Wanano - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Wanano are fishermen and horticulturists: fish is the principal source of protein and manioc the principal source of carbohydrates. These items and the utensils used to gather or process them are essential to the sharing of resources, which occurs informally within a settlement on a daily basis and more intermittently and formally among settlements or sibs. Minimal exploitation of resources characterizes day-to-day life; intensive exploitation occurs prior to occasional, elaborate exchange ceremonies.

Industrial Arts. Wanano men manufacture the wahpanio, a palm-leaf strainer used in manioc processing. The Wanano monopolize the production of this basket and trade it to non-Wanano for other specialized crafts. The Wanano also prepare colorful bark-cloth mats for sale or trade to river merchants.

Trade. The Wanano trade with in-law groups for specialized crafts. In-law trading networks cover large territories. For example, the Wanano receive shaman stools from their Tukano in-laws who live on the lower Uaupés and Papurí rivers and grater boards from their Baniwa in-laws who live on the Rio Aiarí. In former times the Wanano also traded agricultural products for carrying baskets and game from Makú hunters.

Division of Labor. Women carry out all food preparation as well as daily gardening tasks, such as weeding and harvesting. Men fish and perform seasonal gardening tasks such as clearing and burning. Large construction projects, such as house building or weir installation, are accomplished by several men working together. Fishing with plant toxins ( Tephrosia lonchocarpus ) is a community activity involving men, women, and children.

Land Tenure. Traditional resource use and distribution are ordered by the rights and obligations associated with descent groups. Brazilian laws provide collective usufruct rights to the Wanano and other indigenous Uaupés residents through a form of land tenure known as the colônia indígena, Colombia provides similar land rights to Wanano through its system of resguardos (territories officialy recognized by the Colombian government as communal lands).

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