How the Pirahã People Became the Happiest Tribe in the World?

Avatar

/ published 2 years ago

How the Pirahã People Became the Happiest Tribe in the World?

In 1977, Daniel Everett traveled to Amazonia to try and convert the Pirahã people. But instead, they converted him, and he shared the story why they are the happiest tribe in the world

In 1977, Daniel Everett came to Amazonia to live and study the tribe Pirahã. When he originally came to the tribe, members of the tribe wanted to kill him. They plotted their murder. But what they didn’t know is that he was a damn good linguist, and while he was eavesdropping, he could understand enough of their cacophonic singsong to make out the decisive words.

What Everett did next was to lock his wife and three children in a reasonably safe shed of the hunt, and went to the men of the tribe. He took their bows and arrows, disarmed them, and earned their trust and respect. They let him live.

When he first came to live among the Pirahã people, he came to convert them. Instead, they converted him. His mission was to serve as a Bible translator for the Wycliffe missionary organization. Few years after his arrival, he understood their culture, and abandoned his mission to live as a happy person. Nowadays, the Pirahã people are known as the happiest tribe in the world. Why? Let’s talk.

Who are the Pirahã people?

The Pirahã people are a small hunting and gathering tribe. They live along the coast of the river Amazon, and have a population between 300 and 400.


They are known as the people of the Maici river, and as the Happiest Tribe in the world. Depending whether it is a rainy or dry season, the communities can vary. For example, during the rainy season, there were only 20 people in the community Everett lived. But when the dry season came, there were 80 people.

The tribe members canoe up and down the Maici river, and visit all the time. They live up to 10 days apart by canoe. Their tribe is positioned some four day boat ride from Porto Velho, Brazil. They are isolated, living right at the edge of the river.

The first mention of the Pirahã people is by a Portuguese missionary back in 1784.

Why happiest tribe in the world?

Simplicity is the answer why the Pirahã people are called the happiest tribe in the world. Simply put, they do not stress about anything non-important. And it is all thank to their language. Here are some quick facts.

- They cannot count and they know only 2 numbers, which are “some” and “many”

- They know only 2 colors, “dark” and “light”

- The Pirahã people know neither dates nor calendars

- They eat just 1 or 2 times per day

- The Pirahã people sleep from time to time for 20 minutes, believing that sleeping for a long time deprives them of powers



- There are only 3 degrees of a relationship, which are a baby, a parent, and a sibling

- There is no hierarchy, no theft, no crime

- The Pirahã have no property or prejudices

- They sing during the night and believe dreams and reality are equally important

- Once in every 7 years, they change their names

The Simplicity of their language

As mentioned, one of the reasons why they are so happy is the simplicity of their living. And by that, we refer mostly to the simplicity of their language.

They use only three pronouns, and hardly use any words associated with time. There are no past tense verb conjugations. One of the unique features of the language is there is no subordinate clauses. For example, they do not say “When I have finished eating, I would like to speak with you”. Instead, they will use “I finish eating. I speak with you”.

Speaking of numbers, they have no need for numbers. They never say words like “all”, “every”, or even “more”. They do not get the concept of numbers. They have two words, one for “some” and “many. The word “hoi” described a relatively small amount. In a study by Columbia University in New York, they were asked to repeat patterns created with between 1 and 10 small batteries. They did not get the concept. The theory suggested that “people without terms for numbers does not develop the ability to determine exact numbers”.

Back in the days, Everett tried to teach them to count. He used numbers used by Brazilians, but after one year, not a single person could count to ten.


In the end, it is all about their simple culture formula. And that is “live here and now”. The only thing of importance is what is being experienced at the very moment. With that in mind, they do not have a creation myth explaining existence. According to their believes, “everything is the same, things always are”. If something is not important in the moment, it is easily and quickly forgotten. That is why very few members of the tribe can remember the names of their grandparents.

In a way, they are the perfect epitome of the "Hakuna Matata". Do not worry, for the rest of your days. Live in the moment.

From Around the Web

Related Videos

In Africa, woman is not Adam's rib, at most, she is his shoulders and spinal column. For the vast majority of African women, even today, in the cities and in the countryside, their...

  • 144
  • 1 week ago
  • Not Rated

If you think rats are useless, think again. This documentary takes a look at Africa’s giant rats. They are the size of a cat.And the best part is they can be trained to detect la...

  • 154
  • 2 weeks ago
  • Not Rated

Mr Right, Prince Charming, the Perfect Guy, women have so many names for the ideal husband and partner. He is a suitor who fulfils the dreams of his beloved.Most women acknowledge ...

  • 119
  • 2 weeks ago
  • Not Rated
Social
whitaker family
youtube icon
12:31

Inbred is someone born from people who are closely related. Research says that this usually leads to at least temporarily decreased biological fitness of a population.Back in the d...

  • 1,008
  • 3 weeks ago
  • Not Rated
Related Articles
The University of Bologna is different than many other universities in many ways. One is the foundation. Unlike other un...
  • 241
  • 1 week ago
The most common dance is the intertribal, where a Drum will sing a song and anyone who wants to can come and dance. The ...
  • 830
  • 6 months ago
The Tudors royal family ruled England from 1485 to 1603. They were a Welsh-English family overseeing one of the most exc...
  • 978
  • 6 months ago
The dolls outnumber the people in Nagoro by 10 to 1. The dolls resemble scarecrows, and they ca be found anywhere in the...
  • 942
  • 8 months ago