Orokolo - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Orokolo are predominantly dependent on the sago palm for their livelihood. Sago grows in such profusion that there is no need to tend trees or plant suckers. The other main sources of staples are gardens that are communally fenced and divided into Individually tended lateral strips. Main garden crops are yams, taro, and bananas. Coconuts and domestic pigs are also eaten. Hunting—generally with bows and arrows, sometimes with spears, and often aided by dogs—is practiced. Larger quarry include wild pigs and cassowaries, while smaller prey include marsupials and birds. Orokolo also fish, employing a variety of techniques: most commonly they use nets or fish with bows and arrows or spears from pedestals in the water. However, considering the Orokolo's proximity to the sea, maritime produce contributes relatively little to their diets.

Industrial Arts. Orokolo adults are generalists, commonly producing nearly all of the art, craft objects, tools, and clothing used in their daily lives. There are different individuals who are acknowledged experts in making dugout canoes, drums, ceremonial masks, and carvings, but these crafts are not in any sense commercial activities.

Trade. Orokolo engage in utilitarian barter among themselves and in some rather limited trade for ornamental shells with groups to the east, but historically their most important intertribal exchange is the anthropologically well-known hiri trade with the Motu people of the Central Province. Because of prolonged dry spells and resultant food shortages in their territory, the Motu made annual voyages to the eastern Gulf of Papua to exchange clay pots, shell ornaments, and stone blades for gulf sago. The Orokolo obtained their cooking pots in this fashion. The medium of communication between the tribes that developed through this trade was a pidginized form of Motu, combining a limited Motu vocabulary with a Structure grammatically and syntactically similar to Toaripi (and Orokolo). This language, called "Police Motu" or "Hiri Motu," subsequently became the lingua franca of all Papua and is today one of Papua New Guinea's three official languages.

Division of Labor. As in most tribal societies, division of labor is primarily based on age and sex. Orokolo often say that women's work is in the village and men's work is abroad, although this description is not entirely accurate. Women tend to the children, cook, clean the house and grounds, feed the pigs, provide the water and firewood, and do skilledcraftwork, including the making of nets. Another important part of their work is making sago, a task shared with men. Men fell the trees, split the trunks, and scrape out the pith, while women wash and beat the sago and carry it home. Men do virtually all of the gardening, hunting, fishing, and building.

Land Tenure. Land is not in particularly short supply, and land tenure and ownership are quite flexible. Ownership of land is nominally vested in the bira'ipi, a rather fluid group based on both residence and descent. In actuality, it is subDivided among larava, patrilineal kinship groups that might best be termed lineages. The senior male of the lineage (based on principles of descent) is the "controller" of the land. In practice, however, permission to use land is freely given, and sometimes an entire village segment will garden on land technically belonging to just one of its constituent lineages.

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