Guarijío - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Guarijío raise crops on unirrigated land, care for cattle, gather wild fruit, hunt, fish, and trade. Important crops are maize, beans, and sesame. As a whole, the soil is typical for mountainous areas, characterized by clayey, crumbly earth ( migajones ) and sandy clay. The uneven topography and the soil's structure and composition make extensive irrigation impossible, and mechanization is of little use in agriculture. Moreover, the sloping terrain has led to soil erosion, caused mainly by water runoff from the slopes, creating numerous deep gullies and making the land more uneven.

A traditional form of slash-and-burn agriculture continues to be practiced. Most fields are located on the lower slopes of hills. To open a field, the Guarijío cut the vegetation, let it dry, and burn it; the ashes serve as fertilizer.

Fields appropriate for planting are called magüeches. On terrain where it is not possible to use oxen for opening a furrow, a metal rod is used for planting. With it a small hole is made in the earth, into which the seeds are dropped; the hole is then covered with a small amount of earth so as not to slow germination. Magüeches are used only for three years because, at the end of that time, the land is exhausted; another plot is chosen.

Industrial Arts. Manufacturing plays an important role in the Guarijío economy; it is considered a subsistence activity. The Guarijío produce sleeping mats, hats, rawhide shoulder bags, small boxes or cases, harps, and violins. The Guarijío also make a simple kind of pottery that lacks patterns or designs. The more common kind of wares are large water-storage pots, griddles for making tortillas, and dishes; all are handmade and fired in underground ovens. Generally produced solely for personal use, these items are rarely sold.

Trade. Owing to the geographical location of Guarijío territory, regional commerce is light. In the 1990s, under the auspices of government programs, the Guarijío have been able to market some of their products (honey, sesame seeds, and chiltepín peppers) and to raise cattle, the latter being their main source of income. Each family owns a number of animals, either cattle or mules.

Division of Labor. Activities are divided on the basis of sex. Among activities falling within men's domain are preparing plots for cultivation, herding, tending cattle, working outside the community as migrant laborers in the Yaqui and Mayo valleys, and mule driving. Men's work also includes gathering firewood, collecting food, planting, and harvesting. Women prepare food, fetch water, care for their children, weave mats, and sew. They also make tortillas and cook. Women procure palm fronds for weaving and build the huts. Many women help their husbands with agricultural work. Girls and boys carry water, do chores, and, when they are older, help in caring for their smaller siblings. They feed domestic animals and help with work in the milpa (maize field).

Land Tenure. Today the Guarijío possess 25,000 hectares of land granted to them on 3 February 1981 in the form of the ejidos of Guarijío, Los Conejos, and Burapaco.

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