Makushi - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Subsistence agriculture dominates the Makushi economy. Traditional methods are used along with iron instruments. A small amount of produce is sold. The land is held in common and in general is used by members of each family living in the same place. The principal products are manioc, yams, and beans. Fishing is not an important activity for subsistence or commercial activities. Domestic animals include pigs, chickens, and some cattle.

Industrial Arts. Some villages have women specialists in pottery and cotton weaving.

Trade. The Makushi are now highly acculturated, having been in regular contact with settlers, particularly cattle ranchers, since the late nineteenth century. They are not, as a whole, totally adjusted to the changes, although they take wage labor from the ranchers and sell surplus cassava flour.

Division of Labor. The traditional division of labor was modified by contact with the Whites, but some traditional ways of life continue. The women cook, tend babies, clean house, wash clothes, make pottery, and weave cotton. The men are mainly responsible for subsistence agriculture and other related activities. Both men and women undertake permanent or seasonal migration in search of wage labor.

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