Citation
Cultural adaptation to Amazonian habitats

Material Information

Title:
Cultural adaptation to Amazonian habitats the Siona-Secoya of eastern Ecuador
Added title page title:
Siona-Secoya of Eastern Ecuador
Creator:
Vickers, William T
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
xviii, 348 leaves : ill., maps ; 28 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Cassava ( jstor )
Fishing ( jstor )
Forests ( jstor )
Gardens ( jstor )
Hunting ( jstor )
Meats ( jstor )
Rivers ( jstor )
Shamans ( jstor )
Tropical forests ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
Human beings -- Effect of climate on -- Ecuador ( lcsh )
Human geography -- Ecuador ( lcsh )
Indians of South America -- Ecuador ( lcsh )
City of Jacksonville ( local )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Thesis:
Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 330-346).
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by William Taylor Vickers.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
025647989 ( ALEPH )
AAU5529 ( NOTIS )
03145729 ( OCLC )
AA00004922_00001 ( sobekcm )
Classification:
F3722.1.S45 V52 1985 ( lcc )

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Full Text












CULTURAL ADAPTATION '10 AMAZONIAIN HABITATS:
THE SIONA-SECOYA OF EASTERN ECUADOR












By

WILLIAM TAYLOR VICKERS


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GR_-.IjI'Ali COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF D(.C 'OR OF PHTLLO',-P'L















UNIVERSITY OF 71fORITA


"1976




CULTURAL ADAPTATION TO AMAZONIAN HABITATS:
THE SIGNA-SECOYA OF EASTERN ECUADOR
By
WIT,LIAM TAYLOR VICKERS
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1976


Copyright
1976
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2011 with funding from
University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries with support from LYRASIS and the Sloan Foundation
http://www.archive.org/details/culturaladaptatiOOvick


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The present study was made possible by the support of several insti
tutions and the assistance of many individuals. The funding for the
initial year of the research was provided by a Doherty Fellowship for
Advanced Study in Latin America from the Henry L. and Grace Doherty
Charitable Foundation. I wTould especially like to thank Mrs. Alice M.
Garrison, secretary for the fellowship committee at Princeton University
for her helpfulness in the administration of this grant.
An additional six months of field work and support for the writing of
the dissertation was provided by Research Fellowship No. lFol MH58552-01
from the National Institute of Mental Health. Thanks go to Mrs. Carolyn
Eanke of the Graduate School of the University of Florida for the admin
istration of this fellowship.
During the period of the field work from September 1973 to March
1975, I was affiliated with the Instituto Nacional de Antropologa
Historia (I.N.A.H.) of Ecuador, and I would like to thank its director,
Arquitecto Hernn Crespo Toral, for his astute observations and sugges
tions regarding my research topic. During the summer of 1972 I made a
preliminary survey of potential research sites in Ecuador, and it was
Arq. Crespo who first suggested that 1 consider a lowland group in the
Aguarico River region. He was also most helpful in providing letters of
introduction and other documents pertaining to my affiliation with I.N.A.H.
I am most indebted to the members of my supervisory committee for
if i


their support and guidance during the past three-and-a-half years.
Dr. William E. Carter, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the.
Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida, has
served as my committee chairman and advisor, has provided invaluable
insights into research design and implementation, and has been a careful
and sympathetic critic of my analysis. His continuous support and his
attention to a number of administrative details that arose during my
absence from the University are deeply appreciated.
Dr. Charles Wagley, Graduate Research Professor of Anthropology, has
been most helpful in providing suggestions for the research and the dis
sertation based on his own intimate knowledge of the Amazon and its
peoples. His studies of the cultures of Amazonia provide a standard to
which all students of the region may aspire. I would like to thank the
other members of my committee, Dr. Alexander Moore and Dr. Theron A.
Nunez of the Department of Anthropology, and Dr. Raymond E. Crist,
Graduate Research Professor Emeritus of Geography, for their interest
in the research, their analytical insights, and their instruction and
support throughout my graduate education.
Within the Department of Anthropology I would like to acknowledge
the assistance of Dr. Paul L. Doughty, Department Chairman, who counseled
me on some of the ins-and-outs of research in Latin America, Dr. Maxine
Margolis, whose courses in ecological anthropology and theory influenced
my theoretical approach, and Dr. Charles H. Fairbanks, who, as Department
Chairman when I first enrolled at Florida, saw fit to provide a graduate
assistantship to a very naive beginning student. Appreciation is also
due to Mrs. Lydia Deakin, department secretary, and Mrs. Vivian Nolan,
secretary for the Center for Latin American Studies, for their high


competence and good will in dealing with the bureaucratic and institu
tional aspects of my graduate studies, and to Mrs. Sioux Remer and Mrs.
Adele Koehler who assisted in the preparation of the graphics and in the
typing of the dissertation, respectively.
Dr. E. Jean Langdon of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice has
been most kind in sharing her insights and publications on the Siona
Indians of Colombia, and in offering constructive suggestions and en
couragement. Dr. Norman E. Whitten, Jr. of the University of Illinois
provided useful information on how to approach the research situation,
including the establishment of affiliations with host country institutions
and meeting the diplomatic requirements of the Ecuadorian government.
Dr. Clifford Evans and Dr. Betty J. Meggers of the Smithsonian Institu
tion provided maps of the research area and scrutinized the archeological
surface collections made in the field. I would especially like to
acknowledge the influence of Mr. Robert J. Agro, currently a doctoral
candidate at the University of Wisconsin, who first introduced me to
anthropological concepts as we were serving as Peace Corps volunteers in
highland Ecuador in 1964. A number of anthropologists with related areal
or topical interests have assisted the investigation by providing in
formation pertaining to the research area or methodology, including Dr.
Robert L. Carneiro of the American Museum of Natural History, Dr. Gerald
Weiss of Florida Atlantic University, Dr. Thomas Rhys Williams of the
Ohio State University, and Dr. Scott S. Robinson.
Dr. Daniel Ward of the University of Florida provided plant presses
and information on the methodology of collecting plant specimens in the
tropics. Dr. Homer V. Pinkley of the New York Botanical Garden has
generously donated his efforts in the time-consuming analysis of the
v


specimens collected, and in sharing the results of his own research on
the ethnobotany of the northwest Amazon.
Assistance with the analysis of the soil samples collected in the
field was provided by Dr. Kamal Dow, Dr. R.G. Poultney, and Ing. Jorge
H. Cceres of the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias
of Ecuador, and Dr. Arvel H. Hunter of Agricultural Environmental
Systems, Inc. of Raleigh, North Carolina. Mr. Bernard Fassett, a
geologist with the Cayman Oil Co. of Quito, provided a modern large-
scale map of the Ecuadorian Oriente that was most helpful in the research.
Jay and Edith Louthian, former residents of Iquitos, Peru,and close
friends of the Secoya Indians of the Santa Maria River, shared their
knowledge of the indigenous peoples and provided copies of many historical
maps and publications dealing with the region. Their cooperation has
made a significant contribution to this study.
Many members of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (S.I.L.) in
Ecuador extended hospitality and kindnesses to my wife and me during
our field work and during our periodic travels to and from Quito, includ
ing Orville and Mary Johnson, Verla Cooper, Bub and Bobbie Borman, William
Eddy, Jerry and Brenda Long, Roy and Edith Gleason, Carolyn Orr, Mary
Sargent, Mark and Phyllis Newel]., Jim and Kathleen Yost, John and Irene
Harssema, Ron and Ruth Durie, Dick and Nancy Whitmire, Ned and Kathy
Thomas, Jonathan and Roseann Johnson, Don and Helen Johnson, Paul and
Norma Duffey, Roy and Lois Alien, Pat Kelley,Linda Liversedge, Pat Erwin,
John Lindskoog, and Lois Pederson. The aviation and medical services
which the S.I.L. provides to the Ecuadorian Oriente facilitated the re
search to a considerable degree.
Thanks go to David and Ruth Chandler, Boyce and Nancy Drummond, and
vi


Dr. Thomas C. Emmel of the University of Florida for sending essential
items to Ecuador during our field work. Additional logistical and
psychological support was provided by my mother, Mrs. Mary T. Vickers,
who perfected the art of resupply via manila envelope correspondence,
and always managed to include news from home and interesting reading
matter.
I would also like to express my deep appreciation to my wife Edite,
who participated in the jungle living and contributed to the research
for 18 months with good will, courage, and patience. In addition to
keeping our household together under primitive conditions, she elicited
important substantive data on female and childhood activities in Siona-
Secoya culture, and was tied so well into the information network of the.
women that she often learned of significant events within minutes or
hours of their occurrence. The scope and depth of the research were
enhanced by her presence.
The Siona-Secoya Indians of Ecuador are the subjects of the present
study, and in the ultimate analysis it was they who contributed the
essential information for this dissertation. We found them to be friend
ly, open, and intelligent people of great charm and wit. At one time or
other nearly all of the inhabitants of the settlements of Eno, Cuyabeno,
and Shushufindi assisted in the field work. Among those who provided
in-depth data on specific aspects of their culture were Fernando Payaguaje,
/ y
Esteban Lucitande, Elias Piaguaje, Maria Yaiguaje, Luis Payaguaje, Victor
Yiyocuru, Celestino Piaguaje, Cecilio Piaguaje, Matilde Payaguaje, Emilio
Lucitande, Simon Piaguaje, Genaro Yiyocuru, Gabriel Yiyocuru, Delio
Yiyocuru, Dionisio Yiyocuru, Gabriel Piaguaje, Simon Lucitande, Celinda
Piaguaje, Marcelo Piaguaje, Reinaldo Lucitande, Maruja Payaguaje, Mauro
Piaguaje,Victoriano Criilo, Fermin Rogelio Criollo, Dario Payaguaje,
vi 1


I
Bel izar i-o Piaguaje, Enrique Piaguaje, Margarita Piaguaje, Nieve Piaguaje,
Alejandro Payaguaje, and Bolvar Yiyocuru, We thank them all.
In the preparation of this dissertation I have attempted to present
the primary data contributed by the Siona-Secoya in a manner that is
consistent with their perceptions. Insofar as this has been accomplished
the credit must go to my informants. I alone am responsible for any
errors of omission or interpretation of these data.
viii


'ABLE F CONTENTS
Page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iii
LIST OF TABLES xii
LIST OF FIGURES ix
LINGUISTIC NOTE xv
ABSTRACT xvi.j
CHAPTER
I.THE PROBLEM 1
The "Tropical Forest Culture" Type 2 y
Methodological Critique of Two Classic Studies. ... 12
II.THE SETTING 21
The People 21
The Land 25
NOTES TO CHAPTER II 31
III.THEIR HISTORY 32
The Precontact Period 33
The Early Mission Period 37
The Nineteenth Century 44
The Modern Period 45
NOTES TO CHAPTER III 54
IV.SUBSISTENCE TECHNOLOGY: HORTICULTURE 55
Introduction 55
Site Selection 59
Seasonality 66
Bordering 67
Slashing 68
Felling 70
Burning 75
Flanting. 78
Weeding 8]
Harvesting 82
ix


TABLE OF CONTENTS
(Continued)
Page
Fallowing 84
Stresses on Horticulture 85
Efficiency in Horticulture. .... 85
NOTES TO CHAPTER IV 93
V.SUBSISTENCE TECHNOLOGY: WILD RESOURCES
95
Hunting ...........
Fishing and Aquatic Hunting ......
Collecting Animals and Their Products .
Collecting Plant Products .
Ritual in Hunting and Fishing
Efficiency in Wild Resource Procurement
95
105
.111
114
118
....... 123
VI.SUBSISTENCE CONTRIBUTIONS AND STRATEGY
127
Calorie Requirements 131
Protein Requirements 133
Distributional Requirements 136
The Ongoing System 138
NOTES TO CHAPTER VI 145
VII. THE SYMBOLIC SYSTEM 146
Creation Myth 147
Cosmology 151
Science 155
Shamanism 157
The Yag Ceremony 163
VIII. SOCIAL ORGANIZATION 169
^ Kinship 170
The Drinking Party 184
Inti ba?ik 196
IX. REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT 204
7^ Basic Sexual Concepts 205
' Courtship and Marriage. 207
^ Married Life 211
. Pregnancy and Childbirth 212
Population Policy 215
Individual Development 219
Maintenance 237
NOTES TO CHAPTER IX 240
X. CULTURE AND ADAPTATION 243.
x


TABLE OF CONTENTS
(continued)
Page
APPENDIX
1. CLIMATOLOGICAL DATA FOR LIMONCOCHA AND SHUSHUFIND1. ... 253
2. SOIL ANALYSIS 256
3. FLORA 261
4. FAUNA 283
5. CULTIGENS 303
6. STRESSES ON HORTICULTURE 325
BIBLIOGRAPHY 333
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 347
xi


LIST OF TABLES
Table
Page
1.
Energy Expenditures per Hectare for Intercropped Siona-
Secoya Gardens in Secondary Growth at Shushufindi
(1973-1974)
86
2.
Production per Hectare for Intercropped Siona-Secoya
Gardens at Shushufindi (1973-1974) .
87
3.
A Comparison of Man-Hours of Labor Expended in Various
Phases of Shifting Cultivation in Tropical America ....
88
4.
Yields for Siona-Secoya Hunters at Shushufindi (October
1973-March 1975)
104
5.
Annual Collecting Yields for a Household of Four at
Shushufindi
117
6. Relative Annual Contribution of Subsistence Modes to a
Siona-Secoya Household of Four at Shushufindi (1974) .
7. Estimated Annual Production for Various Subsistence
Modes at Shushufindi (1974)
8. Estimated Daily Calorie Requirements for the Siona-
Secoya of Ecuador (Based on FAO Method of Computation) .
9. Mean Daily Intake for Five Siona-Secoya Individuals at
Shushufindi (Based on a Sample of Three Days Each) . .
10. Components of Siona-Secoya Diet at Shushufindi (Based
on a Sample of Fifteen Individual Daily Intakes) ....
11. Comparison of Kill Probabilities for Selected Game Species
for Consecutive Dry Seasons (Dec.-Mar. 1973-4 and 1974-5)
at Shushufindi 140
12. Rainfall at Linoncocha 254
13. Rainfall and Temperature for Shushufindi (October 1973-
September 1974) 255
14. Soil Samples from Siona-Secoya Settlements at Cuyabeno
and Shushufindi 260
. 129
130
132
134
1 35
xii


LIST OF TABLES
(continued)
Table Page
15. Flora 262
16. Fauna 284
17. Cultigens of the Siona-Secoya. 304
18. Maize Losses in Sample Gardens 330
19. Plantain Losses in Sample Gardens. 331
20. Manioc Losses in Sample Gardens 332
xiii


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure Page
1. Location of the Siona-Secoya in Northeastern Ecuador. ... 24
2. Eighteenth Century Jesuit Missions among the Encabellado. 40
3. Age-Sex Distribution of Siona-Secoya in Ecuador, March
1975 50
4. Siona-Secoya Gardens and House Sites at Shushufindi .... 60
5. Siona (Aguarico) Kinship Terminology, Male Speaking . . 173
6. Siona (Aguarico) Kinship Terminology, Female Speaking . 174
7. Secoya Kinship Terminology, Male Speaking ... 175
8. Secoya Kinship Terminology, Female Speaking 176
9. Siona-Secoya Affinal Kinship Terminology (Male Speaking). 183
xiv


LINGUISTIC NOTE
Modern linguistic research on Western Tucanoan languages has been
conducted by Wheeler (1962, 1966, 1970), Wheeler and Wheeler (1962), and
Johnson and Peeke (1962). Langdon (1974) presents an excellent review
of the general status of Western Tucanoan language studies to the pre
sent. An attempt has been made to make the linguistic symbols presented
in this dissertation consistent with those of Wheeler (1970) and Langdon
(1974), a linguist and cultural anthropologist respectively, who are
students of the Siona Indians of the Putumayo River in Colombia. This
has been done in the hope that it will lessen the confusion for future
researchers, and in spite of the fact that the symbols employed in my
fxeldnotes are slightly different. For example, the high central vowel
x becomes i in the dissertation, the nasalization of a vowel is indicated
as e rather than f (or ^), the glottal stop is ? rather than ', and ny
becomes n.
It should be noted, however, that there are significant variations
in linguistic usages between the Siona of the Putumayo, and the Siona
and Secoya of the Aguarico who are the focus of the present study. Inso
far as possible, I have attempted to transcribe the usages as heard in
the village cf Shushufindi on the Aguarieo River in Ecuador.
In addition, it should be mentioned that the bilingual schools
established by the Summer Institute of Linguistics in Western Tucanoan
communities utilize a modified Spanish alphabet which gives some words
xv


a strikingly different appearance. For example, /wek/ ("tapir")
becomes hueque, /kinawea/ (a variety of maize) becomes quenahuea, and
/yahi/ ("sweet potato") becomes yaji.
xv 1


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
CULTURAL ADAPTATION TO AMAZONIAN HABITATS:
THE SIONA-SECOYA OF EASTERN ECUADOR
By
William Taylor Vickers
August, 1976
Chairman: William E. Carter
Major Department: Anthropology
This study investigates the subsistence ecology of the Siona-Secoya
Indians of northeastern Ecuador in light of the "Tropical Forest Culture"
paradigm in current use by anthropologists. During the late 19th and
20th Centuries the work of scholars such as Ratzel, Mason, Wissler,
Stout, Cooper, and Steward gave rise to a list of culture traits which
attempted to characterize the societies of the tropical forest lowlands
of South America. The organizational features of this Tropical. Forest
Complex are (1) a tendency toward small settlements and a low overall
population density; (2) frequent movement of settlements; (3) endemic
warfare and witchcraft; and (4) a low level of sociopolitical cohesion
characterized by autonomous village-level societies with headmen.
Attempted explanations to account for the features of Tropical
Forest Culture fall into two schools: (I) those seeking cultural-
historical. sociological, or political causes; and (2) those seeking an
economic or ecological cause. The present study argues that the first
xvii


approach is in error, and that there are no purely sociological causes
of the Tropical Forest Complex. Rather, the organizational features
are seen as functionally dependent aspects of a cultural system adapted
to the exploitation of the tropical forest environment with a technology
based on hunting, fishing, gathering, and shifting horticulture. The
primary weakness of the second, or "ecological," school of scholars is
that they have tended to emphasize unifactorial causation to account for
the dynamics of Tropical Forest Culture (e.g. soil depletion, unreliable
horticulture, competition for riverine resources, or game depletion).
The quantitative and qualitative data presented in this study of
the Siona-Secoya indicate that unifactorial explanations of the Tropical
Forest Complex are overly simplistic as ecological conditions are highly
variable through time and space, and that factors such as soil depletion,
competition for land, and game depletion may all serve as limiting fac
tors in specific times and places. It is also argued that the social
organization and symbolic system of the Siona-Secoya are not mere epi-
phenomena or "superstructure," but serve important regulatory functions
in the overall ecological adaptation of these people.
xvnr


CHAPTER I
THE PROBLEM
Perhaps in no other area of the world have so many environmental
and ecological hypotheses been offered to account for the structure and
characteristics of society as in the tropical forest regions of South
America. Yet, these explanations are based on surprisingly little
scientific research. The tropical forests continue to constitute some
of the least understood habitats in the world. Two reasons for this
are the inherent complexity of tropical forest environments, and their
relative inaccesa'bility from the traditional centers of research. Since
so many of the theoretical interpretations of tropical forest culture
are based on environmental and ecological assumptions, a new generation
of studies based on detailed quantitative and qualitative field methods
is needed. This study is an attempt in that direction.
This research deals with the Siona-Secoya Indians of eastern
Ecuador, and how their adaptation to an Amazonian environment influ
ences the nature of their society. Its findings are relevant to the
current intense debate on Amazonian culture history and the significant
forces shaping the. indigenous cultures of the region. The purpose of
this chapter is to present the theoretical background of the research.
Firstly, the theoretical construct of "Tropical Forest Culture" is
introduced. This is a societal type which is broadly recognized, al
though not immune from debate on its diagnostic features and geographic
distribution. Next, there is a discussion of the theories which attempt
-1-


to account for this Tropical Forest type. Finally, a critique of the
methodologies employed in two classic studies of the ecological adapta
tions of Amazonian peoples is presented.
The "Tropical Forest Culture" Type
The study of the lowland Indians of South America through the year
has given rise to the "Tropical Forest Culture" concept, which has
developed from attempts to classify the aboriginal groups into culture
areas and types. Some of the more significant contributions in the
evolution of the concept include those by Ratzel (1885-88), Mason
(1896), Wissler (1917), Stout (1937), Cooper (1942), Steward (1946-59),
Kroeber (1948), Murdock (1951), Steward and Faron (1959), and Galvao
(1950). These contributions have been reviewed by Galvao (1960) and
Dole (1967).
As the Tropical Forest Culture concept evolved from criteria based
on mere trait listings of elements, such as the presence of manioc cul
tivation, hammocks, and canoes, to more dynamic aspects of culture such
as sociopolitical organization, a constellation of features said to be
characteristic of Tropical Forest Culture have appeared repeatedly in
the literature. These features include: (1) a tendency toward small
villages or settlements, and a low' overall population density (Steward
1948c:6 and 1949:675; Steward and Faron 1959:453; Bennett 1949:14;
Goldman 1963:4; Meggers 1971:95); (2) frequent movement of settlements
and/or migration (Bennett 1949:14: Fcrde 1963:135; Goldman 1963:3,33;
Steward 1949:675; Steward and Faron 1959:293,300; Meggers 1971:100);
(3) warfare and/or witchcraft complexes (Meggers 1971:110-112; Steward
1949:704-705; Steward and Faron 1959:304,453); and (4) a low level of


-3-
sociopolitical organization characterized by autonomous village level
societies with headmen (Steward 1948c:6, 1949:672,697,700; Steward and
Faron 1959:301,453).
Waglev has given a succinct summary of these characteristics:
A large series of traits and behavioral patterns, which we
call the "Tropical Forest Complex", diffused from one group
to another and was perfected over many generations. Theirs
was an ecological system highly adapted to the. total
Amazonian environment. Yet one can see that this tropical
forest aboriginal adaptation wTith its technology, crops, and
use of the soil and the rivers provides a good example of
how limits were placed on sociopolitical development in
these cultures. Villages were generally situated in one
locality for five to ten years before they were moved as
their inhabitants sought virgin forest lands. The population
vms sparse; certainly no more than one million people lived
scattered irregularly over the area. The soclopolitical
unit was limited to a single village, a group of villages
without patterns of leadership strong enough to insure co
hesive or tribal action, or occasionally to tribal groups
which lived in larger villages situated in especially
favorable parts the vrzea and were politically organized
under chieftains. Trade on any regular basis did not exist,
and warfare was chronic (1974:12-13).
As archeological and ethnological research has expanded in the
lowlands of South America in recent years, a number of questions have
arisen in regard to the Tropical Forest concept, and about the classi
fication of specific cultures in the "Marginal," "Tropical Forest," and
"Cireum-Caribbean categories in the Handbook of South American Indians.
Steward acknowledged the limitations of his classification in his
summary statement on South American cultures:
The classification, like previous ones, used principally
the general element content of the cultures rather than a
systematic comparison of the patterns. Special weight was
accorded one or another feature in each case. The Marginal
peoples were distinguished by their lack of farming and
their generally simple cultures; the Tropical Forest peoples
were identified by their agriculture and various material


-4-
traits, which were adapted to the tropical rain forests:
the Circum-Caribbean and Sub-Andean peopl.es were grouped
together because of their class system and temple cult;
and the Andean peoples...were distinguished by their
Central Andean technology, material culture, and ritual
complex (1949:671).
Bamberger (1968) and Dole (1967) have questioned the classification
of the G peoples as Marginals on the basis of reevaluations of their
subsistence patterns. Dole writes:
The distinction between the Marginal as a hunting type and
the Tropical Forest as a horticultural type is actually a
distinction in cultural level...But it has by no means
been clearly established that the "Marginals" in Brazil
were merely hunters. In fact it has become increasingly
apparent in the past few years...that many of them, in
cluding the G speakers of eastern Brazil, did have culti
vated plants aboriginally. Moreover their cultures bear
significant similarities to the Tropical Forest type and
differ fundamentally from the Marginal hunters and gatherers
such as the Fuegians of southern South America (1967:xxiv
xxv) .
Recently there has also been greater recognition of the level of
cultural development attained in the flood plain areas of the central
and lower Amazon and certain other areas, such as the Mojos plains of
eastern Bolivia. The flood plain, or varzea, constitutes only about ten
percent of the Amazon Basin, but its potential for human habitation is
great due to the annual renewal of its soil with the silt deposited by
seasonal flood waters, and the abundant wildlife resources associated
with the riverine habitat.
Although the literature on the aboriginal cultures of the varzea
is scanty (reviewed in Meggers 1971), there is little doubt that this
habitat supported a denser population than the terra firme, or inter
fluve areas, and that there were features such as pan-village chieftains
and more elaborate forms of warfare and defense which indicate a higher


-5-
degree of sociocultural complexity. Lathrap has postulated a model to
account for the dynamics of migration in the Amazon which is based on
competition between human groups for the rich resources of the varzea:
The pattern of outward migration suggested... could best
be explained by intense and continuing population pressures
of the flood plain of the Central Amazon, the most favor
able environment for the support of the tropical forest
culture. Such continuous expansion by groups moving out
to colonize further areas of flood plain progressively push
smaller or militarily weaker groups farther upstream or
off the flood plain entirely (1973:93).
Denevan has also pointed out that the peoples of the Mojos plains
of eastern Bolivia had large permanent villages and constructed cause
ways and canals in order to develop their periodically flooded lands.
He states:
...the Mojos tribes appear less unique and more a part
of a pattern of dense agricultural settlement which may
have existed throughout the major flood plain areas of
tropical South America (1966:346).
It is now recognized, therefore, that the varzea cultures did not fit
all of the traditional characteristics of Tropical Forest Culture
because they had somewhat larger and more permanent settlements, and a
higher degree of sociopolitical organization.
The Circum-Caribbean theory has also come under attack. Steward
proposed that the elements of the Circum-Caribbean Culture had spread
along the northern coast of South America and thence up the Amazon,
giving rise to the Tropical Forest level of culture from Marginal level
antecedents. Archeological investigations by Rouse (1953) in the
crucial lowlands of British Guiana, however, have demonstrated that
Tropical Forest artifacts are lower in the stratigraphy than


-6-
Circum-Caribbean. Lathrap has argued that the Circum-Caribbean con
struct should be dropped in favor of a revised Tropical Forest concept:
I do not accept the view...that there was a sharp contrast
in cultural level between the Circum-Caribbean...and...
Tropical Forest peoples... Those who make a point of it
neglect the accounts of the earliest European explorers...
who consistently noted dense populations, extensive poli
tical units, powerful chiefs or kings, priests, temples,
and idols along the mainstream of the Amazon...Since there
were vast differences in the level of cultural complexity
between the riverine groups and the groups inhabiting the
interfluvial uplands, Tropical Forest Culture must be
defined in terms of shared cultural elements rather than
as a uniform level of cultural achievement (1970:46-47).
It is evident that the criticisms of the traditional Tropical
Forest Culture type have not been made in order to demolish it, but
rather to broaden and redefine the construct in the light of continuing
research. The constellation of features traditionally used to charac
terize Tropical Forest Culture is now seen as most typical of the terra
firme peoples who inhabited the land away from the major flood plains,
or approximately ninety percent of the Amazon Basin.
Theories Accounting for Tropical Forest Culture
Since the present study deals with a tribe of the Upper Amazon,
and does not attempt to deal with the very special conditions of the
varzea, the pattern of small settlements and low population density,
movement and migration, warfare and witchcraft complexes, and village
level societies is pertinent. Attempted explanations to account, for
these features fall into two classes: (1) those seeking cultural his
torical, sociological, or political causes (such as internal tensions,
competition for women, and revenge warfare), and (2) those seeking an


-7-
economic or ecological cause. Each of these two approaches will be
reviewed briefly, and then the thesis of the present study will be
introduced.
A prominent proponent of the first approach is Chagnon, who de
scribes Yanomamb garden site selection in the following manner:
...the area within which the new site is selected is
determined almost exclusively by political factors. A
Yanomamb group would remain indefinitely in the area it
settled were it not for the threat of raids from warring
neighbors (1968a:39).
and of their migratory behavior, Chagnon says:
...a village will fission after it reaches a population
of about 150 because internal feuds and fights are so
frequent that peace can only be maintained with great
difficulty...By the time a village approaches 100 to
150 people...fights over women are so frequent that the
group elects to fission rather than attempt to keep an
uneasy internal peace (1968a:40-41).
Chagnon denies any territorial motive in Yanomamb warfare:
The conflicts are not initiated or perpetuated with
territorial gain as an objective or consequence...The
Yanomamb exemplify a type of society in which aggres
siveness and warfare are admired, but their commitment
to this way of life cannot be explained in terms of
land shortages. The critical aspect of the cultural
ecology is neighboring, hostile villages (1968 b:110,
113).
Earner has voiced a similar opinion on Jvaro warfare:
"War, in the Jvaro meaning, is conducted not to wreck
vengeance upon any particular individua]., but to secure
as many heads as possible from an alien tribe...A less
emphasized war objective is to capture women. No case
could be found of war pursued to seize territory (1972:
182-183).


