Foi - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Foi depend upon the following subsistence methods roughly in this order of importance: sago processing, gardening, tree crop cultivation (including marita pandanus and breadfruit), foraging, fishing, and hunting. In addition, pigs are semidomesticated and are slaughtered both casually and, on ceremonial occasions, in large numbers. Traditionally, the Foi tended to Divide their year into seasons, dominated by the onset of the rainy season in early mid-year, at which time they left the Village and moved to the hunting preserves where they would trap, fish, and forage until the drier weather returned around October. They then returned to the village to cut new gardens (according to standard swidden methods), make sago, and care for pigs.

Trade. Foi men traditionally carried on and still maintain a vigorous trade with their highlands neighbors to the north. They export kara'o oil, black-palm bows, and cassowaries and in return receive pearl shells and shoats. In premission times, they also received cult objects and procedures in trade.

Division of Labor. Foi subsistence tasks are sexually dimorphic: women process sago, tend gardens, forage, check traps and weirs, care for pigs and children, and weave baskets and string bags. Men build houses and canoes, fashion weapons, do the initial tasks of garden land preparation and sago grove management, build traps and weirs, hunt with ax and dog, and engage in trade and ceremonial exchange. In premission times, the men also performed fertility and healing ceremonies.

Land Tenure. Land is owned by local clan segments as corporate units, though its individual members assert more or less permanent usufructuary rights in certain tracts. These rights are usually passed on from father to son. Women maintain their husbands' productive resources but maintain rights in their natal clans' lands, should the occasion arise. Land can be sold, and in precontact times it was often granted to immigrants as a means of extending patronage to refugees from other areas.

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