Endemic warfare

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An armed woman of the Mursi tribe of Ethiopia Mursi-DmitriMarkine.jpg
An armed woman of the Mursi tribe of Ethiopia
The percentages of men killed in war in eight tribal societies. (Lawrence H. Keeley, Archeologist, War Before Civilization) War deaths caused by warfare.svg
The percentages of men killed in war in eight tribal societies. (Lawrence H. Keeley, Archeologist, War Before Civilization )

Endemic warfare is a state of continual or frequent warfare, such as is found in some tribal societies (but is not limited to tribal societies).

Tribe Social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states

In anthropology, a tribe is a human social group. Exact definitions of what constitutes a tribe vary among anthropologists. The concept is often contrasted with other social groups concepts, such as nations, states, and forms of kinship.


Ritual fighting (or ritual battle or ritual warfare) permits the display of courage, masculinity and the expression of emotion while resulting in relatively few wounds and even fewer deaths. Thus such a practice can be viewed as a form of conflict-resolution and/or as a psycho-social exercise. Native Americans often engaged in this activity, but the frequency of warfare in most hunter-gatherer cultures is a matter of dispute. [1]

Courage quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, or pain

Courage is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Physical courage is bravery in the face of physical pain, hardship, death or threat of death, while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement, or personal loss.

Conflict resolution methods and processes involved in facilitating the peaceful ending of conflict and retribution

Conflict resolution is conceptualized as the methods and processes involved in facilitating the peaceful ending of conflict and retribution. Committed group members attempt to resolve group conflicts by actively communicating information about their conflicting motives or ideologies to the rest of group and by engaging in collective negotiation. Dimensions of resolution typically parallel the dimensions of conflict in the way the conflict is processed. Cognitive resolution is the way disputants understand and view the conflict, with beliefs, perspectives, understandings and attitudes. Emotional resolution is in the way disputants feel about a conflict, the emotional energy. Behavioral resolution is reflective of how the disputants act, their behavior. Ultimately a wide range of methods and procedures for addressing conflict exist, including negotiation, mediation, mediation-arbitration, diplomacy, and creative peacebuilding.

Indigenous peoples of the Americas Pre-Columbian inhabitants of North, Central and South America and their descendants

The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the Pre-Columbian peoples of North, Central and South America and their descendants.

Warfare is known to several tribal societies, but some societies develop a particular emphasis of warrior culture (such as the Nuer of South Sudan, [2] the Māori of New Zealand, the Dugum Dani of Papua, [2] the Yanomami (dubbed "the Fierce People") of the Amazon, [2] or the Celtic and Germanic tribes of Iron Age Europe). The culture of inter-tribal warfare has long been present in New Guinea. [3]

The Nuer people are a Nilotic ethnic group primarily inhabiting the Nile Valley. They are concentrated in South Sudan, with some also found in southwestern Ethiopia. They speak the Nuer language, which belongs to the Nilo-Saharan family. One of the largest ethnic groups in southern Sudan, the Nuer people are pastoralists who herd cattle for a living. Their cattle serve as companions and define their lifestyle. The Nuer call themselves "Nath".

South Sudan Country in Africa

South Sudan, officially known as the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country in East-Central Africa. It gained independence from the Republic of the Sudan in 2011, making it the most recent sovereign state with widespread recognition. Its capital and largest city is Juba.

Māori people Indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand

The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. Māori originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand in several waves of waka (canoe) voyages somewhere between 1320 and 1350. Over several centuries in isolation, these settlers developed their own distinctive culture whose language, mythology, crafts and performing arts evolved independently from other eastern Polynesian cultures.

Communal societies are well capable of escalation to all-out wars of annihilation between tribes. Thus, in Amazonas, there was perpetual animosity between the neighboring tribes of the Jívaro. A fundamental difference between wars enacted within the same tribe and against neighboring tribes is such that "wars between different tribes are in principle wars of extermination". [4]

The Yanomami of Amazonas traditionally practiced a system of escalation of violence in several discrete stages.[ citation needed ] The chest-pounding duel, the side-slapping duel, the club fight, and the spear-throwing fight. Further escalation results in raiding parties with the purpose of killing at least one member of the hostile faction. Finally, the highest stage of escalation is Nomohoni or all-out massacres brought about by treachery.

Similar customs were known to the Dugum Dani and the Chimbu of New Guinea, the Nuer of Sudan and the North American Plains Indians. Among the Chimbu and the Dugum Dani, pig theft was the most common cause of conflict, even more frequent than abduction of women, while among the Yanomamö, the most frequent initial cause of warfare was accusations of sorcery. Warfare serves the function of easing intra-group tensions and has aspects of a game, or "overenthusiastic football". [5] Especially Dugum Dani "battles" have a conspicuous element of play, with one documented instance of a battle interrupted when both sides were distracted by throwing stones at a passing cuckoo dove. [6]

Kuman is a language of Chimbu Province, Papua New Guinea. In 1994, it was estimated that 80,000 people spoke Kuman, 10,000 of them monolinguals; in the 2000 census, 115,000 were reported, with few monolinguals.

