THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC SYSTEM
OF AN ECUADOREAN INDIAN COMMUNITY
FRANCISCO JAVIER GANGOTENA GRANIZO
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE
COUNCIL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL
FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Among the people who have taught me about life and its
hardships some indios of Ecuador deserve particular gratitude.
Special thanks should be reserved for the GalteHos, whose
friendship and collaboration made my four months of field work
a humanistic training period.
I owe a great debt to the members of my family, not only
for their constant moral support, but for their interest,
criticism, and concrete advice for my research as well.
I would like to acknowledge several people who have been
of inestimable value in assisting me in writing this thesis.
Special gratitude should be kept for Sue Hewes who spent long
and patient hours tabulating data collected in the field and
later typing the first draft.
Beth Ferris and Tom Johnson deserve my gratitude, not
only for providing me with valuable criticism, but for
correcting the grammar and spelling of the thesis.
A final word of appreciation is reserved for Professors
Paul Doughty, Martha Hardman, and William Carter for their
comments and encouragement during the final stages of the
thesis preparation and for their services on my Reading
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I must admit that ever since I first heard of Galte (1) --
some twelve years ago -- the peasants of that region have held
an attraction for me. Six years later my first field exper-
ience took me to the village of Palmira, Chimborazo, at the
foot of Galte. Many times I found myself staring up at
the cold and arid slopes of Galte on those Andean afternoons.
Those slopes, according to the inhabitants of Palmira
"encircled the rebellion of the Indians." The after-dinner
chats during my stay in Palmira frequently were highlighted
by stories about the uprisings of the Galtenos, the dangers
of venturing alone. on their roads,and above all, about the
life and "miracles" of one of their leaders called el Coronel
These experiences raised a series of questions for me.
I wanted to know more about the Galtenos' history and deeds,
and even more, I wanted to understand how an Indian group
which did not have even the most minimal form of political
organization --.comuna (community) -- could be in open conflict
with the patron and could take control of the land of the
hacienda. And even, with a certain naivete, I asked in
Palmira why these peasants did not want to receive the land
which the Land Reform Institute was giving to them as ex-
These questions were connected in my mind with the
image of an austere face with protruding cheeks, deep eyes,
and a smile which expressed a mixture of control of the other
person, self-sufficiency, and a benevolence which invites to
dialogue. He was the Coronel Ambrosio Lasso. A few days
before I left Ecuador (1968) to continue my studies abroad
I was able to meet him.
When I returned to Ecuador in July 1973, the questions
formulated in my mind five years before had been converted
into a research scheme. What I wanted to study was the
structure and dynamics of a peasant group in the process of
self-determination, centering my attention on the role that
the economy of the group has in the functioning of the whole.
I was not primarily interested in the acculturation or
assimilation process of one culture by a dominant one, or
in its innovations, or even in the change of structures
due to external influences -- such as the transformation of
huasipungueros into free community members because of the
influence and action of the Land Reform Institute. I was
interested in the change of structures of an Indian group
because of its own internal dynamics, and only secondarily
interested in external influences.
In the search for a group with such characteristics, my
attention soon was directed toward the south of Quito. Care-
ful conversations with members of institutions working in
social problems among the Indian population helped me to
choose Galte as the center for my research. Among those
members, special mention should be made of Eduardo Chamorro,
agro-engineer and zonal director of the Ecuadorean Land
Reform Institute in Chimborazo; Julio Gortaire, director of
the Proyecto de Investigacio'n Guamote; and Julio Yanez,
priest of Palmira.
Thus, one morning in September, I directed my steps
toward Galte, feeling a certain trepidation -- I was in the
"territory of rebellious Indians," as the Palmirenos would
SMy fear was soon mitigated, if not completely allayed,
by the half-suppressed laugh of the campesinos when they saw
"this stranger.". Sacha caballu (wild horse) was the nickname
with which they welcomed me, smiling teasingly, when I stopped
my motorcycle and taking off my helmet, appeared with a
bearded face and hair down to my shoulders. With certain
incredulity I asked carmi Galte, nachu? (This is Galte,
Since my first day in Galte and during the four months
of field work I encountered unqualified collaboration among
the members of the Ecuadorean Land Reform Institute (Instituto
de Reforma Agraria y Colonizacion -- hereafter IERAC) who
were working in the area at the time. Eduardo Chamorro,
Carlos Tacuri and Manuel Delgado, who were in charge of taking
a socio-economic census of the huasi ungueros of Galte,
provided me with living facilities and introduced me to the
authorities of the area. Their friendly reception and the
fact that they permitted me to participate in carrying out
and are maintained under observation, even more if the out-
sider has come to learn about their "vital" problems. These
two reasons, in addition to the fact that the field work
period was only four months, required a fundamental change
in the project.
I decided to reduce the area of research to Galte (155
huasipunpos), focusing on the following aspects, 1) recon-
struction of the main historical events of Galte, during
the past 70 years; 2) a study of the socio-economic system of
each huasiTungo, using the system of production as the point
of departure; 3) research about the existence of socio-economic
relations and associations among the huasipungos; 4) study of
the huasipungo system in relation to the hacienda; and 5)
study of the hnasinunwc system in relation to the external
world. The analysis of these five aspects was oriented
toward finding evidence of the three hypotheses which will
be presented in the Introduction (p.5, 6).
The tools used in the research were b-sed on participant
observation and interviewing. Simultaneous .Ly with the census
which the Land Reform Institute members were carrying out and
'in which I collaborated, I conducted 18 interviews with leaders
-and inhabitants of Galte, eight interviews with ex-mayordomos
and employees of the hacienda, nine interviews with mestizo
compadres and intermediaries, eight interviews with authorities
of the neighboring towns, and four interviews with persons
who have been called "political agitators of the area." Out
of these 47 interviews, 16 were taped. Two weeks were spent
reviewing the official records of Palmira and Guamote. Thanks
to the unqualified collaboration of Gustavo Lopez M., Director
of La Inspeccion de Trabajo de Chimborazo (Labor Inspection)
it was possible to obtain 250 microfilm copies of the documents
which contain the major labor problems of Galte. In addition,
600 black and white and color pictures were taken of the region;
of the domestic activities as well as of the production work.
One factor which greatly helped to create an atmosphere
of acceptance and familiarity with the peasants was the fact
that my second language is Quichua. A sentence, frequently
repeated by the leader of the Indian group to introduce me to
the Galtefos, "vpa3rish Ingashimita parlan, rimannuilla" (He
speaks Quichua, too; talk without fear), produced a friendly
reception. On many occasions, the fact that they could con-
tinue speaking Quichua without the need to translate for me
created an atmosphere in which they felt more comfortable and
I was ignored -- at least partially -- allowing me to observe
more closely. This was the case in many of the biweekly
general meetings held by the Galtenfos.
During the last stage of my field work I received great
support and help from the leader of Galte, Delfin Roldan. "The
history of Galte" -- as the Indians decided to call my research --
interested Delfin Roldan to such an extent that every day for
one month he came to the door of my room at seven o'clock in
the morning to take me to the different interviews and visits
that I had to carry out. Delfin wanted "everybody -to
cooperate in the elaboration of the history of Galte, which
will be an example for our children and other communities."
Although the "history" which is presented in this thesis
only partially fulfills the GalteAos' expectations, this study
is meant to express both gratitude to the Galtenos and
solidarity with their demanding cry: Iucanchic huasipungut"
(Our oTn land )
1. Galte is the name of the hacienda where 155
huasipunrueros live and hold land. The Galte hacienda is
located in the heights of the western chain of the Andes
which face the valley of Palmira and Guamote in the Province
of Chimborazo, Ecuador.
The huasipungo may be defined.as a piece of land
received by the-peasants from the landowner: the peasant
is allowed to use the land in return for his labor (5 days
a week) on the lands of the landowner..
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTFR 1: Historical Background 12
CHAPTER 2: Environment, People, and
CHAPTER 3:. Production and Social
CHAPTER 4: The Socio-Economic System
of Galte 68
Biographical Sketch 103
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
requirements of the Degree of Master of Arts
THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC SYSTEM
OF AN ECUADOREAN INDIAN COMMUNITY
Francisco Javier Gangotena Granizo
Chairman: Paul Doughty
Major Department: Anthropology
The Indian peasant group of Galte -- as well as the whole
indigenous population of the Andes -- was subjected to the
imposition of an alien system of labor five centuries ago.
The Spaniards gained control of the means of production through
the encomienda, concertaje, and huasipungo systems.
During the last 68 years, the Galtefos have attempted
to change this system through direct confrontations wih t their
patrones. After a protracted struggle, the Indians succeeded
in expelling the patron from his hacienda and in gaining
control of the land.
These historical events occur within a framework of internal
networks of relationships which take place in time and are affected
by value systems. The horizontal and vertical (in the same and
different ecological levels) relations of production and exchange
form an economic network throughout Galte, in a way similar
to the networks formed by kinship relations.
The socio-economic system of Galte is based on personal
relations dyadicic"), is self-sufficient and does not use
money; it has served as a foundation for the synchronized
action of the Galtenos in recovering their lands.
Within the anthropological tradition, it is possible to
approach historical events in two different ways. The first
sees history as a succession of unique, non-repetitive and
concatenated events in which one happening leads to the next
one. The first approach looks for causation in the events
themselves: one event takes place because of the previous
set of events. The second way understands the chain-like
series of events as results of internal networks of relationships
which take place in time and are affected by value systems.
The second, the relationship-based approach, searches for
causes in the cultural systems or networks which stand behind
the historical events and explains these events in terms of the
networks of relationships which exist in a culture.
In the second approach, the networks of relationships
exist on the three different levels of culture -- economic,
social, and ideological. The relationship networks of the
lower level, the economic, originate with man's action upon
nature. These relations which are established among the
producers during their work have been called "relations of
production" (1). The relationship networks existing in the
subsequent level result in legal and political structures.
The ones in the higher level are manifested in forms of
social consciousness ("Ideology"). These three levels of
relationship networks are in constant interaction and shape
each other. According to Karl Iarx, the relations of pro-
duction constitute a structure which serves as the foundation
for the other relations and determines their form. The net-
works of relationships existing in the legal and political
structures, and in the forms of social consciousness, then
become the regulators which sanction the norms of conduct and
behavior to be followed by the producers.
The historical events which have occurred in Galte bring
dramatic images to mind which can be expressed in slogans such
as "alienation," "the struggle of the proletariat," or "the
failure of the feudal system." Rhetoric aside, this study,
having adopted the approach which interprets historical events
as the product of internal networks of relationships, seeks
to analyze the socio-economic network which stands behind the
historical process of the indigenous inhabitants of Galte.
The foundation on which this research stands is the fact
that there is a unity between knowledge and reality, between
man and nature. Man does not derive his knowledge from a set
of "universal ideas," but through an interaction with his
environment. In the same way, the historic events of a society
as such -- insofar as they are a network of interpersonal
relationships -- arises from the interaction of men as they
relate to other men and to nature in the process of satisfying
their wants. Thus, the means of production and the relations
* which are created during the production as well as the forms
of association will be the main concern of this study.
Peasant and Economic Anthronolorical Precedents
Peasants, like those of Galte, have been previously
studied by anthropologists.
Thomas Johnson (1972), in his comparative study about
peasant groups has accurately stated that peasant studies in
anthropology seem to be moving simultaneously along two paths,
both of which attempt to define or characterize peasants and
peasantry. On one hand, there has been wide concern for
defining and studying the structural relationships of the
peasant groups to the outside world. On the other hand, there
are those studies which attempt to define and analyze peasant
groups in terms of internal cultural criteria.
In both types of peasant studies, careful attention has
been paid to the networks of relationships which exist within
peasant cultures, an example of which is G. Foster's dyadicc
contract model" (1967). This principle has been used to
explain the social organization of peasant societies, both
within the group and between the group and the outside world,-
including the relations at a kinship and fictive kinship level.
Economic anthropologists, interested in peasant, and
small, non-Western groups, can be divided into two groups,
too. First, there are those who stress the similarities between
primitive and. western economies, using conventional terms such
as capital, surplus, maximization, price, demand, to describe
subsistence economies. They seek to apply organizing
concepts derived from the Western experience to primitive
economies. The other group is composed of those who stress
the differences between primitive and Western economies. This
approach is more concerned with the connections between
economic and social organization and focuses attention upon
gift-giving, reciprocity, redistribution.
When considering the Andean peasant population of Ecuador,
there are only a few specific anthropological studies. On
one hand, there are Neptal Zufiga, Jijon y Caamano y Alfredo
Costales, who have presented historical contributions on
indigenous subjects. The other historians concerned with
Indian populations have introduced long lists of historic
events and have simply "repeated verbatim the history written
by P. Juan de Velasco (in the 18th century) which has several
myths and contradictions". (H. Burgos, 1970: 7). The type of
studies which go beyond this historic perspective and dig
into the indigenous networks of relations, including
Joseph Casagrande, Arthur Piper, Cornell University students
and Hugo Burgos, are few in number; but this does not diminish
their contribution. Hugo Burgos deserves special mention
because he has brought theoretical studies to the realm of
The Score of this Study
Many questions about the economic, social and ideological
aspects of one third of the Ecuadorean population (37% is
culturally Indian and almost all is genotypically), float
unanswered in the air. Governmental programs, for instance,
related to land tenure are carried out without any research
on the indigenous systems and life. Similarly, virtually
all cultural areas reveal the same lack of empirical studies
In addition to the lack of qualified research in rural
areas, there is a generalized preconception about the child-
like existence of huasi-pungueros. Traditionally, the domestic
units which constitute the huasipungos have been considered by
mestizos and "white" people to be isolated entities without'
any basic unit among them -- linked only by kinship relations.
