Only one tribe of American Indians is known ever to have successfully revolted against the empire of Spain and to have thwarted all subsequent attempts by the Spaniards to reconquer them: the Jivaro (hee'-va-ro), the untsuri suarii of eastern Ecuador. From 1599 onward they remained unconquered in their forest fastness east of the Andes, despite the fact that they were known to occupy one of the richest placer gold deposit regions in all of South America. Tales of their fierceness became part of the folklore of Latin America, and their warlike reputation spread in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when Jivaro "shrunken head" trophies, tsantsa, found their way to the markets of exotica in the Western world. As occasional travelers visited them in the first decades of this century, the Jivaro also became known not as just a warlike group, but as an individualistic people intensely jealous of their freedom and unwilling to be subservient to authority, even among themselves. It was this quality that particularly attracted me when I went to study their way of life in 1956-57 and I was most fortunate, at that time, to find, especially east of the Cordillera de Cutucli, a portion of the Jivaro still unconquered and still living, with some changes, their traditional life style. This book is about their culture.
I. The Jívaro: Background
II. Shelter, Subsistence, and Technology
III. Social Relations
IV. The Hidden World
V. Law, Feuding, and War
VI. Cultural Change
Michael Harner is the founder of The Foundation for Shamanic Studies, anthropologist, and author.
"This ethnography is one of the classics in the field of South America. The Jivaro (Shuar) represent one of the most important and politically well-organized groups of South American Indians, and Harner's work, reissued here, will become the major introduction in English to these people for future students."--Brent Berlin, UC Berkeley "Harner, who bases his account upon extensive anthropological field work among the Jivaro, has written one of those rare books which appeal to both scholars and laymen. HIs book provides a solid overview of these freedom-loving people in a concise, readable form. Highly recommended. . . . "--G. Edward Evans, Library Journal "This thoroughly interesting book is based on fourteen months of field work among the Jivaro Indians of Eastern Ecuador. . . . Although the Jivaro have long been regarded as unique and even bizarre, being the most warlike people in the Americas, the author has succeeded in communicating an understanding of them as human beings with basic needs and responses like our own."--Gertrude E. Dole, Natural History