Mundugumor - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The traditional subsistence base was sago supplemented mainly by fish but also by game and garden produce. Gardens yielded bananas, coconuts, taro, sweet potatoes, and yams. A few pigs were kept as well. Pigs, cassowaries, marsupials, and birds were hunted. Betel nuts and tobacco were important crops that gave the Mundugumor hegemony in the regional trading System. Tobacco and betel nuts are still important as commercial crops, but introduced cash crops such as coffee, rubber, copra, and rice are also important. A few cattle are kept today as well as pigs and chickens.

Industrial Arts and Trade. There were no craft specialists; most adults made items of material culture that they needed. However, the Mundugumor did not make pottery or large baskets but traded tobacco, betel nuts, and garden Products for them with their inland neighbors. Their environment lacked stone, so they traded shell and shell rings (obtained from downriver groups) with upriver peoples for stone and stone tools and other mountain products.

Division of Labor. There was an informal division of labor by age but by far the most important division of labor was by sex. Men conducted most of the ritual events, cleared the land for gardening, hunted, and did the major work in house and canoe construction. Men also conducted warfare and intergroup raiding. Women were in charge of day-to-day living and did most of the subsistence labor: they gardened, fished, cooked, and cared for the children. Sago processing required the participation of both men and women, men to cut and women to scrape.

Land Tenure. Land was loosely associated with patrilineal groups but people had the right to ask to use land that belonged to any relative with whom they were friendly and who had adequate land; rarely were such requests denied.

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