It is thought that their existence and their economic system
are completely dependent upon the hacienda. One of the man-
ifestations of this belief, for instance, is the emphasis which
the Land Reform Institute has put on "organizing" the Indians
and creating cooperatives (IERAC:' Proyecto en Pesillo).
This study, centering its attention on a corner of one
of the Ecuadorean provinces, Chimborazo, seeks to analyze the
ways in which the Galteifos relate to the environment and to
each other,-the ways in which forms of association and
cooperation are created in order to satisfy their needs.
Through the use of a descriptive approach, answers will be
sought to two questions throughout this study: first, are
their horizontal and vertical (in the same and different
ecological levels) relations of production and exchange among
the 155 huasipungos which could be said to form an economic
network throughout Galte, in a way similar to that of the
kinship relations? Second, the socio-economic networks of
Galte are hypothesized to have three characteristics: a) they
are based on personal relations dyadicic"), b) money, as an
essential means of economic interaction, is not used, and
c) the total system (as such) is self-sufficient and does not
depend upon the hacienda. Are these hypotheses supported?
In addition to answering these questions, this study
attempts to.set bases for a study of the historical process
which has taken place in Galte. By. delineating the socio-
economic system, it will be possible to test two hypotheses
in future studies: first, whether or not in the history of
Galte the hacienda system (offspring of the encomienda system)
has captured the forms of autochthonous socio-economic relations
and little by little adapted them to a system of production
oriented toward the market. This adaptation embodied contra-
dictions which are alien to the indigenous system; second,
whether or not the historical process (of liberation) which
has taken place in Galte, in spite of strong external (or
wider society) influences, is the result of inconsistencies
in the networks of relations, in which the socio-economic
network of relations has provided, first, the elements of
contradiction, and, second, the necessary bases for the unity
and coordination of the group.
Galte: A Contrasting Case
The transformation of Galte from a huasioungo system to
one of self-determination involves two processes with
apparently contradictory characteristics which make Galte, on
the one hand, an atypical case in relation to the Ecuadorean
land reform decade of the 1960's and on the other hand, a
natural case of historic process. A rather extensive
reference to these two processes will help to point out the
relevance of Galte.
At the end of the decade of the 1950's and beginning of
the 1960's, it was possible to find in Ecuador a restlessness
and movement among the politicians and 2atrones trying to
hand over huasitungos to the Indians. This was a product of
"the social pressure exerted by political parties, unions,
peasants themselves, and even the Catholic Church" (Alfredo
Costales, 1971: 115). A proposal presented in 1961 by La
Primera Comision Nacional de Reforma Agraria prohibits "all
the labor forms which like huasipunQo, yanaia, etc. imply
personal dependence of the worker on the patron" (Julio Perez,
1961). As a result, statistics show that in 1964, 10% of
the huasinpunuero population of the country had received land.
A total of 9,303 hectares had been handed over to 3,020 huasi-
pungueros (3). After promulgation of the Land Reform Law
on July 15, 1964, huasiaungos were handed over nationwide
following the ordinance of article 67 of the above-mentioned
Within twelve months from the publication of this
law, each patron :.ill pay up to the huaslnunzueros,
qanaPeros, and avudas, and other worl:ers who are
working for him under analogous labor forms, what is
due for reserve funds and unpaid vacations (IERAC,
1964, cap. II, art. 67.
The statistics of I3RAC show the results of article 67
for 1967: 13,658 huasipunguero families had received
39,766 hectares, resulting in an average holding per family
of 3.12 hectares (IE~AC, 1967). This data, added to the
information of 1964, reveals a total of 16,678 beneficiaries
who received 49,069 hectares, with an average of 2.9 hectares
Galte was not included in these statistics. Members of
IERAC, having gone to the locality and carried out preliminary
measurement of land, were informed that the Galtefos did not
want-the Land Reform -- or being more specific -- they did
not want the terms on which the land was to be handed over
to them. The :peasants did not want resettlement (4), and
demanded legal recognition of ownership of the land which
they were controlling at that moment, either by inheritance --
through the huasinungo system (5) -- or because they had taken
extra land from the hacienda (Eduardo Chamorro 1966; IERAC
1966). In short, the huasipungueros of Galte did not accept
the average of 2.9 hectares per family which was being given
to the country as a whole.
While Galte is atypical in terms of the transfer of land,
the present-day Galte is a typical product of the historic
process. This group of huasipunfueros is similar to the
S- other Ecuadorean huasi unrueros in that the results obtained
in Galte and among the other groups basically are the same --
more direct control of the means of production -- although
the mode of acquisition differs. In the majority of the
cases, while the relations of the huasi-ungueros with their
natrones were often tense, difficulties did not reach a critical
stage, perhaps due to the paternalistic attitude of a "good"
patron. There was an awareness of the type of relations, but
not enough inherent strife to stimulate change. The change
in Galte, on the other hand, was the result of the internal
tension. In short, in Galte, the Indians themselves took the
initiative, while in other huasinunpos, change was instigated
by outsiders who feared that the Indians would take the
Division of Research
The data obtained during the four months of field work
will be presented in four chapters. A picture of what has
happened in Galte since the arrival of the Incas and the
Spaniards until the last legal battles in 1970 is outlined
in Chapter 1.
After the historical background (Chapter 1), three
chapters are presented which analyze the production system
and familial organization of Galte. The purpose of this
analysis is to inquire, first, into the elements and subjects
of production (Chapter 2); second, into the relations among
the producers, and more specifically, into the forms under
which association and cooperation are carried out (Chapter 3);
and finally, to search for some answers to the questions
presented above (Chapter 4).
The description of Galte carried out in this study is
synchronic, attempting to delineate a picture which could be
representative of Galte during the last 70 years.
An effort will be made to ascend, analytically, from the
smallest forms of association to the more complex ones, paying
special attention to finding the basic organizing principle
of the socio-economic system.
1. These concepts, which originally come from K.
Marx's The Critioue of Political Economy, have been taken
to the anthropological, and more specifically, to the ethno-
graphic realm by French social scientists such as Claude
Meillassou~, Anthroologie conomiaue des Gouro, and
Emmanuel Terray, Le Marxisme devant les societies "primitives."
2. In all the files of the IERAC it was not possible
to find any study of indigenous systems either about land
tenure, economic forms, or social organization.
3. Information obtained in the Ministerio de Prevision
Social y Trabajo, 1964.
4. In order to maintain the "unity of production" of
the haciendas -- one piece of land, and not several scattered
plots -- the Land Reform (art. 70) allows resettlement of
the huasinunrueros, grouping all of them in one section of
5. The land given "temporarily" to the huasiLunguero
for his usufruct, in exchange for his work in the hacienda,
was transmitted from father to children. Nevertheless, there
was always a latent possibility that the tatron would take
the land back. Legally the patron had the right to carry
out such an action (cfr. Archivos de Parroquia Guamote, Tenenoia
The hacienda Galte, incorporating some 10,340 hectares
(25,850 acres) suitable for agricultural production, forestry
and pasture, lies on a sloped terrace in the southwestern
corner of the province of Chimborazo, Ecuador. The valley
of Palmira, and further north, the valley of Guamote, stretch
at the feet of the hacienda. Galte resembles a balcony facing
the undulant and cold valley of Palmira.
Connected by the Pan American highway, the tomn of Palmira
to the southeast and the tomr of Guamote to the northeast,
are Galte's nearest mestizo neighbors. Guamote, which can
be reached by car from Galte, has political and economic
control of the entire region (canton = county). Palmira,
connected to Galte by only a rough foot-path (2 -3 hours
walking distance), is the religious center and handles only
very minor political squabbles. (More severe problems are
either referred to Riobamba, the capital of Chimborazo, or to
Quito, the national capital.)
The slopes of Galte and the valley at its feet have
served as the stage for an act of Andean history; an act
characterized by tragedy and comedy, in which 155 Indian
huasiounruero families have played the roles of both
spectators and actors.
The Galtenos have watched from their slopes, as from
a balcony, the Shyri, Inca, Spanish, and Republican armies
passing at their feet in their campaigns of conquest and of
liberation. Tupac Yupanqui battled against the troops of the
Shyri general, Epiclachima, and. defeated them on the plains
of Tiocajas -- at the foot of Galte -- at the end of the
fifteenth century (1465 1470), initiating with his victory
a processing of Cusquean domination and influence (Juan de
Velasco, 1960, Vol. II; Pareja Diezcanseco, 1958, Vol. I).
With a respite of less than two generations, these plains
again became a battlefield. This was the acceptable passageway
from Peru to Quito. Sebastian de Benalcazar chose the ampa
of Tiocajas to attack RumiEahui because this terrain was suited
for fighting on horseback (Juan de Velasco, 1946, Vol. IIn 151;
Pareja Diezcanseco, 1958, Vol. Is 137).
Four centuries later, during the republican period, Eloy
Alfaro encamped his troops in the same valley on his way to
Quito. At this time, the spectators of Galte came down to the
valley to join the troops of the .liberals. "The Indians,"
according to Pareja Diezcanseco, "organized by two leaders of
their groups, Saez and Huamau, arrived at Alfaro's campground
and said, 'we want to see the Indian Alfaro,' and offered him
the support of their people to fight. Alfaro nominated one
of the leaders as general and the other as colonel" (1958,
Vol. II: 224). Alfaro's campaigning opened the doors for the
promulgation of the "Ley de Cultos" nine years later (1904)
which regulated the .property owned by religious orders. This
law hadrepercussions in Galte, as will be seen later.
The Galteaos watched the waves of struggles and conquests
from their balcony, perhaps not being completely aware that
the undertow of this traffic in the valley was determining
and molding part of their own lives.
The historical background of the Indians who today live
in Galte, and in the general area of the canton Guamote is
only partially understood. References from historical sources
such as Padre Juan de Velasco (1960), Alfredo Pareja Diez-
canseco (1958, Vol. I), and J. Steward (1963) indicate the
presence of a group of Indians prior to the conquest of the
Incas, known as Guamutis. This tribe depended upon and was
part of the PuruhA nation (P. Juan de Velasco 1960; A. Pareja
Diezcanseco 1958, Vol. I), which through matrimonial alliances
became united with the Shyri kingdom.
The Puruha-Shyri way of life appears to have had char-
acteristics which are peculiar to all the Andean region, and
which were successfully utilized by the Incas in their post-
conquest economic and socio-political organization; among them
the concept of private property has great importance. The
individual as such did not have a right to the land, but
rather, the ayllu (extended family) as a community was vested
with the right to the usufruct of the land (R. Crist 1964s 3).
The Empire -- in the case of the Incas -- owned the land and
had a right to one portion of the family production in
exchange for the family's usufruct of the land. The control
of this usufruct-production-distribution was carried out by
the Sara Inca (Crist 1964). This official, who was part of a
hierarchical system, "in addition to receiving regular tribute,
appears to have also enjoyed permanent servants" (Carter 1965).
Thus, the members of the ayllu or community were used to the
usufruct and tribute system, and had long been accustomed to
unquestioning obedience to central authority. "Once the
leadership of the ruling group had been removed, the Indians
were not prepared to resist their new rulers, the Spaniards"
The Spanish conquest brought new lords, who, in R. Crist's
words, "descended like dive bombers upon the communities, or
.ayllus, of farmworkers united by the Incas." (1964,4) The
regional leaders were replaced. This was made possible by
the institution of the encomienda whereby the Spanish over-
lords became protectors (encomenderos) of a group of Indians.
Thus the conquerors came to occupy the empty seats left by
the caciques, and enjoyed the free labor of the Indians over
whom they exercised full authority. The obligations of the
enconenderos were to feed their Indians, teach them to speak
Spanish and to indoctrinate them into the Catholic religion.
The small town in the valley, Guamote -- on which the
Galtenos depended -- was given to the Agustinian priests
by the Spanish authorities as an encomienda. Thus, the
priests became the encomenderos of the whole indigenous
population of the area (Gonzales Suarez 1892, Vol. IV). The
work and responsibility of the Agustinians encompassed not
only religious aspects, but also organization of production.
Thus, when obrajes (textile mills) were established with
the tomw of Guamote, the Agustinians gleaned their labor
force from these Indians. Initially, the friars controlled
only the labor, but little by little, as they began to need
more raw material, they also gained control of the Indian's
herds of sheep in the _Dpramo of what is today Chacasa, Tiocajas,
Pul, Galte, Tipfn, Atapo and Totorillas -- which led, naturally,
to control of the land as well (since 1750).
The obraje has its foundations in the encomienda system.
In the encomiendas, the encomendero was entitled to receive a
tribute from the Indians, frequently in the form of labor as
well as in the form of produce. This was in exchange for the
care and instruction which the encomendero was supposed to
provide for the Indians. In the case of the encomienda of
Guamote, the exchange was double since the priests, due to the
religious care which they provided on behalf of the Indians,
received diezmos (10% of the harvest) and primicias (first
fruits) from the Indians.
These Spanish systems of tribute went along with the
indigenous system of reciprocity in which goods and services
are exchanged according to need. The difference in the
encomienda and obrae system was that they led to a constantly
increasing control of the means of production by the encomen-
deros. In the case of Guamote, the Agustinians became the
proprietors of large herds of sheep and later of land. At the
end of the 18th century, all the shepherding extensions located
south of Guamote became the hacienda of the Agustinians.
