Chatino - Settlements

Chatino communities are organized administratively into municipios and are classified as rancherías, agencias municipales, cabeceras municipales. Chatino settlement patterns reflect this municipio organization in that the cabeceras (county seats) are surrounded by smaller subordinate communities that typically arise so that peasant farmers may be closer to their fields. Rancherías typically are small (100 to 300 inhabitants) but lack formal representation in the municipal system. Agencias or townships have their own civil authorities and typically range from 300 to 1,500 residents. Cabeceras in the region range from 1,500 to 6,000 residents. Larger communities are usually divided into two barrios (neighborhoods), which have their own civil officials. Spatially, most communities are from one to six hours' walk from their nearest neighbor. Chatino villages usually have a small nucleated civic center consisting of a plaza, town hall, church, school, and small stores. Ringing the civic center, houses—standing amid fenced maize fields, gardens, and fruit trees—are dispersed, giving villages a decidedly rural flavor. These residences often consist of a cluster of several houses built around a common patio and occupied by closely related kin. Surrounding a village are its fields. Where fields are distant from the village, their owners build a makeshift structure as protection from the elements and a place to cook and sleep while performing field labor. Chatino houses were traditionally single-room structures built of wattle and daub or of bamboo cane with a peaked roof of thatch and a dirt floor. Although a few such houses can still be found, adobe-walled houses with tile roofs have replaced most of them. In those villages connected to roads, adobe houses are being replaced with brick homes with concrete floors and corrugated or cement roofs. Some two-story homes have even appeared since the 1970s. Increasingly, houses have electric power and sport television antennas.

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