-8-
Goldman has also explained the motivation for Cubeo warfare in
terms of attacks ''to seize women" and "revenge" (1963:162). And he has
interpreted the fissioning of Cubeo communities solely in terms of
cultural values, structural organization, and psychological processes:
Fission is an objective social process, a by-product of
Cubeo cultural principles of autonomy and social equality.
It is promoted, as well, by another cultural principle
that...I would describe as a low tolerance for psychic
discomfort. That is to say, in the absence of political
constraint and of economic necessity the Cubeo find it
easier to leave an uncomfortable situation than to endure
it (1963:279-280).
Goldman is very explicit in his emphasis on structural analysis
and it is evident that he views the social system of the Cubeo as having
dynamics independent of the economic sphere, which can only be under
stood by internal analysis of the social structure:
...the simple horticultural societies... are not mere
victims of inhospitable environments... rather... they
constitute a range of cultural systems with character
istic modes of equilibrium and adaptation that do not
readily foster economic expansion and higher levels
of social and political integration...a culture is only
partly a functional system adapted to the satisfaction
of basic needs...Much of the form of a culture represents
a style of life that... cannot be explained simply in
terms of function, equilibrium, or adaptation. A style
of life must be studied in its own terms...(1963:294).
The preceding statements of Chagnon, harner, and Goldman have been
presented as examples of "sociological" (i.e., noneco]ogical) approach
in the interpretation of Tropical Forest Culture. The present study
will argue that this approach is in error, and that there are no purely
"sociological" causes of small village size, 'nigh mobility, warfare and
witchcraft, and a low level of sociopolitical elaboration. These are
not unrelated traits, rather they are functionally dependent aspects of


-9-
a cultural system adapted to the exploitation of the tropical forest
environment with a simple technology which is neolithic in its use of
plant domesticates, but paleolithic in its tool inventory and dependence
on wild animal resources rather than domesticated animals. One purpose
of the present study is to demonstrate how this system functions in a
specific case, that of the Siona-Secoya.
The second school of interpretation of Tropical Forest Culture
consists of those seeking an ecological explanation for its features.
Their chief weakness is that they generally have tended to emphasize a
single factor, such as soil depletion, unreliable agriculture, compe
tition for land, or protein capture, in accounting for the dynamics of
Tropical Forest Culture. That is to say, these theories are primarily
unifactorial. The proponants of unifactorial ecological explanations
of Tropical Forest Culture are introduced below.
Meggers presents a scheme for classifying land in terms of its
agricultural potential, and views soil depletion as the major limiting
factor in the tropical forests:
Here agriculture can be undertaken, but its productivity
is minimized by limited soil fertility...When the natural
vegetation cycle is broken by clearing, planting and
harvesting, the delicate balance between what is taken
from and what is returned to the soil is upset. The
soil is poor to begin with, and exposed fully to the
detrimental effects of the climate, it is quickly ex
hausted of plant nutrients (1954:803).
She then argues that this condition limits the development of Tropical
Forest Culture:
The settlement pattern consists of semipermanent villages
composed of communal or single family houses of pole and
thatch construction.


-10
Although it represents an increase in security
and food supply, slash-and-burn agriculture is not
sufficiently productive or permanent of locale to sup
port large concentrations of population or stable
settlements. This is reflected in the sociopolitical
organization which remains basically along kinship
lines, the headman or chief having limited authority
and few if any privileges (1954:807).
Lowie likewise stated, "The impermanence of settlement in a particular
locality is usually owing to the exhaustion of the soil" (1948:18).
In explaining the seminomadic behavior of the Siriono, Holmberg
has suggested that one of the major factors is the "sporadic and un
certain" yields of slash-and-burn cultivation, and the "enormous" effort
required to clear agricultural plots (1969:67). This contention will be
examined in some detail in the portion of this chapter dealing with
methodology.
Lathrap's model of migration in the Amazon is also unifactorial in
that it postulates competition for the alluvial lands of the floodplain
as the primary process leading to the distribution and differentiation
of tribal groups. The distinction between the floodplain and interfluve
habitats is a valid one, but not all of the migration in the Amazon is
accounted for in Lathrap's model, nor does competition for riverine
resources explain everything about the cultural ecology of the Siona-
Secoya.
Another unifactorial hypothesis is that the movement and low popu
lation density of tropical forest peoples is due to the rapid depletion
of wild protein resources in inhabited areas. As Harris suggests:
General agreement now exists that the limiting factor in
Amerindian tropical forest populations is not a declining
margin of caloric efficiency or a drop in calorie rations
as mediated through the availability of forests suitable
for swiddens (Carneiro 1961). Attention has shifted


-11-
accordingly to the role of protein capture (Ross 1971;
Morren 1973; Gross 1975). These inquiries suggest that
tropical forest habitats are characterized by low over
all animal biomass productivity... it seems likely that
availability of animal biomass is the principal limiting
factor. ..( n. d. :15-16).
Siskind has also cited animal protein resources as the primary limiting
factor for the Sharanahua of eastern Peru:
The settlement at Curanja had been there for ten years.
It was the site of a Dominican mission and, within a year
after the mission was closed, the village dispersed.
There had been continual references to the poverty of
game, but no one ever suggested that it was difficult to
find land for their gardens. It would appear that game,
not agricultural land, is the limiting factor (1973a:228).
Unifactorial theories such as those which have been discussed may
seem elegant, but the evidence presented by the Siona-Secoya indicate
that they are overly simplistic. This study will argue that a model to
account for the characteristics of Tropical Forest Culture must be more
complex and sophisticated in terms of ecological processes if it is to
reflect the reality of the interaction between environment, culture and
man in the Amazon.
There is no one adaptation to environment. Ecological conditions
are highly variable through time and space, and subsistence strategy and
technology must be sufficiently flexible to cope with variations in
resources if a culture is to survive. The evidence from the study of
the Siona-Secoya will indicate that the culture is organized so as to
have a great capacity for flexibility in coping with environmental
realities and variations. A substantial body of quantitative and quali
tative data will be presented in support of a more complex adaptive
model. These data indicate that factors such as soil depletion, compe
tition for land and protein capture may all be valid limiting factors


-12-
in specific times and places, but that none of these can wholly account
for the structure of Tropical Forest Culture. It will also be argued
that the social organization and symbolic system of the Siona-Secoya are
not mere epiphenomena or "superstructure" but serve important ecological
functions.
Methodological Critique of Two Classic Studies
With few exceptions studies of Amazonian cultures have been too
superficial in their treatment of ecological factors. However, Meggers
statement that "no ecologically oriented field studies have been made, as
yet in the Amazonian lowlands" (1971:6) is not completely accurate. The
following section consists of a review of two classic studies which did
focus on the subsistence ecology of Amazonian societies. Each of these
studies has made a significant contribution to our knowledge of Amazonia.
The purpose here is not to demean them, but rather to illustrate the
need for better methodological approaches in the collection of ecolo
gical data so that our understanding of Amazonian peoples may continue
to develop.
Holmberg studied the seminomadic Siriono of eastern Bolivia in
1940-41 (1969) in an attempt to investigate the relative importance of
"basic drives" on human learning and cultural forms. He stated his
research focus in the following manner:
It was logical to assume that where the conditions
of a sparse and insecure food supply exist in human society
the frustrations and anxieties centering around the drive
of hunger should have significant, repercussions on behavior
and on cultural forms themselves. Hence, I took as my
general problem the investigation of the relation between
the economic aspect and other aspects of culture in a
society functioning under conditions of a sparse and in
secure food supply (1969:xviii).


-13
The difficulty in dealing with Holmberg's study of the Siriono, however,
is that we are never told precisely just how "sparse and insecure" the
food supply of these people is. The data on Siriono subsistence re
sources are subjective and imprecise:
Although agriculture has been practiced for many
years by the Siriono...it has never reached a sufficient
degree of development to prevent their remaining a
fairly mobile people...the sheer physical effort involved
in adequately clearing a patch for planting is enormous
...hence the Siriono have doubtless experienced greater
rewards from the collecting of wild vegetable products
and fruits, some of which...are. available and abundant
the year around, than they have from the practice of
agriculture, whose yields are sporadic and uncertain
(1969:67).
These statements raise some interesting questions, but they appear to
be Holmberg's impressions, rather than conclusions generated by quanti
tative analysis of Siriono subsistence activities.
The Siriono are said to have an underdeveloped agriculture that
requires very high labor inputs and whose yields are unreliable. Modern
studies of aboriginal slash-and~burn systems, however, generally agree
that this method is a reliable and relatively efficient mode of pro
duction (Carneiro 1957, 1964; Carter 1969; Conklin 1957; de Schlippe
1956; Freeman 1955; Geertz 1963; Pospisil 1963; Rappaport 1968). For
example, the technoenvironmental efficiency (calories produced for each
calorie expended in food production) of Tsembaga Maring vegetable food
production with shifting cultivation in New Guinea is 18:1. Harris
comments:
The slash-and-burn mode of production permits the
Tsembaga to satisfy their calorie needs with remarkably
small investment of working time only 380 hours per
year per food producer in the cultivation process. High
productivity of slash-and-burn techniques accounts for


-14-
the continuing importance of this form of agriculture
throughout the tropical regions of the modern world
(1971:210-211).
T do not mean to suggest that the Siriono's cultivation need be as
efficient as the slash-and-burn of the Tsembaga, but rather that shift
ing cultivation is not inherently "sporadic and uncertain."
There is internal evidence in Holmberg's study that indicates that
the Siriono relied on their agriculture to a significant degree:
Although a more or less permanent Siriono hut is
encircled by familial garden plots, by no means are all
the gardens planted just outside the hut. A hunter who
is accustomed to going... to a certain lagoon...may plant
a small garden there so as to have vegetable foods avail
able when he returns on subsequent trips... these hunting
parties...would often last two weeks, during which time
we would make our headquarters at his gardens (1969:
68-69).
Another point in Holmberg's ethnography that weakens his contention
that Siriono slash-and-burn agriculture is unreliable is the fact that
during the year he spent with them, they only spent two months in
nomadic hunting and gathering activities (1969:xxii-xxiii). Holmberg
also erred in his belief that the chonta palm fruits eaten by the
Siriono were "collected" (1969:64). Chonta is in fact a planted palm
and its fruits are harvested:
The pejibaye, or peach palm (Guillelma utilis or
Bactris utilis) is one of the spiny-trunked palms with
hard, dark wood commonly called "chonta" in South America.
In many cases it has lost the capacity to produce fertile
seeds and is reproduced by planting sprout cuttings...
The palm is said to be unknown in a truly wild state
(Sauer 1950:525).
These palms continue to produce even after a house site where they have
been planted is abandoned. The Siona-Secoya also visit their former


-13-
settlement sites during the chonta bearing season so that the fruit may
he harvested, as apparently do the Siriono. The fruit should properly
be considered as a product of shifting cultivation rather than as the
collecting of a feral species.
The importance of cultivated foods in the Siriono diet is also
evident in the following statement by Holmberg:
Although meat is the most desired item in the diet of the
Indians, it is by no means the most abundant. Maize,
sweet manioc, and camotes (when available) constitute a
very important part of the food supply (1969:76).
On the one hand we are told that the yields of the slash-and-bum culti
vation of the Siriono are "sporadic and uncertain," while on the other
that cultigens are an important part of the food supply.
It is possible that there may be other factors which limit the ef
ficiency of Siriono shifting cultivation. These might include elevation
and drainage of the land and soil fertility. Holmberg does tell us that
most of the land consists of bajuras which flood during the rainy season
and have a "heavy clayey topsoil," and which are unsuitable for cultiva
tion (1969:3). Yet there are some alturas which "are considered to be
the richest agricultural lands." Holmberg estimates the total popula
tion of the Siriono to have been about 2,000 at the time of his study,
although a number of these had abandoned the indigenous life style. The
band of Aciba-eoko consisted of 94 individuals and that of Eantndu 58.
Therefore with a generous hypothetical estimate of 1/3 hectare per per
son of land in cultivation to meet subsistence needs, and a twenty year
fallow period (assuming a two-year cropping cycle on each plot), these
two bands would require no more than 313 and 193 hectares respectively
to maintain a viable system of shifting cultivation (with a wide


-16-
margin for error). Once again, the lack of basic data in the ethno
graphy make it impossible to determine if there was sufficient altura
type land available.
Perhaps the best way to determine whether or not a society has a
sparse food supply is to made a quantitative and qualitative analysis
of its diet by measuring the caloric intake of its individuals, or a
representative sample of them, over a period of time. This is commonly
done by noting the foods eaten and the weights of the portions consumed.
Caloric requirements do vary, of course, depending on body size, physical
activity, climate and whether or not the individual is pregnant or
lactating, but these variables may be accounted for with a reasonable
degree of precision. If such data were available for the Siriono if.
would clarify much of the ambiguity in Holmbergs report.
One of the first major attempts to utilize quantitative methodology
in the study of aboriginal human ecology in the Amazon was Carneiro's
study of the Kuikuru of the Upper Xing River in Brazil (1957). He
comments on Kirchoff's (1931) comparative study of tropical forest
tribes in the following manner in his introduction:
Nowhere in the article are we presented with a de
tailed picture of the ecological adjustment of any one
people. This is not said to discredit Kirchoff, since
no account containing information of this sort was
available to him at the time he was writing [1931]
(1957:25).
Carneiro sets for himself the task of remedying this situation, at least
in terms of the Kuikuru:
My aim in this dissertation is not to demonstrate
the proposition that subsistence determines social
structure, but rather to indicate how it has done so in
the case of the Kuikuru...(p. 32).


-17-
A1though it is Carneiro's stated objective to present a detailed
account of the Kuikuru ecological system, he curiously devotes almost
all of his attention to manioc production. It is evident that manioc
is the most important cultigen, and Carneiro uses quantitative data on
manioc yields to support his contention that sedentary and permanent
villages are possible in the Amazon. The only other Kuikuru cultigens
appear to be maize, sweet potatoes, beans, cayenne pepper, sugarcane and
the semidomesticated piqui (Caryocar butyrosum) and mangaba (Hancornia
speciosa) trees (1957:122, 124, 163, 115). From the evidence Carneiro
presents the Kuikuru would appear to have a remarkable lack of diversity
in their diet when compared to other societies practicing shifting
cultivation, such as the Miskito (Nietschmann 1973), the Campa (Weiss
1969), the Tsembaga (Rappaport 1968), the Hanunoo (Conklin 1957) and
the Siona-Secoya discussed in this dissertation.
Carneiro tells us that the Kuikuru "barely exploit the wild food
resources of their habitat except for fish...simply through lack of
interest in them" (1957:114). They only hunt a few monkeys, five
species of birds, a few insects, as well as collecting wild honey.
Carneiro suggests that the reason the Kuikuru pass up so many potential
food resources is the "principle of least effort":
Per unit of time or of labor, the raising of manioc
provides much more food than does hunting. The relatively
small number of wild foods that are obtained by hunting or
gathering are all of the nature of delicacies rather than
staples...Monkey meat and other wild foods are consumed
for reasons of palate and sociability, and not because of
the dictates of bioenergetics (p. 125).
One of the problems with the "least effort" concept is that it is based
entirely on the quantity of food in terms of calories. It is also


8-
important to consider the qualitative values of foods.
Carneiro has himself laid the groundwork for a critique of the
"principle of least effort":
Since manioc flour contains only about 1% or 2%
protein...it can hardly provide enough of the essential
amino acids. Fish, in general, have a protein content
of 15% to 30%...and it seems certain that the Kuikuru
obtain most of their amino acids from this source (p.
114).
and
...it is possible that wild food contributes a significant
amount of vitamins and trace elements to the Kuikuru diet
(p. 121).
Although some modes of food production may be less "efficient" in terms
of the ratio of calories expended in their production to calories pro
duced, they may provide essential nutrients for the maintenance of
physical well-being, and therefore their contribution to the diet cannot
be considered solely in terms of caloric efficiency.
Rappaport also emphasized the point that less efficiently produced
foods can make important nutritional contributions to the diet:
...pig husbandry is expensive in terms of the caloric
expenditure demanded of its practitioners, and...the
maintenance of pigs may also demand, as it does among
the Tsembaga, the cultivation of acreage in excess of
that required for the support of the human population
...pig husbandry might better be regarded as a means for
converting carbohydrates into high-quality protein and
fat...Melanesian pigs, as Vayda, Leeds, and Smith point
out, cannot be regarded as luxuries. They are a very
expensive necessity (1968:66-68).
In the case of Carneiro's study it would be desirable to have a more
detailed analysis of the contribution of each component of the diet as


-19-
the energy expenditure entailed in providing that component.
Carneiro's methods for calculating input-output factors for manioc
production are also open to question:
In the course of their routine agricultural activities
during the rainy season we were able to observe the Kuikuru
men, on the average, work on their manioc plots once every
2 or 3 days. Ordinarily they leave the village about
7:00 a.m. and return about 11:30 a.m. If this work pattern
is extrapolated to the year as a whole, which I believe may
be done validly, we find that by simple calculation that the
average Kuikuru man spends 657 hours a year on agricultural
pursuits (1957:135-136).
The structure of Table 4 (1957:158-159) also suggests that Carneiro
computed "average1 values on a small sample and then generated the bulk
of his figures by extrapolation (e.g. average weight of edible starch
per tuber multiplied times the average number of tubers per hill multi
plied times the average number of hills in a manioc plot multiplied
times the number of manioc plots equals the total weight of edible
starch produced by all Kuikuru gardens, or 83,612,800 grams). Carried
to the extreme it would be possible to estimate the entire yield of
manioc from a sample of one tuber, or one hill of tubers. A major
problem with Carneiros data is that it is not possible to determine
what percentage of the information is based on direct measurement, and
what percentage is derived by extrapolation.
Inference from a sample is not inherently bad, for in most situa
tions it is impossible or inconvenient to measure the entire population
of phenomena. Sampling is almost mandatory in human ecological studies
for it is impossible for the investigator to be in all places at all
times. However, if an inference is to be made fro.m a sample, care must
be taken to assure that the sample is as representative as possible. In


-20-
field situations external conditions may impose limitations on tech
niques that may be employed, and as a result anthropologists frequently
use a nonprobability sample of availability. Since some doubt may
remain about the procedure, detailed information should be provided on
the methodology employed. This should include the intent or goal of
the procedure, the actual measuring techniques or instruments used, the
method of sample selection, the size of the sample and any special
conditions or circumstances which affected the collection of the data.
In many cases it may not be possible to obtain the sample desired. This
is why it is important that the conditions of the research be fully
explained. This should be no less true in anthropology than in other
sciences, and it is especially important in anthropology since it is
often much more difficult to control the conditions encountered in
ethnographic fieldwork.


CHAPTER II
THE SETTING
The People
The Siona-Secoya are members of the Western Tucanoan group, one o
the two branches of the Tucanoan linguistic family. In aboriginal times
the Western Tucanoans were an important people occupying a large terri
tory. They are frequently mentioned in the accounts of explorers,
Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries, and travellers. Yet they are little
known anthropologically', The Western Tucanoans included the Coreguajes
of the northern tributaries of the Caquet and the Tamas and Macaguajes
of its southern tributaries, the Sionas and Oyo of the Putumayo River,
the Encaballados of the Aguarico and Napo, and the Coto (Orejn,
Payagua) from near the junction of the Napo and the Amazon. In addi
tion, there were many smaller groups or local subdivisions of the
aforementioned major groups.
To date, the best information available on Western Tucanoan peoples
is from the Sionas of the Putumayo. This important river system has
attracted outsiders since the early historical period. First the
Franciscans in the 17th and 18th centuries, followed by a hiatus during
the 19th century, and then the onslaught of the rubber era during the
early 20th century. Following the collapse of the rubber boom the area
continued to be penetrated by whites, and this process received added
impetus from the discovery of oil in the Orto area in 1963. Descrip
tions or accounts of the Siona in the 20th century include those by
21-


-22-
Hardenburg (1910, 1912) who described the exploitation of the rubber
period, Castellvi (1939, 1953), Chaves (1958), Calella (1937, 1940-41),
and Mallol de Recasens (1964-65). Research on native plant use has been
conducted by the botanist Schultes (1942, 1957). More recently,
Wheeler, a Summer Institute of Linguistics missionary, has made a study
of the Siona language (1962, 1970) and Langdon (1974) has made an
excellent study of the Siona medical system. Langdon's work also
contains historical and ethnographic data for the Putumayo region. The
ether Western Tucanoan groups are less well known.
The present study deals with the Western Tucanoans of the Aguarico
River. The Aguarico is a northern tributary of the Wapo River, which in
turn is one of the larger and more important tributaries of the Amazon.
For as long as myth and recorded history can recall, the land along the
middle and lower Aguarico has been the home of Western Tucanoan speaking
peoples. Its main affluents, the Eno, the Shushufindi and the Cuyabeno
are traditional hearths of Western Tucanoan culture as well. This area
of exuberant green forest drained by the swift mud-brown Aguarico, and
the slow, silent, black Cxiyabeno, is the focus of the current research.
Many terms have been applied to these peoples of the Aguarico and
Napo by the outsiders who came into contact with them. The early
Franciscans and Jesuits called them Encabelladcs because of their long
hair, which was sometimes worn in elaborate braided coiffures. Travel
lers of the 19th century called them Pioj after their negation /peohi/
("there is none), which supposedly was the Indian response to any
request for food. These names mean little to the people themselves.
"Siona and "Secoya" are. the terms of self identification these Indians
use when speaking to outsiders. The word Siona consists of two


-23-
morphemes: the noun seem /sio-/, meaning "garden," and the suffix /-na/
indicating "move neat toward." The complete meaning of the term, there
fore, is "to the garden-"'*' In their own language, however, the Sioha of
the Aguarico are known as /sa?niwu ba:i /, or the "upriver people," indi
cating their residence upstream from the mouth of the Aguaico.
The term "Secoya" is taken from the stream named /sekoya/, a
tributary of the Santa Maria River in Peru, which is an affluent of the
Napo (see Figure 1).. Oral tradition holds that the homeland of the
Secoya is the quebrada of the same name. The native name of the Santa
Maria River is /wahoya/ ("river of battle"; see p. ?00), and in their
language the Secoya are known as the /wahoya bai/.
Although related, the Siona of the Aguarico, or /sa?niwu bai/,
should not be confused with the Siona of the Putumayo, or /gatiya bai/
("cane river people"). On the basis of linguistic data, genealogical
analysis and kinship terminologies it is evident that the Siona of the
Aguarico have a closer affinity to the Secoya to the east than to the
Siona of the Putumayo to the north..
The people studied in this dissertation are referred to as "Sicna--
Secoya" in order to reflect the social reality of the Aguarico region.
In the early 194Q's many of the Secoya of the Santa Maria migrated into
Ecuador to escape the abuses of a white patron and settled with Siona
kinsmen on the Cuyabeno. The children of these Secoya intermarried with
Siona and Siona-Cofn at the village of Puerto Bolivar. In 1973 most
of the families at Puefto Bolivar: began migrating to the village of
Shushufindi on the Aguarico. Shushufindi was the primary research site
for this study, although visits were made to other settlements. The
Western Tucanoans of the Aguarico, therefore consist primarily of Siona


Figure 1. Location of the Siona-Secoya in Northeastern Ecuador.


-25-
and Secoya who have intermarried (there are also a few Cofn, Siona-
Cofn,Angotero and Macaguaje individuals in the same communities). They
share a similar cultural tradition, speak mutually intelligible dialects
of the same language and have been linked through marriage for at least
four generations. Furthermore, intermarriage will increase in the
future due to the structure of the marriage rules and the availability
of potential marriage partners. For these reasons the hyphenated term
"Siona-Secoya" is used when referring to the culture in general terms,
and to shared cultural elements between the two parent groups. To elect
for one term over another (as the missionaries have tended to do) is to
sacrifice accuracy and to deny the importance of one group in favor of
2
another. Only in cases of specific histrica], events, or where a trait,
practice or artifact is associated with one group, but not the other,
will the single terms "Siona" and "Secoya" be employed.
The Land
The traditional territory of the Western Tucanoans stretched over
an area of about 82,000 square kilometers (31,500 square miles) between
lat. 1N. to 4US. and long. 73W. to 77W. in what is presently part of
modern day Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. This territory lies east of the
Andean foothills and its elevation ranges from about 300-100 meters
(approximately 1,000-400 feet) from west to east. The geology of the
Aguarico Basin is characterized by old alluvial beds of the Quaternary
which give way to Cretaceous-Tertiary and Paleozoic sediments to the
west, and then the met.amorphic formations of the Andes (Tschopp 1953:
2304: Grubb et al. 1963:570).


