Truth or Fiction?
The Shampiri are a fictitious Amazonian tribe, but much of their culture is based on reality. In particular, many of the cultural events and aspects of life are at least partially based on Caqunite culture. Others are completely made up. For the curious, here are the real and fake parts of Shampiri life.
- Spit Beer – called masato in Spanish, completely true in every nasty detail!
- Healing Rituals – The Caquinte do use this kind of herbal healing ritual for all kinds of things including witchcraft, disease, and childbirth. Drums may or may not be involved.
- Hair cutting after a family death – Everyone in the household receives a very short haircut upon the death of someone in the home. Traditionally, this was done to make it so the spirit of the loved one could not recognize their family members and try to take them with him. Many Caquinte no longer believe this to be true, but still practice the ritual as a sign of mourning much like Western mourners wear black.
- Cogi (fish poisoning) – a common hunting method all over the Amazon
- Witchcraft as the cause of illness – Whatever cannot be easily cured with medicine is thought to have a more sinister cause and someone is accused of causing it. The idea of burying something as a part of a curse to make that thing grow inside someone is one that I do not understand at all but have seen in our village. The Caquinte, however, do not kill the accused witch. Generally, the accused sets things right and has some kind of manual labor punishment and all goes back to normal (which I don’t understand either). Worst case scenario, she is ostracized and leaves the village.
- Harvest Party – All communities have reasons to celebrate, but harvests, at least for the Caquinte, are family events and not the cause for a tribe-wide celebration.
- Dusting – Totally made that up.
- Wife Sharing and Forced Marriage – The Caquinte practice love marriages, though the families do have a lot of influence and cross-cousins remain the preferred partners. Adultery is not uncommon, but rape is not condoned in any situation.
- Raiding – While there are some warring tribes in the Amazon, the Caquinte are not one. They’ve historically been peaceful unless attacked.
- Male Dominant Society – While there are certainly gender roles in Caquinte culture, men and women share authority (in fact, one Caquinte village currently has a female chief). Children, both boys and girls, are highly valued, and there is a great amount of respect between genders.
- Burning a home after a death – Actually, the Caquinte leave the dead in the home and go build a new one somewhere else. As more building materials become available and homes become more permanent structures, this practice is dying out and they are beginning to bury their dead far outside of the village in very private ceremonies.
Eagle Omen – The Caquinte do believe it is bad luck for a child to look at eagles, but they don’t see it as a fatal curse.
If you have a question about whether something else in the book is truth, fiction, or somewhere in between, ask it in the comments.