Cultural anthropology refers to ‘the study of human society and culture,the sub-field that describes,explains social and cultural similarities and differences’.In order to study and interpret cultural diversity, Keesing highlights that cultural anthropologists must engage in ethnographic activity…
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Cultural anthropology refers to ‘the study of human society and culture,the sub-field that describes,explains social and cultural similarities and differences’.In order to study and interpret cultural diversity, Keesing highlights that cultural anthropologists must engage in ethnographic activity Ethnography therefore provides an account of a particular community, society and culture, and allows researchers to study local behavior beliefs, customs, social life, economic activities, politics and religion according to Kottak (2009). Introduction and Location of the Higaonon Tribe of Mindanao The Higaonon tribal population currently stands at an estimated 350, 000, and largely reside over five distinct provinces – Bukidnon, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Misamis Oriental and Lanao del Norte. They are traditionally a nomadic tribe, traveling from one mountain to another, looking for fertile soil for a fruitful harvest. The name Higaonon is derived from the words ‘higa’ meaning living, the word ‘goan’, which means mountains and the word ‘onon’ meaning people. The Higaonon tribe has thus become known as ‘people of the living mountains’. Since ‘creation times’ the Higaonon are said to have lived in their forest home, undisturbed, managing the forest in a natural and harmonious way. Higaonon Tribe Dynamics The tribe consists of eight clans centred around the eight main rivers of the Higaonon’s ‘Ancestral Domain’. These clans are divided into the warrior and peaceful clans. However, both clans now exist in peace with one another. They follow a Datuship system of government, in which each Datu (generally an elder) is trained in distinct areas of expertise, e.g. in education or spirituality. However, the Datu always leads as an administrator, and never as a ruler. Social and Cultural Customary Laws and Sacred Teachings of the Higaonon The social and cultural dynamics of the Higaonon tribal people are governed by the customary laws of Bunkatol Ha Bulawan Daw Nang Ka Tasa ha Lana, which means ‘treasured unity’ or code of conduct. It is a sacred bond that unites the entire Higaonon people, who share a common root language, history and culture (Jong, 2010). These sacred teachings include; Don't go against the law Don't disobey the sacred orders Don't be an egotistic or self-centred person Don't compare yourself to others Don't be envious of others Asking and Giving is the greatest gift of Creation Love one another Live in Peace Equality among Men Listen to everyone Religious Teaching In The Higaonon Tribe The Higaonon tribes are very spiritual and believe that every living thing has a spirit that guides or animates its behavior. The forest is viewed as the Higaonon people’s ‘church’, in which they believe that their ancestor’s spirits live in the mother trees, watching over the land. Prayer rituals are offered to deities over sacrifices of blood, in which chickens and pigs are usually scarified to ‘the forest spirits’. Human sacrifice does not form a part of Higaonon tribal religion. Tribal burials consist of a ritual washing and cleansing of the corpse in which jewellery and face and body painting decorates the dead body to allow the spirits to identify the dead person in question. This is followed by the cremation of the body, in which the smoke and fire is believed to release the spirit of the deceased. The Higaonon tribe are also true peace loving people, and have been given the name ‘weavers of peace’ (The United Association of Higaonon Tribes, 2011) This is because their strive for peace is expressed in their traditional woven fabric, the Hinabol. The
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