PRINT December 1988



Incidents in Leticia, Amazonas.

IN THE MATTER OF NAMES, the Amazon was so-called after Father Carbajal’s account of Francisco de Orellana’s inaugural colonialist voyage along the length of the river in 1541, during which he reported seeing about a dozen female warriors who “appeared to be very tall, robust, good-looking, with long hair twisted over their heads. . . and bows and arrows in their hands with which they killed seven or eight Spaniards.”1 Thus these early adventurers, whose oral and visual narratives of the New World are notoriously imbricated with the aberrant sociosexual conditions of their long voyages of exploration—who saw manatees as mermaids—enthusiastically gave the vast green “kingdom” over to the lost (originary) space of Greek (Western) mythology. The explanatory anthropologist might note that the Yagua, who live near Leticia, wear Iberian-deceiving palm-fiber headdresses;

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