In 1875, the Agustinians were expelled from the region
of Guamote by the Bishop Ordonez and by the president of
Ecuador, Garcia Moreno, due to "misbehavior" and "low moral
In the same year, a portion of the county of Guamote --
what is today the haciendas Galte and Tipfn -- was acquired by
another group of priests, the Redentoristas, as an immense
These lands were given to the Redentoristas with "every-
thing" which existed on them -- including the Indians. The
exploitative labor system, or concertaje (obligation of the
Indians) (P. and A. Costales 1971s 8) remained the same as
in the encomienda system with the Agustinians -- except that
now the priests had even fewer obligation to the workers. The
Redentoristas, however, were relatively fair to the Indians
in comparison to the Agustinians who preceded them and those
owners who followed.
Two of E. Alfaro's actions which had repercussions in
Galte were his passing through Palmira in 1905 and his promul-
gation of the "Ley de Cultos." The first of these actions
led to the camnesinos coming down to the valley in order to
offer Alfaro their help, and the second resulted in the
Redentoristas being expelled (albeit temporarily) from
Ecuador by the law of Manos muertas (1905), instituted by
the liberal dictators, Alfaro and Leonidas Plaza.
Although accounts vary, it seems that at this time the
Redentoristas (the patrones of the land), tried to make a
deal with one of the mayordomos for the hacienda. The regional
version is that the priests drew up a "fictitious" legal title
to the land and made an agreement with their mayordomo that
he would "hold" the land for them until they were allowed back
in the country. A few years later when they returned, the
maordomo, with the title to the land in his possession,
refused to recognize their claim.
The priests' version differs from the regional one in
that they cont~fd.that they had sold the hacienda outright, in
order to help.finance the building of a church in Riobamba,
but that they were cheated and never received full payment
for the land.
In any event, the hacienda system continued in Galte
under its new patron. This year, 1905, nevertheless, is
seen by the dwellers of neighboring towns and by the Galtenos
as a "year of doom." The Indians -- letting a mocking smile
appear on their faces -- affirm that the "bishop (meaning
the priests) let the mayordomo steal his farms." The dwellers
of the town of Palmira, on the other hand, with a more vivid
imagination, assert that "that year the blood and meat of the
sheep of Galte became bitter," and "the inborn rebelliousness
of the Indians was awakened."
The relations between the Galtenos and their patrones,
which at the time of the Redentoristas had been characterized
by paternalism -- not to mention abuses -- became cold and
abrasive under the new patron, Ricardo Borja. The owner of the
hacienda had received the right to the land as well as to the
labor force of the Indians who lived on his land. The
Indians received a plot of land for their subsistence but the
patron had the right to demand five days a week of work per
family and could imprison the Indians for old inherited
debts due to the concertale system (1).
When, in 1918, the concertale system was abolished, the
huasipungo system was instituted to replace it. The system
was the same, only the inheritance of debts and obligations,
and the consequent imprisonment were abolished. Since by
law the patron had title to the land, and the Indians did not',
he could give them an ultimatum: either they could move off
the land or they could continue to work for him as before.
This, in many cases, was made official by a written contract
signed by the patron and Indians in front of the county
authority (Teniente Politico) (2).
This control of the means of production had its replica-
tion in the control which the patron acquired over the persons
involved in that production. The patron had a right to demand
five days of work a week from the residents from each huasi-
pungo as well as to establish a list according to which young
Indian girls, whether married or single, had to share the
patron's bed. This was the case of Galte.
The Indians, in this huasipungo system, resembled
marionettes held by a string. If the string is cut, the
huasipunguero falls into a vacuum entailing loss of land, goods,
and expulsion of the whole family from the hacienda, carrying
on his shoulders a culture which is not accepted in the mestizo
It is possible to distinguish a mounting tension in the
relations between the Galteios and their patron during the.
last 70 years.
The first violent confrontation took place in 1928 when
the son of the natron, Ramo'n, attempted to expel six of the
huasipunsueros for rebelliousness. He and a group of mestizos
from Guamote who had accompanied him were met by nearly
1,000 Indians armed with shovels and hoes in Chuquira (a
section of the hacienda). The Indians succeeded in forcing
the mestizos back. One mestizo and one Indian died in the
confrontation. Although this action was not an."officially"
organized levantamiento (uprising or revolt), it marks the
beginning of a "group awareness" for the Indians of Galte.
This first confrontation between the Indians and their Datron
is referred to by the Galtenos as the Chuquira Guerra (War
of Chuquira) (4).
The Chuquira Guerra was followed by continuous confronta-
tions in which the operative force of the Indians was under-
mined since the patro had taken control of the situation
through his political connections and was protected by the
local, provincial and national authorities, and consequently,
by the armed forces. In 1930, for instance, the Teniente
Politico of Palmira, following orders from the Ministro de
Prevision Social y Trabajo and the Ministro de Defensa in
Quito, and the Governor, the Intendent General, and the Jefe
de la Segunda Zona Militar in Riobamba, went to Galte with
25 soldiers to expel six huasipungueros.
Although the tension built to a critical point during
these expulsions, there was, nevertheless, another determining
factor for the levantamientos: the abuse of women by the
Datrones. Each Indian woman who lost her virginity "tied to
the bed of the patrdn" was a blow to the Indian conscience.
An old leader of Galte who has participated and witnessed
the events which occurred during the last 50 years talks in
Why did the levantamientos occur in Galte? During
the period of the Datrohes there was neither decency,
nor law. The owner of the hacienda, Ricardo Borja,
and his son, Ramdn, used to chase Indian women, as if
they were kids or lovers -- like patrones. Because
of that my father (one of the leaders of Galte) had
to revolt. The natrones used to write down the names
of the girls, either married or single, and by the
list, made them go to the hacienda house, keeping
later the single ones. .the patron calling their
names from the list, made them take a bath and tied
them to the frame of his bed. .because of that the
Indians -became angry and acquired courage. In these
plains (talking about the Chuquira plains) they
The loss of their lands and the abuse of their women
were constant blows which molded their leaders. It has
been said that the leader is the product of the circumstances
and is the conscience of a human group in conflict. The
leadership of a huasipun.uero, Ambrosio Lasso, started to be
defined in 1929. Due to "rebelliousness and lack of discipline"
-- these are the words of the patron -- six huasinunmueros
lost their plots of land and were expelled from the hacienda
Pull (6) in 1929; among them was Ambrosio Lasso. He was
27 years old. Within a year he returned to Pull. Six years
later, after a confrontation with the mayordomo of the
hacienda, he witnessed the rape of his wife performed by the
hacienda employees. The same year, 1935, Ambrosio Lasso
directed an uprising (Levantamiento de Pull) in which the
rioting Indians killed two mayordomos. This time, he was
sent to jail on the Galapagos Islands. This is the place
where he learned to read and write at the age of 33. In
1936, he was released and went to Galte where, surprisingly,
he was accepted by the patron. From this time on, the "Coronel
Ambrosio Lasso" -- as he was known in the area -- led the
Indians of the area and embodied the fast tempo of Galte in
the process of change.
The historic events which took place in Galte during the
decades of the 30's and 40's are a reflection of what was
occurring in the cities at a legal and political levels the
approval of the e Ornica de Trabao (Organic Labor Law)
in 1936 which was the genesis for the future Codiro de Trabajo
(Labor Code); and the Ley de Oranizacidn y Regimen de Conuni-
dades (Law for Organization and Administration of Communities -
Indian) in 1937 was accompanied-by the foundation of "pro-
Indian" institutions. One of them was the Comite Central de
Defense Indjgena (Central Committee for the Defense of the
Indian). This organization attempted to unionize the "Indian
communities," so that the campesino "could carry out his/her
emancipation" (7). Its influence climbed the paramos of
Galte the first years of the 40's.
Since 1944 a solid relationship was established between
the Comite Central and Galte. Ambrosio Lasso was the liason
between the Galtenos and these external influences. Ambrosio
Lasso, after having lost his land in 1929 and in 1936 having
witnessed the abuse of his wife and having tested and shown
his leadership in the levantamiento de Pull and after having
been exiled and imprisoned on the Galapagos Islands had
secured his position as a leader in Galte. On the other hand,
his ability to read and write -- skills which were completely
unknown among the Galtenos at that time -- made him the
obvious conduit-through which the external political influences
could be filtered to Galte. In 1946, Ambrosio Lasso became
a member of the communist party and received Russian and
later Chinese literature.
The external influence of the Comite Central de Defensa
Indigena and of the Federacion Ecuatoriana de Indios (FEI) was
felt first in the systematic huasipunguero meetings and,
second, in the "official" protests made by Galteios to the
local authorities. Records indicate that, since 1946, periodic
meetings were held by the Galtenos under the direction of
Ambrosio Lasso, and records also exist showing the contributions
which each huasinmuno made to finance their litigations with-
the patron By this time, the Galtenos began to present to
the local authorities in Palmira and Guamote, or to the
Labor Inspector in Riobamba, or even to the Minister of Social
Provision'and Labor in Quito, written complaints about the
"rough working conditions" under which they were forced to
work (A. Lasso's documents) (8).
f In 1951, this more organized action carried out by the
,Galtenos, confronted the desire of the new owner of Galte
to increase the production of the hacienda. Santos Cabezas,
the new patron, had gone into debt in order to purchase the
land (2,500,000 sucres = $100,000), and thus was more concerned
with efficient production and profit than with abusing the
women and girls. His first action as patrdn, accomplished
with the help of the army and the local authorities was to
expell 39 (out of 155) huasipungueros -- "rebelliousness" once
again was the.reason. The Indians who protested against this-
decision were taken to jail and later were forced to spend one-
year in military service. This imprisonment was the fourth
one for Ambrosio Lasso.
The rough treatment and physical abuse -- frequently
remembered by the Indians -- came to a climax when the
patron used his pistol against an Indian who walked towards the
patron raising his hoe after having been insulted for arriving
late to work. Tie same year the Indians encircled Eudoro
Cabezas, one of the sons of the patron, while he was con-
trolling the harvesting. However, he was not hurt and
escaped in a truck.
One year after these incidents, the Indians of Galte
formed a union: El Sindicato Agrfcola Campesino Galte (1952).
This organization systematically confronted the patrsn, under-
mining his authority little by little and directly boycotting
his production. The constant complaints between 1953 and
1963 were that the Galtenos were not paid by the patron. The
Sindicato presented constant individual cases to the
The 1950's was a decade of personal confrontations and
accusations. On the one hand, Ambrosio Lasso and other leaders
of Galte began an open campaign against working on the hacienda.
"Ambrosio Lasso frequently came to the place where the
huasinungueros were working for the hacienda and addressed
them, asking them not to work for the hacienda because the
land belonged to the Sindicato" (10). On the other hand, the
leaders of Galte learned how to operate in the legal system
of the city during the 1950's and received practical training
with their frequent Visits to the Inspeccion de Trabajo
The Galtenos -- as a group -- made their first entrance
into the legal terrain in 1958 with the presentation of a
lawsuit against their patron in the Inspeccion de Trabajo,
because salaries had not been paid since 1953. The Galtenos
won their case and the sentence was handed down in March of
the following year.
This victory gave the Indians confidence. On February
3, 1962 they returned to the Inspeccio'n de Trabajo with an
accusation containing 28 points. The basic complaint was
that the Datron had not paid them their wages since 1959.
Since their petitions were not heard by the patron, the Gal-
tenos declared their first general huelaa (strike) on August
23, 1962. A settlement was reached after a 4 month long
strike. The Galtenos recognized that they had extended
their huasipunmos without the patron's acknowledgement, and
the patron agreed to let them keep the extra land and to
pay the salaries due.
The first land reform law was passed in 1964. One year
later, members of the Institute of Land Reform (IERAC) arrived
in Galte and declared that the 150 huasipunrueros were the
proprietors of their huasipunos (the titles of the property
were not handed in yet). The patron rejected this decision,
arguing that this- disposition was against Article 70 of the
Land Reform Law, because the unity of production of the
hacienda was destroyed. But the Galtenos, with the support
of the Federacion Ecuatoriana de Indios, did not want to
receive the land ownership titles. Their rejection was based
on six points, the most important of which were twoi
1. the huasipungos should be given in the same
"traditional places", where they had been previously -.
the patron had requested resettlement, claiming that
the "unity of production of the hacienda was
destroyed" (art. 70).
2. a section of the paramo should be given to them as
a community area for shepherding.
IERAC, after two years of inspection of the hacienda,
accepted the first petition of the Indians and rejected the
In the meantime, the patron, Santos Cabezas, was con-
cerned with his remaining debt to the bank. He had bought
Galte in 1951 with a loan from the Banco de Fomento. The
final balance of payments was due in January 1965, but Santos
Cabezas still owed 1,193,000 sucres to the bank. Due to
political agitation, the production of the hacienda was low,
and in 1965 it decreased even more (11) because of problems
in handing out the huasipunros.
The Galte os added to the patron's economic crises in
1966 when they again went to the Inspeccion de Trabajo to
complain that Santos Cabezas had not paid wages to the 155
huasinungueros since the agreement following the strike in
During the next two years, 1967-68, Santos Cabezas
utilized all available "personal connections" in Riobamba and
Quito. Constant telegrams from the Governor of Chimborazo,
President of Camara de Agricultura and Intendente in Chim-
borazo, were addressed to the President of the Republic,
Congress, the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Govern-
ment and IERAC in Quito, requesting a quick solution to the
problem in Galte. The reasons given in these requests were
"necessity of stopping abuses of people (Indians) whose
attacking private property. .produces general alarm (among
landlords). .causes serious damages to the owner and to
production. .and which can become a serious problem of
social unrest with serious consequences." (12)
Santos Cabezas tried to solve the problem with the
Galtenos and pay his debt to the bank by selling the hacienda.
