Usino - Settlements

Until mission contact in the 1930s, Usino resided in Scattered homesteads, gardening and hunting within their traditional parish territories. Afterward they formed one large Village in accord with government policy. The site of this village changed several times and fission occurred about 1967, creating two major villages, the largest of which is Usino. Each Village and hamlet is in a constant state of internal flux with regard to residence patterns and household membership. Houses are built year-round as extended families outgrow their homes or as families nucleate. Rectangular houses, made of bush materials, encircle a central common. In the past, initiated men usually resided in one house that doubled as a male cult house, but they could live with their families if they wished. Until recently, residential patterns reflected traditional beliefs about ritual pollution; if men and women shared a house, they partitioned their sleeping areas, and women had isolated menstrual huts on the edge of the village. In 1974, women observed menstrual seclusion in the backs of their houses, with separate back doors for their exclusive use. Since 1981, there are no more back doors, although women still observe menstrual seclusion.

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