Plains Indians Native Americans/First Nations peoples of the Great Plains of North America.

Plains Indians, Interior Plains Indians or Indigenous people of the Great Plains and Canadian Prairies are the Native American tribes and First Nation band governments who have traditionally lived on the greater Interior Plains in North America. Their historic nomadic culture and development of equestrian culture and resistance to domination by the government and military forces of Canada and the United States have made the Plains Indian culture groups an archetype in literature and art for American Indians everywhere.

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Tribalism is the state of being organized by, or advocating for, tribes or tribal lifestyles. Human evolution has primarily occurred in small groups, as opposed to mass societies, and humans naturally maintain a social network. In popular culture, tribalism may also refer to a way of thinking or behaving in which people are loyal to their social group above all else, or, derogatorily, a type of discrimination or animosity based upon group differences.

<i>Darkness in El Dorado</i>

Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon (2000) is a polemical book by author Patrick Tierney, in which the author accuses geneticist James Neel and anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon of conducting human research without regard for their subjects' well-being while conducting long-term ethnographic field work among the indigenous Yanomamö, in the Amazon Basin between Venezuela and Brazil. He also wrote that the researchers had exacerbated a measles epidemic among the Native Americans. Tierney also claims that Jacques Lizot and Kenneth Good committed acts of sexual impropriety with Yanomamö.

A feud, referred to in more extreme cases as a blood feud, vendetta, faida, clan war, gang war, or private war, is a long-running argument or fight, often between social groups of people, especially families or clans. Feuds begin because one party perceives itself to have been attacked, insulted, wronged, or otherwise injured by another. Intense feelings of resentment trigger the initial retribution, which causes the other party to feel equally aggrieved and vengeful. The dispute is subsequently fuelled by a long-running cycle of retaliatory violence. This continual cycle of provocation and retaliation makes it extremely difficult to end the feud peacefully. Feuds frequently involve the original parties' family members or associates, can last for generations, and may result in extreme acts of violence. They can be interpreted as an extreme outgrowth of social relations based in family honor.

Napoleon Alphonseau Chagnon is an American anthropologist, professor of anthropology at the University of Missouri in Columbia and member of the National Academy of Sciences. Chagnon is known for his long-term ethnographic field work among the Yanomamö, a society of indigenous tribal Amazonians, in which he used an evolutionary approach to understand social behavior in terms of genetic relatedness. His work has centered on the analysis of violence among tribal peoples, and, using socio-biological analyses, he has advanced the argument that violence among the Yanomami is fueled by an evolutionary process in which successful warriors have more offspring. His 1967 ethnography Yanomamö: The Fierce People has become a bestseller and is frequently assigned in introductory anthropology courses.

Prehistoric warfare refers to war that occurred between societies without recorded history.

Dani people ethnic group of Western New Guinea

The Dani people, also spelled Ndani, and sometimes conflated with the Lani group to the west, are a people from the central highlands of western New Guinea.

Uncontacted peoples isolated, independent tribes of people

Uncontacted peoples, or the somewhat different, but more contemporary isolated peoples are peoples who live, or have lived, either by circumstance or by choice, without first or significant contact with other peoples. The term isolated peoples is contemporarily preferential since few people have remained totally uncontacted by wider society and are because of this considered characteristic parts of postmodernity and globalized society.

The Murle are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting the Pibor County and Boma area in Jonglei State, South Sudan, as well as parts of southwestern Ethiopia. They have also been referred as Beir by the Dinka and as Jebe by the Luo and Nuer, among others. The Murle speak the Murle language, which is part of the Surmic branch of the Nilo-Saharan family. The language cluster includes some adjoining groups in Sudan, as well as some non-contiguous Nilotic populations in southwestern Ethiopia.

Davi Kopenawa Yanomami Brazilian shaman

Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, name also written Davi Kobenawä Yanomamö, is a Yanomami shaman and Portuguese-speaking spokesperson for the Yanomami Indians in Brazil. He became known for his advocacy regarding tribal issues and Amazon rainforest conservation when the tribal rights organization Survival International invited him to accept the Right Livelihood Award on its behalf in 1989. Yanomami spoke to both the British and Swedish parliaments about the catastrophic impact on Yanomami health as a consequence of the illegal invasion of their land by 40,000 ‘garimpeiros’ or goldminers. Prince Charles publicly called the situation ‘genocide’. In a seven-year period from 1987-1993 one fifth of the Yanomami died from malaria and other diseases transmitted by the miners.

