Ka'wiari - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Economic activity is based on shifting cultivation and the slash-and-burn system. Small plots of land (1 to 3 hectares) are planted with bitter manioc as well as other tubers and fruit. This crop cultivation is complemented by hunting, fishing, and gathering. Surplus that sporadically accrues is redistributed among relatives.

Industrial Arts. Items of material culture are made of basketry, wood, bark, ceramics, and calabashes, although the latter tend to be replaced by Western products. Blowguns, bows, arrows, and wooden fish traps are also produced.

Trade. Intergroup trade is limited and restricted to products the primary material of which is not obtainable in the area, for example manioc graters. A few products are traded in the White market for shotguns, machetes, axes, knives, hammocks, aluminum pots, clothes, battery radios, and watches.

Division of Labor. The division of labor is according to age and sex. Women's tasks include planting, tending, and harvesting the field; gathering wild foods; processing food; and making pottery. Men's tasks include felling and burning the land for planting, fishing, hunting, basketry, and woodworking. There is no specialization of crafts, although it is recognized that some artisans are better than others. Tree cutting in preparation of fields, peccary drives, and fishing with barbasco poison are collective male activities.

Land Tenure. Communities are concentrated around places from which their ancestors emerged. According to the Ka'wiari, the Cananari and part of the Apaporis were bequeathed to them by their ancestral father; this is the river axis of their present-day territory, although they are not its exclusive occupants. Toward the headwaters of the river there are new Cubeo settlements, and in the village of Villa Gladis the Ka'wiari share space with Taiwano, Barasana, and Tatuyo. The area forms part of the Vaupés Reserve, a legal mechanism by which the state recognizes the right of several Vaupés groups to collective territorial ownership of the Comisaría.


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