-26-
The climate corresponds to Koppen's Af or tropical wet (with no
month drier than 60 nun of rainfall). Data collected at Limoncocha
(a Summer Institute of Linguistics base camp on the Napo) 32 kilometers
southwest of Shushufindi shows a mean annual rainfall of 3375 mm (132
inches) for the period 1971-74. The month of least rainfall for this
period was December with a mean of 172.5 mm (6.79 inches), and the month
of greatest rainfall was March with a mean of 411.2 mm (16.19 inches).
Generally speaking, the "dry season" runs from December through February,
and the "wet season" from March through July. The people of the region
refer to August as a "little dry season" (verano), and the Limoncocha
data for 1971-74 show a mean rainfall for August of 253.8 mm (9.99
inches) which is slightly below the mean monthly rainfall for the entire
year of 281.2 mm (11.08 inches). From a temperate zone perspective
there are no truly dry months, but rather wet months and somewhat less
wet months. However, this should not obscure the fact that seasonal
variations in rainfall do have, a significant influence ori human activi
ties within the region, especially those relating to subsistence (Siona-
Secoya reckoning of seasons will be discussed in Chapter IV).
Appendix 1 contains climatological data from Limoncocha as well as
for the first twelve months of the fieldwork at Shushufindi (October
1973 to September 1974). This twelve month period was somewhat wetter
than usual, with a total rainfall of 3665 mm (144.29 inches). The high
total was primarily due to heavier rainfall than usual in May, June and
July, which culminated with heavy floods in July that washed away the
steel and concrete bridge and pipeline crossing the Aguarico on the Lago
Agrio-Coca highway, as well as destroying many houses along the banks of
the river. The mean annual temperature recorded at Shushufindi was


-27-
25.9C (78.7CF), with a mean maximum temperature of 31.1C (87.9F)
and a mean minimum temperature of 20,8C (69.4F).
The mature vegetation of the Aguarico-Napo region is of the type
classified by Richards (1952) as Tropical Rain Forest, and subsequently
reclassified by Grubb et al. (1963) as Tropical Lowland Rain Forest.
It is characterized by three strata of trees with heights ranging from
24-45 meters (80-150 feet), large woody climbers, common occurrence of
epiphytes, and frequent occurrence of buttressed trees, some of which
are very large (Grubb et al. 1963:596). In addition to this primary
growth, there are a number of other plant associations which develop
under specific ecological conditions. These include the secondary
growth characteristic of islands and banks of certain rivers, the secon
dary growth developing from abandoned gardens and habitation sites,
associations of lowland areas and perennially flooded soils, and vine
associations (bejucales) among others. The Siona-Secoya are sophisi-
cated in their recognition and utilization of the various floral associ
ations (see Chapter IV and Appendix 3). The fauna of the area under
study is typically Amazonian in character (see Chapter V and Appendix 4).
The Aguarico, the major river of the study area, rises in the
Pimampiro and Due spurs of the Cordillera Oriental of the Andes. As it
descends the steep eastern slopes of the Andes it carries a heavy load
of silt along with it. For this reason its water is characteristically
muddy brown in color. Only during the drier months, when the river
drops dramatically, does the water show any semblance of clarity. The
Spanish named the river Aguarico ("rich water") because they discovered
flecks of gold in its currents, and to this day there is some small
scale prospecting carried out on its upper reaches. The Siona-Secoya


-28-
I
3
call it /haiya/ or "big river."
For over half of its course the Aguarico is swift and treacherous.
There are innumerable rapids and submerged logs just below the surface
of the cloudy water. The last major rapids are just above the mouth of
the Eno River, about 13 kilometers (8 miles) upriver from the village
of Shushufindi. The Aguarico is navigable for 160 of its 489 kilometers
(Acosta-Solis 1965:23). The Eno itself is a small tributary that enters
the Aguarico from the right bank (proceeding downstream), as is the
Shushufindi downriver. While both the Eno and Shushufindi are smaller
than the Aguarico, their waters are similar in color and the vegetation
along their banks is generally similar to the larger river, except for
its sandbar and island associations with their characteristic stands of
caa brava (Gynerium sagittatum).
A full day's journey by canoe downriver from the Shushufindi brings
one to the mouth of the Cuyabeno River, which enters the Aguarico from
the left bank, or north side. This is a river that has figured promi
nently in Siona-Secoya history, but that has always had a certain aura
of mystery or foreboding about it. They call it /siokiya/ which trans
lates as "river of refuse," and explain that it was given this name
because the water carries much litter, especially the leaves from the
trees along its banks. To the outsider the name seems bizarre, for the
slow dark waters of the Cuyabeno appear pristine in comparison to the
silt-laden Aguarico. The river is strikingly different in appearance
from the A.guarico, Eno and Shushufindi. It is a small stream which
rises completely within the jungle between the San Miguel and the
Aguarico and runs eastward and then southward in a sinuous twisting and
turning course, doubling back upon itself time and time again. Numerous


-29
bends have been cut off as the river has shifted its bed, creating oxbow
lakes straddling its path. Its banks are low, at times only a meter or
two above the level of the river. When the rains commence the currents
rise and flood vast areas along either side, refilling the oxbows with
fish. There are only a few places along the river where the banks are
elevated above the flood level.
The waters of the Cuyabeno are dark, not dirty, and its surface is
calm. Brilliantly colorful flowering trees overhang its banks and an
astonishing variety of birdlife is in evidence along its course, in
cluding ringed kingfishers (Ceryle torcuata) which dart along the water
before approaching canoes, and long necked anhingas (Anhinga anhinga)
which walk along submerged on the bottom and stick their heads above the
surface of the water to observe you as you pass. For these reasons the
Cuyabeno has a quality of beauty and intimacy that the other rivers
cannot match.
Further dowmstream from the mouth of the Cuyabeno two historically
important tributaries enter the Aguarico: /sokora/ (corrupted to
Zancudo in Spanish) from the right bank, and /b?ikya/ ("caiman river")
from the left (see Figure 1). The latter is notorious for its confusing
maze of waterways and swampy terrain. Near the mouth of the Aguarico
the quebrada Cocaya enters from the left.
There was considerable Western Tucanoan settlement around Pantoja
at the junction of the Aguarico and Napo Rivers until comparatively
recent times. During the early mission period there were also Encabel-
lado farther up the Napo and on the lower Tiputini River. The Santa
Maria River runs parallel to the Napo (below the mouth of the Aguarico)
before entering it from the left bank, and is the traditional home of


-30-
the Secoyas. To the northeast are the Angusilla ( /nkWisiya/ ) and
Yubineto, two tributaries of the Putumayo which are currently inhabited
by groups of Secoyas and Angoteros. In aboriginal times Encaballado
territory extended even farther eastward to the Cura.ray on the Napo, and
the Campuya on the Putumayo. South of the Napo, on the Curaray, lived
the Awishira, dreaded enemies of the Encabellado. To the east were the
/?ra bal/ or "howler monkey people" (Coto in Spanish), who were related
Western Tucanoan speakers, and to the north, the Witotoan peoples.
The purpose of this brief chapter has been to give a general intro
duction to the research setting. Although the Tucanoan language famil}'
does not compose one of the larger linguistic groups in the Amazon Basin,
even the territory of the Western Tucanoan branch is marked by signifi
cant variations in habitat and resources. In subsequent chapters
specific information will be provided on conditions at particular
locations and variations in Siona-Secoya resource utilization.


NOTES TO CHAPTER II
Wheeler and Wheeler (1962) provide the "to the field" gloss, but in a
subsequent study one of the authors questions this derivation (Wheeler
1970:14), and suggests that the name "Siona" derives from the Witoto
term for "perfume people."
SIL personnel refer to the communities on the Cuyabeno and at Shushu-
findi as "Secoya." This preference appears to rest on the fact that
their primary linguistic informants have been Secoyas. They have also
had greater success in converting the Secoyas to Protestantism, whereas
the Sionas of the Aguarico have been more resistant to their teachings.
From an anthropological perspective, the identification of these com
munities solely as Secoya is not justifiable.
3
The Napo River is also called /haiya/.
-31-


CHAPTER III
THEIR HISTORY
All the tribes that are along this river down which we
have passed...are people of great intelligence and
skillful men according to what we saw and to what they
appeared to be from all the tasks which they perform,
not only in carving but also in drawing and in painting
in all colors, very bright, such that it is a marvelous
thing to see.
Gaspar de Carvajal, August 1542
(in Heaton 1934:233)
Historically speaking, the Napo and its tributaries constitute one
of the most important river systems in all of Amazonia. The Napo
figured prominently in the famous voyages of Francisco de Orellana
(1541-42) and Pedro Teixeira (1637-39), the missionization efforts of
the Jesuits during the 17th and ISth centuries, was involved in the
rubber boom at the turn of the present century, and was a battlefield
in the war between Ecuador and Peru in 1941. The interpretation of its
archeological materials is at the center of the most vigorous debate on
Amazonian culture history to date.*'
The history of the Encabellados is closely associated with the
history of the Napo, for they were one of its most prominent ethnic
groups. Encabellado history may be divided into four periods for the
purpose of discussion: Precontact Period (before 1542), Early Mission
Period (17th and 18th centuries), Nineteenth Century, and the Modern
Period (1900 to the present).
-32-


-33-
The Precontact Period (Before 1542)
The archeological investigation of the Aguarico-Napo region has
only its barest beginnings. The most significant excavations to date
were conducted by Evans and Meggers (1968) at ten sites on the Napo and
three on the Tiputini. Four phases were identified: Yasuni (radio
carbon date 2000 90 or 50 B.C.), Tivacundo (1440 70 or A.D. 510),
Napo (three dates: 742 + 53 or A.D. 1168; 771 ~ 51 or A.D. 1179;
470 180 or A.D. 1480), and Cotacocha (post-European contact). To date
no definite associations have been made between these phases and Western
Tucanoan cultures. Evans and Meggers have hypothesized that these
ceramic complexes represent four independent traditions which settled
briefly in the area, but then moved on due to the low subsistence poten
tial of the land (1968:108). In general, they see the movement as being
from the older pottery making traditions of the Andes to the lowlands,
or from west to east.
The most developed of the ceramic complexes, the Napo Phase, was
identified by Evans and Meggers as belonging to the Polychrome Horizon
Style which has been found at a number of sites along the middle and
lower Amazon, including the famous sites of Maraj Island at the mouth
of the river. Napo Phase vessels have also been collected from loca
tions along the Aguarico Pviver by Gillin (1936), Lapiner, and Evans and
Meggers (1968:36). There are, respectively, from sites one-and-a-half
miles up a creek (a south tributary) forty-five miles from the mouth of
the A.guarico, a site just upriver from the mouth of the Cuyabeno, and
from the mouth of the Eno. In addition my wife and I made surface
collections at the villages of Shushufindi and Puerto Bolivar which
2
contain sherds with decoration in the Napo Phase style.


-34-
On the basis of his excavations on the Ucayali in Peru Lathrap has
concluded that the Caimito Phase is also of the Polychrome Horizon Style.
He has postulated that this horizon was carried by Tupi-Guaranian
speakers in a series of east-west migrations from the Lower Amazon to
its upper tributaries (1970:150). Specifically, Lathrap argues that the
carriers of the Napo Phase were Omaguas who fissioned from settlements
on the Amazon and moved up the Napo and "dominated" the Aguarico-Napo
region (p. 153). These were known in historical times as Omagua-yetes
and the Spanish found them inhabiting the Napo region from the Coca to
the mouth of the Aguarico, and some were reported living on the Cocaya
(a tributary of the Aguarico near its mouth). The early sources on the
Omagua of the Napo have been summarized by Oberem (1967-68).
Since the archeology of the region is so incomplete it is not known
whether any of the phases identified by Evans and Meggers are the leav
ings of Western Tucanoan peoples. The sites they excavated lie generally
to the west of traditional Western Tucanoan territory, but there is some
overlap with documented Encabellado settlements of the Early Mission
Period on the Tiputini, and the Napo Phase vessels found along the
Aguarico and the sherds I collected on the Cuyabeno are well within the
area traditionally considered to be Encabellado territory. The anti
quity of Western Tucanoan peoples in the area cannot be established with
certainty until the archeological sequences of the entire region are
better known, but all indications point to considerable antiquity of
habitation. As has been previously mentioned, the Western Tucanoans
were a large group inhabiting a vast territory from the Caquet to the
Napo. Linguistic studies by Wheeler (1966) indicate that the depth of
separation from the related Eastern Tucanoans of the Vaupes region of


-35-
eastern Colombia is in the range of 1500-2000 years. Accounts of early
missionaries reenforce the assumption that the lower Aguarico was
traditiona.1 Encabellado territory.
The expedition of Gonzalo Pizarro to the "Land of Cinnamon" east
of the /aides, and the subsequent voyage of his lieutenant, Francisco de
Orellana, to the mouth of the Amazon is one of the more remarkable
events of the Age of Discovery. Orellana and his men separated from
the main party of the expedition on the Rio Coca in order to search for
provisions downstream. When it became evident that the band could not
return against the current of the river,they sailed on. According to
the account of Gaspar de Carvajal, a Dominican friar who was the jour
nalist of the voyage, the banks of the Napo were uninhabited for 200
leagues. Further downstream settlements were encountered and the
Spanish stopped at the village of Aparia the Lesser for a month to forge
2,000 nails from their equipment which were used to construct a brigan
tine for the rest of the voyage (Carvajal in Heaton 1934). Estimates of
the location of this village have ranged from above the mouth of the
Tiputini (Lathrap 1972:17-18) to the Curaray (Medina in Heaton 1934:61).
Although the estimated sites for the village of Aparia the Lesser
fall within what is considered Encabellado territory, current interpre
tations of the early accounts suggest that this chief was Omagua (Oberem
1967-68:161; Lathrap 1972:18-19; Grohs 1974:22-23). This conclusion is
based on the analysis of a few words which appear to be Omagua, the fact
that Aparia the Greater (a chieftain of the Amazon) was very likely
Omagua, and that Orellana was able to learn some of the language and
used it as he descended the river.
There is no direct evidence to suggest that any of the villages


-36-
Orellana's band visited were Western Tucanoan (Encabellado), but this
possibility certainly cannot be ruled out. As subsequent missionization
efforts attest, however, the Encabellado preferred to locate their
settlements away from the banks of the main rivers. The typical settle
ment pattern consisted of dispersed residence groups located on smaller
creeks and streams which fed into the Aguarico, Napo and Putumayo. The
basic settlement consisted of a patrilocal, patrilineal extended family
residing in a communal house or /hai wi?e/ ("big house) It was not
unusual for this group to be expanded by the addition of nuclear house
holds whose members did not form an integral part of another extended
group (due to particular historical circumstances, such as having been
orphaned). The leader of the residence group was the headman or
/inti ba?ik/ ("this one who lives"), who was the most respected shaman.
The greater the power of the /inti ba?iki/ the larger the residence group
tended to be as unattached households were attracted to his curative and
protective abilities.
If Latbrap's hypothesis that Napo Phase ceramics are Omagua arti
facts is correct, the following hypothetical scenario may be offered:
(1) having split from the Eastern Tucanoans some 1,500 to 2,000 years
ago, the Western Tucanoans inhabit the area north of the Napo and the
Aguarico; (2) warlike Omaguas migrate up the Napo and settle near the
mouth of the Aguarico, on the Tiputini, and up the Coca, with the Western
Tucanoans withdrawing up the smaller streams (A.D. 1168-1542); (3)
Orellana's expedition descends the Napo and contacts Omaguas on the Coca
and along the Napo (Domain of Aparia the Lesser); (4) during the Early
Mission Period the Omagua communities of the Coca are pacified, assimi
lated or exterminated, and the Tiputini Omagua are taken to the Rio Sunu


-37-
to pan gold and subsequently escape and rejoin the Omagua on the Amazon
(Oberem 1967-68:158); and (5) the Encabellados reoccupy the Tiputini and
the area around the mouth of the Aguarico. Meggers and Evans, however,
believe that Lathrap has "totally misinterpreted the distribution of the.
Omagua" (personal communication). The final answers to these and many
other questions relating to Amazonian culture history await more exten
sive archeological and linguistic research in this greatly understudied
region of the world.
The Early Mission Period
Los Ancutenas del apo cuidan del cabello con mucho aseo
y por eso los llaman Encabellados. Penanse todas las
tardes, hacen trenzas y las envuelven con un tejidilio
en la cabeza. Es gala de esta nacin dejar sus tiempos,
suelto y bien peinado al cabello sobre las espaldas y
algunos hasta la cintura.
Chantre y Herrera 1901:63
There is a considerable body of published material on the Encabel
lados during the Early Mission Period. Some sources are first hand
accounts (Acua 1891; Laureano de la Cruz 1900; Uriarte 1952; Veigl
1785) while others are compilations made from original sources (Chantre
y Herrera 1901; Espinosa Perez 1955; Grohs 1974; Maroni 1889-92;
Rodriguez 1684; Steward 1948b; Velasco 1941). It is also probable that
there is considerable unpublished archival material extant. The quality
of the sources is variable. The most frequent contradictions occur in
the reporting of dates for specific occurrences and the location of
rivers and villages.^
From an anthropological perspective, the major problem with the
accounts is that they are primarily concerned with events, i.e., the


-38-
activities of the missionaries. They are weak in ethnographic detail,
containing scanty or no information on kinship, political organization
or native religious beliefs. However, they do contain bits of infor
mation on place names, population, settlement pattern, sorcery, and
warfare which are valuable for comparison to contemporary data. This is
useful to determine the type and degree of change that has taken place
over the years, as well as the continuities between the present and the
past. The information on demography and settlement pattern is particu
larly important for the analysis of the cultural ecology of the Encabel-
lados and their descendants, the Siona-Secoya.
The Encabellados were visited by the Jesuits Ferrer and Arnulfi in
1599 (Steward 1948b:739) and again by Padres Simon de Rojas and Umberto
Coronado in 1621. The latter took an unnamed Encabellado and Awishira
back to Quito for display, and even there the animosity between these
two traditional enemies of the north and south banks of the Napo was
evident:
...sacando y bautizando algunos dellos, que en seal y
prueba de sus espirituales correras, sacaros despus
Quito; en la cual ocasin admiraron mucho los nuestros
lo encontrado y opuesto que se mostraban en los naturales
conforme lo eran en las naciones un Encabellado y otro
Avijira, pues aun despus de reducidos al gremio y unidad
de la fe, en encontrndose los dos el uno la presencia
del otro, no podia encubrir en el semblante la natural
antipata que hay entre aquellas naciones, y era preciso
viviesen divididos, para no reir entre s cada paso
(Maroni 1889-92:28:182-3).
In 1635 Captain Juan de Palacios and a group of soldiers and
Franciscans descended the Aguarico ana attempted to found a mission at
a site called Ante,18 leagues above the mouth of the river (Juan de
Velasco cited in Espinosa Perez 1955:11-14).
Palacios was overbearing


-39-
in his manner, however, and the Indians killed him along with some of
his men. Although it is not well known, this act led to one of the
decisive events in South American history: the voyage of the Portuguese
Captain Pedro de Teixeira from Gurupa to Quito and his Act of Possession
w'hich formed the basis of Portuguese claims to the Amazon.*
Following the death of Palacios, Friars Diego de Brieda and Andrs
de Toledo and six soldiers escaped downriver and managed to sail all the
way to Para, a feat no less remarkable than the voyage of Orellana in
1542. The Portuguese were impressed with the accounts of the Fran
ciscans:
0 que narraram impressionou. Em Sao Luiz, sede da
administrado que alcan^ava a Amazonia, o Estado do Maranhao
e Grao-Para, o governador Jacome Raymundo de Noronha, a
cuja presenca se apresentaram, ouviu-lhes or relato minucioso.
Havia ordens regias para effectuar-se a conquista do
rio. Ordens muito positivas que por motivos imperiosos
tinham ficado por cumprir. A occasio agora era propicia,
com os guias aparecidos, que se offereciam a regressar a
Quito com urna expedir0 (Reis 1931:33).
Jacome de Noronha chose Captain Pedro Teixeira to head the expedition
of seventy soldiers and hundreds of Indians which departed upriver on
October 26, 1637.
By the time the expedition approached the Upper Amazon the Indian
paddlers and hunters began to flee,and the soldiers' esprit de corps
was flagging,and many fell ill. Teixeira. decided to establish a camp
on the Napo and leave the main body of his men there while he proceeded
on to Quito. Reis (p. 36) places this camp at the junction of the
Aguarico and Napo, but most other sources indicate that it wTas at the
mouth of the /wahoya/ cr Santa Maria, "the river of the Encabellados"
(Rodriguez 1684:121-124, cited in Espinosa Perez 1955:15; Chantre y


Figure 2.
Eighteenth Century Jesuit Missions among the Encabellado.


-41-
Herrera 1901:49; Jimenez de la Espada, cited in Espinosa Perez 1955:17).
The relations between the encamped Portuguese and the Encabe.llados were
not peaceful:
As pazes com os Encabellados j nao estavam respeitadas.
0 desasocego no logar tomava vulto. Pedro da Costa FavelJa,
para garantia de seus commandados, assignalava em sangue e
fogo a sua presenca de disciplinador passando pelas annas os
Encabeilados que pudera agarrar e incendiando-lhes aldeamentos
(Reis 1931:37).
Teixeira departed Quito on February 10, 1639, and performed the Act of
Possession during his return voyage. Although the site of the Auto de
Posse has been debated (Edmundson 1922:32-43), the Portuguese contention
is clear: "Encarada politicamente, valeu como o primero passo para o
alargamento do Brasil portuguez na posse fincada bocea do Aguarico"
(Reis 1931:39).
In 1654 Padre Raimundo de Santa Cruz entered Encabellado territory
in search of a route to connect the missions of the Maraon and Quito
(Rodriguez 1684:189-193 and Chantre y Herrera 1901:164-5 cited in
Espinosa Perez 1955:12,17). At one point his party lost its direction
and five Jivaros were sent ashore to seek directions. They approached
an Encabellado settlement where all but one were promptly surrounded,
killed and beheaded with stone axes. The lone survivor escaped to the
river and warned the expedition.
On July 15, 1633 a Cdula Real was issued which gave the Jesuits
exclusive rights to missionize the Indians of the Napo and Aguarico,
limiting the Franciscans to the Putumayo (Chantre y Herrera 1901:316).
The period from .1709 to 1769 was the heyday of Jesuit activity among the
Encabeilados. No few~er than seventeen missions were founded on the
Aguarico and Napo (see Figure 2). The Jesuits found the Encabeilados


-42-
scattered in small settlements off the main rivers. Since the number
of missionaries was always very small and the territory large, they
spent much of their time travelling. Their history is a record of
comings and goings between the various mission sites, and journeys into
the forest to search for newly reported groups of Encabellados. The
strategy was to take the Indians from their small, dispersed settlements
in the forest and concentrate them in villages or reducciones along the
banks of the Napo and Aguarico to facilitate their catechization.
The Jesuit fathers were tenacious men who endured great hardships
to contact the Encabellados and motivate them to relocate their settle
ments. They frequently travelled many days inland through forests and
swamps searching for groups that had been reported by previously con
tacted Encabellado. The Jesuits were largely successful in accomplish
ing this, but failed in the long term because they were unable to
overcome the centrifugal forces that tended to pull the reducciones
apart.
Each individual Encabellado settlement under its headman, or
/inti ba?ik/, feared the sorcery of other Encabellado. When the
Jesuits attempted to get two groups to settle in one reduccin some
headmen refused outright. The fathers were rigid in their adherence
to doctrine, but pragmatic in dealing with problems they could not
control. They allowed the recalcitrant groups to make individual
settlements by the rivers in the hope that they could eventually be
persuaded to unite in the main reducciones
The Encabellado missions were notable for their instability.
People fled them at the slightest difficulty or provocation. A major
problem was the increased susceptibility to disease in the reducciones,


-43-
and the fact that the Encabellado believed that most illness was the
result of sorcery. The discipline imposed by the Jesuits and their
assistants also caused difficulties. The. most significant episode of
this type occurred when the headman Curazaba attempted to escape from
the mission of San Miguel but was detained by Padre Francisco Real:
...Curazaba tratase de escapar al monte con toda su familia.
Quiso disimular la retirada con el pretexto de un puro paseo
con apariencias de que volvera; mas no pudo encubrir su
verdadera determinacin de manera que un nio de la escuela
no descubriese las diligencias y prevenciones que hacia para
llevar la familia. Como esta gente inocente, es siempre
fiel al misionero y entra con celo en las ideas de su
maestro, fue volando al misionero y le avis de la resolucin
cierta de Curazaba. Procur el padre disuadirle con todos
los modos que supo y pudo el viaje; pero como nada hiciese
mella en aquel duro corazn, se determin quitarle la
herramienta que le habia dado, advirtiondo que no se le
dejaba el instrumento por querer retirarse al monte; pero
que se le volvera dar despus de pocos das, si en
ellos daba pruebas de desistir de su intento (Chantre y
Herrera 1901:392).
His escape attempt foiled, Curazaba began to use his influence against
the priest, charging that the Indians were being taught Quechua in the
mission school so that they could be sold into slavery. On January 4,
1744 Cuazaba and his followers speared Padre Real and his two assistants,
desecrated the religious objects of the chapel, burned the settlement,
and returned to the forest.
Having heard of the death of Padre Real, and fearing punishment,
the Encabellados of the missions of Nombre de Jess, San Pedro, Soledad
de Mara, Santa Teresa, Corazn de Maria, Mrtires del Japn and San
Estanislao fled also (Chantre y Herrera 1901:396). Only the people of
San Jos, San Luis Gonzaga, San Bartolom de Necoya, San Juan de
Paratoas and Santa Mara de Guayoya stayed, largely due to the efforts
of Padre Joaquin Pietragrasa. The tenacity of the Jesuits is apparent


-44-
in the fact that the experienced, but ailing, Padre Martin Iriarte
returned from a convalescence and assumed the task of attempting to
reestablish the lost missions. He was the only fluent speaker of the
Encabellado language among the Jesuit missionaries (Chantre y Herrera
1901:398). Iriarte met with a degree of success, but the missions never
attained their former prominence.
From 1746 to 1750 there were no priests active in the missions,
their responsibility having been left to one Hermano Sanchez, who at
tempted to force the Indians of San Bartolom to resettle at San Jos,
and sent Encabellado children to established Spanish toras, such as
Archidona, for schooling. The Encabellados resisted these policies,and
the missions declined. By 1769 only two Encabellado missions remained
(Escobar y Mendoza 1769:60 cited in Steward 1948b:740).
The Nineteenth Century
The recorded history of the Nineteenth Century is scant in compari
son to the Eighteenth. There was little missionary activity during
this period,and the only historical sources are the accounts of occa
sional travellers. The territory of the Encabellado was essentially the
same, but outsiders now referred to them as the Pioj. The geographer
Villavicencio visited the area in the 1350's (1958:175) and found them:
...living on turtle and manatee on the lower Aguarico River.
The Angutera lived on the left side of the Napo River below
the Aguarico River, where they cultivated manioc, yuca, and
bananas. The Santa Maria were peacefully and industriously
growing crops and trading hammocks and sarsaparilla (Steward
1948b:740).
The Englishman, Simson, travelled extensively on the Napo and


-45-
Put umayo and describes the Pioj thusly;
The Piojs of the Napo are, of course, Aucas; but
those who have been in contact with traders to whom they
supply hammocks in exchange for lienzo, knives, etc.
disclaim this title, saying, "Auca no! Santa Maria runa,
Quiristiano!" (Not Auca! Santa Maria man, Christian!).
Upon the approach of strangers, their first action is
usually to indicate the nose, with the forefinger, and to
blow and sniff through the nostrils to show their clearness
and freedom from catarrh, saying, "Huairahue, huairahud"
(Cold, cold); for after smallpox there is no disease they,
and most other Indians also, fear more than colds and
influenza. If they notice signs of the affliction, or
sneezing, in their visitors, they are alarmed; and if the
latter is repeated they decamp (sic)...
The dress of the men consists of a sort of bag or
shirt... reaching down to the knees, whilst the women wear
a band of woven chambira-fibre, eight inches wide, round
the loins, the body being painted almost all over. The
ornaments are feathers, and necklaces of jaguar's and
peccaris' and monkeys' eye-teeth (1886:193-195).
In the Nineteenth Century the Encabellado's contact with the out
side world shifted from the missionization efforts of the Jesuits to
sporadic bartering with river traders, exchanging forest products and
hamniocks for iron tools, cloth,and other manufactured items. They were
still considered Aucas (savages), were still at war with the Awishira
(Simson 1886:197), and continued to be plagued by the diseases intro
duced by whites.
The Modern Period (1900-Present)
The events of the Twentieth Century have drawn the Western Tuca-
noans of the Aguarico and Napo into ever increasing contact with the
outside world. There have been three somewhat overlapping phases of
contact. The first phase was the rubber boom which began around the
turn of the century and petered out by the 1920's, but which left a


-46-
system of debt peonage which affected some Secoya until the 1940's. The
second phase was the renewal of missionary activity in 1955 by the
Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), which continues to the present.
The most recent phase of contact stems from the oil boom beginning in
1968, and the subsequent road construction into the Aguarico Basin and
the colonization which has followed it.
The Rubber Phase
The rubber boom was a disaster of enormous proportions for the
Indians of the Amazon. Tens of thousands died as a result of being
forced into semislavery as rubber collectors and from disease. Harden-
burg (1912) described the atrocities committed against the indigenous
peoples of the Putumayo, but there is little published material on the
Aguarico and Napo for this period. Langdon states that the brunt of the
exploitation on the Putumayo fell on Boran and Witotoan peoples, but
that the Western Tucanoan tribes felt its consequences also:
In general, the Siona living in the upper regions of
their territory disliked the patronage system and preferred
their freedom, but rubber collecting activities affected
those living downstream more heavily, particularly the Oyo
tribe and the Makaguajes. The oral history of the Siona
includes stories of rubber collectors and their cruelties...
a collector... took some sixty adults of the Oyo tribe at
Montepa to Peru because of debts they owed him. They were
never heard from again, and with their forced departure,
the Oyo tribe became nearly extinct. The gathering of
resins continued throughout the whole area until the middle
of the 1920s. Moreover, no Indian, whether he worked for
the white man or not, could escape the consequences of the
growing importance of the Putumayo region (1974:37).
The Siona-Secoya living today can likewise recall details of the
rubber period related to them by their parents. Patrons established
themselves on the Napo just below the mouth of the Aguarico and exploited


-47-
the Indians in that general area rather directly (including the Secoya
on the Santa Maria River and its tributaries). Older Secoya men recall
their fathers collecting rubber for a patron named "Karamuna Paco," who
reportedly was a Spaniard living at Pantoja (at the junction of the
Aguarico and Napo). Ironically, the sons of the Secoya who worked for
this patron view the era with a degree of nostalgia, stating that cloth,
soap and ammunition could be acquired cheaply in those days. According
to Fernando Payaguaje, the /inti ba?ik/ of Shushufindi, his father
vrould work for about a month locating and felling rubber trees to make
£
a ball of rubber weighing two arrobas (about fifty pounds). This was
toted overland to Pantoja and could be exchanged for some cloth and shot,
powder and primers, or one muzzle loading shotgun of cheap manufacture.
In the 1930's the Secoya fell under the domination of a patron they
remember as "Mauricio David." Cecilio Piaguaje estimates that he worked
for this man for fifteen years felling trees, clearing pastures, and
cultivating rice, maize and plantain gardens. He describes the work as
"never ending," and says that he even had to request permission from the
patron to go hunting in the forest. He was paid one cushma or /hu?ika/
for each year's work (the cushma is a shiftiike garment worn by men).
This account is corroborated by Fernando, who says that all of the
Secoya men worked for "Mauricio David," and that his chacras were very
large.
The Sionas farther up the Aguarico also remember the accounts of
their fathers who collected rubber, but it appears that their patrons
were Peruvians and Colombians who made periodic visits to them in
launches. Simon Piaguaje says that his father collected rubber for a
"Sr. San Miguel" from the Napo and a "Sr. Tera" (Teran ?), who was a


-48-
Colombian. He was paid an axe, and a shirt and a pair of pants for four
years of work. If the Indians didn't work they were punished and
threatened with imprisonment. Life history materials indicate that some
Sionas of the Aguarico were able to maintain a degree of freedom from
the control of the patrons. According to Simon, those who didn't wish
to work went deeper into the forest and made their gardens there.
The Secoyas chafed under the conditions imposed on them by their
patron at Pantoja. Around 1940 the Secoyas were visited by Sionas from
the Cuyabeno who were related to them. In the words of Alejandro
Payaguaje, one of the Sionas who made the trip:
The father of Fernando was from a place a little down
river from Cocaya. He went down to live on the Secoya...
there were no Peruvians. Later the Peruvians arrived. The
father of Fernando was the brother of my mother...working
all day, not earning anything. They themselves said, "Let's
go to Cuyabeno." The Peruvians would not allow passage by
river. At Castaa, more than two bends below /bi?ikiya/
(Lagarto Cocha), there is a trail to /sekoya/. David and
Josecillo came together, later Fernando came. I went to
/sekoya/ once.
In 1941 war broke out between Ecuador and Peru over a border dis
pute, and Peruvian troops used the Napo as a route of invasion. Fernando
recounted the events of the war and the subsequent migration of a
portion of the Secoyas to the Cuyabeno:
War...we lived in the forest...we heard ta...ta...ta
(machine guns). At noon Peru was winning... arriving at
the mouth of the Aguarico, also the Coca. Mauricio (the
patrn) said, "Now there are no Ecuadorians." Peruvians
were living at the mouth of the Cuyabeno and Coca...clearing
their chacras...making pastures. Later they returned to
Pantoja in order to begin well (the peace).
Mauricio asking us to work...but did not pay us...
much work. After four months he gives me one piece of cloth
for my woman, two pots, thread, a shirt...mothing more.
This is how Mauricio paid. He robbed me...robbed me.


-49-
My father died, killed by chonta darts. It made me
sad. I said, "I am an Ecuadorian." Alejandro was my
"brother" /y a?y/. I said, "Let's go to your land."
And the father of Bolivar was my "grandfather" /y ek/.
We made a path, a large trail, that came out at /?Smuya/,
a branch of the Aguarico below Lagarto Cocha. We ascended
the /sekoya/ by canoe and then took the trail and came out
at Lagarto Cocha. Alejandro and the father of Bolivar
took me. WTe went up the Aguarico and then entered the
Cuyabeno. First David and Cesarlo went, my brothers...I
was left alone. There I stayed...later I came. Mauricio
aid not know...we lived in the forest. We told him we
were going to look for /wansoka/ (a forest product).
The Return of Missionaries
In 1955 Orville Johnson, a member of the Summer Institute of
Linguistics (SIL) made contact with the Siona-Secoya living on the
Cuyabeno. He settled there with his family and built a short airstrip
with the help of the Indians, which permitted him t:o be resupplied from
Limoncocha, the SIL base camp in Ecuador. The availability of medical
treatment and the school at Puerto Bolivar on the Cuyabeno led to the
growth of the village as Siona families from the Aguarico were attracted
to these services. Another school was established at Shushufindi, but
folded after 1970,and most of the community migrated to Puerto Bolivar.
Then in 1973 most of the people on the Cuyabeno began migrating to
Shushufindi, and only eight households remained at Puerto Bolivar. In
A
1968 Johnson had visited Secoyas on the Santa Maria, Angoteros on the
Yubineto, and then travelled to the Angusilla where more Secoyas were
living (all of these sites are in Peru). In 1973 Cecilio Piaguaje
followed this visit up by hiking overland from the Aguarico to the
Angusilla to meet with kinsmen and invite them to move to Shushufindi.
As a result of these contacts there were migrating Secoya and Angotero
arriving in Shushufindi throughout the study period of October 1973 to
March 1975.


-50-
Figure 3. Age-Sax Distribution of Siona-Secoya
in Ecuador, March 1975 (266 Total).


51-
The Oil Boom and Colonization
In 1967 a consortium of the Texaco and Gulf oil companies dis
covered large petroleum reserves in northeastern Ecuador. Following the
location of the Lago Agrio and Shushufindi fields, Texaco-Gulf began the
construction of a 318 mile pipeline from the Pacific port of Esmeraldas,
over the Andes and down into the jungle. This line began operation in
June, 1972 and has a capacity of 250,000 barrels per day. A road paral
leling the pipeline was constructed from Quito-Lago Agrio-Coca, and the
area has become a hotbed of activity as oil companies, workers, entre
preneurs and colonists have moved into the region.
In 1972 there were 19 petroleum companies active in Ecuador
(Cabezas 1972:131). Camps to support exploration activities were set
up at a number of sites on the Aguarico and Cuyabeno,and most adult
Siona-Secoya men were employed at one time or another, although usually
for only a month or two at a time. They usually worked clearing sites
for the camps, building offices and sleeping quarters, and clearing
trochas (trails) through the forest. They earned S/ 25-30 ($1.00-1.20)
a day plus meals. The hours were long and the living conditions crude,
but the food was ample. The Indians delight in telling of the voluminous
amounts of rice, potatoes and canned meat they were fed, and how the
company cooks would throw the excess food into the river. After a month
or two, however, the Siona-Secoya men would tire of the monotonous
routine and separation from their families. They worried about the
state of their gardens, and if their women and children were getting
meat to eat. Having earned S/ 1,000-2,000 ($40-50) with v7hich to pur
chase cloth and ammunition, pots and fishline, they returned to their
homes.


-52-
Despite the buffeting of four hundred years of contact with white
civilization, the comparison of the early descriptions of the Encabel-
lado with the Siona-Secoya of today reveals a remarkable degree of
cultural continuity. One of the primary reasons for this is the fact
that their subsistence system gave rise to a form of social organization
based on small and relatively autonomous units with an inherent capacity
for fission and mobility. This continuity is most evident in the
central aspects of culture: subsistence, settlement pattern, kinship,
and religion and world view. Acculturation has also been significant,
especially in terms of material culture, house type, and penetration of
new religious values. The acculturative process and its influence on
the various aspects of Siona-Secoya culture will be discussed in sub
sequent chapters. Despite a tremendous attrition of the overall
population due to the stresses of contact, some local groups have
survived and their basic cultural pattern has remained viable.
Another factor in the survival of Siona-Secoya culture is the fact.
that the acculturative pressures brought to bear on them were not as
intense as those in some other areas of Amazonia. The Siona of the
Putumayo, who are very closely related to the Siona-Secoya of the Agua-
rico and share similar cultural traditions, are considerably more
acculturated due to a more acute exposure to outside influences. Today
only one or two of their old men wear cushmas, their children use
Spanish as a first language, their shamans are dead and the yag ceremony
is no longer performed. Despite these things, Langdon was able to
collect excellent material on the Siona symbolic system, but she fears
that the next generation "may never know' the glorious worlds of their
forefathers" (19/4:ii).


-53-
The surviving Siona-Secoya of today face the greatest threat yet
to their survival as a culture: the settlement of their territory by
colonists from other regions of Ecuador and their assimilation into
Mestizo culture. The Ecuadorian government today does not perceive
the needs of the indigenous communities of the Oriente, nor does it
have any coherent policy for dealing with them. Government efforts to
provide services, such as registration of land titles, credit to agri
culturalists, medical care and education, are focused on colonist
communities along the highways of penetration.


NOTES TO CHAPTER III
The debate over Amazonian culture history is primarily between Meggers
and Evans (1956, 1957, 1958, 1968), and Lathrap (1970, 1972, 1973).
It centers on disagreement over the sources of Tropical Forest Culture
(especially the Polychrome Horizon Style) and routes of migration
within the Amazon. These theories are discussed in this chapter* in
sofar as they are relevant to the present study.
These surface collections were made at the request of Dr. Clifford
Evans and Dr. Betty J. Meggers, and were sent to the Smithsonian
Institution in Washington, D.C. for confirmation of identification,
and have been accessioned into the collections of the Institution.
3
Grohs warns that Velasco's dates are unreliable (1974:110). The most
complete source for the entire mission period is Chantre y Herrera
(1901). Although not a first hand account, this work is noted for its
fidelity to the original sources. It contains considerable detail,
much of which I was able to corroborate with data collected in 1973-75.
4
Chantre y Herrera states that Captain Palacios was killed by Omaguas
(1901:49). Other sources say that his attackers were Encabellados,
and Steward (1948b: 739) and Grohs (1974:101) accept the Encabellado
hypothesis, as does Oberem (1967-68:158) who reviewed the literature
on the Omaguas of the Napo.
There is disagreement as to whether Teixeira actually sailed from
Gurup or Camet. Reis reviews the various claims (1931:35).
^Informants insist that the rubber trees were felled, their trunks
slashed, and the latex collected in folded leaves. This contrasts
with the estrada method described by Wagley (1964:83-86) in which
the collector establishes a trail which he covers twice each day,
gashing the trees in the morning and collecting the rubber in the
afternoon. Wagley observes that the felling method is used for species
such as balata (Manilkura bidentata), rather than for true rubber
(Hevea brasiiiensis), which is not found in many areas of the Dpper
Amazon (personal communication).
54-


CHAPTER IV
SUBSISTENCE TECHNOLOGY: HORTICULTURE
Introduceion
Food is among the most basic of needs for all societies. In
industrialized countries the mechanisms foi providing food to people
are complex and usually indirect. In primitive societies they are
immediate. With the exception of infants and very old people nearly
everyone participates in food collecting or producing activities.
Patterns of food procurement vary according to the climate, the nature
of the land, the plants, animals, and available technology and knowledge.
Each mode of economic activity has requirements in terms of the human
'
labor that must be performed if it is to function. That is to say, if
a means of food procurement is to sustain a group, the behavior of the
(
members of that group must be organized in such a way as to perform
vital activities of that particular mode.j This is not to say that there
can be only one cultural answer to the organizational requirements of
any subsistence technology, but is simply a statement of the fact that
\
the economic activities of a society have a profound influence on the *
nature of the culture as a whole. This chapter presents a description
of Siona-Secoya horticulture, and subsequent chapters will deal with
hunting, fishing, and collecting as means of exploiting wild food re
sources, and evaluate their relative contributions to the diet of the
people. The descriptions of these activities are also intended to
-55-


elucdate the behavioral patterns associated with food procurement, and
succeeding chapters will trace the influences of these patterns on
religion, social organization, and cultural adaptation.
The single most important phase of Siona-Secoya subsistence acti
vity is horticulture. It provides more, calories than hunting, fishing,
acid collecting combined. Although the structure of Siona-Secoya society
is of a comparatively simple type, it would be an error to characterize
the people's knowledge of their habitat, and their skills for dealing
with it as "simple." The Siona-Secoya practice a form of shifting
cultivation variously referred to as "slash-and-burn" or "swidden"
horticulture. It is shifting because the regular practice is to carry
out a cycle in which gardens are abandoned after a few years of pro
duction as new gardens are concurrently brought into production. The
system is not haphazard, but follows a cycle which is understood and
regulated.
In order to prepare land for cultivation the forest growth must be
cut. The debris is usually, though not always, burned after a period
of drying during the "dry" season. Nearly all gardens are intercropped.
This involves the planting of species with varying structural charac
teristics so that there is a layering effect from the subsoil to the
surface, up to the highest level of the garden. We can speak of "strata"
in the garden just as in the tropical forest itself, and indeed it has
been frequently observed that the structure of the intercropped slash-
and-burn garden imitates the complexity of the tropical rainforest
(cf. Bappaport 1971). This is significant, for the stratification of
the plants protects the soil from both the heavy rains and the direct
rays of the sun.


Root crops such as manioc (Manihot esculenta), sweet potatoes
(Ipomoea spp.), yams (Dioscorea spp.), and Xanthosoma. as well as
peanuts (Arachis hyp o ga ea), grow beneath the soil surface. Within one
or two faeters of the surface are naize (Zea mays), sugarcane (Saccharum
officinarum), and pineapples (Ananas sp.). Above two meters are found
the plantains and bananas (Musa spp.), and papaya (Carica papaya), and
finally, the tallest of the garden cultigens, peach palm (Bactris
gasipaes), and /bene/ trees (Inga spp.).
Siona-Secoya gardens are. not made communal.]y at the present time,
although there are indications that they were in the past.. ^ Generally,
each conjugal-nuclear household makes its own gardens, although there
was one case of an extended kin group making a large garden together at
Shushufindi. Not all gardens are alike. They vary in both size and
content according to the desires and interests of the individual culti
vator, and the availability of seed and clones at the time of planting.
The most complex and intensively gardened plots of the Siona- Secoya
are those surrounding their houses. A bare earth patio /w? raripi/ is
cleared around each house. Within this patio, and beyond its fringes in
the immediate vicinity of the house, are found a large variety of plants,
including medicinis, ornamentals, and condiments, as well as food
producers (the cultigen inventory for the village of Shushufindi appears
in Appendix 5). Portions of the house garden are also used as seed
beds for plants which are later transplanted to other parts of the house
garden, or in outlying gardens (e.g, peach palm).
When settlements are moved, the first clearings at the new site are
for the house and its associated garden. A temporary shelter, or
/ari wi?e/ ("little house"), is set up near the bank of the river while


the work progresses. The construction of the full sized house,
/hai wi?e/ ("big house"), is of secondary importance to the clearing
and planting of gardens. Some families at Shushufindi lived in their
/ari w?e/ for up to a year after their arrival, while others abandoned
them within three months. No two house gardens are exactly alike. In
inventories taken of four house gardens, the number of plant varieties
ranged from 30 to 79. The content of the house garden changes over time
as new plants are brought in and old ones are lost. These shifts can
be quite dramatic as a whole area of a patio may be cleared off in one
day, leaving only bare earth. The house garden functions primarily as
a pharmacy, a snack bar, a spice rack, and an incubator. When someone
has a headache or mouth ulcer, the proper medicinal plants are only a
few paces away. And when the children are hungry they can snap off a
papaya, a /raiu toawika/ (Solanum tequilense), or a section of sugarcane
without bothering an adult. Likewise, the proximity of the seed bed
allows the head of the household to keep a close watch on his peach palm
seedlings (just below the pilings of the elevated house). The nearby
pepper plants (Capsicum spp.), coriander (Coriandrum sativum), ginger
(Zingiber officinale) and sweet potatoes (used to sw^eeten the manioc
beverage known as /a?so kono/) provide the condiments of the household.
Plantains and manioc are also planted in the house garden, but the amount
is small compared to that grown in outlying gardens, and is not suffi
cient to sustain a family for a great period of time.
The location of the outlying gardens depends on the terrain and the
availability of land suitable for gardens. On the Cuyabeno River,
gardens were limited to a few high banks at various spots along the
river, and people travelled to and from them by canoe. At Shushufindi,


-59-
on the Aguarico River, there is considerable high ground behind the
houses (away from the bank of the river), and this area was the first
chosen for gardens in 1973, along with a few gardens that were made on
the riverbank opposite the village. By the end of 1974 the land behind
the village had been cleared to a depth of 400 meters, and people were
choosing new sites downriver and up the small tributary /wa?iya/ oppo
site the village (see Figure 4).
Site Selection
The land within the Aguarico Basin is not homogeneous. There are-
variations in soil conditions, elevation, drainage, and floral associa
tions, and all of these are considered by the Siona-Secoya when they
search for new garden sites. Travelling distance and/or accessability
to a navagable stream are also important factors in the evaluation of a
site. The actual land use pattern may vary considerably according to
the topography around a given settlement (later on the difference between
the Shushufindi and Cuyabeno sites will be discussed).
Site selection may be described as being of two broad types: (1) the
search for new gardens around an existing settlement; and (2) the longer
range search for new settlement sites with lands suitable for horticul
ture. In the former, the expansion of horticultural lands is not a
simple, growth of concentric zones from the settlement center. The actual
patterning of gardens rarely takes this form due to differentiation in
elevation, drainage, and flora, as well as the presence of rivers and
streams. The latter type of site selection is actually a form of migra
tion determined by a complex set of ecological and social factors.


I
O'
o
I
Figure 4. Siona-Secoya Gardens and House Sites at Shushufindi,


-61-
¡
Soils and Topography
The classification of soils is not one of the more developed
aspects of Siona--Secoya culture, and is not nearly so complex as that
of other slash-and-burn horticulturalists such as the Kekchi of Guatemala
(Carter 1969). The major classifications are made on the basis of color
and texture. The Siona-Secoya associate each of the soil types with
specific topographic conditions, and most particularly with drainage.
The basic soil types and native descriptions are:
1. /dayawi yih/ ("swamp soil"). These are dark soils of poorly
drained areas that have standing water during the wet season.
They are not suitable for cultivation.
2. /nea yih/ ("black soil"). These are dark soils of humid low
areas, but with sufficient drainage to preclude standing water.
These soils are considered good for the cultivation of maize,
plantains, and rice (a recently introduced crop), but are too
humid for manioc.
3. /meha yih/ ("sandy soil"). These are light brown sandy soils
with good drainage characteristics. They are the preferred
soils for manioc cultivation, and are also considered suitable
for maize, plantains, peach palm and other garden crops.
4. /ma yih/ ("red soil"). These are the red clayey soils of
hillocks and bluffs. They may be used for maize and plantains,
but are considered "too hard" for manioc cultivation.
5. /kina kurewi/. These are very hard red soils, which are said
to be "bricklike" (laterized), and are not suitable for
cultivation.
6. /soto yih/ ("clay soil"). These are heavy clay soils which
are unsuitable for cultivation.
7. /bohiko soto/ ("white clay"). A special type of whitish clay
utilized in pot making.
8. /anaka yih/. A dark yellow clay sometimes found in river
banks and used as a slip to paint designs on pots.
Each category of soil comprehends certain characteristics of elevation,
drainage, density, and floral cover, even when named only by its color


-62-
or texture (a laboratory analysis of soil samples taken at Cuyabeno
and Shushufindi is presented in Appendix 2).
As has been seen, the discussion of soils is closely related to
topography. The terms for the significant topographical types in the
habitat of the Siona-Secoya are:
1. /sitara/. Swampy areas which never dry out.
2. /dayawi/ ("swamp"). Areas of the forest that are low-lying,
and are usually very muddy. During the wet season there is
standing water in these areas, but they may dry out somewhat
during the dry season.
3. /ne?e dayawi/ ("Mauritia palm swamp"). These are swampy areas
that reportedly never dry out and have palms of the genus
Mauritia as the diagnostic vegetation.
4. /pa?p dayawi/ (pa?p palm swamp"). These are swampy areas that
have /pa?p/ palms (unidentified species; used for thatch)
as the diagnostic vegetation. They are said to be somewhat
drier and better drained than /ne?e dayawi/.
5. /sewa yih/ ("Phytelephas palm earth"). These are relatively
well drained areas that are characterized by palms of the genus
Phytelephas (yarina in local Spanish), Said to occur in round
clusters about 200 meters in diameter.
6. /gcsa yih/ ("Oenocarpus palm earth"). Well drained areas and
hillocks that have plams of the genus Oenocarpus as the diag
nostic vegetation.
7. /bene yih/ ("Inga earth"). These are areas where trees of
the genus Inga are the diagnostic vegetation.
8. /aikunti/. Hills or hillocks. The mature vegetation is
primary rainforest, and the soil type is frequently /ma yiha/
or "red earth".
/tutupi yih/ ("vine earth"). There are areas where the
dominant vegetation consists of dense growths of vines. The
/tutupi yih/ association may be found in the forest or along
riverbanks, and includes few trees. Because the sun's energy
is admitted to the lower level of these matorales or bejucales,
they are very dense and hard to penetrate, and as a result-
trails usually bypass them. According to informants these
areas have high animal populations.
/mehawi/. These are beaches; along the Aguarico River they are
characterized by stands of cane (Gynerlum sagittatum) and dwarf
bananas (Musa sp.) springing from water-borne clones.
10.


63-
The Selection Process
Settlement sites are selected on the basis of suitability for horti
culture, hunting and fishing potentials, availability of feral plant
species needed for craft manufactures and construction materials, and
social factors such as the presence or absence of other human popula
tions. The Siona-Secoya do not go out on expeditions with the sole
purpose of locating new lands. They have occupied the same general
territory in the basins of the Aguarico, Napo and Putumayo Rivers for
at least 400 years (and probably much longer), and their recorded migra
tions have been from one point to another within the same territory.
Their myths and oral traditions are replete with the place names of the
rivers, lakes and prominent landmarks of the area. Because of this,
the Siona-Secoya have a general knowledge of their entire territory,
even including places they have never personally visited. They fre
quently travel through their territory on hunting and collecting trips,
and visits to kin. It is on these trips that they conduct a reconnais
sance of the land and its potential.
When the Siona-Secoya relocate their settlements they frequently
do so on old habitation sites. This does not mean that they clear only
secondary growth, however, for if the new population is larger than the
previous one they may clear significant areas of primary forest (this
was the case at Shushufindi).
When the decision is made to relocate a village the men make trips
to the new site several months in advance of the actual move to clear
gardens so that there will be some food available for the migrants when
they arrive. The men may stay for two or three weeks while the work of
slashing, felling and planting is carried out. During this time they


-64-
live in temporary shelters by the river's edge.
Once the house garden has been established, the tendency is to
begin the next gardens adjacent to the house site if land is available.
At Shushufindi the first arrivals from Cuyabeno selected their house
sites along the river bank, and then expanded their gardens into the
forest directly behind their habitations (1973-4). In the dry season
of 1974-5 some of them expanded these gardens farther back from the
river, while others cleared on the opposite side of the river or dovm-
river. In the interim, Secoyas from the Angusilla River in Peru arrived
and were taken into the households of their kinsmen near the center of
the line settlement of the village. After several months of visitation
in these houses they began to build their own houses in clusters around
their kinsmen. Since most of the land was taken along the "line" of
the riverbank, they squeezed their houses into the patios of their
kindred, putting bulges into the previously perfect line pattern. When
they began to make gardens in the latter months of 1974 there was no
land available near their houses, so they sought lands on the opposite
side of the Aguarico. Other residents had also begun to move upstream
and downstream, selecting sites along the banks of the river. They
explained that they were doing this because they prefer to transport
their produce by canoe, rather than expanding farther back into the
forest where their only means of transporting the heavy plantain and
manioc harvests is by a netted bag strung tumpline fashion over the
forehead.
In site selection, the order of preference for soils is: (1) /meha
yih/ ("sandy soil"); (2) /nea yih/ ("black soil"); and (3) /ma yih/
("red soil"); the other types being generally unsuited to cultivation.


-65-
In actuality, nearly all of the horticultural land of the Siona-Secoya
on the Eno, Cuyabeno, and Aguarico Rivers is either /nea yih/ or /meha
2
yih/, since little /ma yih/ is found in the area. /Ma yih/ is re
ported to be the most common type of soil on the Putumayo, however.
Generally speaking, the Siona-Secoya prefer well drained land with
floral associations such as /sewa yih/ where vine entanglements are
not a major difficulty. Some men state that they prefer areas without
extremely large trees, but others disagree, observing that when large
trees are present it is possible to make tree falls in which the larger
3
trees knock down the smaller ones.
As mentioned previously, the land along the Cuyabeno River is
scarcely elevated above the floodplain in most locations. Land suitable
for cultivation there is rare and at a premium. It occurs in isolated
spots here and there along the course of the river, and rarely exceeds
a third of a hectare in area. As a consequence, the spatial distribu
tion of gardens on the Cuyabeno is quite different than on the Aguarico.
The largest contiguous line settlement of the premigration community
consisted of only eight houses, because there was simply not enough
elevated bank to extend beyond that (the houses were arranged along a
bend in the river for a distance of about 100-150 meters). Elsewhere
there were smaller clusters of four or fewer houses. The arrangement
of kin clusters was almost exactly the same as in the new village of
Snushufindi, but the limited stretches of high ground precluded larger
groupings in a contiguous line. Outlying gardens tended to be located
at high points along the bank upstream and downstream from the house
sites, rather than inland. Some of the gardens were three to four hours
away by canoe on the quebrada /tarapuya/ (corrupted to Tarapoa in


-66-
Spanish). People sometimes made stayovers of two and three days to
cultivate these dispersed plots, the sizes of which did not exceed .25
to .36 hectares.
Seasonality
The normal round of Siona-Secoya horticultural activities follows
the annual seasonal cycle. Although the people can now associate the
seasons with the months of the year as a result of contact with whites
and Mestizos, they normally reckon the seasons by the position of speci
fic constellations in the sky. /Ometkwi/ is the name of the dry
season which extends from late November through March. New gardens are
slashed and felled at the beginning of this season, and after a month
or so of drying they are fired (under ideal conditions). Shortly after
firing they are planted (usually in January). A subseason within this
"dry period is /?in tikwi/, or "peach palm season," when the clusters
of Bactris fruit are ready for harvesting. This is also the period of
the greatest fishing activity (especially on the Aguarico), for the
waters of the rivers recede, become clearer and less turbulent, and are
inhabited by migrating species of fish. The Siona-Secoya reckon the
arrival of /ometikw/ by the position of the constellation /usebo/
(Pleiades) just above the eastern horizon shortly after sunset (November-
December).
/?Ok t.ikw/ is the name for the rainy season which extends from
April to July. Weeding and maintenance of gardens takes place during
this period, but there is little or no clearing of new gardens. Hunting
continues during the wet season, but is made more difficult by the
standing water in many areas of the forest. A subseason which occurs


-67-
during this rainy portion of the year is /nswiyape tikwi/ ("woolly
monkey is fat season1'), and is the time when monkeys have a layer of
fat due to a diet of seasonally ripening fruits. The hunting of /naso/
(Lagothrix lagotricha) is especially intense during this period.
The month of August coincides with /kako tikwi/, or the season of
the /kako/ cicada which flies overhead at this time and is noted for
its chirping sound made from high up in the trees of the forest. /Kako
tikwi/ is actually a short dry season following the deluges of /?ok
tikwi/, and it is not uncommon for individual Siona-Secoya cultivators
to make gardens during this brief respite from the heavy rainfalls.
/Goi kinari/ ("turtle lays its eggs") is the turtling season which
occurs during November and December (and overlaps with /orne tikwi/,
the dry season, somewhat). This is one of the most significant seasonal
hunts of the Siona-Secoya. although the importance of the hunt has
declined in recent years as a result of intense exploitation by seasonal
visitors from the Putumayo River.
Thus the major horticultural activities of slashing, felling,
burning, and planting, are for the most part confined to the long dry-
season /orne tikwi/ and the short dry season /kko tikwi/. The harvest
ing of certain fruits is strictly seasonal (e.g. Bactris during February
and March, and then again during August), whereas plantain and manioc
may be harvested on a year-round basis. Weeding and other forms of
garden maintenance also continue throughout the year as needed.
Bordering /tihuo siko/
When the Siona-Secoya have selected an area in which to make a new
garden their first step is to establish the outer boundaries of the plot


68-
At one corner they place a sharpened pole of about 1.6 meters in height
as a marker and then measure out from this point by pacing, or, more
recently, by measuring with a rod of one or two meters in length. At
Shushufindi, where, there is ample elevated and well-drained land, many
of the outlying gardens were measured to what was believed to be 100
meters per side. When the desired length was reached, another pole was
placed in the earth and a right angle was made, and once again the dis
tance measured or paced off. Markers were also placed along each side
at intervals of approximately 15 to 20 meters. Once the measuring and
placing of markers was accomplished, the land was considered to be the
property of the individual cultivator until such time as he abandoned
it after the normal horticultural cycle of two to three years.
The next task the Siona-Secoya perform is to slash a path of one
to one and a half meters in width around the previously established plot
perimeter. This work is performed with a machete from a squatting
position, and is accomplished by swinging the machete in an arc close
to the ground. This path serves as a more distinct border than the
previously set poles, and helps to orient the worker as he subsequently
slashes and fells the vegetation inside the boundaries of the plot.
Slashing /hioye/ (Siona), /tetoye/ (Secoya)
The term "slashing" is used here to refer to the cutting of shrubs,
saplings, vines and undergrowth in a plot so that the larger trees are
exposed for felling with an axe. Among the Siona-Secoya this is the
work of men, although they may be assisted by their wives from time to
time. The principle tools for slashing are the machete and a file for
sharpening it (usually two machetes are taken to the field). In a


-69-
typical day of slashing the worker goes to the plot shortly after sun
rise, carrying nothing more than his tools and a container of /noka kono/
("plantain beverage"). His clothing consists of the /hu?ika/ (a shift
like garment of cotton which is called cushtna in Quichua and the regional
Spanish) and a cap. He may also wear trousers and rubber or plastic
boots for protection if he is wealthy enough to own these articles.
Little time is wasted once the work site is reached. The man begins
clearing from one corner of the plot and works inward from that point.
Slashing is for the most part conducted from a stooping or squatting
position. In secondary growth /sitowa/ ¡.sitoa] everything from six to
seven centimeters in diameter and smaller is cut, while saplings and
vines of greater diameter are left for the felling stage. In slashing
with the machete, strokes are made in an arc parallel to the ground,
and at a height no greater than 20-30 cm. Cutting is accomplished on
both the initial stroke and the back swing, as the blade is flipped over
at the completion of the first arc. Although this would appear to be
tedious work, all of the Siona-Secoya men who were observed worked at a
4
very steady rate throughoxit the day. Around midday the slasher takes
a break of about 40 minutes to rest and drink his /noka kono/, and then
resumes the task as before.
The difficulty of slashing varies according to the nature of the
vegetation. In primary growth the dense forest canopy limits the amount
of sunshine which reaches the ground, resulting in undergrowth that is
not particularly dense (cf. Grubb ej: a_l. 1963). In secondary associa
tions, however, the growth may be quite dense at ground level, especially
when the secondary growth is relatively young (through the first four to
five years).


-70-
After a garden has been slashed, the view under the trees becomes
rather beautiful and parklike. The still standing trees provide cool
shade, and the debris from the cut vegetation forms a green carpet over
the forest floor. The view opens up and extends for 60-80 meters in
contrast to the limited visibility of the natural forest.
w
Felling /k ee sdklre/
Many of the trees in the primary tropical forest are extremely
large, and felling is a potentially dangerous activity. Even in second
ary growth, the trunks of the medium and smaller trees are sufficiently
heavy to crush a man's body when they fall. The Siona-Secoya consider
felling to be men's work. It is not a fast or haphazard activity, but
tends to steady and methodical work. Each tree is studied, and an
attempt is made to drop it into a specific spot so that the distribution
of trunks in the garden is controlled.
On unbuttressed trees, or trees with small buttresses, the cuts
are made at shoulder height. When the buttresses rise above shoulder
height the Siona-Secoya usually cut steps /yurisakawu/ in two or more
of the buttresses /totSbu/ so that they may stand on them and make their
cuts above the tops of the buttresses. On extremely large trees the
buttresses may rise to a height of five or more meters (15 ft.). The
Siona-Secoya have three ways of dealing with these behemoths of the
forest. The most common method is to cut notches into the buttresses
as footholds, and then cut through the buttresses themselves, and then
finally the trunk. This is a time consuming process, and it may take
two men working together two or three days to fell a single large tree
in this manner.


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At times the Siona-Secoya make an elevated platform /yariwa/ of
lashed poles to rise above the buttresses, but this technique is rarely
used (it was never employed during the 18 months of fieldwork at
Shushufindi, even though many large trees were felled in the new garden
sites). A third technique for dealing with large trees is to pile dried
brush around their bases and then burn it. The heat of the fire kills
the tree, and it subsequently looses its leaves, allowing sunlight to
reach the ground. Only one large tree was treated in this manner at
Shushufindi; all others were felled.
Siona-Secoya men say that they prefer to fell the large trees be
cause it leaves the garden completely open to the sun, and because men
who leave trunks standing about in their gardens are considered slothful
(with the exception of certain species which are retained for their
usefulness; e.g. Iriartea palms whose trunks provide construction mater
ials). Although it is hard work, the men enjoy felling a great deal,
and when a giant tree smashes to the ground and makes the earth tremble
they howl with delight.
The accuracy of the men is usually quite good, but from time to
time unpredictable falls do occur. On one occasion I observed Reinaldo
working on a large buttressed tree which was soft wooded and took three
hours to cut through. He had planned for it to fall in an easterly
direction, but when it began to topple he was dismayed to see it going
towards the southwest at about a 120 angle to the intended trajectory.
It crashed mightily in one of his own gardens, destroying a considerable
amount of manioc, plantains and four Capsicum bushes. The base of the
trunk landed on top of his Colombian plastic boots which he had carefully
set to one side (which he was subsequently able to dig out). On another


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occasion Reinaldo felled a Cecropia which took an unexpected twist and
landed only a foot away from the ethnologist's tape recorder, causing
much consternation to all concerned.
Before felling the larger trees the vines remaining after slashing
are cut with a machete or axe, and the smaller saplings are chopped down
with two or three strokes of the axe. The technique for felling the
larger trees is to make a lower cut on the side of the trunk in the
direction of the intended fall, and then a higher one 180 from the
intended path. The blows of the axe are struck rythmically and with
precision, sending chips of wood flying in all directions. When a tree
begins to shudder or groan, or the vines dangling from the tree become
taut and start to snap it is an indication that the tree is very close
to toppling. At this point all of the people in the vicinity become
quite serious. Only one individual remains close to the tree trunk to
deliver the final blows, as the others step away to the sides of the
expected path of the fall. During the felling process the ground quickly
becomes a maze of fallen trunks and debris that is difficult to trans
verse, and each person glances about for an escape route where he can
run if the tree falls away from the intended path. The remaining man
makes his chops at a slower rate at this point, listening and watching
after each blow for the slightest indication that the tree is beginning
its fall. When it first starts to topple, the movement of its crown is
slow and almost imperceptible, but it gathers momentum rapidly during
its descent. As soon as the person who has been chopping senses that
the tree is falling and can judge its direction, he shouts a warning to
others in the vicinity and strides gracefully away from the base of the
tree holding his axe in one hand and glancing back to keep an eye on the


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trunk in case there is an aberration in the fall. Some of the larger
trees may take five minutes or longer to fall after the last man has
stepped away.
A number of problems can arise during the felling of a tree; dead
limbs can crash down /poka tara tomene/ ("rotten limbs fall"), entang
ling vines can bring down other trees in unpredicatble ways /suru taine/,
or the falling tree may strike other trees which are still standing and
kick back /£a?ine/. /Ora/ palms (Iriartea sp.) are particularly danger
ous when struck by falling trees because they have a tendency to flex
and then shatter, sending sharp fragments of very dense wood flying
about.
Those men who have only traditional clothing work barefoot, with
only a cushma for protection. Those who are able prefer to wear as much
clothing as possible to protect themselves from ants, wasps, and falling
material from the forest canopy. This nay include a cap or plastic
hardhat acquired while working for a petroleum company, a pair of pants
worn under the cushma, and rubber of plastic boots.
Felling in secondary growth is far easier than in primary growth,
but the differences in their energy requirements for slashing nearly
equalizes the number of man-hours of labor required to clear both asso
ciations (see Table 1). On the Cuyabeno River the lands suitable for
cultivation were so scarce that virtually all plots were either under
cultivation or in recent secondary growth. The fallow periods practiced
by the Siona-Secoya there were as brief as three to four years. On the
Aguarico the suitable lands are far more extensive, and there were real
choices between selecting primary or secondary growth for the new
gardens at Shushufindi. Nevertheless, there is no clearcut evidence at


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the new village to suggest 3n overwhelming preference for either type.
The current house sites and their associated gardens are located where
there was previously secondary growth. (This was formerly the site of
a smaller Siona village as well as a temporary oil exploration camp.)
The outlying gardens were in some cases located in former secondary
growth, but for the. most part they were in areas of former primary
growth.
The example of Esteban illustrates the process of garden site
selection. He had lived at Shushufindi for two years before leaving in
1970 to join his mother at Cuyabeno who had migrated from the San Miguel
River. When he returned to Shushufindi in 1973 he made his first gar
dens in the secondary growth of his former house garden. His first
outlying garden was made in a patch of secondary growth where the trees
had been felled previously to clear the approach to the modest grass
airstrip used by the missionaries and oil companies from time to time.
Esteban desired to extend this garden into the primary forest nearby,
but Alejandro began to work on that area beforehe could get started,
and he was shut out of the band of new gardens in the primary forest
running parallel to the line settlement of the village. Rather than
leap frog over the new row of gardens into the primary forest, he decided
to go upriver to another area of secondary growth where he had had a
garden previously. However, he decided to double the size of the garden,
and therefore half of the new plot was located in former primary growth
and half in former secondary growth. His next garden was made in pri
mary growth on the bank of the Aguarico opposite his new house.


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Burning /slore oyi/
The term "slash-and-burn" horticulture presupposes that the garden
site is burned after the vegetation has been slashed and felled. How
ever, this is somewhat misleading with regard to Siona-Secoya horti
culture, for under certain conditions they plant their gardens without
having burned them. Burning is successful only when the fallen debris
has had a sufficiently long period of drying out. Whenever circumstances
preclude adequate drying, the Siona-Secoya do not attempt a burn, but
simply plant their crops in the ground beneath the litter. This is
similar to the "slash-mulch" system of the Pacific litoral (West 1957:
129 cited in Whitten 1974:67), except that the planting takes place
after the slashing and felling, rather than before.
As described previously, the Siona-Secoya prepare some gardens in
new areas in advance of their actual migrations. When on these journeys
they do not wish to spend weeks waiting for the felled material to dry
out, and they may also make the trip at times other than the dry season.
In addition, they have much work to do at the old habitation sites prior
to moving, and consider the time spent in the temporary /ari wi?e/ with
out their families as a period of deprivation.
Once the migration begins and groups of people begin arriving at
the new site there is an accelerated rate of clearing gardens, for the
cycle of bringing in a garden per year with a total of three to four
gardens in the active phase of the cycle has been broken. The members
of a household arrive at the new settlement site with but one small
garden that has not even reached full productivity. There may be a
little maize about ready for the harvest, but the manioc lacks three to
four months, and the plantains a year. The first year at the new site


-76-
the household makes gardens to bring its total area under cultivation
to approximately one hectare. This activity transcends the normal
seasonality of garden making because more gardens have to be made within
a one year period. As a result gardens are made during rainier months
and are planted without burning.
Once the area under cultivation approximates the amount that the
members of the household feel is sufficient for their subsistence, they
go into the regular rotation phase, meaning that they make a new garden
at the beginning of /orne tikwi/. Burning is preferred to the nonburning
approach because it leaves a cleaner area which is easier to plant and
care for. Contrary to expectation, however, informants deny any signi
ficant difference in yields between the two types of gardens. The only
gardens which reached full production during the fieldwork were ones that
had not been burned, so there was no basis for a comparison of yields
between the types.
The timing of the burn is critical if rain is to be avoided. (This
is like Russian roulette; the longer one waits, the better the potential
for a good burn, but the odds for rain likewise increase.) The Siona-
Secoya judge the condition of the felled debris by walking over it; when
the smaller limbs crack and break it is an indication that the material
is dry enough for a good burn. Bark peeling off the trunks of felled
trees is another sign of sufficient dryness. The Siona-Secoya do not
spread the debris around in an attempt to get an even burn. They look
for a day that is sunny and windy, and wait until midday when the rays
of the sun are the most direct, and the wind is at its height."*
The task of burning is not physically demanding, but the Siona-Secoya
prefer to have two or more persons present to help control the fire if


-77-
necessary. The burn, is begun on the upwind side of the garden, and
spots several meters apart are touched off with brands of dried palm
fronds. The predominant activity is simply to light the fire and watch
it burn, but complications arise when a fire escapes its intended peri
meter and damages neighboring gardens. On rare occasions the people
make firebreaks prior to the burnt, but normally they depend on calcula
tions based on wind observations, and resort to firefighting to control
the blaze if necessary. On one occasion I was conducting a time-and-
motion study of Emilio burning a garden, and the fire escaped into his
mother's manioc garden. When she realized what was happening she rushed
out of the house and began flailing away at the flames with a stick and
making a /coo coo/ sound with her mouth. Emilio tried to help her, but
couldn't restrain his giggles. A total of twenty manioc plants and five
plantain trunks were burned. Emilio was fortunate, for he had burned
only the gardens of his own household. When the carelessness of a
burner damages a neighbor's garden the event becomes the subject of much
gossip and backbiting, and generates insinuations that the guilty party
is generally incompetent. Direct confrontations over such matters are
not common, however.
With proper conditions the burn is over quickly, not taking more
than two or three hours. The burns observed at Shushufindi were by no
means complete. The larger tree trunks remained, and there was always
a considerable amount of other unburned material as well. Some of the
men do some piling of unburned limbs and brush for a second burn within
a week of the first, but this is not a standard practice, nor is it
particularly intensive. (Third burns are rarely, if ever, attempted.)
If the cultivator waits too long and is caught by the rains he will go
ahead and plant his garden without burning.


Planting
Most Siona-Secoya gardens are intei~cropped, and the planting acti
vity is staggered according to the requirements of the individual
cultigens. Plantains and bananas are planted first, and are by far the
most difficult to work with, for their clones are heavy and bulky, and
must be transported from the donor plant to the new garden. During the
normal rotation phase of the horticultural cycle, cuttings may be taken
from producing gardens nearby, which minimizes the energy cost of trans
portation. In the migration phase, however, the cultivator faces a
difficult problem, for there are likely to be few or no producing gardens
in the area into which he is moving. At Shushufindi the people dealt
with this problem in several ways. Some brought cuttings along in their
canoes from the Cuyabeno River, especially certain prized varieties.
However, the amount of clones required for even a medium sized garden
is more than can be accomodated in a Siona-Secoya canoe. Most people
relied on cuttings from gardens of Victor's and Genaro's, approximately
two kilometers upriver from the new village site, and from the gardens
of the /eno bal/ ("Eno River people"). The Eno trip required a good
two to three days of travel, but it was easier to as-cend the Aguarico
with an empty canoe, and then descend with a full load, than to make
the four day journey down the Cuyabeno, and then ascend the swiftly
flowing Aguarico.
Clones are selected from growing clusters of plantain trunks which
appear to be in good health. If the parent plant shows signs of brown
ness or "drying out" on its leaves it will be rejected as a donor of
clones. The clones /noka sitx/ are dug out with a tool /pa?ara/ (after
pala, the Spanish word for "shovel") that is fashioned by attaching a


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narrow steel blade to a hand-wrought pole. (The blade is a trade item
which is in general use in the Oriente today; in the past digging sticks
were used for this work.) Following their separation from the mother
plant, the clones are inspected by trimming several layers of the plant
tissue away from the base and checking them for /noka peko/ grubs. If
there grubs or their holes are spotted in the base of the clone, it is
discarded. The acceptable clones are transported to the new garden (or
to the canoe, if a river trip is necessary) by packing them into netted
string bags which are then carried tumpline fashion. (Depending on the
size of the cuttings, 12 to 20 are about all that a man can carry.)
At the new garden site holes are dug (approximately 25 cm. in
diameter and 40 cm. deep) at intervals of 3.65 meters to accomodate the
clones, which are then dropped in and covered loosely with earth. At
Shushufindi the gardens were not completely covered by plantains; in
most cases they were planted over 60-70% of the plot. The shortage of
clones in the vicinity of Shushufindi was a factor in this, but it
appears that plots normally are not saturated with cuttings.
The second crop to be planted is manioc (Manihot esculenta). The
Siona-Secoya recognize 15 varieties of manioc, including two "poisonous"
/sima a?so/, and thirteen "nonpoisonous" types. It precedes maize
because if they are planted simultaneously the maize quickly shades the
manioc. It is necessary to allow the manioc to reach sufficient height
to insure that its leaves have access to sunlight before planting the
maize. (The interval between planting is about three weeks.)
Manioc is a very hardy and reliable crop, and is well adapted to
Amazonian conditions. It grows readily from clones cut from the stem
of the mature plant, which contains "eyes" with regenerative power.