None of the other landlords,-however, was interested in buying
a hacienda with internal labor problems. The only possible
Buyer was IERAC. But Santos Cabezas' proposition was
rejected since the cost of the hacienda was too high, and,
in the future the Indians would not be able to reimburse
that money to IERAC.
Thus, the time was ripe on one clear and blue morning in
October, 1969; the hills around the hacienda house were crowded
with red ponchos. The Galtenos declared a strike, first
closing all roads linking the hacienda with Guamote, second,
moving in to live in the hacienda house and roads, and finally,
not harvesting the potatoes and barley crops of the hacienda --
each of the crops was estimated to be worth 200,000 sucres
($10,000). Their claims were basically the same. They
wanted 1) the title to the land which and where they had
at that moment -- no resettlement; 2) payment of salaries
due since 1963; 3) communal title to the paramo for shepherding.
The blow had been given. After the strike, Santos
Cabezas was allowed to:return to Galte; however, he was
afraid to plant again. Thus, much of the land lay fallow for
the next three years (1970-73). The Indians slowly expanded
the boundaries of their plots, taking over only what they
were able to cultivate. The natron had a hacienda he could
not sell, he owed money to the bank, and even more, he had
lost his position in Galte. Since 1970, the name "Santos
Cabezas" was pronounced by the Galtenos without the title
"patron." The only exit left to Santos Cabezas was to try again
to sell the hacienda to IERAC. After three years of govern-
ment manipulation -- what has been called el bailey de los
millones (IERACi Marzo 9, 1971), Galte was bought by IERAC.
For the Galtenos, the years which followed the last
strike have meant little. For them, the month of January,
1970, when the strike was over and the "patron" had disappeared,
was the day on which iucanchic kishoichishka kanchis, the
day on which they walked inside the ex-patron's church, took
La VirGen (statue of Our Lady), and moved her to their omw
Centro Cfvico, so that their celebrations (Carnaval and
August) and their lives would take place on their own land.
1. Concerta.es in this system the patron gave land
in exchange for labor. In cases where the conciertos owed
the Patron money or goods the patron had a right to the
Indian's labor and the obligation of the Indian was inherited
by his sons. The Indians became in this way the property
of the patron.
2. In the official records of Guamote of the Jefatura
Politica, copies exist of the contracts signed between the
Datrones and ex-concertajes or'new huasiDungueros.
3. There are documents about the expulsion of Indians
from Galte and the neighboring hacienda of Pull in the records
of the Jefatura Polltica de Guamote (1930) and Tenencia
Politica de Palmira (1929).
4. A written description of this levantamiento is found
in M. Alcozer's book, Historia de Guamote (1968s 76-79).
The data were completed by interviews with two Indians from
Galte and a mestizo from Guamote who were present in the
5. This description was made in Quichua by one of
the leaders. The meaning is lost with translation.
6. Pull is a hacienda neighboring Galte on the north.
Its history and tensions are almost identical to the ones
7. The Comite Central de Defensa Indigena was a branch
of the Federacion Ecuatoriana de Indios (FEI) (Ecuadorean
Federation of Indians). Their main goal was "to carry out
.the economic emancipation of the Ecuadorean Indians" (FEI, 1946).
8. Since 1944 it is possible to find an extensive
written communication between the Comite' Central de Defensa
Indigena and Ambrosio Lasso. Many of these letters have
been kept by Ambrosio's wife, Manuela Puculpala.
9. The files of the Inspeccion de Trabajo contain
several accusations (written by hand) presented by the
Galtenos against Santos Cabezas (files: 1952-1958).
10. Accusations presented by Santos Cabezas in the
Inspeccidn de Trabajo, Riobamba (1953). There are many
accusations like this one in the records of the mentioned
11. The -roduction of Hacienda Galte: cfr. IERAC
files May 16, 1966.
12. IERAC files: 1967-68.
ENVIRONMENT, PEOPLE, AND PRODUCTION
The historic events of a human group are the result of
networks of relationships. The change which has taken place
in Galte, from a huasiDungo system to ownership of land and
self-determination, is the product of economic, social,
political and ideological networks of relationships.
This study will focus on the economic and social relation-
ships existing in Galte in order to answer the two questions
cited earlier. Specifically, an attempt will be made to
discover and to outline the economic forms of association
and their implications at the societal level, with the goal
of outlining a socio-economic system which could be called
indigenous to the area.
The economic concepts utilized by economists and anthro-
pologists concerned with economics (1) are useful in analyzing
the economic relationships of Galte. Paul Samuelson, in
his Nobel prize-winning book, Economics, defines economics
as the "study of how men and society end up choosing with or
without the use of money, to employ scarce productive resources
which could have alternative uses, to produce various
commodities and distribute them for consumption, now or in the
future, among various people and groups in society" (196514).
This definition points out four aspects which are of special
importance in the study of economics: "choice," "scarcity,"
"production," and "distribution." The first two aspects are
related to both the man-environment relationships and the
man-man relationships: "scarcity" refers to the limited
possibilities that nature offers man, and "choice" indicates
the selection which man has to carry out in order to act upon
nature. Man is faced with the fact that there exist only a
finite number of human and non-human resources, and he must
maximize the results to the best of his technological ability.
"Production" and "distribution," on the other hand, refer to
the goals of man-nature and man-man interaction.
The problems which an economic organization has to solve
are basically three: 1) what commodities shall be produced
and in what quantities? 2) how shall goods be produced (by
whom and in what technological manner?) 3) for whom shall
goods be produced (distribution)? These three questions --
what, how, and for whom -- are fundamental and common to all
economies, but economic systems attempt to solve these problems
in different ways.
Western economics has oriented its efforts towards
developing a science to address themselves to these questions,
the answers to which, "in a so-called 'capitalist free enter-
prise economy,' are determined primarily by a system of
prices (of markets, of profits, and losses)" (Samuelson,
While Western economics has popularizedan analytical
framework which answers the What, How, and For Whom questions
by utilizing the concepts of "scarcity" and "choice," it has
fallen short when other economic systems are analyzed through
the use of the same concepts. In other words, Western
economics has overlooked the fact that in other cultures,
"choice" and "scarcity" can be conditioned by value systems
which are different from Western ones. The concept of "choice"
means the selection from limited possibilities, keeping in
mind the goal of maximizing results. However, what is under-
stood by maximizing can vary as much as cultures do. Western
societiJs emphasize maximizing commodities which can be
converted into countable surplus (money), and have systems
which are competitively accumulation-oriented. Other cultures,
in contrast, might emphasize social position, as among the
Trobriands, where production is stimulated by competition
which contains the component of challenging the opponent to
do better. Both Western and Trobriand culture contrast
markedly with Kwakiutl cultures: "In the Trobriands''"
Cyril Belshaw says, "to give too much would be a cause for
envy, bitterness, and recrimination, and great care is taken
to avoid this. Among the wakciutl, to give too much is the
whole point of the game" (1965: 26).
Without rejecting Samuelson's concepts, but rather
keeping them in mind, it seems more advantageous to follow
Karl Polanyi's substantive approach inasmuch as it stresses
the need for leaving aside formal economic analysis and
directing efforts toward an ."empirical economy" -- i.e. the
study of "an instituted process of interaction between man
and his environment, which results in a continuous supply of"
want satisfying material needs" (1958: 122-142.)
Thus, this study will try to ,outline, first, the environ-
ment in which the Galteios live, the people themselves and
their production (Chapter 2), establishing in this way, the
foundations for an analysis of how people relate to and
associate with each other (Chapter 3).
Before discussing specific cases of associations, however,
it should be noted that there are two basic types of association
in this study: those stimulated by the need to cooperate for
economic production and those which are the product of kinship
ties. This dichotomy between production and social association,
however, does not mean that these two units are two entirely
distinct categories of social groupings, but rather, that
they are two aspects of a single reality (2).
In the first type of association, the basic unit of
production is a result of the need to cooperate in order to
get a living from the land. Activities in Galte such as the
clearing of the Daa, breaking the ground, preparing the seeds,
and weeding could be called basic agricultural operations.
They are basic inasmuch as they require the simplest form of
cooperation; typically between three or four people who live
in the-same: household. These people involved in the basic
agricultural activities and living in the same household
complex or huasipungo form a "basic unit of production" as
this elemental form of association will be called hereafter.
Parallelling this basic unit of production which is
rooted in the basic need to exploit nature, there is another
type of association based on kin ties. This elemental kin
or social grouping is referred to here as the "domestic unit"
in order to distinguish it from other similar social groupings
such as the extended family. This type of association
consists of marriage and consanguineal relationships. The
domestic unit refers to the kin-related group which lives
in the same.plot-of-land and household complex.
Unlike the traditional approach which considers huasi-
punmos solely in terms of their relationships to the hacienda,
and views them as isolated units without associations,
Chapter 4 attempts to outline the types of associations as
networks which form a socio-economic system.
The term huasigungo has been avoided as much as possible
in these three chapters (2, 3, 4) since it (per se) implies a
relationship with the hacienda; rather, it has been replaced
by the terms "basic unit of production" and "domestic unit" --
according to the economic or social emphasis intended.
The direct relationship and interdependence between
culture and environment has been stressed in social studies
since Morgan and Marx, writing in the last century. In much
the same way that Morgan used the concept of "arts of
subsistence" and Marx, the concept of "economic base" to
explain the relationship between different cultural/sociological
levels, Julian Steward -- one of the latest major exponents
of cultural ecology -- has talked about a "cultural core,"
meaning the "constellation of features which are most closely
related to subsistence activities and economic arrangements."
There is a common denominator in their emphasess first, upon
environment as the provider of possibilities of production --
what economists would call "scarce means" or "limited number
of possibilities" -- and second, upon culture, which through
technological (tools and knowledge) and sociological
(relations and values) systems, "chooses" the means.
This chapter analyzes 1) the elements of the relationship
between the environment and people, and 2) the result of that
The interplay of a number of factors including altitude,
irregularity of terrain, different wind currents, water
resources, and quality of terrain have created a wide variety
of production zones or ecological niches in the Andean region
of Ecuador. The average mountain valley in the interandean
region is located at 2,800 meters above sea level. Agricultural
production is possible up to 3,800 meters, and natural pastures
occur up to 4,400 meters on the slopes of these mountains.
The regions of Guamote and Palmira present similar
conditions. The lower section of Guamote, located between
two mountain slopes at 2,900 meters, has an adequate water
supply, is temperate in climate and is ideal for the production
of corn, beans and the maintenance of pasture land; Palmira,
on the other hand, is located 3,200 meters above seal level
on open and windy terrain and produces only barley and a few
Galte, rather than escaping the peculiarities of the
Andean region, incorporates them. Physical phenomena, such
as altitude and the irregularity of the terrain as well
as different wind currents, water resources, and quality of
terrain are factors which determine the existence of a variety
of ecological niches, and consequently, affect agricultural
production in Galte.
The hacienda Galte (cfr. map), encompassing some 10.340
hectares (25,850 acres) begins in the valley or plains of
Palmira at 3,200 meters and within a horizontal distance of
10.5 kilometers, reaches a plateau at 4,200 meters. This
means that every hectare of land in Galte has an average
altitude difference of 9.5 meters between one end and the
other. While if this difference in altitude were equally dis-
tributed each plot would be on a mild grade, in actuality the
slope is multiplied in some places up to six or seven times
by the presence of three gorges which create depressions 250-
300 meters deep. Thus, cultivation in some areas of Galte
takes place on inclines which have slopes of up to 50-60
The terrain's climate is closely related to its altitude.
Research has shown that there is a decrease of one degree
centigrade for every 200 meters of altitude. The lowest
section, situated at 3,200 meters has an average temperature
of 10_degrees centigrade while the highest section, at 4,200
meters, has an average temperature of 8 degrees. At noon and
in the early afternoon when the skies are clear and there is
no wind, the temperature rises five to seven degrees above
average. These temperature variations are relatively constant
year round due to the equatorial location: the difference
between summer and winter (dry and rainy seasons) is of about
two degrees centigrade.
The rainy season, from October through May, is interrupted
by small intervals of drought which are called veranillos
(little summers). The dry season lasts from June through
September. This schedule is by no means rigid; there are
years such as 1973 in which rain falls during August and
September and the skies of October and November are as clear
as a peaceful ocean. Such unpredictable weather, nevertheless,
is considered abnormal, and emphasis is placed on the "known" .
rain calendar since artificial or channeled irrigation is
Due to geographical location -- at the edge of a giant
mountain gap -- Galte and Palmira are affected by dry coastal
wind currents from the southwest which make the region usually
arid if compared to the rest of the green Ecuadorean highlands.
Because of their rather flat topography, Palmira and the lowest
section of Galte are open to these dry and sandy winds.
Terrain which is somehow sheltered from these gusty winds
provided more favorable conditions for cultivation and is the
most desirable for agricultural production.
In Galte, the above-mentioned wind current and the amount
of rainfall, together with the different altitudes and temp-
eratures, have created different types of soil. The lowest
area of Galte which is most affected by the dry coastal wind
current offers a type of spongy soil which lacks organic
matter but which contains a high percentage of alkaline
minerals.- The intermediate and higher areas, both of which
are less affected by the coastal winds, possess a large
amount of organic matter. This is due, in large part, to the
cool night temperatures which prevent a higher level of
microbial activity. This moist soil -- "Andean soil" as it is
known in geographic terminology -- is called "black" soil in
the area and is considered to be the best for the cultivation
The interrelation of these environmental factors has
created different levels of cultivation in Galte. The low
plains, in spite of their aridity, are well-suited to the pro-
duction of barley and chochos (a type of white bean); during
the rainy season, bala and romerillo grow abundantly (3).
