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Amazon River People

Photo of Amazon River People from South America.  Note the feline teeth used as an ornamental necklace.  Felines are important in the cosmology and religion of Amazon River People.  The Waorani identify themselves closely with felines such as the jaguar (Panthera onca). Traditional Amazonians are animists.  That is, they believe that animal spirits or souls inhabit the world around us and can determine one's luck in hunting, sickness or health, and even life or death.  In the animistic world view of hunter-gatherer societies, humans are often regarded as being on a level more or less equal to that of animals.  Consequently, Amazon River People commonly believe that it is important to treat these entities with respect as they can be very powerful.  In the animist's worldview, humans are considered to be an integral part of natural forces, rather than being superior to or apart from nature.  Consequently, Amazon River People have many rituals and taboos with respect to hunting and animals.  Amazon River People who are hunter-gatherers realize that they need to kill animals in order to survive, but they believe that the spirits of dead animals live on and must be appeased or the animal spirits could harm them in retaliation. 


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Photograph Copyright 2007-2008 Jacek Palkiewicz,  all rights reserved
Text Copyright 2007-2008,  all rights reserved, Amazon River People