Krikati/Pukobye - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Horticulture based on slash-and-burn techniques, the gathering of wildplant foods, hunting, and fishing are the traditional and still-important food sources. The aboriginal Timbira emphasis on potatoes of several varieties, as well as on sweet and bitter manioc (in the form of giant, leaf-wrapped pies cooked in earth ovens), is still evidenced by the particular use of these crops in ceremonial contexts. However, rice and farinha (a form of manioc, grated and cooked to a dry, coarse meal) have become the most important foods in terms of quantity and storability. Other crops include peanuts, squashes, maize, melons, beans, cotton, urucû (for red body paint), and historic additions of sugarcane, bananas, caroa (a fiber for cordage), tobacco, and marijuana. Game animals include armadillos, deer, coatis, peccaries, anteaters, sloths, monkeys, lizards, bats, and many birds. Certain domestic animals, particularly pigs and chickens, have become important, especially as the wild game in the area becomes scarce. Dogs are used in hunting. Grubs found in palm nuts may be eaten or used for their fatty content as a cosmetic base. Buriti, babassu, and bacaba palms provide nuts or fruits as well as the most important fronds used in basketry and in house construction. Other gathered fruits include the piquí , mangaba, caja, bacuri, cashew (nut and fruit), and the historically introduced mango.

Individuals or families sell their labor to Brazilians farmers, especially to harvest and process manioc into farinha. There is economic reciprocity to a small degree between Indians and some individuals of the surrounding Brazilian community. Commercial transactions predominate in the economic relationship between members of these ethnic communities and are fraught with foreseeable clashes. Krikati and Pukobye have a concept of "payment" that is invoked between all except very close kin, for compensation of economic loss or in cases of social misconduct. Such payments can now be made in cash but are still more commonly made in goods.

Industrial Arts. The focus of technological skills is on basketry. These include many kinds of containers, flexible and rigid, for transport and storage of food and goods; a tubular manioc press; strainers; mats for sleeping; and ceremonial paraphernalia. Basketry techniques consist principally of interlacing, with some weaving and twining. In the late twentieth century coiled/sewn baskets are being produced commercially. Cotton is used mainly for twined hammocks (the Krikati and Pukobye are the only Timbira who make cotton or twined hammocks) and for a number of items of personal decoration used in ceremonies. The technique of producing decorative cordage—square in cross-section—is in decline. Featherwork is mostly restricted to the embellishment of larger artifacts. The macaw is increasingly scarce, and the traditional men's headdress, requiring its long tail feathers, is now rare. Woodwork continues in the form of hunting bows (now increasingly embellished with woven cover work and feathers), ceremonial staffs, and spoons. Wood, as well as cattle horns and gourds, is used for several kinds of wind instruments. The Krikati and Pukobye have never made pottery.

Trade. Pukobye have sole access to guarumã (a vine used in baskets), scleria seeds (used for beads), and a type of palm used for bowstring cordage. These raw materials, as well as the finished products made from them, are important trade items.

Division of Labor. Men clear the forest for the family gardens; both women and men plant, and women harvest. Groups of related women or families go on fruit-gathering expeditions. Men hunt and fish, although women and men go together to drug fish for several days at a time during the dry season. Women do the cotton work, and men work with fronds, wood, and feathers. The different food- and artifact-production tasks are thus ideologically associated with gender, providing for the dramatic effect of role reversals in ceremonial contexts. In practice, informal exceptions exist in almost every activity and are met with minimal comment.

Land Tenure. It is use rights that matter; individual plot ownership is not long term. Conflicts over the use of arable land arise only with neighboring Brazilian settlers. Demarcation of reservation lands has been the most important issue of the last two decades and is still unresolved even as the area fills up with squatter settlements.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: