerly great country. Criminal!