At higher altitudes (and therefore lower temperatures and
moister soils), conditions are excellent for the production of
potatoes and, to a lesser extent, to the cultivation of barley.
Pala grows year round. Above 3,800 meters, the pajonales,
although poor for agricultural production, are excellent for
When environmental factors are considered in relation to
production in Galte, four main ecological levels can be
distinguished. By drawing horizontal lines at intervals of
approximately 100 and 200 meters, it is possible to delineate
levels possessing contrasting and complementary agricultural
characteristics. Each one of these levels presents a series
of features which are the result of the interplay of the
above-mentioned factors. Chart 2.1 presents these variables
The first three levels are agricultural niches ("lower,"
"intermediate" and "upper") and contrast with the fourth
level which is totally covered with naia, providing conditions
suitable only for livestock grazing. The moist, black and
cold soil of the upper level is suited for cultivating potatoes.
The lower altitude and higher temperature of the lower level,
on the other hand, create favorable conditions for the pro-
duction of barley. The intermediate level produces'both
potatoes and barley but of lower quality.
The Galtenos live in the lower, intermediate, and Upper
levels. The high, cold pajonal level is inhabited only
seasonally by shepherds.
The Galtenos and Production
The total population of Galte is 1,680 Quichua-speaking
Indians. The accompanying sex-age pyramid (Chart 2.2) reflects
the fact that this is a young population according to Western
standards. The median age of 20 years is below the Ecuadorian
median of 21; only 5.4 per cent of the population is over
sixty years of age.
Another factor which is indicative of the "youthfulness"
of this Indian group is its high birth rates 43.2 per
1,000. This is high if compared to both the Latin American
and Ecuadorean averages.
In addition, another salient feature of the Galte popula-
tion is its relative balance, maintained throughout the
pyramid, between males and females: a ratio of 97 males to
100 females. The only difference worth noting is found in the
group above 55 years of age in which the female population
is predominant. This factor would significantly affect the
composition of the population if it were to occur in a lower
age group (e.g. 20-40), having repercussions both on the man-
power supply and on the probability of a female remarrying in
the event her husband should die.
Still another important characteristic of the population
of Galte illustrated by Chart 2.2.is its rate of growth: the
broad-based pyramid seems to indicate a high rate of birth.
These three aspects -- low median age, relative balance
of the male and female population, and a high birth rate --
all point towards a continued increase in the area's population.
The 1,680 Indians who live in Galte make their living
through agriculture and shepherding in the four ecological
levels. One hundred per cent of the population aged 15
years of age and above are knowledgeable about agriculture
and 99% of them live exclusively from cultivation of the
fields (4). Women are no exception; all of them know how
to cultivate and actually work in the fields. The only
difference is that their labor schedule is determined by
time. Activities such as planting and harvesting are both
labor- and time-intensive; preparing the ground and caring
for the plants, on the other hand, are much less so. Women,
therefore, are more frequently involved in agricultural acti-
vities during the time-pressure period of planting and har-
vesting. This means that 60.7% of the total population of
Galte is involved in agricultural production.
Every adult person in Galte has been a shepherd during
his or her childhood. Boys and girls, from the age of 5 to
6 years, begin herding by accompanying their older brothers
and sisters. However, as soon as boys can provide agricultural
labor, they no longer shepherd. Girls, on the other hand, may
continue to herd until they are 45 or 50 years old. if there
are no young children at home who can take over the pastoral
duties. Thus, it has been estimated that 842 persons are
involved in herding sheep. This high number -- half of the
total population -- does not mean, however, that 50% of the
Galtenos are working full-time caring for their herds since
the youngest children herd sheep accompanied by their brothers
and sisters, and the adult women only look after the herds
ihen no other young person is able to.
Chart 2.3 presents the agricultural and shepherding
activities by sex and age.
One difference in the labor force which differs from
Western standards is the economically productive age. Children
are incorporated into production from the age of 5 years and
will continue to work as long as they are physically able to
do so. Thus, approximately 1,399 persons, or 84.6% of the
total population, form the economically productive force of
Galte. This contrasts with Western standards which consider
only that portion of the population between 15 and 65 years
of age as economically productive.
The population of Galte is identified with 155 land
units called huasipungos. This means that an average of 10.8
people live in each huasinunpgo; the median is 10. The number
of persons per huasipungo ranges from 2 to 27.
The inhabited area of Galte -- the three lower ecological
levels -- has been traditionally divided'into four sectors
(sectors, areas): Laime, Jatum Loma, Talampala and Yana Rumi
(cfr. Map). During the hacienda period, these divisions
were administrative as well as ecological. The organization
of the labor force needed in the hacienda was facilitated by
dividing the hacienda into four sectors. Each of these had
a labor organizer called alcalde. Historically, however, it
seems that the four sectors existed prior to the hacienda
period as small communities where related people lived. At
the present time, these four sectors form political units,
each with its own cabecilla (leader).
Three of these sectors coincide -- almost exactly --
with the three first ecological levels. Laime lies on the
lower section and encompasses the lower ecological level
Talampala is located in between Yana Rumi and Laime and
covers the intermediate ecological level. Yana Rumi is located
in the highest agricultural level. South of these three
three sectors lies Jatum Loma. The sector -- the most highly
populated -- has one third of the entire population and huasi-
pungos and lies in three ecological levels.
The agricultural products upon which the Galte population
must depend are limited as was noted previously, the two
plants primarily cultivated are potatoes and barley. Potatoes
are consumed either whole or in soups. Barley is consumed as
flour (mAihca) after having been processed either by hand or
in the town-mill.
Other plants, cultivated on a much lower scale, are
habas (lima beans), chochos, ocas, and mellocos. These
plants are considered secondary food resources and are used
in cooking to complement potato dishes. In a random sample,
it was found that potatoes constitute 50% of the food consumed
daily in Laime and 70% in Yana Rumi and the higher section of
Sheep raising, as can be seen in Chart 2.3 involves -- in
one way or another. -- approximately half of the labor force.
Nevertheless, mutton is very seldom eaten; sheep has rather
become a condenser of surplus in the economy..
In this way, the cultivation of barley and potatoes and
the raising of sheep form the main production activities of
Galte. In terms of the production of the staples (barley and
potatoes), different types of soil and different techniques
are required, but both demand basically the same tools and a
similar amount of joint labor.
Like all Andean Indians, the Galtenos rely on human energy
as the main source of power: the product of labor is obtained
almost directly from the land. Machinery is not used in this
area and the tools used are traditional ones. The breaking
of the soil as well as the opening of furrows is done with
hoes; only a few huasipungueros have oxen for plowing. The
sickle is used for harvesting barley and the hoe or huashmo
(wooden shovel) for digging tubers. The products are trans-
ported from field to house either on the workers' backs or on
The planting and harvesting periods follow a fixed calen-
dar, but with variations of up to two months between lower and
upper levels. Chart 2.4 indicates when potatoes and barley are
planted and harvested in the two different levels. Climatic
factors account for two basic differences. First, since both
sections rely completely on rainfall -- they do not have water
for artificial irrigation -- the preparation of the soil and
planting are determined by the rainy season, which begins in
October. In the lower section, however, many people advance
their barley planting one or even two months, partly because
barley needs less water and partly as a safety measure (5).
(The heavy planting comes in the months of October and November
in the upper level and in December and January in the lower
level.) Second, there is a difference in the amount of time
needed by the plants to mature in the upper and lower levels
(approximately two months). For example, barley takes two
months more to grow in the upper level than in the lower level.
These two factors have created an overlapping two-month system
of labor needs alternating between the two sections (cfr.
Chart 2.4). Later, a reference will be made to the implications
of this alternating labor in the socio-economic arrangements.
The production of potatoes and barley is carried out in
family-owned plots (6). According to the data collected by
IERAC in 1965, the average size for each of these kin-based
plots -- huasipunpgos -- is 9 hectares and 9,712 square meters.
This average, however, has not been a static figure; in the
last few years it has increased due to the Indians' political
actions (7). Chart 2.6 shows the average family plot for every
one of the four sectors, the total extension of agricultural
land owned by the Indians.and the number of domestic units.
Each of these agricultural plots is the private property of
each domestic unit, with the pasture land (paramo) (8) being
the only common land.
The production of barley and potatoes requires the cooper-
ation of individuals of both sexes. This cooperation is more
or less regular and consistent but can vary in volume according
to the work at hand. The sex and the number of persons involved
depends on the stage of the cycle in the cultivation of a
Each of the cycles includes several stages (Chart 2.4),
1. preparing the ground: clearing the pala, plowing
either with a hoe or with oxen.
2. preparing the seeds
3. sowing.the barley and planting the potatoes
4. maintenance: weeding
6. threshing the barley
Each of these stages varies in the composition of the
labor force involved. Preparing the ground, clearing the
paja and plowing are male activities; only the absence of men
will force' women to perform these tasks. This work is done
by one or two men at a time since there is no need for the work
to be completed immediately. The preparation and selection of
potato seeds is carried out at home by'men and women, usually
close relatives, and can be finished in one day's work. The
third, fifth and sixth stages are all characterized by the
need for being completed in the shortest possible amount of
time (one or two days); they, therefore, require more people.
The number of people performing each activity depends on
the amount of work involved. The clearing of the ala, the
breaking of the ground, the preparing of the seeds, and weeding
are operations which could be called basic agricultural
activities. They are basic in that they require the simplest
form of cooperation, that of three or four people living in
the same household. They can be the parents, children, or
spouses of children. These people, involved in the basic
agricultural activities and living in the same household com-
plex -- huasitungo -- form the minimal grouping for production:
the "basic unit of production" -- as this elemental form of
association will be called hereafter.
Each one of the basic units of production provides a
supply of labor and can actually cultivate all the essential
products; but, in order to maximize production, it seeks
additional labor as well as complementary products from other
units of production. The way in which labor and products are
obtained from other units is through personal -- unit to unit--
associations or alliances. The following chapters, especially
Chapter 3, will deal with two forms of associations or coopera-
tion: restricted and extended.
Parallel to the basic unit of production and rooted in
the process.of exploitation of the land is an elemental kin or
social form of groupingt- the "domestic unit." This association
is the fruit of the marriage and consanguineal relationships.
The domestic unit refers to the kin-related group which lives
on the same plot of land and in the same household complex.
The two kinds of units -- the basic unit of production
and the domestic unit -- and the associations within and
between these units will be described separately in the
following chapters. This dichotomy between production and
social association, however, does not mean that these two
units are entirely separate; it simply means that they are
two aspects of a single"reality" (Diaz and Porter, 1967: 155).
1. There are two kinds of economic anthropologists.
First, there are those who stress the similarities between
primitive economies and use Western conventional terms to
describe subsistence economies -- capital, surplus, maximizing,
price, demand. They try to apply the same question to primitive
economy which are used in Western ones. Better known examples
of this approach are Raymond Firth (1939, 1964), Melville
Herskovits (1952), R. Burling (1962), S. Cook (1966).
Second there are those who stress the differences between
primitive and W1estern economies and the connections between
economic and social organization. They center their attention
upon gift-giving, reciprocity, redistribution. The most
important advocates of this approach are: Marcel Mauss (1954),
K. Polanyi, C.M. Arensberg, and H.W. Pearson (1957), M.
Sahlins (1960), P. Bohannan and G. Dalton (1965), G. Dalton
Good works on peasant economy are Raymond Firth
(1946), M.G. Smith (1955), Sol Tax (1953), M. Diaz (1967),
W. Skinner (1967) and Eric Wolf.
2. May Diaz and Jack M. Potter have pointed out this
identification among peasant socieites. "Characteristically,
in peasant societies the domestic unit is also the production
unit: a group of Kinsmen (sometimes with a few additional
persons who are not relatives) bound together in such a
fashion that their roles as family members also define their
roles as producers and consumers" (1967, 155).
3. Pala (straw) is a type of natural grass pasture
which grows above 3,200 meters and is very desirable for
sheep and cattle feed. The extensions of land covered with
paja are called Da.lonales. Romerillo is a small bush which
grows approximately 00 centimeters high and is used as
firewood, as well as pga.
4. The census shows that only 12 are involved full-
time in activities other than agriculture. They are traders
(beauelos comerciantes). Weaving at home is a part-time
activity which involves 44 people, but it is considered a
5. It has been pointed out at the beginning of this
chapter that the rainy season is unreliable. One way of
solving this problem is having advance planting, so that
one of the crops will coincide with the rainy period.
6. Legally the plots of land belong to the hacienda;
and they are given to the Indians for their usufruct in
exchange for their five-day-weekly-work in the hacienda.
At this stage of the study, for the sake of clarity and
simplicity, these lended plots of land are considered as
owned by the familial nucleus, legally.
7. Since the 1964 Land Reform Law, the Indians have
expanded the limits of their plots by taking over the land
of the hacienda. After the "strike of 1969," the expropriation
of hacienda land has been more systematic; there are no
available data on the actual sizes of the plots at the
present time; the IERAC finished a survey of the area in
December, 1973 and its results will soon be available.
