DER Documentary

Ocamo is My Town

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From the Yanomamö series
by Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon
color, 23 min, 1974

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This film describes the work of an extraordinary Salesian priest, Padre Cocco, who has headed a mission on the Ocamo River since 1957. The mission's goal, he explains, is to soften the inevitable impact of "civilization" on the Yanomamo of this area. Baptism and monogamy can wait, the priest says; what is crucial is that the Indians are no longer seen as museum pieces, but as significant human beings and citizens in the larger Venezuelan society. At the same time, indigenous Yanomamo culture must be respected. Hallucinogenic drugs, for example, are the basis for communication with hekura spirits, and through spirit manipulation many diseases can be cured. Therefore, asserts Padre Cocco, the use of these drugs should neither be forbidden nor discouraged.

On the other hand, change is a reality at Padre Cocco's mission. The film shows some of the changes that the mission has already brought: cattle and chicken raising, manioc flour, new fishing techniques, new medicines. What are the ramifications of these changes; what are the short and long-term effects of the mission's projects on nutrition, health, settlement patterns, ecological adaptation, social and cultural life?

Other films in the Yanomamö series:
Arrow Game
The Ax Fight
Bride Service
Children's Magical Death
Climbing the Peach Palm
A Father Washes His Children
The Feast
Jaguar, a Yanomamo Twin Cycle Myth
Magical Death
A Man and His Wife Make a Hammock
A Man Called Bee: Studying the Yanomamo
Moonblood: A Yanomamo Creation Myth
Myth of Naro, as told by Dedeheiwä
Myth of Naro, as told by Kaobawä
New Tribes Mission
Tapir Distribution
Tug-of-War, Yanomamo
Weeding the Garden
Yanomamö: A Multidisciplinary Study
Yanomamö of the Orinoco

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