-80-
When manioc is harvested the stems are first cut at a height of about
30.cm. from the ground, and the tubers are then extracted from the earth.
Normally manioc is harvested throughout the year as it is needed. New
gardens are usually planted in January during /orne tikwi/, and as this
time of the year approaches the women begin to save the stalks from
recently harvested manioc plants.
When the time to plant the new garden arrives these stalks are cut
into sections and loaded into netted bags for transportation to the new
garden site. (Cuttings were "borrowed" from Eno for the initial plant
ings at Shushufindi.) The technique for planting these sections is very
simple; a sharpened digging stick is thrust into the earth at an angle
of about 30, and then the clone is inserted into this nearly horizontal
gash. Three clones are placed in close proximity to each other so as to
form a cluster, and these clusters are spaced 1.8 meters apart throughout
the intercropped garden. (When the Siona-Secoya monocrop manioc the
spacing of the clusters is about 1.1 meters.)
More than any other crop, manioc is closely associated with women.
Unlike plantains and maize, manioc is planted and harvested primarily
by females. It is also the crop that demands the most from women in
processing labor. The utter drudgery of manioc processing has received
much comment from ethnographers (cf. Goldman 1963:61; Murphy and Murphy
1974:7-9).
When the freshly planted manioc is about three weeks old, maize is
planted. The seed comes from selected ears (primarily for size) that
have been stored by hanging from a roof beam over the household hearth.
Before planting, the cobs are grained and the seed is carried to the
field in a pot. There a large leaf is folded and held in place by an


-81-
i
Iriartea spine so as to form a cone /ha?o yokowi/ ("doubled leaf") in
which the seed kernels are carried during the actual planting. A dibble
/wea ote tub*/ is used to make holes approximately 14 cm. deep into
which four or five kernels are dropped. The holes are spaced from 76
to 99 cm. apart. Some Siona-Secoya men do not bother to cover the holes
after planting the kernels, saying that it is not necessary, but others
say that rats will steal the seed unless earth is tapped back over the
hole.
After the major crops have been planted, the remaining cultigens
are attended to, but in no specific order. Sweet potato (Xpomoea batatas),
avocados (Persea americana), /nkWis/ (Renealmia sp.), /bnl/ (Inga
spp.), /toa wi?ka/ (Solanum liximitante), sugarcane (Saccarum officinarum),
/toa/ (Chrysophyllum cainito), fish poisons (Lonchocarpus nicou,
Clibadium sp., Tephrosia toxicara), yag (Banisteriopsis spp.),
/uhahai/ (Brunfelsia sp.), /pia/ (Capsicum spp.), and /watihiko/
(Carica papaya) are among the many cultigens which are planted follow
ing plantains, manioc, and maize (see Appendix 5 for a list of Siona-
Secoya cultigens). Sugarcane is planted from cuttings in clusters about
two meters apart, but is not intercropped throughout the garden. Peach
palm seeds are extracted from the fruit and planted in beds near the
house. Subsequently the seedlings are replanted (when they reach a
height of approximately 50 cm.) about the house garden, and occasionally
in the outlying gardens.
Weeding /siore huoyl/
Periodic weeding is necessary to insure good yields in Siona-Secoya
gardens. Weeding often precedes other activities in the garden; if a


Full Text
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
mil III III Hill mil II Ilium. -
3 1262 08667 027 9


CULTURAL ADAPTATION TO AMAZONIAN HABITATS:
THE SIONA-SECOYA OF EASTERN ECUADOR
By
WIT,LIAM TAYLOR VICKERS
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1976

Copyright
1976
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2011 with funding from
University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries with support from LYRASIS and the Sloan Foundation
http://www.archive.org/details/culturaladaptatiOOvick

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The present study was made possible by the support of several insti¬
tutions and the assistance of many individuals. The funding for the
initial year of the research was provided by a Doherty Fellowship for
Advanced Study in Latin America from the Henry L. and Grace Doherty
Charitable Foundation. I wTould especially like to thank Mrs. Alice M.
Garrison, secretary for the fellowship committee at Princeton University
for her helpfulness in the administration of this grant.
An additional six months of field work and support for the writing of
the dissertation was provided by Research Fellowship No. lFol MH58552-01
from the National Institute of Mental Health. Thanks go to Mrs. Carolyn
Eanke of the Graduate School of the University of Florida for the admin¬
istration of this fellowship.
During the period of the field work from September 1973 to March
1975, I was affiliated with the Instituto Nacional de Antropología
Historia (I.N.A.H.) of Ecuador, and I would like to thank its director,
Arquitecto Hernán Crespo Toral, for his astute observations and sugges¬
tions regarding my research topic. During the summer of 1972 I made a
preliminary survey of potential research sites in Ecuador, and it was
Arq. Crespo who first suggested that 1 consider a lowland group in the
Aguarico River region. He was also most helpful in providing letters of
introduction and other documents pertaining to my affiliation with I.N.A.H.
I am most indebted to the members of my supervisory committee for
if i

their support and guidance during the past three-and-a-half years.
Dr. William E. Carter, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the.
Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida, has
served as my committee chairman and advisor, has provided invaluable
insights into research design and implementation, and has been a careful
and sympathetic critic of my analysis. His continuous support and his
attention to a number of administrative details that arose during my
absence from the University are deeply appreciated.
Dr. Charles Wagley, Graduate Research Professor of Anthropology, has
been most helpful in providing suggestions for the research and the dis¬
sertation based on his own intimate knowledge of the Amazon and its
peoples. His studies of the cultures of Amazonia provide a standard to
which all students of the region may aspire. I would like to thank the
other members of my committee, Dr. Alexander Moore, and Dr. Theron A.
Nunez of the Department of Anthropology, and Dr. Raymond E. Crist,
Graduate Research Professor Emeritus of Geography, for their interest
in the research, their analytical insights, and their instruction and
support throughout my graduate education.
Within the Department of Anthropology I would like to acknowledge
the assistance of Dr. Paul L. Doughty, Department Chairman, who counseled
me on some of the ins-and-outs of research in Latin America, Dr. Maxine
Margolis, whose courses in ecological anthropology and theory influenced
my theoretical approach, and Dr. Charles H. Fairbanks, who, as Department
Chairman when I first enrolled at Florida, saw fit to provide a graduate
assistantship to a very naive beginning student. Appreciation is also
due to Mrs. Lydia Deakin, department secretary, and Mrs. Vivian Nolan,
secretary for the Center for Latin American Studies, for their high

competence and good will in dealing with the bureaucratic and institu¬
tional aspects of my graduate studies, and to Mrs. Sioux Remer and Mrs.
Adele Koehler who assisted in the preparation of the graphics and in the
typing of the dissertation, respectively.
Dr. E. Jean Langdon of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice has
been most kind in sharing her insights and publications on the Siona
Indians of Colombia, and in offering constructive suggestions and en¬
couragement. Dr. Norman E. Whitten, Jr. of the University of Illinois
provided useful information on how to approach the research situation,
including the establishment of affiliations with host country institutions
and meeting the diplomatic requirements of the Ecuadorian government.
Dr. Clifford Evans and Dr. Betty J. Meggers of the Smithsonian Institu¬
tion provided maps of the research area and scrutinized the archeological
surface collections made in the field. I would especially like to
acknowledge the influence of Mr. Robert J. Agro, currently a doctoral
candidate at the University of Wisconsin, who first introduced me to
anthropological concepts as we were serving as Peace Corps volunteers in
highland Ecuador in 1964. A number of anthropologists with related areal
or topical interests have assisted the investigation by providing in¬
formation pertaining to the research area or methodology, including Dr.
Robert L. Carneiro of the American Museum of Natural History, Dr. Gerald
Weiss of Florida Atlantic University, Dr. Thomas Rhys Williams of the
Ohio State University, and Dr. Scott S. Robinson.
Dr. Daniel Ward of the University cf Florida provided plant presses
and information on the methodology of collecting plant specimens in the
tropics. Dr. Homer V. Pinkley of the New York Botanical Garden has
generously donated his efforts in the time-consuming analysis of the
v

specimens collected, and in sharing the results of his own research on
the ethnobotany of the northwest Amazon.
Assistance with the analysis of the soil samples collected in the
field was provided by Dr. Kamal Dow, Dr. R.G. Poultney, and Ing. Jorge
H. Cáceres of the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias
of Ecuador, and Dr. Arvel H. Hunter of Agricultural Environmental
Systems, Inc. of Raleigh, North Carolina. Mr. Bernard Fassett, a
geologist with the Cayman Oil Co. of Quito, provided a modern large-
scale map of the Ecuadorian Oriente that was most helpful in the research.
Jay and Edith Louthian, former residents of Iquitos, Peru,and close
friends of the Secoya Indians of the Santa Maria River, shared their
knowledge of the indigenous peoples and provided copies of many historical
maps and publications dealing with the region. Their cooperation has
made a significant contribution to this study.
Many members of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (S.I.L.) in
Ecuador extended hospitality and kindnesses to my wife and me during
our field work and during our periodic travels to and from Quito, includ¬
ing Orville and Mary Johnson, Verla Cooper, Bub and Bobbie Borman, William
Eddy, Jerry and Brenda Long, Roy and Edith Gleason, Carolyn Orr, Mary
Sargent, Mark and Phyllis Newel]., Jim and Kathleen Yost, John and Irene
Harssema, Ron and Ruth Durie, Dick and Nancy Whitmire, Ned and Kathy
Thomas, Jonathan and Roseann Johnson, Don and Helen Johnson, Paul and
Norma Duffey, Roy and Lois Allen, Pat Kelley,Linda Liversedge, Pat Erwin,
John Lindskoog, and Lois Pederson. The aviation and medical services
which the S.I.L. provides to the Ecuadorian Oriente facilitated the re¬
search to a considerable degree.
Thanks go to David and Ruth Chandler, Boyce and Nancy Drummond, and
vi

Dr. Thomas C. Emmel of the University of Florida for sending essential
items to Ecuador during our field work. Additional logistical and
psychological support was provided by my mother, Mrs. Mary T. Vickers,
who perfected the art of resupply via manila envelope correspondence,
and always managed to include news from home and interesting reading
matter.
I would also like to express my deep appreciation to my wife Edite,
who participated in the jungle living and contributed to the research
for 18 months with good will, courage, and patience. In addition to
keeping our household together under primitive conditions, she elicited
important substantive data on female and childhood activities in Siona-
Secoya culture, and was tied so well into the information network of the
women that she often learned of significant events within minutes or
hours of their occurrence. The scope and depth of the research were
enhanced by her presence.
The Siona-Secoya Indians of Ecuador are the subjects of the present
study, and in the ultimate analysis it was they who contributed the
essential information for this dissertation. We found them to be friend¬
ly, open, and intelligent people of great charm and wit. At one time or
other nearly all of the inhabitants of the settlements of Eno, Cuyabeno,
and Shushufindi assisted in the field work. Among those who provided
in-depth data on specific aspects of their culture were Fernando Payaguaje,
/ y
Esteban Lucitande, Elias Piaguaje, Maria Yaiguaje, Luis Payaguaje, Victor
Yiyocuru, Celestino Piaguaje, Cecilio Piaguaje, Matilde Payaguaje, Emilio
Lucitande, Simon Piaguaje, Genaro Yiyocuru, Gabriel Yiyocuru, Delio
Yiyocuru, Dionisio Yiyocuru, Gabriel Piaguaje, Simón Lucitande, Celinda
Piaguaje, Marcelo Piaguaje, Reinaldo Lucitande, Maruja Payaguaje, Mauro
Piaguaje,Victoriano Crillo, Fermin Rogelio Criollo, Dario Payaguaje,
v.r i

I
Bel izar i-o Piaguaje, Enrique Piaguaje, Margarita Piaguaje, Nieve Piaguaje,
Alejandro Payaguaje, and Bolívar Yiyocuru, We thank them all.
In the preparation of this dissertation I have attempted to present
the primary data contributed by the Siona-Secoya in a manner that is
consistent with their perceptions. Insofar as this has been accomplished
the credit must go to my informants. I alone am responsible for any
errors of omission or interpretation of these data.
viii

'ABLE ÃœF CONTENTS
Page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . iii
LIST OF TABLES . xii
LIST OF FIGURES ix
LINGUISTIC NOTE xv
ABSTRACT . xvi.j
CHAPTER
I.THE PROBLEM 1
The "Tropical Forest Culture" Type 2 y
Methodological Critique of Two Classic Studies. ... 12
II.THE SETTING 21
The People 21
The Land 25
NOTES TO CHAPTER II 31
III.THEIR HISTORY 32
The Precontact Period 33
The Early Mission Period 37
The Nineteenth Century 44
The Modern Period 45
NOTES TO CHAPTER III 54
IV.SUBSISTENCE TECHNOLOGY: HORTICULTURE 55 —
Introduction 55
Site Selection 59
Seasonality 66
Bordering 67
Slashing 68
Felling 70
Burning 75
Flanting. 78
Weeding ...... 8]
Harvesting 82
ix

TABLE OF CONTENTS
(Continued)
Page
Fallowing 84
Stresses on Horticulture 85
Efficiency in Horticulture. .... 85
NOTES TO CHAPTER IV 93
V.SUBSISTENCE TECHNOLOGY: WILD RESOURCES
95 —
Hunting ...........
Fishing and Aquatic Hunting ......
-Collecting Animals and Their Products .
\ Collecting Plant Products .
Ritual in Hunting and Fishing
Efficiency in Wild Resource Procurement
\
95
105
.111
114
118
....... 123
VI.SUBSISTENCE CONTRIBUTIONS AND STRATEGY
127
Calorie Requirements 131
Protein Requirements 133 —
Distributional Requirements . 136
The Ongoing System 138
NOTES TO CHAPTER VI 145
VII. THE SYMBOLIC SYSTEM 146
Creation Myth 147
Cosmology . 151
Science 155
Shamanism 157
The Yagé Ceremony 163
VIII. SOCIAL ORGANIZATION 169
^ Kinship 170
The Drinking Party 184
Inti ba?ik± 196
IX.REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT 204
^Basic Sexual Concepts 205
' Courtship and Marriage. . 207
^ Married Life 211
. Pregnancy and Childbirth 212
Population Policy 215 '
Individual Development 219
Maintenance 237
NOTES TO CHAPTER IX 240
X.CULTURE AND ADAPTATION 243.
x

TABLE OF CONTENTS
(continued)
Page
APPENDIX
1. CLIMATOLOGICAL DATA FOR LIMONCOCHA AND SHUSHUFIND1. ... 253
2. SOIL ANALYSIS 256
3. FLORA 261
4. FAUNA 283
5. CULTIGENS 303
6. STRESSES ON HORTICULTURE 325
BIBLIOGRAPHY 333
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 347
xi

LIST OF TABLES
Table
Page
1.
Energy Expenditures per Hectare for Intercropped Siona-
Secoya Gardens in Secondary Growth at Shushufindi
(1973-1974)
86
2.
Production per Hectare for Intercropped Siona-Secoya
Gardens at Shushufindi (1973-1974) .
87
3.
A Comparison of Man-Hours of Labor Expended in Various
Phases of Shifting Cultivation in Tropical America ....
88
4.
Yields for Siona-Secoya Hunters at Shushufindi (October
1973-March 1975)
104
5.
Annual Collecting Yields for a Household of Four at
Shushufindi
117
6. Relative Annual Contribution of Subsistence Modes to a
Siona-Secoya Household of Four at Shushufindi (1974) . .
7. Estimated Annual Production for Various Subsistence
Modes at Shushufindi (1974)
8. Estimated Daily Calorie Requirements for the Siona-
Secoya of Ecuador (Based on FAO Method of Computation) .
9. Mean Daily Intake for Five Siona-Secoya Individuals at
Shushufindi (Based on a Sample of Three Days Each) . . .
10. Components of Siona-Secoya Diet at Shushufindi (Based
on a Sample of Fifteen Individual Daily Intakes) ....
11. Comparison of Kill Probabilities for Selected Game Species
for Consecutive Dry Seasons (Dec.-Mar. 1973-4 and 1974-5)
at Shushufindi 140
12. Rainfall at Linoncocha 254
13. Rainfall and Temperature for Shushufindi (October 1973-
September 1974) . 255
14. Soil Samples from Siona-Secoya Settlements at Cuyabeno
and Shushufindi 260
. 129
130
132
134
1 35
xii

LIST OF TABLES
(continued)
Table Page
15. Flora , 262
16. Fauna 284
17. Cultigens of the Siona-Secoya. 304
18. Maize Losses in Sample Gardens 330
19. Plantain Losses in Sample Gardens. . 331
20. Manioc Losses in Sample Gardens 332
xiii

LIST ÃœF FIGURES
Figure Page
1. Location of the Siona-Secoya in Northeastern Ecuador. ... 24
2. Eighteenth Century Jesuit Missions among the Encabellado. . 40
3. Age-Sex Distribution of Siona-Secoya in Ecuador, March
1975 50
4. Siona-Secoya Gardens and House Sites at Shushufindi .... 60
5. Siona (Aguarico) Kinship Terminology, Male Speaking . . . . 173
6. Siona (Aguarico) Kinship Terminology, Female Speaking . . . 174
7. Secoya Kinship Terminology, Male Speaking ... 175
8. Secoya Kinship Terminology, Female Speaking 176
9. Siona-Secoya Affinal Kinship Terminology (Male Speaking). . 183
xiv

LINGUISTIC NOTE
Modern linguistic research on Western Tucanoan languages has been
conducted by Wheeler (1962, 1966, 1970), Wheeler and Wheeler (1962), and
Johnson and Peeke (1962). Langdon (1974) presents an excellent review
of the general status of Western Tucanoan language studies to the pre¬
sent. An attempt has been made to make the linguistic symbols presented
in this dissertation consistent with those of Wheeler (1970) and Langdon
(1974), a linguist and cultural anthropologist respectively, who are
students of the Siona Indians of the Putumayo River in Colombia. This
has been done in the hope that it will lessen the confusion for future
researchers, and in spite of the fact that the symbols employed in my
fieldnotes are slightly different. For example, the high central vowel
1 becomes i in the dissertation, the nasalization of a vowel is indicated
as e rather than f (or ^), the glottal stop is ? rather than ', and ny
becomes n.
It should be noted, however, that there are significant variations
in linguistic usages between the Siona of the Putumayo, and the Siona
and Secoya of the Aguarico who are the focus of the present study. Inso¬
far as possible, I have attempted to transcribe the usages as heard in
the village cf Shushufindi on the Aguarico River in Ecuador.
In addition, it should be mentioned that the bilingual schools
established by the Summer Institute of Linguistics in Western Tucanoan
communities utilize a modified Spanish alphabet which gives some words
xv

a strikingly different appearance. For example, /wek±/ ("tapir")
becomes hueque, /kinawea/ (a variety of maize) becomes quenahuea, and
/yahi/ ("sweet potato") becomes yaji.
xv 1

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
CULTURAL ADAPTATION TO AMAZONIAN HABITATS:
THE SIONA-SECOYA OF EASTERN ECUADOR
By
William Taylor Vickers
August, 1976
Chairman: William E. Carter
Major Department: Anthropology
This study investigates the subsistence ecology of the Siona-Secoya
Indians of northeastern Ecuador in light of the "Tropical Forest Culture"
paradigm in current use by anthropologists. During the late 19th and
20th Centuries the work of scholars such as Ratzel, Mason, Wissler,
Stout, Cooper, and Steward gave rise to a list of culture traits which
attempted to characterize the societies of the tropical forest lowlands
of South America. The organizational features of this Tropical Forest
Complex are (1) a tendency toward small settlements and a low overall
population density; (2) frequent movement of settlements; (3) endemic
warfare and witchcraft; and (4) a low level of sociopolitical cohesion
characterized by autonomous village-level societies with headmen.
Attempted explanations to account for the features of Tropical
Forest Culture fall into two schools: (I) those seeking cultural-
historical. sociological, or political causes; and (2) those seeking an
economic or ecological cause. The present study argues that the first
xvii

approach is in error, and that there are no purely sociological causes
of the Tropical Forest Complex. Rather, the organizational features
are seen as functionally dependent aspects of a cultural system adapted
to the exploitation of the tropical forest environment with a technology
based on hunting, fishing, gathering, and shifting horticulture. The
primary weakness of the second, or "ecological," school of scholars is
that they have tended to emphasize unifactorial causation to account for
the dynamics of Tropical Forest Culture (e.g. soil depletion, unreliable
horticulture, competition for riverine resources, or game depletion).
The quantitative and qualitative data presented in this study of
the Siona-Secoya indicate that unifactorial explanations of the Tropical
Forest Complex are overly simplistic as ecological conditions are highly
variable through time and space, and that factors such as soil depletion,
competition for land, and game depletion may all serve as limiting fac¬
tors in specific times and places. It is also argued that the social
organization and symbolic system of the Siona-Secoya are not mere epi-
phenomena or "superstructure," but serve important regulatory functions
in the overall ecological adaptation of these people.
xvnr

CHAPTER I
THE PROBLEM
Perhaps in no other area of the world have so many environmental
and ecological hypotheses been offered to account for the structure and
characteristics of society as in the tropical forest regions of South
America. Yet, these explanations are based on surprisingly little
scientific research. The tropical forests continue to constitute some
of the least understood habitats in the world. Two reasons for this
are the inherent complexity of tropical forest environments, and their
relative inaccesa'bility from the traditional centers of research. Since
so many of the theoretical interpretations of tropical forest culture
are based on environmental and ecological assumptions, a new generation
of studies based on detailed quantitative and qualitative field methods
is needed. This study is an attempt in that direction.
This research deals with the Siona-Secoya Indians of eastern
Ecuador, and how their adaptation to an Amazonian environment influ¬
ences the nature of their society. Its findings are relevant to the
current intense debate on Amazonian culture history and the significant
forces shaping the. indigenous cultures of the region. The purpose of
this chapter is to present the theoretical background of the research.
Firstly, the theoretical construct of "Tropical Forest Culture" is
introduced. This is a societal type which is broadly recognized, al¬
though not immune from debate on its diagnostic features and geographic
distribution. Next, there is a discussion of the theories which attempt
-1-

to account for this Tropical Forest type. Finally, a critique of the
methodologies employed in two classic studies of the ecological adapta¬
tions of Amazonian peoples is presented.
The "Tropical Forest Culture" Type
The study of the lowland Indians of South America through the year
has given rise to the "Tropical Forest Culture" concept, which has
developed from attempts to classify the aboriginal groups into culture
areas and types. Some of the more significant contributions in the
evolution of the concept include those by Ratzel (1885-88), Mason
(1896), Wissler (1917), Stout (1937), Cooper (1942), Steward (1946-59),
Kroeber (1948), Murdock (1951), Steward and Faron (1959), and Galvao
(1950). These contributions have been reviewed by Galvao (1960) and
Dole (1967).
As the Tropical Forest Culture concept evolved from criteria based
on mere trait listings of elements, such as the presence of manioc cul¬
tivation, hammocks, and canoes, to more dynamic aspects of culture such
as sociopolitical organization, a constellation of features said to be
characteristic of Tropical Forest Culture have appeared repeatedly in
the literature. These features include: (1) a tendency toward small
villages or settlements, and a low' overall population density (Steward
1948c:6 and 1949:675; Steward and Faron 1959:453; Bennett 1949:14;
Goldman 1963:4; Meggers 1971:95); (2) frequent movement of settlements
and/or migration (Bennett 1949:14; Fcrde 1963:135; Goldman 1963:3,33;
Steward 1949:675; Steward and Faron 1959:293,300; Meggers 197.1 :100);
(3) warfare and/or witchcraft complexes (Meggers 1971:110-112; Steward
1949:704-705; Steward and Faron 1959:304,453): and (4) a low level of

-3-
sociopolitical organization characterized by autonomous village level
societies with headmen (Steward 1948c:6, 1949:672,697,700; Steward and
Faron 1959:301,453).
Waglev has given a succinct summary of these characteristics:
A large series of traits and behavioral patterns, which we
call the "Tropical Forest Complex", diffused from one group
to another and was perfected over many generations. Theirs
was an ecological system highly adapted to the. total
Amazonian environment. Yet one can see that this tropical
forest aboriginal adaptation wTith its technology, crops, and
use of the soil and the rivers provides a good example of
how limits were placed on sociopolitical development in
these cultures. Villages were generally situated in one
locality for five to ten years before they were moved as
their inhabitants sought virgin forest lands. The population
was sparse; certainly no more than one million people lived
scattered irregularly over the area. The soclopoli.tical
unit was limited to a single village, a group of villages
without patterns of leadership strong enough to insure co¬
hesive or tribal action, or occasionally to tribal groups
which lived in larger villages situated in especially
favorable parts the várzea and were politically organized
under chieftains. Trade on any regular basis did not exist,
and warfare was chronic (1974:12-13).
As archeological and ethnological research has expanded in the
lowlands of South America in recent years, a number of questions have
arisen in regard to the Tropical Forest concept, and about the classi¬
fication of specific cultures in the "Marginal," "Tropical Forest," and
"Circum-Caribhean” categories in the Handbook of South American Indians.
Steward acknowledged the limitations of his classification in his
summary statement on South American cultures:
The classification, like previous ones, used principally
the general element content of the cultures rather than a
systematic comparison of the patterns. Special weight was
accorded one or another feature in each case. The Marginal
peoples were distinguished by their lack of farming and
their generally simple cultures; the Tropical Forest peoples
were identified by their agriculture and various material

-4-
traits, which were adapted to the tropical rain forests:
the Circum-Caribbean and Sub-Andean peopl.es were grouped
together because of their class system and temple cult;
and the Andean peoples...were distinguished by their
Central Andean technology, material culture, and ritual
complex (1949:671).
Bamberger (1968) and Dole (1967) have questioned the classification
of the Gé peoples as Marginals on the basis of reevaluations of their
subsistence patterns. Dole writes:
The distinction between the Marginal as a hunting type and
the Tropical Forest as a horticultural type is actually a
distinction in cultural level...But it has by no means
been clearly established that the "Marginals" in Brazil
were merely hunters. In fact it has become increasingly
apparent in the past few years...that many of them, in¬
cluding the Gé speakers of eastern Brazil, did have culti¬
vated plants aboriginally. Moreover their cultures bear
significant similarities to the Tropical Forest type and
differ fundamentally from the Marginal hunters and gatherers
such as the Fuegians of southern South America (1967:xxiv—
xxv) .
Recently there has also been greater recognition of the level of
cultural development attained in the flood plain areas of the central
and lower Amazon and certain other areas, such as the Mojos plains of
eastern Bolivia. The flood plain, or varzea, constitutes only about ten
percent of the Amazon Basin, but its potential for human habitation is
great due to the annual renewal of its soil with the silt deposited by
seasonal flood waters, and the abundant wildlife resources associated
with the riverine habitat.
Although the literature on the aboriginal cultures of the varzea
is scanty (reviewed in Meggers 1971), there is little doubt that this
habitat supported a denser population than the terra firme, or inter¬
fluve areas, and that there were features such as pan-village chieftains
and more elaborate forms of warfare and defense which indicate a higher

-5-
degree of sociocultural complexity. Lathrap has postulated a model to
account for the dynamics of migration in the Amazon which is based on
competition between human groups for the rich resources of the varzea:
The pattern of outward migration suggested... could best
be explained by intense and continuing population pressures
of the flood plain of the Central Amazon, the most favor¬
able environment for the support of the tropical forest
culture. Such continuous expansion by groups moving out
to colonize further areas of flood plain progressively push
smaller or militarily weaker groups farther upstream or
off the flood plain entirely (1973:93).
Denevan has also pointed out that the peoples of the Mojos plains
of eastern Bolivia had large permanent villages and constructed cause¬
ways and canals in order to develop their periodically flooded lands.
He states:
...the Mojos tribes appear less unique and more a part
of a pattern of dense agricultural settlement which may
have existed throughout the major flood plain areas of
tropical South America (1966:346).
It is now recognized, therefore, that the varzea cultures did not fit
all of the traditional characteristics of Tropical Forest Culture
because they had somewhat larger and more permanent settlements, and a
higher degree of sociopolitical organization.
The Circum-Caribbean theory has also come under attack. Steward
proposed that the elements of the Circum-Caribbean Culture had spread
along the northern coast of South America and thence up the Amazon,
giving rise to the Tropical Forest level of culture from Marginal level
antecedents. Archeological investigations by Rouse (1953) in the
crucial lowlands of British Guiana, however, have demonstrated that
Tropical Forest artifacts are lower in the stratigraphy than

-6-
Circum-Caribbean. Lathrap has argued that the Circum-Caribbean con¬
struct should be dropped in favor of a revised Tropical Forest concept:
I do not accept the view...that there was a sharp contrast
in cultural level between the Circum-Caribbean...and...
Tropical Forest peoples... Those who make a point of it
neglect the accounts of the earliest European explorers...
who consistently noted dense populations, extensive poli¬
tical units, powerful chiefs or kings, priests, temples,
and idols along the mainstream of the Amazon...Since there
were vast differences in the level of cultural complexity
between the riverine groups and the groups inhabiting the
interfluvial uplands, Tropical Forest Culture must be
defined in terms of shared cultural elements rather than
as a uniform level of cultural achievement (1970:46-47).
It is evident that the criticisms of the traditional Tropical
Forest Culture type have not been made in order to demolish it, but
rather to broaden and redefine the construct in the light of continuing
research. The constellation of features traditionally used to charac¬
terize Tropical Forest Culture is now seen as most typical of the terra
firme peoples who inhabited the land away from the major flood plains,
or approximately ninety percent of the Amazon Basin.
Theories Accounting for Tropical Forest Culture
Since the present study deals with a tribe of the Upper Amazon,
and does not attempt to deal with the very special conditions of the
varzea, the pattern of small settlements and low population density,
movement and migration, warfare and witchcraft complexes, and village
level societies is pertinent. Attempted explanations to account, for
these features fall into two classes: (1) those seeking cultural his¬
torical, sociological, or political causes (such as internal tensions,
competition for women, and revenge warfare), and (2) those seeking an

-7-
economic or ecological cause. Each of these two approaches will be
reviewed briefly, and then the thesis of the present study will be
introduced.
A prominent proponent of the first approach is Chagnon, who de¬
scribes Yanomamb garden site selection in the following manner:
...the area within which the new site is selected is
determined almost exclusively by political factors. A
Yanomamb group would remain indefinitely in the area it
settled were it not for the threat of raids from warring
neighbors (1968a:39).
and of their migratory behavior, Chagnon says:
...a village will fission after it reaches a population
of about 150 because internal feuds and fights are so
frequent that peace can only be maintained with great
difficulty...By the time a village approaches 100 to
150 people...fights over women are so frequent that the
group elects to fission rather than attempt to keep an
uneasy internal peace (1968a:40-41).
Chagnon denies any territorial motive in Yanomamb warfare:
The conflicts are not initiated or perpetuated with
territorial gain as an objective or consequence...The
Yanomamb exemplify a type of society in which aggres¬
siveness and warfare are admired, but their commitment
to this way of life cannot be explained in terms of
land shortages. The critical aspect of the cultural
ecology is neighboring, hostile villages (1968 b:110,
113).
Earner has voiced a similar opinion on Jívaro warfare:
"War,” in the Jívaro meaning, is conducted not to wreck
vengeance upon any particular individua]., but to secure
as many heads as possible from an alien tribe...A less
emphasized war objective is to capture women. No case
could be found of war pursued to seize territory (1972:
182-183).