8. Paramos have been the property of the hacienda,
as well as the plots of land. The point that must be con-
sidered here is that, for practical purposes, the paramo
has been shared by all the familial nuclei without discrim-
PRODUCTION AND SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS
People associate with each other in order to obtain
their means of subsistence, creating in this way bonds which
have been called "relations of production" by some social
This chapter will discuss the various forms of association
and cooperation found in Galte at the production and kinship
Associations between Basic Units of Production
a. The restricted system of cooperation
As mentioned before, the basic unit of production in
Galte is also the domestic unit:-in which barley, potatoes,
or both are cultivated on a plot of approximately 10 hectares.
The composition of these domestic units or basic units of pro-
duction varies according to the size and quality of the land
and usually is composed of father, mother and children. When
male children marry, they stay in the same domestic unit since
their labor is greatly needed in both the basic unit of agri-
cultural production and for the provision of labor for the
hacienda (as mentioned earlier, each basic unit must provide
the hacienda with five days of labor per week. Women, on the
other hand, live with their husbands' domestic units when they
marry although they often return to their previous domestic
unit for cultivation. Thus, women can claim a portion of their
parents' land either for their own cultivation or for share-
cropping with their parents and siblings.
The basic unit of production may include individuals who
are not members of the domestic unit. Frequently, individuals
falling into misfortune will be adopted by a family, even
though they are not close relatives (son, nephew, grandson).
The adopted.individual receives the name of tio (uncle) and is
known as an arrimado. If the adoption takes place when the
person is a baby, the adoptee is called a huinachishka (literally,
brought up) and acquires some or all of the rights of a son
or daughter. In Galte, all the huinachishkas and arrimados
have some kin relationship with the adopters, although distant;
frequently, they are collateral relatives two or three times
The basic unit of production is maintained basically with
the labor from the domestic unit and the help provided by
the extended family. Thus, when labor .is needed, the person
taking the initiative for preparing the land, planting, or
harvesting (generally the father or a son) looks for peones
(1) (workers) among his closest relatives; the father, for
instance, will ask his sons, or sons-in-law to help him, and
only if he does not find peones among his closest relatives
will he look for help among other relatives or friends.
This type of request for help might be called the
"restricted system" of cooperation or association, known as
makita manana (meaning: to ask a hand). This form is called
restricted because it operates within and not between ecological
levels and possesses three distinct characteristics. First,
help is requested from relatives of the domestic unit and only
if it is impossible to obtain this labor at home will it be
sought from the in-laws, or outside friends. The outsider
who comes to help must be either a remote relative or at least
a well-known friend. Second, this provision for help pre-
supposes reciprocity on the same terms; when the person who
acted as a peon needs help, he will look among those who have
previously requested his labor. Third, makita manana does not
involve cash money at all. The person who uses peones provides
food for everyone involved in the activity, and if it is
harvest time, he will give the peones between 25 and 50
pounds of the harvested product, depending on the abundance of
Each basic unit of production, therefore, is the result
of an interplay between the material conditions of production,
i.e. raw materials, tools, land, techniques, etc. and human
labor within a set of relations. These basic units of produc-
tion, then, are the outcome of a restricted kin-based system
of cooperation, providing for the maximum exploitation of labor.
The Extended System of Cooperation
Another form of cooperation might be termed "extended."
This association tries to maximize the varying production
capabilities of the different ecological levels while also
providing a source of labor in each level at those times
when extra labor is needed.
The presence of four different ecological niches or
levels in Galte has been previously discussed. Each of these
niches is used for the cultivation of a particular basic
products in level 1, barley; level 3 produces potatoes;
level 2 produces both; and the highest level, 4, is excellent
for raising sheep. Barley can be cultivated in level three,
and potatoes in level 1, but in order to maximize production,
the Indians.have opted for specialization of each ecological
At first sight, it appears that this ecological maximization
conflicts with the self-sufficient ideal of the isolated basic
units of production. This conflict has been resolved through
product specialization and redistribution of the products
among the different levels. Laime, the lower section of Galte,
for instance, produces barley and chochos (a type of bean), but
its production of potatoes is poor and of low quality; yet,
potatoes are found in virtually every meal of the people of
Laime throughout the year. A similar phenomena occurs on the
higher level with barley. Neither corn nor pumpkin is grown
in Galte yet these-foods are continuously present. Investigation
reveals that these products are not obtained in the town
market, but rather are the product of an established system
of food-labor exchange.
When one basic unit of production lacks a staple product,
it sends one of its members to another unit of production
located in a different ecological level. The person who
visits the other unit takes with him a present which is either
a good not produced in Galte (sugar, noodles, brown sugar,
bread, salt) or a product from his own unit (e.g. potatoes,
barley, or a guinea pig). The visit occurs during the planting
and harvesting season when labor is invariably needed in the
unit visited. Thus, after presenting his gifts, the visitor
works for one or two days helping to harvest or thresh the
barley. The host provides a place to stay and food for the
visitor. When the agricultural activities conclude, the visitor
receives approximately 75 pounds or more of the product which
has been harvested if the "year was good;" if production is
low, he receives 50 pounds or less. Frequently, the visitor
schedules his journey so that he can visit several basic units
of production in the same trip. The goods are transported to
his home by burros. In this way he invests up to a week of
labor and he collects two or three hundred pounds of produce.
This "extended" system of cooperation is known as nunti.
The general meaning of this term is "gift," but in the section
of Galte and Palmira, nunti is always associated with this
extended system of cooperation. Thus, it is common to hear
expressions such as pZayka cayti mana tiyanchu, nuntiman rirka
(He is not here; he went to practice or realize nunti -- to
present a gift, help in harvesting, and bring back products).
The Galtenos practice nunti inside their territory (i.e.
between the three different agricultural niches) and outside
by either going to the valley of Guamote or to the warmer
slopes of Pallatanga, JalubI, Sibambe, TixAn, and Alausl which
descend to the coast and are well-suited for cultivation of
corn. The nunti with the outside presents very interesting
aspects of maximum ecological exploitation and social organ-
ization, such as different land tenure systems, ethnic relation-
ships and "nucleus" and "island" distribution arrangements
(Murra 1964, 1968, 1972). Nevertheless, these aspects must
be left aside due to the limited scope of this inquiry -- the
internal structure of Galte.
The internal nunti presents the following characteristics
first, nunti takes place only among rigsishchakuna (very well-
known), i.e. among either close or distant relatives, or
friends who frequently are compadres (3). It is impossible for
an individual simply to show up with a present and help with
labor; there must first exist a close relationship between
the individuals involved. Second, the elements present in
nunti, in addition to friendship, are: 1) a gift which is
presented at the beginning, 2) labor provided as long as
necessary, and 3) a reciprocal present in the form of the
product just cultivated. The entire operation is carried
out in the complete absence of money. Third, the person
who plays the role of host is entitled to visit the basic unit
of production of the visitor during the harvesting of the
other's ecological level. Fourth, the movement in nunti is
always vertical; in other words, the gift is taken to a
basic unit which is located in a different ecological niche,
either higher or lower; otherwise there would be no purpose
for the exchange.
In addition to the cooperation system makita manana and
nunti, a third system exists known as ovelata minrana (caring
for sheep or entrusting sheep) which shares certain character-
istics with the systems discussed above. The different
characteristics of the four levels regarding pastures for
sheep have been pointed out in the earlier discussion of the
four different ecological niches. The lower level has some
pa.onal areas suitable for pasture, but during the dry season
(July September), grassland decreases. In levels II and
III, there is a scarcity of' pasture. In level IV, paja grows
abundantly, providing the best grassland. Since the fourth
level is available to all the Galtenos, the answer seemingly
would be to take the flock to the cold and fertile-level IV,
but the problem is obvious: the lower level is located at
3,200 meters and section IV at 4,200 meters, and to cover
this distance driving a flock of sheep takes from 4 to 6
hours each way. In addition to the geographical and ecological
problem, the inhabitants of Galte are faced with the problem
of scarcity of labor. Generally, children from 6 to 15 years
of age are in charge of herding sheep (cfr. Chart 2.3);
if these children are.not available, the sheep raising acti-
vities are jeopardized. The answer to this problem has been
ovelata minsana; i.e. to entrust a number of sheep to a relative
or a friend.
This system of cooperation or association has character-
istics which are in some aspects a cross between those of
the makita manana and nunti systems. Makita manana is used
in response to the need for labor; while untili also provides
labor, its central goal is to obtain the basic products of
the other niches. Ovelata mingana, on the other hand, is in
response to both labor and ecological needs. If one shepherd
takes care of sheep which belong to several basic units and
the sheep flocks are moved every one or two months from one
ecological level to another according to the best pasture
seasons of each level, labor is saved, and, at the same time,
the ecological niches are being exploited at a maximum.
Ovelata mingana does not usually take place among close
relatives (for example, brothers) since they live in the
same basic unit, but among in-laws and distant relatives and
friends. The basic unit which cares for the sheep is granted
the right to use the manure as a fertilizer for its crops in
return for its work. In addition to receiving the manure,
the individual rho takes care of the sheep receives food
presents from the owners of the sheep. 'No money is involved
in the entire ovelata mingana system of cooperation.
The three forms of cooperation, nunti, makita manana and
ovejata mingana are not exclusive: all of them can exist
simultaneously. Conceptually, these three systems may be
considered as expanding concentric circles with the basic
unit of production in the center. Chart 3.1 shows the three
forms of cooperation in Galte. Makita manana is essentially
a system of cooperation which seeks help within the domestic
unit and only seeks help from the extended family and friends
when additional labor is needed. Ovelata mingana primarily
seeks cooperation among relatives yet since the members of
the domestic unit live in the same environment when the unit
needs the resources of other ecological niches, relatives from
other levels are dram in. The circle is expanded as the
basic unit needs other products and labor from different
Finally, gunti forces the creation of relationships
(rigsishkas) among basic units in the different ecological
niches. This extended system of cooperation, therefore, estab-
lishes contacts and creates associations among people of the
three ecological levels and represents the most expanded
circle. As will be analyzed later, the concept of iunti has
become the core of the economic and social system of Galte.
Chart 3.1 shows the three forms of cooperation in Galte.
Thus, interpersonal cooperation which begins with
members of a household helping each other in order to cultivate
a product acquires community proportions when the product is
moved and distributed (4).
In summary, a process of production has been created
by the interplay of material conditions of production, plus
the labor process, coupled with relations established between
the producers. The forms of cooperation derived from the
relations of production have the initial aim of producing
goods and later the redistribution of those goods. These
associations are the foundation of the economy of this
Associations among the Domestic Units
The forms of cooperation discussed above are created
by the relations of production; now attention can be directed
toward the associations created by kinship ties.
While the preceding discussion is based on research
carried out in the four sections of Galte, the specific data
and examples for the following discussion have been taken
primarily from the selection of Talampala (5).
The domestic unit lives in a group of 2 or 3 houses,
frequently located in the center of the plot of land and
usually separated from the other domestic units .by land
belonging to the hacienda.
Earlier in the paper, some characteristics of the domestic
units were presented. Among these characteristics was mentioned
the fact that the domestic unit is the kin-related group which
permanently stays on a piece of land, huasinungo; in other
words, the domestic unit is the kin aspect of the basic unit
of production. In this nucleus, the head of the family, the
one who has the rights to the land, is the father, and is
called the tayta (father) (6).
The domestic unit is basically formed by the parents,
children, and sometimes an arrimado or huinachishka -- as was
mentioned on page 53. This related group of people is not
considered an ayllu (family) unless they have a piece of
land. If the parents and the children do not own the means
of production (land), or at least do not have direct control
of a piece of land (huasinungueros) they are called arrimados,
or sharecroppers, but they are not considered a huasipungo.
In these cases, the head of the group is called tiu (taken
from Spanish: tio = uncle). The domestic unit, thus, always
includes the concept of land and tayta as the head of the
These three concepts of family, land, and tayta are
essential elements when the idea of domestic unit is introduced.
Each one of the 155 domestic units of Galte (7) possesses these
three elements with only quantitative variations.
Family, in the context of the domestic unit, must be
understood in a broad sense. It may refer merely to an
elderly couple without children or to a group of 25 related
people living together, including relatives in three generations
and even affinal members. Chart 3.2 presents the number of
persons in each one of the domestic units. The average for
the 155 groups is 11 and the median, 10. The domestic unit
is expanded when the children marry. If the son marries, he
has the right to stay at home and live with his wife at the
tayta's house. Daughters, on the other hand, leave their
homes when they marry and go to live in the huasipuna o of
their husband's family. Women will stay at their parents'
home and bring their husbands there only if there are not any
male children. In this way, a male labor force is secured
and each unit is able to maintain a balance.
The reason for this patrilocality is found in the
relationship of family to land, i.e. in the way in which the
rights to the plot of land (huasipunmo) have been established (8).
In the recently abolished system of huasitungo, the hacienda
needed male labor for its exploitation of the land. This
labor was obtained by giving the male the right to use a piece
of land as "temporary property" in exchange for labor. The
male was responsible for the provision of five days of work
per week for the hacienda. If the husband died, the wife was
responsible for providing the labor, using her sons' or her
daughters' labor if no male children were present. Thus, when
a family had no sons, there was a need for the female children
to bring their husbands to their parents' homes after they
married; only in this case. did the married woman remain in
her parents' home.
The domestic unit, like the basic units of production, is
not a closed, static and self-sufficient group. As has been
mentioned before, the domestic unit expands when a son marries
and contracts if a daughter does so. Thus, each domestic unit
has as many kin ties as marriages. While this statement seems
obvious, it directs attention toward the origin of those
According to the information obtained in Talampala, it is
possible to note the following concerning mobility and marriage
(Chart 3.3)t from the total of 116 marriages, 37 or 31.9% of
the total have taken place among people who live in the same
section of Talampala (endogamous marriage). On the other
hand, the marriages outside the section account for 33.6% of
the total (exogemous marriage). If in addition we take the
13 marriages carried out in other places such as Pull, Totorillas,
Tipin, etc., and assuming that the 27 cases without infor-
mation can be divided proportionally, it is possible to
ascertain that 58.6, of the marriages which have taken place
in Talampala have been with people from outside the section.
