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The Canela Tribe


The Canela tribe consist of the Native Americans of the Central Brazil and occupies the grassy, open woodland within the stream-edge forests. The inhabitants were lived in an pre-contact ecological adaptation until 1750 when they started a system of indirect contact with the other nations like the Timbira and the Skirmishes as the Brazil pioneers for protection thus their lifestyle started changing, for example, their annual welfare, food collection and the way they relate within themselves. In the mid 1980s, other aspects of the life in the ecological setting changed with the resettlement of their peace, for instance the force turned to the extensive slash and burn system of Agriculture. Initially, Canela community grew crops like corn, sweet manioc, potatoes squash in small domestic farms. They could also rely on hunting, gathering and fishing to substitute the crops that they grow. The study below considers the ethnography of the Canela community specifically its: rituals, kinship and sexual practices, and also analyses these aspects in relation to the main issues, themes and concepts of the entire context of the Latin cultures of American (William, 2003).


The Kinship of the Canela community is basically two-sided although it sometimes becomes matrilineal on occasional periods like when performing activities to transmit certain rights to perform rituals or in the quarter of the matrilines. The clans never existed and the smallest kin group was known as hearth which was made up of at least seven related females, this is basically a nuclear family set up. This was considered to be sharing almost everything. The second kin was referred to as the longhouse which was a connection of at most twelve hearths. Like in a family set up, the females in each longhouse called each other sisters and all the parents were known as mother and father. This aspect is important because it led to the togetherness across the community; people were well organized into groups in which they assumed that they were related and accorded the due respect to their parents who were perceived as the leaders of these organizations called longhouses.


The differences between various sexes; male and female in the community were well distinct not only by the responsibilities accorded but also other social activities. The physical bodies of the two sexes received different cosmetic treatment responding to the intended meaning. All the men were expected to act as per the orders of the elders or chiefs after undergoing some rituals of opening the ears both physically and symbolically. The ears of the young boys were symbolically opened between the age of ten and fifteen. The specialists of the ritual did it outside the hut of the boy's mother with the assembly of the mother and the ear piercing specialist.
The boy would kneel on a mat and have his relative cut all the hair around the ear then tie the rest to a ponytail. The ear piercer would then mark the areas of entry on the earlobes of the boy with some red pigment and lets the advising uncle of the boy to approve his selected locations. After approval he would pierce the centre of the earlobe with a hardwood awl and the boy is not expected to either wince or show any signs of feeling the pain.
After piercing the specialist would slither some wooden pins mixed with the red pigment around the pierced earlobes. The young man would then be instructed on the ways of nursing the wounds, while remaining hidden in one corner of his mother's house where he was expected to curve wooden pins for the earlobes. His diet was expected to be restricted for a maximum of two weeks when he would be freed. All the responsibilities to care for the boy are delegated to the uncle who is expected to meet all the expenses; for example, he appreciates the efforts of the specialists with a small token and crowns the occasion by giving the young man a present to mark it (William, 2003).

Sexual Practices

The Canela intermarry with the people they who are considered to be non-related or whereby the genealogical relationship is considered to be lost or attenuated by social distance. All the members of the ego's kin or the longhouses are considered to be blood relatives thus they cannot get married. If two of the individuals belonging to the ego's kin have a sexual relationship, they are considered to have committed incest and first cross-cousin relationship and marriage was seen as a shame which would have effects even to the physical health of those involved.
The girls between the ages of 10 years and 13 years and the boys between 12 and 14 years were allowed to have a sexual relationship. The young men were initiated to sexual relationships by the experienced ladies then would be ordered by the grandfathers to have sex with older women of forties and fifties. if any man breaks the virginity of any girl he was entitled to marry her failure to that he would be required to pay some fine to the kin where she belongs, all efforts were made to keep the couple together.
Before giving birth to the first child, the couple could not be allowed to sleep together because they were expected to rarely have sexual relationship and only at night without the knowledge of anybody. Between the period of virginity loss and belt painting so as to be fully accepted in the in laws family to the time of first conception, the girl was formerly married many times. The entire community did not believe in any kind of divorce although the couple would sometimes separate due to some disagreements, however, they could divorce and remarry if only they are unable to re-procreate. In case of death, the widow or widower would marry in the family of his or her spouse. Women were expected to be sexually active between the period of belt painting and the birth of the first child then they become busy with the domestic responsibilities (William, 2003).
Relationship between these aspects and the concepts of the large Latin American cultures
The cultures of the Canela community represent those of the entire America because they are related to those of the other communities. All the communities were organized into social groups which helped to improve the security of the place and the organization of the communal work. These organizations were considered during the social activities such as marriages because people who are linked in the social organizations were considered to as relatives hence could not marry each other. Rules and regulations were also set to ensure the respect between different sexes, for example, it was a must for any man to marry a woman that he has broken the virginity. Men were generally considered to be the leaders of the community under the command of the chiefs and elders (William, 2003).


The ethnographic study shows how some life aspects like rituals, kinships and sex practices can be used to reflect on the cultural practices of the Canela community and the Latin American at large. The cultures of the Canela community were highly influenced by the population change when they allowed the interaction of other communities such as Brazilians for the purpose of protection. The kinship, rituals and sex practices were some of the life aspects which showed some uniqueness of this community from the others.


William, H. (2003). The Canela: Kinship, Ritual and Sex in an Amazonian Tribe (Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology). Lexington: Wadsworth Publishing.

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