Boazi - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Boazi speakers are primarily hunters, fishermen, and sago makers. The Lake Murray-Middle Fly area is extraordinarily rich in wildlife. Wild pigs, cassowaries, wallabies, and deer abound. The forests and marshlands are home to many types of birds, including goura pigeons, bush fowl, ducks, and geese, and the rivers and lakes contain a great variety of fish as well as turtles and crocodiles. Hunting is done with bows and arrows, using a variety of hunting techniques, including stalking, blinds, and driving game toward hunters with fire or noise. Dogs are often used in hunting larger game. Boazi speakers fish with traps, spears, hooks, and commercially made nylon nets. The most important food item, however, is sago, a starch extracted from the pith of the sago palm ( Metroxylon sagu ), which grows naturally in the extensive freshwater swamps of the area. Boazi speakers also plant coconut palms, bananas, and some tubers, but gardening plays only a minor role in their adaptation to the environment.

Industrial Arts. Boazi speakers are preindustrial and, prior to the arrival of White men, used only stone tools. Any adult can produce virtually all of the implements necessary for day-to-day living from materials found in the local environment.

Trade. Prior to pacification, Boazi speakers raided their neighbors for the few things which they could not produce themselves—most importantly, stone for tools, since the Lake Murray-Middle Fly area has no stone. Today, they are able to buy steel tools, metal pots, Western clothes, and some European foods from small, indigenously owned trade stores in the area. Money is obtained primarily from the sale of crocodile skins or from contract labor outside the Lake Murray-Middle Fly area.

Division of Labor. Boazi speakers have a loosely defined sexual division of labor. Hunting, making bows and arrows, carving paddles, cutting canoes, and building houses are considered men's work, although some aspects of house building, such as making roof panels from sago palm leaves, may be done by either men or women. Women's work includes making sago, gathering firewood, cooking, and weaving baskets and mats. Most other tasks may be done by either sex. In Durkheim's terms, the Boazi exhibit a high degree of mechanical solidarity with little interdependence of tasks and virtually no specialization of labor. The nuclear family is the maximum unit of production.

Land Tenure. Within the territory of a territorial group, individual tracts of land are owned communally by totemic groups or, in some cases, patrilineages. Individuals can obtain access to forest products (e.g., trees for canoes) or the right to hunt in a particular area through matrilateral or affinal ties as well as through membership in the totemic group that owns a tract of land. Within the landholdings of a totemic group, sago swamps are owned by individual members of that group. Coconut palms, banana stands, and other garden plants are owned by the people who planted them.

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