Of all Yanomami who have emerged as public figures, probably the most important is Davi Kopenawa Yanomami.

War Before Civilization: the Myth of the Peaceful Savage is a book by Lawrence H. Keeley, a professor of archaeology at the University of Illinois at Chicago who specializes in prehistoric Europe. The book deals with warfare conducted throughout human history by societies with little technology. In the book, Keeley aims to stop the apparent trend in seeing civilization as bad, by setting out to prove that prehistoric societies were violent and frequently engaged in warfare.

Yanomami indigenous people who live in the Amazonas basin

The Yanomami, also spelled Yąnomamö or Yanomama, are a group of approximately 35,000 indigenous people who live in some 200–250 villages in the Amazon rainforest on the border between Venezuela and Brazil.

Sudanese nomadic conflicts non-state conflicts between rival nomadic tribes taking place in the territories of Sudan and South Sudan

Sudanese nomadic conflicts are non-state conflicts between rival nomadic tribes taking place in the territory of Sudan and, since 2011, South Sudan. Conflict between nomadic tribes in Sudan is common, with fights breaking out over scarce resources, including grazing land, cattle and drinking water. Some of the tribes involved in these clashes have been the Messiria, Maalia, Rizeigat and Bani Hussein Arabic tribes inhabiting Darfur and West Kordofan, and the Dinka, Nuer and Murle African ethnic groups inhabiting South Sudan. Conflicts have been fueled by other major wars taking place in the same regions, in particular the Second Sudanese Civil War, the War in Darfur and the Sudanese conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Yanomami women

The Yanomami people are an indigenous group who live in the Amazon Rainforest along the borders of Venezuela and Brazil. There are estimated to be only approximately 35,000 indigenous people remaining. They are interfluvial Indians who live in small villages along the Mavaca and Orinoco Rivers, with each village consisting of a single shabono, or communal dwelling. Largely uncontacted by the outside world, the Yanomami have been affected by illnesses introduced by gold miners since the 1980s. Anthropological studies have emphasized that the Yanomami are a violent people, and although this can be true, the women of the Yanomami culture generally abstain from violence and warfare. Although males dominate the Yanomami culture, Yanomami women play an important role in sustaining their lifestyle.

Kenneth Good is an anthropologist most noted for his work among the Yanomami and his account of his experiences with them: Into the Heart: One Man’s Pursuit of Love and Knowledge Among the Yanomami. While researching and living with the group in Venezuela, Good married a Yanomami woman named Yarima; their 3 children were raised in the United States.

Demographics of South Sudan

South Sudan is home to around 60 indigenous ethnic groups and 80 linguistic partitions among a 2016 population of around 12 million. Historically, most ethnic groups were lacking in formal Western political institutions, with land held by the community and elders acting as problem solvers and adjudicators. Today, most ethnic groups still embrace a cattle culture in which livestock is the main measure of wealth and used for bride wealth.

Ethnic violence in South Sudan has a long history among South Sudan's varied ethnic groups. South Sudan has 64 tribes with the largest being the Dinkas, who constitute about 35% of the population and predominate in government. The second largest are the Nuers. Conflict is often aggravated among nomadic groups over the issue of cattle and grazing land and is part of the wider Sudanese nomadic conflicts.

Nuer White Army

The Nuer White Army, sometimes decapitalised as the "white army", is a semi-official name for a militant organisation formed by the Nuer people of central and eastern Greater Upper Nile in modern-day South Sudan as early as 1991. According to the Small Arms Survey, it arose from the 1991 schism within the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) for the dual purpose of defending Nuer cattle herds from neighbouring groups and fighting in the Second Sudanese Civil War between the SPLM/A and the Sudanese government.

The 2014 Bentiu massacre occurred on 15 April 2014 in the town of Bentiu, in the north of South Sudan, during the South Sudanese Civil War. The attack has been described by The Economist as the "worst massacre" of the ongoing civil war.


  1. "The Absence of War". open Democracy. 2003-05-21. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
  2. 1 2 3 Diamond, Jared (2012). The world until yesterday : what can we learn from traditional societies? . New York: Viking. pp. 79–129. ISBN   978-0-670-02481-0.
  3. "Papua New Guinea massacre of women and children highlights poor policing, gun influx". ABC News. 11 July 2019.
  4. Karsten, Rafael (1923). Blood revenge, war, and victory feasts among the Jibaro Indians of eastern Ecuador. Kessinger Publishing. p. 277. ISBN   978-1-4179-3181-1.
  5. Orme, Bryony (1981). Anthropology for Archaeologists. Cornell University Press. p. 196. ISBN   978-0-8014-1398-8.
  6. Heider, Karl (1970). The Dugum Dani. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company. p. 111. ISBN   978-0-202-01039-7.

Further reading