Demographic and Genealogical Dimensions of Cultural and Biological Success
Funded by an NSF grant Nebraska anthropology professor Raymond Hames and his University of Missouri colleague Napoleon Chagnon are working on the creation of freely available on-line data base of demographic records of approximately 6,000 Yanomamö, a large tribal population occupying the remote Amazonian rainforests of southern Venezuela and northern Brazil. Each personal record lists up to 20 variables including date of birth and death, mother, father, wife, residences, etc. and are suitable for detailed demographic analysis. Most of these records are prospective in that they chart individual life historical changes in fertility, marriage, village membership, etc. and were collected over a 30 year period These data will be extremely useful for researchers interested in demography, marriage, kinship, and reproduction and will represent the largest such data base collected on tribal population.
Analysis of the data will be enhanced by modification of the MS-DOS program KINDEMCOM© (“KINDEMCOM: the Fourth Style in the Study of Human Kinship”. University of California, Santa Barbara) to run on a Windows platform. This program allows one to trace genealogical ties in the population through paternal and maternal lines, calculate measures of relatedness, and other useful routines. KINDEMCOM will be freely downloadable and tailored for the analysis of formatted on-line data base.
In the later stages of the project we will develop a GIS data base on historic Yanomamö village settlement pattern encompassing the historic locations of villages in a variety of population blocs (groups of villages with a common historic origin), their fissions, fusions, and dispersal over time. The settlement data is keyed to demographic information described above along with reasons for fissions and fusions, inter-village conflict and alliance, village population and relatedness. This data set is useful for the understanding of how political and environmental ecology affects the growth , history, and movement of villages over a number of decades.
Finally, once the individual demographic records are error-checked and structured we will begin to produce a variety of publication designed to answer basic questions regarding the nature and stability of marriage, “decay” of the nuclear family through time, kin reproductive support, variation in marriage form (monogamy, polygyny, and polyandry), competition for mates, and other issues that lie at the heart of evolutionary approaches to social organization.