Trio - Settlements

The Trio traditionally lived in small, autonomous settlements, averaging about thirty inhabitants and rarely exceeding fifty for very long. Villages were distributed about a day's walk apart, and the closest ties were with neighboring villages. Migration between villages was common; villages themselves rarely lasted for more than seven years before being abandoned, at which time a new settlement was constructed, often in the vicinity of the old one. There were many reasons for the abandonment of villages, including the death of its leader, its general decay, or the exhaustion of agricultural land and other resources in the locality. There were several different styles of housing, but all were wood framed with palm-leaf thatch. Villages were composed of a number of nuclear- or extended-family houses, but there is some disagreement over whether the Trio ever had men's houses. The missionaries on both sides of the frontier did much to change this traditional settlement pattern. They persuaded the Indians to settle in large villages (two in Suriname and one in Brazil) close to the mission stations. These settlements became commercial, medical, religious, and educational centers many times larger than the traditional villages. By the 1980s the Trio were facing subsistence problems, and a move back to the traditional dispersed pattern was detectable, although links were maintained with the missionary centers. Houses have mainly kept their traditional construction, but zinc roofs have gained some popularity.

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