-8-
Goldman has also explained the motivation for Cubeo warfare in
terms of attacks ''to seize women" and "revenge" (1963:162). And he has
interpreted the fissioning of Cubeo communities solely in terms of
cultural values, structural organization, and psychological processes:
Fission is an objective social process, a by-product of
Cubeo cultural principles of autonomy and social equality.
It is promoted, as well, by another cultural principle
that...I would describe as a low tolerance for psychic
discomfort. That is to say, in the absence of political
constraint and of economic necessity the Cubeo find it
easier to leave an uncomfortable situation than to endure
it (1963:279-280).
Goldman is very explicit in his emphasis on structural analysis
and it is evident that he views the social system of the Cubeo as having
dynamics independent of the economic sphere, which can only be under¬
stood by internal analysis of the social structure:
...the simple horticultural societies... are not mere
victims of inhospitable environments... rather... they
constitute a range of cultural systems with character¬
istic modes of equilibrium and adaptation that do not
readily foster economic expansion and higher levels
of social and political integration...a culture is only
partly a functional system adapted to the satisfaction
of basic needs...Much of the form of a culture represents
a style of life that... cannot be explained simply in
terms of function, equilibrium, or adaptation. A style
of life must be studied in its own terms...(1963:294).
The preceding statements of Chagnon, Harner, and Goldman have been
presented as examples of "sociological" (i.e., noneco]ogical) approach
in the interpretation of Tropical Forest Culture. The present study
will argue that this approach is in error, and that there are no purely
"sociological" causes of small village size, 'nigh mobility, warfare and
witchcraft, and a low level of sociopolitical elaboration. These are
not unrelated traits, rather they are functionally dependent aspects of

-9-
a cultural system adapted to the exploitation of the tropical forest
environment with a simple technology which is neolithic in its use of
plant domesticates, but paleolithic in its tool inventory and dependence
on wild animal resources rather than domesticated animals. One purpose
of the present study is to demonstrate how this system functions in a
specific case, that of the Siona-Secoya.
The second school of interpretation of Tropical Forest Culture
consists of those seeking an ecological explanation for its features.
Their chief weakness is that they generally have tended to emphasize a
single factor, such as soil depletion, unreliable agriculture, compe¬
tition for land, or protein capture, in accounting for the dynamics of
Tropical Forest Culture. That is to say, these theories are primarily
unifactorial. The proponants of unifactorial ecological explanations
of Tropical Forest Culture are introduced below.
Meggers presents a scheme for classifying land in terms of its
agricultural potential, and views soil depletion as the major limiting
factor in the tropical forests:
Here agriculture can be undertaken, but its productivity
is minimized by limited soil fertility...When the natural
vegetation cycle is broken by clearing, planting and
harvesting, the delicate balance between what is taken
from and what is returned to the soil is upset. The
soil is poor to begin with, and exposed fully to the
detrimental effects of the climate, it is quickly ex¬
hausted of plant nutrients (1954:803).
She then argues that this condition limits the development of Tropical
Forest Culture:
The settlement pattern consists of semipermanent villages
composed of communal or single family houses of pole and
thatch construction.

-10
Although it represents an increase in security
and food supply, slash-and-burn agriculture is not
sufficiently productive or permanent of locale to sup¬
port large concentrations of population or stable
settlements. This is reflected in the sociopolitical
organization which remains basically along kinship
lines, the headman or chief having limited authority
and few if any privileges (1954:807).
Lowie likewise stated, "The impermanence of settlement in a particular
locality is usually owing to the exhaustion of the soil" (1948:18).
In explaining the seminomadic behavior of the Siriono, Holmberg
has suggested that one of the major factors is the "sporadic and un¬
certain" yields of slash-and-burn cultivation, and the "enormous" effort
required to clear agricultural plots (1969:67). This contention will be
examined in some detail in the portion of this chapter dealing with
methodology.
Lathrap's model of migration in the Amazon is also unifactorial in
that it postulates competition for the alluvial lands of the floodplain
as the primary process leading to the distribution and differentiation
of tribal groups. The distinction between the floodplain and interfluve
habitats is a valid one, but not all of the migration in the Amazon is
accounted for in Lathrap's model, nor does competition for riverine
resources explain everything about the cultural ecology of the Siona-
Secoya.
Another unifactorial hypothesis is that the movement and low popu¬
lation density of tropical forest peoples is due to the rapid depletion
of wild protein resources in inhabited areas. As Harris suggests:
General agreement now exists that the limiting factor in
Amerindian tropical forest populations is not a declining
margin of caloric efficiency or a drop in calorie rations
as mediated through the availability of forests suitable
for swiddens (Carneiro 1961). Attention has shifted

-11-
accordingly to the role of protein capture (Ross 1971;
Morren 1973; Gross 1975). These inquiries suggest that
tropical forest habitats are characterized by low over¬
all animal biomass productivity... it seems likely that
availability of animal biomass is the principal limiting
factor. ..( n. d. :15-16).
Siskind has also cited animal protein resources as the primary limiting
factor for the Sharanahua of eastern Peru:
The settlement at Curanja had been there for ten years.
It was the site of a Dominican mission and, within a year
after the mission was closed, the village dispersed.
There had been continual references to the poverty of
game, but no one ever suggested that it was difficult to
find land for their gardens. It would appear that game,
not agricultural land, is the limiting factor (1973a:228).
Unifactorial theories such as those which have been discussed may
seem elegant, but the evidence presented by the Siona-Secoya indicate
that they are overly simplistic. This study will argue that a model to
account for the characteristics of Tropical Forest Culture must be more
complex and sophisticated in terms of ecological processes if it is to
reflect the reality of the interaction between environment, culture and
man in the Amazon.
There is no one adaptation to environment. Ecological conditions
are highly variable through time and space, and subsistence strategy and
technology must be sufficiently flexible to cope with variations in
resources if a culture is to survive. The evidence from the study of
the Siona-Secoya will indicate that the culture is organized so as to
have a great capacity for flexibility in coping with environmental
realities and variations. A substantial body of quantitative and quali¬
tative data will be presented in support of a more complex adaptive
model. These data indicate that factors such as soil depletion, compe¬
tition for land and protein capture may all be valid limiting factors

-12-
in specific times and places, but that none of these can wholly account
for the structure of Tropical Forest Culture. It will also be argued
that the social organization and symbolic system of the Siona-Secoya are
not mere epiphenomena or "superstructure" but serve important ecological
functions.
Methodological Critique of Two Classic Studies
With few exceptions studies of Amazonian cultures have been too
superficial in their treatment of ecological factors. However, Meggers’
statement that "no ecologically oriented field studies have been made, as
yet in the Amazonian lowlands" (1971:6) is not completely accurate. The
following section consists of a review of two classic studies which did
focus on the subsistence ecology of Amazonian societies. Each of these
studies has made a significant contribution to our knowledge of Amazonia.
The purpose here is not to demean them, but rather to illustrate the
need for better methodological approaches in the collection of ecolo¬
gical data so that our understanding of Amazonian peoples may continue
to develop.
Holmberg studied the seminomadic Siriono of eastern Bolivia in
1940-41 (1969) in an attempt to investigate the relative importance of
"basic drives" on human learning and cultural forms. He stated his
research focus in the following manner:
It was logical to assume that where the conditions
of a sparse and insecure food supply exist in human society
the frustrations and anxieties centering around the drive
of hunger should have significant repercussions on behavior
and on cultural forms themselves. Hence, I took as my
general problem the investigation of the relation between
the economic aspect and other aspects of culture in a
society functioning under conditions of a sparse and in¬
secure food supply (1969:xviii).

-13
The difficulty in dealing with Holmberg's study of the Siriono, however,
is that we are never told precisely just how "sparse and insecure" the
food supply of these people is. The data on Siriono subsistence re¬
sources are subjective and imprecise:
Although agriculture has been practiced for many
years by the Siriono...it has never reached a sufficient
degree of development to prevent their remaining a
fairly mobile people...the sheer physical effort involved
in adequately clearing a patch for planting is enormous
...hence the Siriono have doubtless experienced greater
rewards from the collecting of wild vegetable products
and fruits, some of which...are. available and abundant
the year around, than they have from the practice of
agriculture, whose yields are sporadic and uncertain
(1969:67).
These statements raise some interesting questions, but they appear to
be Holmberg's impressions, rather than conclusions generated by quanti¬
tative analysis of Siriono subsistence activities.
The Siriono are said to have an underdeveloped agriculture that
requires very high labor inputs and whose yields are unreliable. Modern
studies of aboriginal slash-and~burn systems, however, generally agree
that this method is a reliable and relatively efficient mode of pro¬
duction (Carneiro 1957, 1964; Carter 1969; Conklin 1957; de Schlippe
1956; Freeman 1955; Geertz 1963; Pospisil 1963; Rappaport 1968). For
example, the technoenvironmental efficiency (calories produced for each
calorie expended in food production) of Tsembaga Maring vegetable food
production with shifting cultivation in New Guinea is 18:1. Harris
comments:
The slash-and-burn mode of production permits the
Tsembaga to satisfy their calorie needs with remarkably
small investment of working time — only 380 hours per
year per food producer in the cultivation process. High
productivity of slash-and-burn techniques accounts for

-14-
the continuing importance of this form of agriculture
throughout the tropical regions of the modern world
(1971:210-211).
T do not mean to suggest that the Siriono’s cultivation need be as
efficient as the slash-and-burn of the Tsembaga, but rather that shift¬
ing cultivation is not inherently "sporadic and uncertain."
There is internal evidence in Holmberg's study that indicates that
the Siriono relied on their agriculture to a significant degree:
Although a more or less permanent Siriono hut is
encircled by familial garden plots, by no means are all
the gardens planted just outside the hut. A hunter who
is accustomed to going...to a certain lagoon...may plant
a small garden there so as to have vegetable foods avail¬
able when he returns on subsequent trips... these hunting
parties...would often last two weeks, during which time
we would make our headquarters at his gardens (1969:
68-69).
Another point in Holmberg's ethnography that weakens his contention
that Siriono slash-and-burn agriculture is unreliable is the fact that
during the year he spent with them, they only spent two months in
nomadic hunting and gathering activities (1969:xxii-xxiii). Holmberg
also erred in his belief that the chonta palm fruits eaten by the
Siriono were "collected" (1969:64). Chonta is in fact a planted palm
and its fruits are harvested:
The pejibaye, or peach palm (Guillelma utilis or
Bactris utilis) is one of the spiny-trunked palms with
hard, dark wood commonly called "chonta" in South America.
In many cases it has lost the capacity to produce fertile
seeds and is reproduced by planting sprout cuttings...
The palm is said to be unknown in a truly wild state
(Sauer 1950:525).
These palms continue to produce even after a house site where they have
been planted is abandoned. The Siona-Secoya also visit their former

-13-
settlement sites during the chonta bearing season so that the fruit may
be harvested, as apparently do the Siriono. The fruit should properly
be considered as a product of shifting cultivation rather than as the
collecting of a feral species.
The importance of cultivated foods in the Siriono diet is also
evident in the following statement by Holmberg:
Although meat is the most desired item in the diet of the
Indians, it is by no means the most abundant. Maize,
sweet manioc, and camotes (when available) constitute a
very important part of the food supply (1969:76).
On the one hand we are told that the yields of the slash-and-bum culti¬
vation of the Siriono are "sporadic and uncertain," while on the other
that cultigens are an important part of the food supply.
It is possible that there may be other factors which limit the ef¬
ficiency of Siriono shifting cultivation. These might include elevation
and drainage of the land and soil fertility. Holmberg does tell us that
most of the land consists of bajuras which flood during the rainy season
and have a "heavy clayey topsoil," and which are unsuitable for cultiva¬
tion (1969:3). Yet there are some alturas which "are considered to be
the richest agricultural lands." Holmberg estimates the total popula¬
tion of the Siriono to have been about 2,000 at the time of his study,
although a number of these had abandoned the indigenous life style. The
band of Aciba-eoko consisted of 94 individuals and that of Eantándu 58.
Therefore with a generous hypothetical estimate of 1/3 hectare per per¬
son of land in cultivation to meet subsistence needs, and a twenty year
fallow period (assuming a two-year cropping cycle on each plot), these
two bands would require no more than 313 and 193 hectares respectively
to maintain a viable system of shifting cultivation (with a wide

-16-
margin for error). Once again, the lack of basic data in the ethno¬
graphy make it impossible to determine if there was sufficient altura
type land available.
Perhaps the best way to determine whether or not a society has a
sparse food supply is to made a quantitative and qualitative analysis
of its diet by measuring the caloric intake of its individuals, or a
representative sample of them, over a period of time. This is commonly
done by noting the foods eaten and the weights of the portions consumed.
Caloric requirements do vary, of course, depending on body size, physical
activity, climate and whether or not the individual is pregnant or
lactating, but these variables may be accounted for with a reasonable
degree of precision. If such data were available for the Siriono if.
would clarify much of the ambiguity in Holmberg’s report.
One of the first major attempts to utilize quantitative methodology
in the study of aboriginal human ecology in the Amazon was Carneiro's
study of the Kuikuru of the Upper Xingú River in Brazil (1957). He
comments on Kirchoff's (1931) comparative study of tropical forest
tribes in the following manner in his introduction:
Nowhere in the article are we presented with a de¬
tailed picture of the ecological adjustment of any one
people. This is not said to discredit Kirchoff, since
no account containing information of this sort was
available to him at the time he was writing [1931]
(1957:25).
Carneiro sets for himself the task of remedying this situation, at least
in terms of the Kuikuru:
My aim in this dissertation is not to demonstrate
the proposition that subsistence determines social
structure, but rather to indicate how it has done so in
the case of the Kuikuru...(p. 32).

-17-
A1though it is Carneiro's stated objective to present a detailed
account of the Kuikuru ecological system, he curiously devotes almost
all of his attention to manioc production. It is evident that manioc
is the most important cultigen, and Carneiro uses quantitative data on
manioc yields to support his contention that sedentary and permanent
villages are possible in the Amazon. The only other Kuikuru cultigens
appear to be maize, sweet potatoes, beans, cayenne pepper, sugarcane and
the semidomesticated piqui (Caryocar butyrosum) and mangaba (Hancornia
speciosa) trees (1957:122, 124, 163, 115). From the evidence Carneiro
presents the Kuikuru would appear to have a remarkable lack of diversity
in their diet when compared to other societies practicing shifting
cultivation, such as the Miskito (Nietschmann 1973), the Campa (Weiss
1969), the Tsembaga (Rappaport 1968), the Hanunoo (Conklin 1957) and
the Siona-Secoya discussed in this dissertation.
Carneiro tells us that the Kuikuru "barely exploit the wild food
resources of their habitat except for fish...simply through lack of
interest in them" (1957:114). They only hunt a few monkeys, five
species of birds, a few insects, as well as collecting wild honey.
Carneiro suggests that the reason the Kuikuru pass up so many potential
food resources is the "principle of least effort":
Per unit of time or of labor, the raising of manioc
provides much more food than does hunting. The relatively
small number of wild foods that are obtained by hunting or
gathering are all of the nature of delicacies rather than
staples...Monkey meat and other wild foods are consumed
for reasons of palate and sociability, and not because of
the dictates of bioenergetics (p. 125).
One of the problems with the "least effort" concept is that it is based
entirely on the quantity of food in terms of calories. It is also

8-
important to consider the qualitative values of foods.
Carneiro has himself laid the groundwork for a critique of the
"principle of least effort":
Since manioc flour contains only about 1% or 2%
protein...it can hardly provide enough of the essential
amino acids. Fish, in general, have a protein content
of 15% to 30%...and it seems certain that the Kuikuru
obtain most of their amino acids from this source (p.
114).
and
...it is possible that wild food contributes a significant
amount of vitamins and trace elements to the Kuikuru diet
(p. 121).
Although some modes of food production may be less "efficient" in terms
of the ratio of calories expended in their production to calories pro¬
duced, they may provide essential nutrients for the maintenance of
physical well-being, and therefore their contribution to the diet cannot
be considered solely in terms of caloric efficiency.
Rappaport also emphasized the point that less efficiently produced
foods can make important nutritional contributions to the diet:
...pig husbandry is expensive in terms of the caloric
expenditure demanded of its practitioners, and...the
maintenance of pigs may also demand, as it does among
the Tsembaga, the cultivation of acreage in excess of
that required for the support of the human population
...pig husbandry might better be regarded as a means for
converting carbohydrates into high-quality protein and
fat...Melanesian pigs, as Vayda, Leeds, and Smith point
out, cannot be regarded as luxuries. They are a very
expensive necessity (1968:66-68).
In the case of Carneiro's study it would be desirable to have a more
detailed analysis of the contribution of each component of the diet as

-19-
the energy expenditure entailed in providing that component.
Carneiro's methods for calculating input-output factors for manioc
production are also open to question:
In the course of their routine agricultural activities
during the rainy season we were able to observe the Kuikuru
men, on the average, work on their manioc plots once every
2 or 3 days. Ordinarily they leave the village about
7:00 a.m. and return about 11:30 a.m. If this work pattern
is extrapolated to the year as a whole, which I believe may
be done validly, we find that by simple calculation that the
average Kuikuru man spends 657 hours a year on agricultural
pursuits (1957:135-136).
The structure of Table 4 (1957:158-159) also suggests that Carneiro
computed "average’1 values on a small sample and then generated the bulk
of his figures by extrapolation (e.g. average weight of edible starch
per tuber multiplied times the average number of tubers per hill multi¬
plied times the average number of hills in a manioc plot multiplied
times the number of manioc plots equals the total weight of edible
starch produced by all Kuikuru gardens, or 83,612,800 grams). Carried
to the extreme it would be possible to estimate the entire yield of
manioc from a sample of one tuber, or one hill of tubers. A major
problem with Carneiro’s data is that it is not possible to determine
what percentage of the information is based on direct measurement, and
what percentage is derived by extrapolation.
Inference from a sample is not inherently bad, for in most situa¬
tions it is impossible or inconvenient to measure the entire population
of phenomena. Sampling is almost mandatory in human ecological studies
for it is impossible for the investigator to be in all places at all
times. However, if an inference is to be made fro.m a sample, care must
be taken to assure that the sample is as representative as possible. In

-20-
field situations external conditions may impose limitations on tech¬
niques that may be employed, and as a result anthropologists frequently
use a nonprobability sample of availability. Since some doubt may
remain about the procedure, detailed information should be provided on
the methodology employed. This should include the intent or goal of
the procedure, the actual measuring techniques or instruments used, the
method of sample selection, the size of the sample and any special
conditions or circumstances which affected the collection of the data.
In many cases it may not be possible to obtain the sample desired. This
is why it is important that the conditions of the research be fully
explained. This should be no less true in anthropology than in other
sciences, and it is especially important in anthropology since it is
often much more difficult to control the conditions encountered in
ethnographic fieldwork.

CHAPTER II
THE SETTING
The People
The Siona-Secoya are members of the Western Tucanoan group, one oí
the two branches of the Tucanoan linguistic family. In aboriginal times
the Western Tucanoans were an important people occupying a large terri¬
tory. They are frequently mentioned in the accounts of explorers,
Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries, and travellers. Yet they are little
known anthropologically', The Western Tucanoans included the Coreguajes
of the northern tributaries of the Caquetá and the Tamas and Macaguajes
of its southern tributaries, the Sionas and Oyo of the Putumayo River,
the Encaballados of the Aguarico and Napo, and the Coto (Orejón,
Payagua) from near the junction of the Napo and the Amazon. In addi¬
tion, there were many smaller groups or local subdivisions of the
aforementioned major groups.
To date, the best information available on Western Tucanoan peoples
is from the Sionas of the Putumayo. This important river system has
attracted outsiders since the early historical period. First the
Franciscans in the 17th and 18th centuries, followed by a hiatus during
the 19th century, and then the onslaught of the rubber era during the
early 20th century. Following the collapse of the rubber boom the area
continued to be penetrated by whites, and this process received added
impetus from the discovery of oil in the Orito area in 1963. Descrip¬
tions or accounts of the Siona in the 20th century include those by
21-

-22-
Hardenburg (1910, 1912) who described the exploitation of the rubber
period, Castellvi (1939, 1953), Chaves (1958), Calella (1937, 1940-41),
and Mallol de Recasens (1964-65). Research on native plant use has been
conducted by the botanist Schultes (1942, 1957). More recently,
Wheeler, a Summer Institute of Linguistics missionary, has made a study
of the Siona language (1962, 1970) and Langdon (1974) has made an
excellent study of the Siona medical system. Langdon’s work also
contains historical and ethnographic data for the Putumayo region. The
ether Western Tucanoan groups are less well known.
The present study deals with the Western Tucanoans of the Aguarico
River. The Aguarico is a northern tributary of the Napo River, which in
turn is one of the larger and more important tributaries of the Amazon.
For as long as myth and recorded history can recall, the land along the
middle and lower Aguarico has been the home of Western Tucanoan speaking
peoples. Its main affluents, the Eno, the Shushufindi and the Cuyabeno
are traditional hearths of Western Tucanoan culture as well. This area
of exuberant green forest drained by the swift mud-brown Aguarico, and
the slow, silent, black Cxiyabeno, is the focus of the current research.
Many terms have been applied to these peoples of the Aguarico and
Napa by the outsiders who came into contact with them. The early
Franciscans and Jesuits called them Encabellados because of their long
hair, which was sometimes worn in. elaborate braided coiffures. Travel¬
lers of the 19th century called them Piojé after their negation /peohi/
("there is none”), which supposedly was the Indian response to any
request for food. These names mean little to the people themselves.
"Siona” and "Secoya" are. the terms of self identification these Indians
use when speaking to outsiders. The word Siona consists of two

-23-
i
morphemes: the noun stem /sio-/, meaning "garden," and the suffix /-na/
indicating "movement toward." The complete meaning of the term, there¬
fore, is "to the garden In their own language, however, the Sioha of
the Aguarico are known as /sa?niwu ba:i /, or the "upriver people," indi¬
cating their residence upstream from the mouth of the Aguaico.
The term "Secoya" is taken from the stream named /sekoya/, a
tributary of the Santa Maria River in Peru, which is an affluent of the
Napo (see Figure 1).. Oral tradition holds that the homeland of the
Secoya is the quebrada of the same name. The native name of the Santa
Maria River is /wahoya/ ("river of battle"; see p. ?0G), and in their
language the Secoya are known as the /wahoya bai/.
Although related, the Siona of the Aguarico, or /sa?niwu bai/,
should not be confused with, the Siona of the Putumayo, or /gatiya bai/
("cane river people"). On the basis of linguistic data, genealogical
analysis and kinship terminologies it is evident that the Siona of the
Aguarico have a closer affinity to the Secoya to the east than to the
Siona of the Putumayo to the north..
The people studied in this dissertation are referred to as "Sicna--
Secoya" in order to reflect the social reality of the Aguarico region.
In the early 1940!s many of the Secoya of the Santa Maria migrated into
Ecuador to escape, the abuses of a white patron and settled with Siona
kinsmen on the Cuyabeno. The children of these Secoya intermarried with
Siona and Siona-Cofán at the village of Puerto Bolivar. In 1973 most
of the families at Puefto Bcliva.r began migrating to the village, of
Shushufindi on the Aguarico. Shushufindi was the primary research site
for this study, although visits were made to other settlements. The
Western Tucanoans of the Aguarico, therefore consist primarily of Siona

Figure 1. Location of the Siona-Secoya in Northeastern Ecuador.

-25-
and Secoya who have intermarried (there are also a few Cofan, Siona-
Cofán,Angotero and Macaguaje individuals in the same communities). They
share a similar cultural tradition, speak mutually intelligible dialects
of the same language and have been linked through marriage for at least
four generations. Furthermore, intermarriage will increase in the
future due to the structure of the marriage rules and the availability
of potential marriage partners. For these reasons the hyphenated term
"Siona-Secoya" is used when referring to the culture in general terms,
and to shared cultural elements between the two parent groups. To elect
for one term over another (as the missionaries have tended to do) is to
sacrifice accuracy and to deny the importance of one group in favor of
2
another. Only in cases of specific histórica], events, or where a trait,
practice or artifact is associated with one group, but not the other,
will the single terms "Siona" and "Secoya" be employed.
The Land
The traditional territory of the Western Tucanoans stretched over
an area of about 82,000 square kilometers (31,500 square miles) between
lat. 1°N. to 4US. and long. 73°W. to 77°W. in what is presently part of
modern day Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. This territory lies east of the
Andean foothills and its elevation ranges from about 300-100 meters
(approximately 1,000-400 feet) from west to east. The geology of the
Aguarico Basin is characterized by old alluvial beds of the Quaternary
which give way to Cretaceous-Tertiary and Paleozoic sediments to the
west, and then the metamorphic formations of the Andes (Tschopp 1953:
2304: Grubb et al. 1963:570).