These 116 marriages which have taken place in 32 huasi-
punGos of Talampala have been with people from outside the
These 116 marriages which have taken place in 32 huasipunnos
of Talampala present an average of 3.6 marriages in each
domestic unit. This indicates that each huasi-ungo has approx-
imately 3 to 4 kinship contacts with other huasiyungos in
general, and more specifically, from 1 to 2 kinship contacts
with domestic units which are located in different sections.
This process takes place in a similar manner in the other
three sections -- Yana Rumi, Laime, and Jatum Loma '(10). The
variations are predictable. Laime, on the one hand, has more
relations with the community of San Miguel; Yana Rumi, on the
other, with their northern neighbors from Pull.
In summary, this chapter has dealt with the production
and social levels of association. At the production level,
three forms of association have been found: nunti, makita
manana, and ovelata miniana. If an individual needs labor, he
will make use of the makita mamana cooperation form, i.e. he
will look for a peon among his relatives or rigsishkas; on
the other hand, if he needs one of the basic products, he will
go to practice nunti among his kin contacts and ripsishkas for
a person to whom he can entrust his herd. These are, therefore,
three cooperation systems which provide established patterns
and responses to the need for establishing contacts in the
different ecological levels.
In other words, the Galtenos, in order to obtain, produce,
and distribute the products necessary for subsistence have
related to each other, creating fixed networks.
On the other hand, the domestic unit is the kin form of
association. Special care has been taken to point out the
way in which the unit expands and relates to other domestic
units located in the same as well as in different ecological
Thus, it is possible to discover a series of social and
economic ties among the basic units of production and domestic
units on the surface of Galte. In the next chapter, the
emphasis will be put on answering whether or not there is
an indigenous socio-economic system of Galte.
1. Quichua has borrowed the term _edn from Spanish but
with a different meaning. In Spanish oedn means "a.member
of the laboring class, originally one forced to serve virtually
in bondage to creditors." Quichua has kept the meaning of
"labor" and instead of the socially discriminatory connotation
has given to it the meaning of mutual labor help among known
2. The aspect of maximum use of different ecological
levels has been enlightened by Dr. John Hurra's theory and
research about the "Archipielagos Verticales en Los Andes."
The author of this thesis had the opportunity to participate
in a field-seminar directed by Dr. Murra and Luis Lumbreras
in Perd, Chile, and Bolivia in June and July, 1973. Dr.
Murras has also predicted the existence of archepelagos in the
Ecuadorean Andes. The research in Galte revealed a heavy
movement of Indians toward Pallatanga (coast), reinforcing,
in this way, Murra's hypothesis. The reference that is made
here covers only a partial aspect of the whole theory of
"archipielagos," here, of ecological levels, interchange
or movement of basic products, social interaction. For a
more detailed presentation of the "archipelagos theory" see
J. Murra (1964, 1968, 1972).
3. Comnadre in the strict sense refers to the relation-
ship created between the godfather and the father of the
godchild, and has been translated as "godsib" by P. Doughty
1968: 114-119). Nevertheless, in many instances, the conpadre
need not be a formal godfather of baptism. In some cases,
the comnadrazgo is a product of some ceremonies or social
activities such as blessings, fiestas, masses, housewarmings.
4. The limited time in the field prevented the researcher
from collecting more complete data which would permit quanti-
fication of this network. Had there been time, the quanti-
fication would have been carried out by a systematic inquiry
of cooperation. An attempt was made in both elementary schools,
but with very inaccurate results.
5. Better and more precise data were collected in
Talampala. The reason was partially circumstantial. The
author of this study had the opportunity to visit, talk, and
interview all of the huasipungueros of Talampala, since he
was in charge of this section in the census carried out in
Galte by IERAC.
6. Tayta means father, but in addition to the biological
and the head-of-the-household connotation, it has a close
relation to land, authority, and experience which goes beyond
the familial-nucleus boundaries. At the present time, tayta
is frequently associated with huasiun_-uero since the
huasinrunuero since the turn of this century, has been the
person recognized by the hacienda as the "temporary" owner of
the plot of land.
7. Historically, since the hacienda adopted the huasipungo
system at the beginning of this century, the huasiunros can
be identified with these familial-nuclei. As we will see
later, the hacienda in its quest for maximizing the search
for free labor has used and in some aspects and occasions
has strengthened the indigenous system.
8. This is only a partial explanation and tied to the
historical development of the huasiun.o system. Research
on the type of grouping, locality existing prior to the
huasiDunro system in this area has not been carried outs
nevertheless, we are inclined to believe that a similar
arrangement existed before the huasinungo.
9. In Talampala, for example, there are 94 houses, 32
huasipungos and 301 persons. Therefore, there is an average
of 2.9 houses per huasipunco with from 3 to 4 people per house.
It should be kept in mind that some families have one house
for cooking and another for living.
10. It has not been possible to present data on Jatum
Loma, Yana Rumi, and Laime, as we did with Talampala since
the census about these three sections has not included some
of the huasijunfros and does not have complete data on this
topic. Nevertheless, the information at hand provides us
with a good basis to affirm that the four sections possess
similar characteristics in this area.
THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC SYSTEM OF GALTE
The preceding chapters have analyzed the environment
in which the Galtenos live, the products which they cultivate,
the ways in which they cooperate for that production, and
the means for distributing those products, attempting in
Chapters 2 and 3 to outline the answers to the What, How and
For Whom questions. This study has also analyzed the forms
in which the domestic unit is organized, the way it expands
and creates new points of contact with other domestic units
since in Galte, there is an identification of the basic unit
of production and the domestic unit. This chapter seeks to
tie together different aspects which previously have been
studied separately, into a mutually adjusted and interdependent
socio-economic system. Emphasis will be placed both on the
"choice" aspect which appears to be typical of the socio-
economic system of Galte, and the basic characteristics of
This inquiry has found that there are economic and social
factors which seem to move along parallel lines; without
making any statement about causation, it appears that there
is a direct relationship between marriage ties and reciprocal
cooperation among the various ecological levels.
As has been previously explained, there are four different
production levels in Galte, each one located at a different
altitude, with its own soil and climate characteristics and
each producing a different type of product (cfr. Chart 2.1).
The concept "production" does not refer only to different
kinds of plants under cultivation, but also to the whole
production process, including the division of labor and calen-
dar which is following in planting and harvesting (cfr. Chart
2.5). The lower level, for instance, produces barley, which
is planted in August and September and later in December and
January. The third and to a certain extent, the second
level, on the other hand, produce potatoes, which are planted
in October and November. Differences also occur with respect
to harvesting time: the months of collecting and processing
(threshing barley and choosing potatoes) the products do not
coincide in all levels. Moreover, even in cases where the
product is planted at the same time on different levels, the
harvesting time is still different, since the ripening time
of the product is longer at the higher levels. In the third
level, for example, the production of barley is delayed for
two months more than in level one. These environmental
factors confront the Galtenos with a set of limiting factors
upon which they can act after "choosing" their own system of
"appropriation of nature." In addition to ecological factors,
there are other variables, such as level of technology, number
of people, social organization and interrelationships with
other groups which both limit and affect the "choice" of the
means, relations, and systems of production. "Scarcity" and
"choice" are like two weights looking for counter-balance
in the quest for maximization.
Since the Galteios want to maximize their production, they
choose a specific product to plant and a specific planting
season for each level. In addition, since they want to obtain
"insurance" against weather variations or calamities, they
must take advantage of the differences in planting and har-
vesting seasons of the different levels (1). Thus, the desire
to maximize production, coupled with the need for security,
forces the Galtenos to interact in order to obtain both goals..
In this process, each level needs both an internal labor
force, and help from the outside for its successful operation.
This need for external manpower allows the dwellers of one
level to use their excess labor to help the other levels.
In seeking labor or products which are unavailable on a
particular level, Galtenos do not randomly seek cooperation
from individuals on other levels. Rather, this cooperation
is carried out through a tight and fixed system of relation-
A System of Relations
A further question which should be considered concerns the
kind of relationship used in these forms of cooperation. In
other words, what are the bases for the rigsishka relations?
Are there any common characteristics which underlie these
A basic unit of production, because of its need for
labor and complementary products, and a need to control
natural phenomena, creates a series of obligations. The
members of the basic unit allow themselves to become obligated,
and they will have to reciprocate at a later time. In this
way, the dangers of'life are minimized by maximizing the
dependence (obligations) among the basic units.
This reciprocity, which responds to mutual obligations,
is what George Foster calls the dyadicc contract" and has
been used as a model to help understand the social structure
of a Mexican peasant village (1967:214). Although Foster is
interested in both the social and the economic aspects of
society, this model has been more closely associated with
the social network of peasant societies. It is possible,
however, to stress the economic aspect of this informal prin-
ciple of reciprocity.
In Galte, such economically-based dyads are termed
rigsishka relations (2): dyadic acquaintances which involve
obligations (reciprocity), and which tie basic units of pro-
duction together. A rigsishka relation has as a basic pre-
requisite a personal acquaintance with .the other person,.
which, in the majority of the cases is sealed by kinship. In
100% of the cases analyzed, the peo'n is obtained from consanguineal
or affinal relatives. In the case of internal nunti, 65% of
the risishkas are relatives, the other 35% being ritual kin:
yet, these non-relatives are called compadres (fictive kin).
When nunti is carried out outside of Galte, the visited people
are not relatives, but are considered compadres. All these
acquaintances fall into the same classification. When A
Galtelo is asked with whom he practices funti, his answer is
simply rigsishkapura (among knownr" people).
The second essential characteristic of rigsishka relations
is reciprocity. As has been mentioned, one basic unit of
production needs other units for labor and products. In
order to obtain them, obligations must exist, and in this way,
the more obligations which exist, the better off a basic unit
is. This concept leads to an emphasis upon "measured" gener-
osity. If a year is good, the more a basic unit gives, the
better its chances are for being secure during bad seasons.
Consequently, there is not an exact equivalence in the
interchange, and debt and obligation cannot be measured in
terms of pounds and prices. The only two factors which count
in determining the quantity exchanged are the degree of
rigsina (acquaintance) and the level of that year's production.
One answer, given in an interview, summarizes these
ideas. One of the informants, after talking about the exchange
of products among rigsishkas, was questioned about equivalences:
"Well," he said, "that depends on the friendship
(referring to the acquaintance). Frequently they give
a sack (about 100 pounds); sometimes even a mule-load
(2 sacks). It depends on the production, too. If
there is a good year, then, we say 'my corpadrito has
arrived, '. .and we come here, too (the informant
is talking in the house of a rirsishka and refers
to his comradre), as well as my conpadre goes to my
(The comLndre says) "Yeah, and during these years, my
comradre has called me 'cheap' (they laugh); soon I
will go looking for barley.
(The informant continues) "You see, this is the way
we do it; if there is a good production of barley, I
talk to my wife, we pick up a sack, (he tells his
wife) 'my connadrito has come, when we go to his place,
he always gives us something, lunch, or anything.
My compadrito is good; let's fill this sack, (or)
let's give him one furrow of potatoes so that he can
dig by himself.' That is all. ..but, all this depends
on the acquaintance. If he is not well-knoiwn, he is
not successful; there must be familiarity so that the
others go to others, too."
An important factor in these obligations is the attempt
to maintain a constant imbalance in reciprocating. When
the amount given and received is equal, the whole system of
dependence is jeopardized. G. Foster's insight is particularly
applicable here when he says "the dyadic contract is effective
precisely because partners are never quite sure of their
relative positions at a given moment. As long as they know.
that goods and services are flowing both ways in essentially
equal amounts, as time passes, they know their relationship
is solidly based" (1967: 217).
The third characteristic of rigsishka relations is that
they create a link between basic units of production. In
other words, this relation, in spite of its strong stress on
personal acquaintance, neither relates individuals nor depends
on isolated persons. The tie is between the basic units -- at
the level of production -- and among domestic units -- at a
social level. Certainly, the individual is the agent or the
subject of action, and indeed, he can start new rigsishkas
(acquaintances), but these relationships are outlined by the
domestic units and transmitted from parents to children. It
can even be said that the relations are inherited in the same
way as the land. A useful analogy to keep in mind is that
the basic unit operates like an organism which tries to be
self-sufficient and relates to others only because it is
unable to satisfy all of its needs; thus, the relations that
members of a basic unit maintain are basically due to the
needs of the unit of which they are a part.
In addition to the relations which are the result of
environment and production factors and those which work as the
initial agglutinant principle bringing people in contact and
association, there are the social relations. These relations
can be isolated from the production relations and underscore
the analytical separability of the domestic unit from the
basic unit of production.
The second part of Chapter 3 dealt with the domestic
unit, specifically with its composition, i.e. the way in which
it expands the form in which it relates, to other domestic
units. These aspects, considered in relationship to the system
of production and ecological adaptation, can be seen as the
kinship seal stamped upon the relations of production, or as
the ritualization of the risishka relations (3).
