Pume - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Fishing provides approximately 17 percent of the calories and 64 percent of the protein in the Pume diet, whereas slash-and-burn farming of manioc and corn provides about 62 percent of the calories and 8 percent of the protein. Additional food resources providing smaller percentages of the diet consist of various species of waterfowl, three species of dwarf caimans, savanna armadillos, various species of wild tubers collected in the savannas and forested areas, and rice and pasta products obtained as compensation for manual labor performed for local criollo ranchers. Over one-half of the total time dedicated to subsistence activities is spent fishing; this activity is performed with bow and arrow (from platforms and blinds), hook and line, spear, and poison. Domestic animals maintained by the Pume include chickens, pigs, and dogs.

Industrial Arts. Items of everyday use such as hammocks, baskets, mats, and other woven products are fashioned as needed by the members of each household. There are five Pume villages that specialize in making water jugs, cassava (manioc cake) griddles, and other pottery objects for retailing. Some Pume families manufacture alpargatas (sandals with a rubber tire sole and uppers of woven nylon cord).

Trade. Visiting Pume commonly barter for woven household items, arrows, hallucinogenic virola seeds ( Anandenanthera peregrina ) and freshwater mussel shells (various species) for making nan (a hallucinogen), commercial clothing, and metal implements such as knives, machetes, and fishhooks. Pottery artifacts and alpargatas are sold directly to consumers or to middlemen who come to the villages where these items are manufactured.

Division of Labor. There is a well-defined division of labor among the Pume. Fishing and hunting are almost exclusively male activities, except for poison fishing and armadillo hunting, in which women occasionally participate. Only men and boys over 10 years of age engage in wagelabor activities, consisting of fence building and paddock weeding. Most gardening activities are performed by men and women, although clearing and burning of fields is performed by men only. Women collect wild tubers, prepare and cook food, clean house, and care for babies and infants.

Land Tenure. There is no concept of individual landownership among the Pume, but members of each community recognize an area of approximately 200 square kilometers surrounding the main settlement as their area of rightful use and exploitation. Individual and communal slash-and-burn gardens are established here, and most wild tuber collecting, hunting, and fishing activities take place within this area. Without outside interference, communities apparently remain within the boundaries of these areas for many years; even the more mobile Ciri Khonome Pume can use these areas for fifteen years or more. Extensive cattle ranching by criollos now causes land-access problems for most Pume. Conflict arises over lakes and ponds where the Pume fish and the cattle drink water, but the most serious problem has been the actual dispossession of many Pume of their traditional resource areas. Criollos have fenced the land, which is typically nationally owned, and forced the Pume off in the process. As a result, many Pume have been pushed into seasonal migrant work in order to meet the subsistence needs of their families.

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