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The Sanema people are part of the Yanomamo group of tribes who live in the Amazonian rain forest of South America. Each tribe has its own collection of stories, which is passed on orally from generation to generation.
The Sanema believe that all the living thins of the forest came into being through 'original ancestors', whose spirits still inhabit the forest.

Once there live Curare-woman and Original Jaguar. Jaguar was very fond of meat and one day he caught Waipili the frog. Jaguar mad Curare-woman cut up Waipili and Jaguar ate the frog up. But Curare-woman saved two tadpoles called Omao and Soawe and hid them in a pot.
Curare-woman kept Omao and Soawe safe from Jaguar. Omao and Soawe grew fast, but Original Jaguar was still a danger. Then one day, by some clever tricks, Omao was able to fool Jaguar into climbing a tree, which when released from the hold of a vine threw Jaguar into the air. He fell to the ground and was killed.
Omao was very hungry because he did not know how to grow yuca. Only Lalagi-gi, the cosmic anaconda, knew how to grow plants. Although Omao was very frightened of giant anaconda snake Lalagi-gi, he wanted to learn how to grow yuca. So he gave some meat to the snake and in return Lalagi-gi brought yuca cuttings, yams, maize and other thing. If it had not been for Lalagi-gi people would not have learnt how to grow crops.
It was long, long ago that Omao created the Sanema ancestors. He decided to use hardwood trees. But Omao had great difficulty finding them, so he asked his brother Soawe to help. Soawe was lazy. Instead of hardwood trees, he cut down softwood trees. When Omao returned, he was very angry. "I was going to make humans from the hardwood trees, " he said. "Then they could live for ever, just casting off their old skins. I was going to make the anacondas from the softwood trees, so they would be weak and die young. "Omao was so angry that he made the people, the Sanema, from the softwood trees, which is why people are weak and do not live for ever. Then he mad the anacondas from the tough bark of the hardwood trees, which is why anacondas shed their skins and live for a very long time. Omao was still angry, so left the world. Way, way down the river he went to the bottom of the sky.
It was night when the animal and Sanema ancestors appeared. Sunrise did not come. The great curassow bird cried out all night - and still dawn did not come. The ancestors realised that it was the curassow bird that stopped the dawn, so they shot the bird with arrows. The feathers of the dying bird fell off, and changed into all the birds that now live in the forest. And the dawn came.

The story shows the threat and promise of the forest for the Sanema people. Wild animals, floods and landslides are a constant threat to safety. The Sanema also fear the vengeful ghosts of animals they have killed for food.. But they also believe that the spirits of the original ancestors are a powerful force within nature, which can be called upon to help them. The forest and its life may be threatening, but also supplies the Sanema with everything they need for daily life. At the heart of Sanema belief, lies a dependence on and respect for the forest, by this balance is now being threatened by outsiders who are destroying the trees and animal, and ultimately the Sanema way of life.


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