Any unit of production needs a balanced number of contacts
in the different ecological levels. One way of doing this is
by having acquaintances which open the doqr for the use of
the three forms of cooperation -- nunti, makita manana and
ovejata mingana. Acquaintances form a type of informal
contract through mutual gift and service exchange. This
relationship is a contingent one, and therefore must be
reinforced with other ties. Marriage bonds provide the
answer: they automatically link the two: domestic unit and
One of the goals of the basic unit of production is to
secure the availability and acquisition of the complementary
product. But, if the basic unit can control the production
of the complementary product through control of the means of
production, the basic unit will attempt to also do that. In
other words, the moment that a member of a basic unit marries
a person in.another basic unit, the basic unit, as a whole,
is acquiring a right to a piece of land in the plot of the
spouse's family. More concretely, when a male member of the
basic unit brings the bride to live with his family, he -- and.
therefore, the whole basic unit -- is being endowed with the
right to plant in his wife-s family's land. In case the wife's
family's land is too small, or the members of the wife's family
are many, the couple will not have a right to a piece of land,
but certainly will be welcome to share the products through
the forms of cooperation: until and makita maana.
This desire to acquire rights to the means of production
in other ecological levels through marriage bonds is not the
only factor in the selection of the spouse. Many times, the
wife or husband comes from another ecological level because
there were already some reciprocal relations with the other
basic unit which provided the youngsters with the opportunity
to meet each other.
This study has found, as was pointed out previously, that
there are economic and social factors which seem to move along
parallel lines; without making any statement about causation,
it appears that there is a direct relationship between marriage
ties and reciprocal cooperation among the various ecological
levels. On the one hand, it has been shown that domestic
units create marriage relations both within and between the
ecological levels (cfr. Chart.3.3). In Talampala, for example,
of 116 marriage relations, 52 took place with people of other
levels; and 37 with people of the same level. The remaining
27 cases are lacking data. The labor/product reciprocal
activities (which occur through cooperative associations)
within and among each level seem to appear in roughly the same
frequency as marriage relations,
It might be fruitful to examine a particular domestic
unit in order to apply some of the aspects considered here.
The kinship graph presented in Chart 4.1 shows how a domestic
unit from Talampala is internally organized and how it is
related to other domestic units from Talampala as well as from
Yana Rumi and from outside Galte. This basic unit of production.;
is located in the lowest section of Talampala and ecologically
.belongs to the lower level.
The former huasinunguero Espfritu had five children,
three boys and two girls. Eulilia, the oldest girl,
married a huasiounruero from Talampala and went to live
in her husband's huasinunto. The younger sister also
left home when she married a huasitunrmuero from Talam-
pala. Jose, the oldest son, who according to the norms
of inheritance, should have received the huasipunsRo
left the domestic unit and went to live with another
'huasiupunuero, Ignacio, who did not have male offspring,
and later married Josd's sister-in-law, Margarita, when
she became a widow. When Espiritu (generation one) died,
his son, Emilio, (generation two) became the huasiTunguero.
The youngest brother, Espiritu (generation two),
died in jail while still a youngster as a result of
a confrontation with the patron.
Emilio, who after the death of Espiritu became the
tayta of the domestic unit, married Margarita from Yana
Rumi. Later, Emilio's son (generation three), who at
the present time has the rights of huasipunj'uero,
followed his father's example, by marrying a girl from
Yana Rumi. Espfritu's sisters, MIaria Juana and Maria
Anastasia found their husbands in Yana Rumi and moved
to live there. Rosario, on the other hand, aimed
further, and now lives in the neighborhood community
of Pull, in her husband's huasipungo. Juan, Margarita,
and Maria (generation three) are still single and live
in their father's home.
This family arrangement illustrates a number of points.
First, the basic unit of production or domestic unit is
formed only by the persons inside the circular line. These
nine persons live in two chozas (houses) and together cultivate
a plot of land thirteen hectares in size. Second, when labor
is needed, it it sought in the neighborhood, i.e. among
Eulilia's, Maria's, or Ignacio's relatives who live.within
i5-20 minute walking distance in the same ecological level.
Third, in relation to vertical cooperation, i.e. interaction
in order to take advantage of the different ecological levels,
this basic unit has four contacts with Yana Rumi which is
situated in the upper ecological level. The four relations
are the result of marriage ties two because Emilio and Espiritu
brought in their brides from Yana Rumi and the other two due
to the fact that Maria Anastasia and Maria Juana moved to live
in Yana Rumi.
Thus, these kinship relations are an essential part of
rigsishka relations, and serve as chathels through which the
forms of cooperation operate. As has been mentioned, peones
are sought among the relatives who live in Talampala and are
the closest kin neighbors. In other words, the three basic
units, situated in the same ecological level, and linked by
the marriages of sisters, become the sources of labor makita
ma'ana. The kin contacts with different ecological levels, on
the other hand, provide rights to land and products. When
the two girls from Yana Rumi left their homes to go to live
with their husbands, they kept the right to cultivate a piece
of land in Yana Rumi and opened a door so that members of
the basic unit, where they moved, could practice nunti as well
as oveata mingana. The potatoes eaten in the basic unit
studied are mainly from the upper ecological level and are
obtained through nunti. In addition, none of the members of
this particular basic unit are involved in shepherding acti-
vities. All of their sheep have been entrusted (mingashka)
to rigsishkas in Yana Rumi to be herded in the 2ajonal
The Socio-Economic System
It was previously pointed out that an economic system
is the network which results from man's (a human community)
choice to employ scarce productive resources which could have
alternative uses, to produce various commodities and distri-
bute them for consumption. The economic study of a society,
therefore, encompasses the whole process performed by a group
of people in order to organize for production and distribution.
There is, on one hand, a given set of material conditions -- a
physical environment -- which provides a series of different
alternatives of action. On the other hand, there is man
ready to act. This action of man is accompanied by a "why"
and "how." Man acts upon nature to satisfy basic wants and
the way in which man acts is an acting/creating process. The
action of man provides him with a knowledge which is embodied
both in the tools which he uses and the way in which they are
used. This action is not a solitary one. Man lives in groups
and is involved with the appropriation of nature through groups,
too, creating, in this way, a set of relations of production.
The fruits of his labor are distributed later among the pro-
ducers following established procedures which are sanctioned
This study, therefore, has attempted to analyze three
aspects: first, the physical environment; second, the actions
of Galtenos upon those material conditions, and finally, the
economic and kinship system of relations and associations between
the producers and units of production. It is now possible to
delineate the systemic characteristics of the socio-economic
conditions in Galte, and simultaneously, to suggest certain
First, the socio-economic system of Galte is largely
self-sufficient. Although this statement appears blatantly
obvious at first, it becomes less clear when further questioned.
Usually a self-sufficient system is equated with simplicity
and economic independence, which implies isolation. It is
not rare to hear people interested in social change talking
about the integration of self-sufficient populations into a
market system, meaning that a primitive (or underdeveloped)
group is marginal to the complex-consumption market system.
This assertion implies that the groups prefer to live in a
simple, isolated state -- one which is limited to bare survival
(Blasco Penaherrera, 1974129). Alfredo Costales considers
huasipunpo as an "amorphous product of migration from neigh-
boring communities or villages, which have lived under the
paternalistic protection of the patron" (1971: 183). This
interpretation of the huasipungo views the basic unit of pro-
duction as a mere puppet dangling from strings grasped by
the hacienda, who falls into an ocean of isolation and incompe-
tency when the strings of the hacienda are cut.
Perhaps a better way to understand self-sufficiency is
to define it as the capacity of a human group to satisfy basic
needs within its own network without having to resort to
other systems which create a situation of subordination. This
non-subordination does not mean the independence of the
component parts but rather a balanced interrelation of them
in such a way that all the parts need each other for survival.
The Galtenos can satisfy their basic needs within their
own network and on their own terms. Ignoring, for the moment,
that their land has come from the hacienda, they neither
depend on the hacienda for their survival, nor are they
isolated units. Since each unit of production cultivates
certain products but not all those needed for subsistence,
nor all those needed to satisfy its necessities, they must
exchange products. This interaction is carried out both
within Galte through the three forms of cooperation or
association, and outside through the external nunti, and
creates a dependence between the interacting parts. This
dependence means complementarity and security. The basic
unit which is located in the lower ecologicalilevel needs
to interact with the upper level and with the coastal region
to complete its basic food supply. On the other hand, the
interaction is needed in order to create a kind of insurance
or security that the basic unit will have the basic products
if its crops fail due to natural calamities -- freezing,
drought, lancha. Since the other levels plant at different
times, under different ecological conditions, there is a
chance of obtaining at the other level what they could not
get at home.
Second, there is no money involved in the indigenous
economic system of,Galte. In contrast to the Western
economy, where production and exchange are based on numerically
countable goods (money) --"capitalist free enterprise economy'
are determined primarily by a system of prices (of markets,
of profits and losses)" (Samuelson, 1955, 16) -- this Indian
economy is based on exchange of goods and labor without the
use of money.
Although there is a constant interchange of products
between the different levels, the economic system of Galte
cannot be identified as barter.
The economy of Galte follows the lines noted and dis-
cussed by John Murra when he talks about Andean indigenous
systems: "--the traffic of Andean products from one ecological -
level to the others was not carried out through commerce,
but through mechanisms which maximized the reciprocal use
of human energies" (1973: 1). The elements which are involved
in the mechanisms are neither money nor direct exchange of
products or goods, but rather of labor, products, and rigsishka
relations. There is a constant interplay between labor and
exchange of products based on personal relations. Nunti is
designed for the acquisition of complementary products, but
before obtaining the desired product, the person must provide
labor for one or two days. Makita manaa, on the other hand,
operates explicitly to obtain labor, but necessarily involves
a gift of a product. Both are performed among riSsishkas.
Third, the socio-economic system of Galte invests its
excess production by capitalizing or building upon personal
relations. In a society where money is not a basic means of
exchange, and markets are marginal, the only opportunity for
investment consists of the creation of stronger or new
reciprocities (4). The more a basic unit produces, the better
opportunities it has to externalize its generosity and to
institutionalize its hospitality. The effort expended to
create obligations will have its pay-off later when the basic
unit needs complementary products, labor, or even total help
as in the case of disaster (death, sickness, loss of land,
Statements such as "the Indians have a passion for saving
money in order to buy land," or "the Indians will do whatever
is in their hands for buying land" (Rodriguez Sandoval, 1949)
show the influence of the Western culture but do not reflect
the way in which land is obtained in this system. Land, the
most valuable means of production among the Indians, is not
acquired by money, but by the personal basic unit-to-basic
unit relations. When rigsishka relations are established
through marriage ties, rights to pieces of land, or at least
to the use of that land, are immediately initiated. Fictive
kin ties -- comadrazgo -- give rights to indirect control of
the land through participation in the planting, harvesting, and
later_.n the production.
In this context, it is possible to understand why a
basic unit of production tries to increase its rigsishka
relations and to reinforce its existing relations. The goal
of the basic unit is to have a high "measured generosity" which
will secure the rigsishka relations. The generosity is
supported by a surplus of production of the basic unit. The
basic unit, after satisfying its internal needs, divides the
excess product into two portions: one goes to maintain the
riSsishka relations and the other is taken to the local
market (5). The surplus food dedicated to maintaining rS-
sishka relations is distributed through the three forms of
In summary, the socio-economic system which exists in
Galte is a system of relations of production (association
and cooperation) which can be considered -- in its own words --
as a system with until i mentality." People, in order to
interact economically, must have a certain degree of acquaintance.
The interaction will take the forms of the three systems of
cooperation only when there is a level of acquaintance which
can be qualified as rigsishka. Thus, the economic relations
cannot be separated from the social ones; bbth are formalized
by social and economic alliances. The economic, as well as
the social relations, are sealed by mutual reciprocity. As
has been previously noted, this reciprocity is not a simple
exchange of products, but an interplay of labor/product which
has to be neither immediately reciprocated, nor reciprocated
in the same "currency." The socio-economic relations have
become the condenser or agglutinant of all .of the basic units
of production in Galte. The 155 basic units which form Galte
are related to each other both through kin and through economic
ties. Nunti has given consistency to the basic units of
production and domestic units, and even more, it has brought
them all together.
Due to the limited time spent in the field, there are
insufficient data to construct a quantitative map of the
socio-economic relations of Galte. Nevertheless, a relation-
ship between the adult population (above 20 years), and the
average number of households gives a result of 5.4 marriage
relations per domestic unit. From this average, it is possible
to deduce -- keeping in mind the average for Talampala presented
in Chart 3.3 -- that approximately 50% of those relations are
with basic units of different ecological levels. This means
that there are about 418 horizontal -- inside the same
ecological level -- relations, and a similar number of vert-
ical contacts in Galte. In addition, the birth of each
child -- about 74 a year -- provides the possibility of a
new rigsishka relation either inside or outside Galte because
of the compadrazgo system.
Thus, the process of production has required the cooper-
ation of several independent basic units of production and
implies a work organization, a coordination of tasks and
allocation of products and services. In other words, it
requires extended forms of cooperation: a special and fixed
way of association which forms a system and is replicated at
different levels of association.
Thus, iunti, in Andean terms, has brought together econ-
omically and socially, a group of 1,680 Indians which tradi-
tionally have found subsistence through agricultural production.
It is left for future research to analyze whether or not
this socio-economic system is replicated at a higher level
of political integration and to discover its implications in
the historical process which has taken place in Galte. This
future research might bring contributions to anthropological
theory as well as to the studies of social change.
It seems more likely that the elements of the relations
between man and nature, society and relations of production,
are not in complete harmony, tending constantly towards a
bigger solidarity -- as Durkheim or Radcliffe-Brown would say --
but they are in a continuous flux.between complementarity and
confrontation (Marx)s as much as there is a dependency and