Candoshi - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Basic crops are plantains, cassava roots, sweet potatoes, and maize. Fish are abundant in the rivers as game is plentiful in the forest. A conservation law passed in the 1960s put an end to the traditional sale of pelts. Oil companies on the Río Morona today provide a market for the produce of some Chapara groups. Other Chapara communities grow rice as a cash crop, but the two-day journey by outboard motor to marketing towns is costly. The Candoshi depend largely on the sale of salted fish and wild meat for a cash income. Some individual logging is done, but again, marketing is very difficult.

Industrial Arts. Pottery and baskets are occasionally sold to traders passing through the area, but they are not a steady source of income.

Trade. The trading-partner system between individuals of potential enemy groups enabled a man to travel safely to the home of his trading partner. The main items of trade were stone axes, salt, blowguns, dart poison, and goods from the outside world: beads, blankets, and, later, machetes, axes, shotguns, and shells. Although Spanish-speaking traders have gradually become the source of outside goods, the trading-partner system continues. Many Candoshi now market their own goods in Spanish-speaking towns on the Río Marañón.

Division of Labor. Men and women work together clearing the forest for gardens. Women do the planting. Each woman has an extensive garden and is responsible for its upkeep, in addition to caring for the family. Men build the houses, provide meat, and make baskets used to carry home produce from the gardens. From time to time they work at some activity that will provide money to clothe the family.

Land Tenure. Land was not a problem for the Candoshi as long as they could clear new garden plots when the weeds could no longer be controlled in existing plots. This has changed with the national population explosion. The government has granted land titles to many of the indigenous groups, including the Candoshi, allowing them sufficient land for cultivating and hunting. These titles are highly valued. If the Candoshi population continues to increase at the rate of the 1970s and 1980s, however, the next generation will find themselves short of land.

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