-26-
The climate corresponds to Koppen's Af or tropical wet (with no
month drier than 60 nun of rainfall). Data collected at Limoncocha
(a Summer Institute of Linguistics base camp on the Napo) 32 kilometers
southwest of Shushufindi shows a mean annual rainfall of 3375 mm (132
inches) for the period 1971-74. The month of least rainfall for this
period was December with a mean of 172.5 mm (6.79 inches), and the month
of greatest rainfall was March with a mean of 411.2 mm (16.19 inches).
Generally speaking, the "dry season" runs from December through February,
and the 'Vet season" from March through July. The people of the region
refer to August as a "little dry season" (verano), and the Limoncocha
data for 1971-74 show a mean rainfall for August of 253.8 mm (9.99
inches) which is slightly below the mean monthly rainfall for the entire
year of 281.2 mm (11.08 inches). From a temperate zone perspective
there are no truly dry months, but rather wet months and somewhat less
wet months. However, this should not obscure the fact that seasonal
variations in rainfall do have, a significant influence ori human activi¬
ties within the region, especially those relating to subsistence (Siona-
Secoya reckoning of seasons will be discussed in Chapter IV).
Appendix 1 contains climatological data from Limoncocha as well as
for the first twelve months of the fieldwork at Shushufindi (October
1973 to September 1974). This twelve month period was somewhat wetter
than usual, with a total rainfall of 3665 mm (144.29 inches). The high
total was primarily due to heavier rainfall than usual in May, June and
July, which culminated with heavy floods in July that washed away the
steel and concrete bridge and pipeline crossing the Aguarico on the Lago
Agrio-Coca highway, as well as destroying many houses along the banks of
the river. The mean annual temperature recorded at Shushufindi was

-27-
25.9°C (78.7CF), with a mean maximum temperature of 31.1°C (87.9°F)
and a mean minimum temperature of 20,8°C (69.4°F).
The mature vegetation of the Aguarico-Napo region is of the type
classified by Richards (1952) as Tropical Rain Forest, and subsequently
reclassified by Grubb et al. (1963) as Tropical Lowland Rain Forest.
It is characterized by three strata of trees with heights ranging from
24-45 meters (80-150 feet), large woody climbers, common occurrence of
epiphytes, and frequent occurrence of buttressed trees, some of which
are very large (Grubb et al. 1963:596). In addition to this primary
growth, there are a number of other plant associations which develop
under specific ecological conditions. These include the secondary
growth characteristic of islands and banks of certain rivers, the secon¬
dary growth developing from abandoned gardens and habitation sites,
associations of lowland areas and perennially flooded soils, and vine
associations (bejucales) among others. The Siona-Secoya are sophisi-
cated in their recognition and utilization of the various floral associ¬
ations (see Chapter IV and Appendix 3). The fauna of the area under
study is typically Amazonian in character (see Chapter V and Appendix 4).
The Aguarico, the major river of the study area, rises in the
Pimampiro and Due spurs of the Cordillera Oriental of the Andes. As it
descends the steep eastern slopes of the Andes it carries a heavy load
of silt along with it. For this reason its water is characteristically
muddy brown in color. Only during the drier months, when the river
drops dramatically, does the water show any semblance of clarity. The
Spanish named the river Aguarico ("rich water") because they discovered
flecks of gold in its currents, and to this day there is some small
scale prospecting carried out on its upper reaches. The Siona-Secoya

-28-
I
3
call it /haiya/ or "big river."
For over half of its course the Aguarico is swift and treacherous.
There are innumerable rapids and submerged logs just below the surface
of the cloudy water. The last major rapids are just above the mouth of
the Eno River, about 13 kilometers (8 miles) upriver from the village
of Shushufindi. The Aguarico is navigable for 160 of its 489 kilometers
(Acosta-Solis 1965:23). The Eno itself is a small tributary that enters
the Aguarico from the right bank (proceeding downstream), as is the
Shushufindi downriver. While both the Eno and Shushufindi are smaller
than the Aguarico, their waters are similar in color and the vegetation
along their banks is generally similar to the larger river, except for
its sandbar and island associations with their characteristic stands of
caña brava (Gynerium sagittatum).
A full day's journey by canoe downriver from the Shushufindi brings
one to the mouth of the Cuyabeno River, which enters the Aguarico from
the left bank, or north side. This is a river that has figured promi¬
nently in Siona-Secoya history, but that has always had a certain aura
of mystery or foreboding about it. They call it /siokiya/ which trans¬
lates as "river of refuse," and explain that it was given this name
because the water carries much litter, especially the leaves from the
trees along its banks. To the outsider the name seems bizarre, for the
slow dark waters of the Cuyabeno appear pristine in comparison to the
silt-laden Aguarico. The river is strikingly different in appearance
from the A.guarico, Eno and Shushufindi. It is a small stream which
rises completely within the jungle between the San Miguel and the
Aguarico and runs eastward and then southward in a sinuous twisting and
turning course, doubling back upon itself time and time again. Numerous

-29
bends have been cut off as the river has shifted its bed, creating oxbow
lakes straddling its path. Its banks are low, at times only a meter or
two above the level of the river. When the rains commence the currents
rise and flood vast areas along either side, refilling the oxbows with
fish. There are only a few places along the river where the banks are
elevated above the flood level.
The waters of the Cuyabeno are dark, not dirty, and its surface is
calm. Brilliantly colorful flowering trees overhang its banks and an
astonishing variety of birdlife is in evidence along its course, in¬
cluding ringed kingfishers (Ceryle torcuata) which dart along the water
before approaching canoes, and long necked anhingas (Anhinga anhinga)
which walk along submerged on the bottom and stick their heads above the
surface of the water to observe you as you pass. For these reasons the
Cuyabeno has a quality of beauty and intimacy that the other rivers
cannot match.
Further dowmstream from the mouth of the Cuyabeno two historically
important tributaries enter the Aguarico: /sokora/ (corrupted to
Zancudo in Spanish) from the right bank, and /b±?ik±ya/ ("caiman river")
from the left (see Figure 1). The latter is notorious for its confusing
maze of waterways and swampy terrain. Near the mouth of the Aguarico
the quebrada Cocaya enters from the left.
There was considerable Western Tucanoan settlement around Pantoja
at the junction of the Aguarico and Napo Rivers until comparatively
recent times. During the early mission period there were also Encabel-
lado farther up the Napo and on the lower Tiputini River. The Santa
Maria River runs parallel to the Napo (below the mouth of the Aguarico)
before entering it from the left bank, and is the traditional home of

-30-
the Secoyas. To the northeast are the Angusilla ( /ünkWisiya/ ) and
Yubineto, two tributaries of the Putumayo which are currently inhabited
by groups of Secoyas and Angoteros. In aboriginal times Encaballado
territory extended even farther eastward to the Cura.ray on the Napo, and
the Campuya on the Putumayo. South of the Napo, on the Curaray, lived
the Awishira, dreaded enemies of the Encabellado. To the east were the
/'í'éraü bal/ or "howler monkey people" (Coto in Spanish), who were related
Western Tucanoan speakers, and to the north, the Witotoan peoples.
The purpose of this brief chapter has been to give a general intro¬
duction to the research setting. Although the Tucanoan language famil}'
does not compose one of the larger linguistic groups in the Amazon Basin,
even the territory of the Western Tucanoan branch is marked by signifi¬
cant variations in habitat and resources. In subsequent chapters
specific information will be provided on conditions at particular
locations and variations in Siona-Secoya resource utilization.

NOTES TO CHAPTER II
Wheeler and Wheeler (1962) provide the "to the field" gloss, but in a
subsequent study one of the authors questions this derivation (Wheeler
1970:14), and suggests that the name "Siona" derives from the Witoto
term for "perfume people."
SIL personnel refer to the communities on the Cuyabeno and at Shushu-
findi as "Secoya." This preference appears to rest on the fact that
their primary linguistic informants have been Secoyas. They have also
had greater success in converting the Secoyas to Protestantism, whereas
the Sionas of the Aguarico have been more resistant to their teachings.
From an anthropological perspective, the identification of these com¬
munities solely as Secoya is not justifiable.
3
The Napo River is also called /haiya/.
-31-

CHAPTER III
THEIR HISTORY
All the tribes that are along this river down which we
have passed...are people of great intelligence and
skillful men according to what we saw and to what they
appeared to be from all the tasks which they perform,
not only in carving but also in drawing and in painting
in all colors, very bright, such that it is a marvelous
thing to see.
Gaspar de Carvajal, August 1542
(in Heaton 1934:233)
Historically speaking, the Napo and its tributaries constitute one
of the most important river systems in all of Amazonia. The Napo
figured prominently in the famous voyages of Francisco de Orellana
(1541-42) and Pedro Teixeira (1637-39), the missionization efforts of
the Jesuits during the 17th and ISth centuries, was involved in the
rubber boom at the turn of the present century, and was a battlefield
in the war between Ecuador and Peru in 1941. The interpretation of its
archeological materials is at the center of the most vigorous debate on
Amazonian culture history to date.’*'
The history of the Encabellados is closely associated with the
history of the Napo, for they were one of its most prominent ethnic
groups. Encabellado history may be divided into four periods for the
purpose of discussion: Precontact Period (before 1542), Early Mission
Period (17th and 18th centuries), Nineteenth Century, and the Modern
Period (1900 to the present).
-32-

-33-
The Precontact Period (Before 1542)
The archeological investigation of the Aguarico-Napo region has
only its barest beginnings. The most significant excavations to date
were conducted by Evans and Meggers (1968) at ten sites on the Napo and
three on the Tiputini. Four phases were identified: Yasuni (radio¬
carbon date 2000 Í 90 or 50 B.C.), Tivacundo (1440 Í 70 or A.D. 510),
Napo (three dates: 742 + 53 or A.D. 1168; 771 Í 51 or A.D. 1179;
470 Í 180 or A.D. 1480), and Cotacocha (post-European contact). To date
no definite associations have been made between these phases and Western
Tucanoan cultures. Evans and Meggers have hypothesized that these
ceramic complexes represent four independent traditions which settled
briefly in the area, but then moved on due to the low subsistence poten¬
tial of the land (1968:108). In general, they see the movement as being
from the older pottery making traditions of the Andes to the lowlands,
or from west to east.
The most developed of the ceramic complexes, the Napo Phase, was
identified by Evans and Meggers as belonging to the Polychrome Horizon
Style which has been found at a number of sites along the middle and
lower Amazon, including the famous sites of Marajó Island at the mouth
of the river. Napo Phase vessels have also been collected from loca¬
tions along the Aguarico River by Gillin (1936), Lapiner, and Evans and
Meggers (1968:36). There are, respectively, from sites one-and-a-half
miles up a creek (a south tributary) forty-five miles from the mouth of
the A.guarico, a site just upriver from the mouth of the Cuyabeno, and
from the mouth of the Eno. In addition my wife and I made surface
collections at the villages of Shushufindi and Puerto Bolivar which
2
contain sherds with decoration in the Napo Phase style.

-34-
On the basis of his excavations on the Ucayali in Peru Lathrap has
concluded that the Caimito Phase is also of the Polychrome Horizon Style.
He has postulated that this horizon was carried by Tupi-Guaranian
speakers in a series of east-west migrations from the Lower Amazon to
its upper tributaries (1970:150). Specifically, Lathrap argues that the
carriers of the Napo Phase were Omaguas who fissioned from settlements
on the Amazon and moved up the Napo and "dominated" the Aguarico-Napo
region (p. 153). These were known in historical times as Omagua-yetes
and the Spanish found them inhabiting the Napo region from the Coca to
the mouth of the Aguarico, and some were reported living on the Cocaya
(a tributary of the Aguarico near its mouth). The early sources on the
Omagua of the Napo have been summarized by Oberem (1967-68).
Since the archeology of the region is so incomplete it is not known
whether any of the phases identified by Evans and Meggers are the leav¬
ings of Western Tucanoan peoples. The sites they excavated lie generally
to the west of traditional Western Tucanoan territory, but there is some
overlap with documented Encabellado settlements of the Early Mission
Period on the Tiputini, and the Napo Phase vessels found along the
Aguarico and the sherds I collected on the Cuyabeno are well within the
area traditionally considered to be Encabellado territory. The anti¬
quity of WTestern Tucanoan peoples in the area cannot be established with
certainty until the archeological sequences of the entire region are
better known, but all indications point to considerable antiquity of
habitation. As has been previously mentioned, the Western Tucanoans
were a large group inhabiting a vast territory from the Caquetá to the
Napo. Linguistic studies by Wheeler (1966) indicate that the depth of
separation from the related Eastern Tucanoans of the Vaupes region of

-35-
eastern Colombia is in the range of 1500-2000 years. Accounts of early
missionaries reenforce the assumption that the lower Aguarico was
traditiona.1 Encabellado territory.
The expedition of Gonzalo Pizarro to the "Land of Cinnamon" east
of the Andes, and the subsequent voyage of his lieutenant, Francisco de
Orellana, to the mouth of the Amazon is one of the more remarkable
events of the Age of Discovery. Orellana and his men separated from
the main party of the expedition on the Rio Coca in order to search for
provisions downstream. When it became evident that the band could not
return against the current of the river, they sailed on. According to
the account of Gaspar de Carvajal, a Dominican friar who was the jour¬
nalist of the voyage, the banks of the Napo were uninhabited for 200
leagues. Further downstream settlements were encountered and the
Spanish stopped at the village of Aparia the Lesser for a month to forge
2,000 nails from their equipment which were used to construct a brigan¬
tine for the rest of the voyage (Carvajal in Heaton 1934). Estimates of
the location of this village have ranged from above the mouth of the
Tiputini (Lathrap 1972:17-18) to the Curaray (Medina in Heaton 1934:61).
Although the estimated sites for the village of Aparia the Lesser
fall within what is considered Encabellado territory, current interpre¬
tations of the early accounts suggest that this chief was Omagua (Oberem
1967-68:161; Lathrap 1972:18-19; Grohs 1974:22-23). This conclusion is
based on the analysis of a few words which appear to be Omagua, the fact
that Aparia the Greater (a chieftain of the Amazon) was very likely
Omagua, and that Orellana was able to learn some of the language and
used it as he descended the river.
There is no direct evidence to suggest that any of the villages

-36-
Orellana's band visited were Western Tucanoan (Encabellado), but this
possibility certainly cannot be ruled out. As subsequent missionization
efforts attest, however, the Encabellado preferred to locate their
settlements away from the banks of the main rivers. The typical settle¬
ment pattern consisted of dispersed residence groups located on smaller
creeks and streams which fed into the Aguarico, Napo and Putumayo. The
basic settlement consisted of a patrilocal, patrilineal extended family
residing in a communal house or /hai wi?e/ ("big house”) . It was not
unusual for this group to be expanded by the addition of nuclear house¬
holds whose members did not form an integral part of another extended
group (due to particular historical circumstances, such as having been
orphaned). The leader of the residence group was the headman or
/inti ba?ik±/ ("this one who lives"), who was the most respected shaman.
The greater the power of the /inti ba?iki/ the larger the residence group
tended to be as unattached households were attracted to his curative and
protective abilities.
If Latbrap's hypothesis that Napo Phase ceramics are Omagua arti¬
facts is correct, the following hypothetical scenario may be offered:
(1) having split from the Eastern Tucanoans some 1,500 to 2,000 years
ago, the Western Tucanoans inhabit the area north of the Napo and the
Aguarico; (2) warlike Omaguas migrate up the Napo and settle near the
mouth of the Aguarico, on the Tiputini, and up the Coca, with the Western
Tucanoans withdrawing up the smaller streams (A.D. 1168-1542); (3)
Orellana's expedition descends the Napo and contacts Omaguas on the Coca
and along the Napo (Domain of Aparia the Lesser); (4) during the Early
Mission Period the Omagua communities of the Coca are pacified, assimi¬
lated or exterminated, and the Tiputini Omagua are taken to the Rio Sunu

-37-
to pan gold and subsequently escape and rejoin the Omagua on the Amazon
(Oberem 1967-68:158); and (5) the Encabellados reoccupy the Tiputini and
the area around the mouth of the Aguarico. Meggers and Evans, however,
believe that Lathrap has "totally misinterpreted the distribution of the.
Omagua" (personal communication). The final answers to these and many
other questions relating to Amazonian culture history await more exten¬
sive archeological and linguistic research in this greatly understudied
region of the world.
The Early Mission Period
Los Ancutenas del Ñapo cuidan del cabello con mucho aseo
y por eso los llaman Encabellados. Peínanse todas las
tardes, hacen trenzas y las envuelven con un tejidilio
en la cabeza. Es gala de esta nación dejar á sus tiempos,
suelto y bien peinado al cabello sobre las espaldas y
algunos hasta la cintura.
Chantre y Herrera 1901:63
There is a considerable body of published material on the Encabel¬
lados during the Early Mission Period. Some sources are first hand
accounts (Acuña 1891; Laureano de la Cruz 1900; Uriarte 1952; Veigl
1785) while others are compilations made from original sources (Chantre
y Herrera 1901; Espinosa Perez 1955; Grohs 1974; Maroni 1889-92;
Rodriguez 1684; Steward 1948b; Velasco 1941). It is also probable that
there is considerable unpublished archival material extant. The quality
of the sources is variable. The most frequent contradictions occur in
the reporting of dates for specific occurrences and the location of
rivers and villages.^
From an anthropological perspective, the major problem with the
accounts is that they are primarily concerned with events, i.e., the

-38-
activities of the missionaries. They are weak in ethnographic detail,
containing scanty or no information on kinship, political organization
or native religious beliefs. However, they do contain bits of infor¬
mation on place names, population, settlement pattern, sorcery, and
warfare which are valuable for comparison to contemporary data. This is
useful to determine the type and degree of change that has taken place
over the years, as well as the continuities between the present and the
past. The information on demography and settlement pattern is particu¬
larly important for the analysis of the cultural ecology of the Encabal¬
lados and their descendants, the Siona-Secoya.
The Encabe liados were visited by the Jesuits Ferrer and Arnulfi in
1599 (Steward 1948b:739) and again by Padres Simon de Rojas and Umberto
Coronado in 1621. The latter took an unnamed Encabellado and Awishira
back to Quito for display, and even there the animosity between these
two traditional enemies of the north and south banks of the Napo was
evident:
...sacando y bautizando algunos dellos, que en señal y
prueba de sus espirituales correrías, sacaros después á
Quito; en la cual ocasión admiraron mucho los nuestros
lo encontrado y opuesto que se mostraban en los naturales
conforme lo eran en las naciones un Encabellado y otro
Avijira, pues aun después de reducidos al gremio y unidad
de la fe, en encontrándose los dos el uno á la presencia
del otro, no podia encubrir en el semblante la natural
antipatía que hay entre aquellas naciones, y era preciso
viviesen divididos, para no reñir entre sí á cada paso
(Maroni 1889-92:28:182-3).
In 1635 Captain Juan de Palacios and a group of soldiers and
Franciscans descended the Aguarico ana attempted to found a mission at
a site called Ante,18 leagues above the mouth of the river (Juan de
Velasco cited in Espinosa Perez 1955:11-14).
Palacios was overbearing

-39-
in his manner, however, and the Indians killed him along with some of
his men. Although it is not well known, this act led to one of the
decisive events in South American history: the voyage of the Portuguese
Captain Pedro de Teixeira from Gurupa to Quito and his Act of Possession
w'hich formed the basis of Portuguese claims to the Amazon.”*
Following the death of Palacios, Friars Diego de Brieda and Andrés
de Toledo and six soldiers escaped downriver and managed to sail all the
way to Para, a feat no less remarkable than the voyage of Orellana in
1542. The Portuguese were impressed with the accounts of the Fran¬
ciscans:
0 que narraram impressionou. Em Sao Luiz, sede da
administrado que alcan^ava a Amazonia, o Estado do Maranháo
e Grao-Para, o governador Jacome Raymundo de Noronha, a
cuja presenca se apresentaram, ouviu-lhes or relato minucioso.
Havia ordens regias para effectuar-se a conquista do
rio. Ordens muito positivas que por motivos imperiosos
tinham ficado por cumprir. A occasiáo agora era propicia,
com os guias aparecidos, que se offereciam a regressar a
Quito com urna expedirá0 (Reis 1931:33).
Jacome de Noronha chose Captain Pedro Teixeira to head the expedition
of seventy soldiers and hundreds of Indians which departed upriver on
October 26, 1637.
By the time the expedition approached the Upper Amazon the Indian
paddlers and hunters began to flee,and the soldiers' esprit de corps
was flagging, and many fell ill. Teixeira decided to establish a camp
on the Napo and leave the main body of his men there while he proceeded
on to Quito. Reis (p. 36) places this camp at the junction of the
Aguarico and Napo, but most other sources indicate that it wTas at the
mouth of the /wahoya/ cr Santa Maria, "the river of the Encabellados"
(Rodriguez 1684:121-124, cited in Espinosa Perez 1955:15; Chantre y

Figure 2.
Eighteenth Century Jesuit Missions among the Encabellado.

-41-
Herrera 1901:49; Jimenez de la Espada, cited in Espinosa Perez 1955:17).
The relations between the encamped Portuguese and the Encabellados were
not peaceful:
As pazes com os Encabellados já nao estavam respeitadas.
0 desasocego no logar tomava vulto. Pedro da Costa FavelJa,
para garantia de seus commandados, assignalava em sangue e
fogo a sua presenca de disciplinador passando pelas annas os
Encabellados que pudera agarrar e incendiando-lhes aldeamentos
(Reis 1931:37).
Teixeira departed Quito on February 10, 1639, and performed the Act of
Possession during his return voyage. Although the site of the Auto de
Posse has been debated (Edmundson 1922:32-43), the Portuguese contention
is clear: "Encarada politicamente, valeu como o primero passo para o
alargamento do Brasil portuguez na posse fincada á bocea do Aguarico"
(Reis 1931:39).
In 1654 Padre Raimundo de Santa Cruz entered Encabellado territory
in search of a route to connect the missions of the Marañon and Quito
(Rodriguez 1684:189-193 and Chantre y Herrera 1901:164-5 cited in
Espinosa Perez 1955:12,17). At one point his party lost its direction
and five Jivaros were sent ashore to seek directions. They approached
an Encabellado settlement where all but one were promptly surrounded,
killed and beheaded with stone axes. The lone survivor escaped to the
river and warned the expedition.
On July 15, 1633 a Cédula Real was issued which gave the Jesuits
exclusive rights to missionize the Indians of the Napo and Aguarico,
limiting the Franciscans to the Putumayo (Chantre y Herrera 1901:316).
The period from .1709 to 1769 was the heyday of Jesuit activity among the
Encabellados. No few~er than seventeen missions were founded on the
Aguarico and Napo (see Figure 2). The Jesuits found the Encabellados

-42-
scattered in small settlements off the main rivers. Since the number
of missionaries was always very small and the territory large, they
spent much of their time travelling. Their history is a record of
comings and goings between the various mission sites, and journeys into
the forest to search for newly reported groups of Encabellados. The
strategy was to take the Indians from their small, dispersed settlements
in the forest and concentrate them in villages or reducciones along the
banks of the Napo and Aguarico to facilitate their catechization.
The Jesuit fathers were tenacious men who endured great hardships
to contact the Encabellados and motivate them to relocate their settle¬
ments. They frequently travelled many days inland through forests and
swamps searching for groups that had been reported by previously con¬
tacted Encabellado. The Jesuits were largely successful in accomplish¬
ing this, but failed in the long term because they were unable to
overcome the centrifugal forces that tended to pull the reducciones
apart.
Each individual Encabellado settlement under its headman, or
/inti ba?ik±/, feared the sorcery of other Encabellado. When the
Jesuits attempted to get two groups to settle in one reducción some
headmen refused outright. The fathers were rigid in their adherence
to doctrine, but pragmatic in dealing with problems they could not
control. They allowed the recalcitrant groups to make individual
settlements by the rivers in the hope that they could eventually be
persuaded to unite in the main reducciones•
The Encabellado missions were notable for their instability.
People fled them at the slightest difficulty or provocation. A major
problem was the increased susceptibility to disease in the reducciones,

-43-
and the fact that the Encabellado believed that most illness was the
result of sorcery. The discipline imposed by the Jesuits and their
assistants also caused difficulties. The. most significant episode of
this type occurred when the headman Curazaba attempted to escape from
the mission of San Miguel but was detained by Padre Francisco Real:
...Curazaba tratase de escapar al monte con toda su familia.
Quiso disimular la retirada con el pretexto de un puro paseo
con apariencias de que volvería; mas no pudo encubrir su
verdadera determinación de manera que un niño de la escuela
no descubriese las diligencias y prevenciones que hacia para
llevar la familia. Como esta gente inocente, es siempre
fiel al misionero y entra con celo en las ideas de su
maestro, fue volando al misionero y le avisó de la resolución
cierta de Curazaba. Procuró el padre disuadirle con todos
los modos que supo y pudo el viaje; pero como nada hiciese
mella en aquel duro corazón, se determinó á quitarle la
herramienta que le habia dado, advirtiondo que no se le
dejaba el instrumento por querer retirarse al monte; pero
que se le volvería á dar después de pocos días, si en
ellos daba pruebas de desistir de su intento (Chantre y
Herrera 1901:392).
His escape attempt foiled, Curazaba began to use his influence against
the priest, charging that the Indians were being taught Quechua in the
mission school so that they could be sold into slavery. On January 4,
1744 Cuazaba and his followers speared Padre Real and his two assistants,
desecrated the religious objects of the chapel, burned the settlement,
and returned to the forest.
Having heard of the death of Padre Real, and fearing punishment,
the Encabellados of the missions of Nombre de Jesús, San Pedro, Soledad
de María, Santa Teresa, Corazón de Maria, Mártires del Japón and San
Estanislao fled also (Chantre y Herrera 1901:396). Only the people of
San José, San Luis Gonzaga, San Bartolomé de Necoya, San Juan de
Paratoas and Santa María de Guayoya stayed, largely due to the efforts
of Padre Joaquin Pietragrasa. The tenacity of the Jesuits is apparent

-44-
in the fact that the experienced, but ailing, Padre Martin Iriarte
returned from a convalescence and assumed the task of attempting to
reestablish the lost missions. He was the only fluent speaker of the
Encabellado language among the Jesuit missionaries (Chantre y Herrera
1901:398). Iriarte met with a degree of success, but the missions never
attained their former prominence.
From 1746 to 1750 there were no priests active in the missions,
their responsibility having been left to one Hermano Sanchez, who at¬
tempted to force the Indians of San Bartolomé to resettle at San José,
and sent Encabellado children to established Spanish toras, such as
Archidona, for schooling. The Encabellados resisted these policies,and
the missions declined. By 1769 only two Encabellado missions remained
(Escobar y Mendoza 1769:60 cited in Steward 1948b:740).
The Nineteenth Century
The recorded history of the Nineteenth Century is scant in compari¬
son to the Eighteenth. There was little missionary activity during
this period,and the only historical sources are the accounts of occa¬
sional travellers. The territory of the Encabellado was essentially the
same, but outsiders now referred to them as the Piojé. The geographer
Villavicencio visited the area in the 1350's (1958:175) and found them:
...living on turtle and manatee on the lower Aguarico River.
The Angutera lived on the left side of the Napo River below
the Aguarico River, where they cultivated manioc, yuca, and
bananas. The Santa Maria were peacefully and industriously
growing crops and trading hammocks and sarsaparilla (Steward
1948b: 740).
The Englishman, Simson, travelled extensively on the Napo and

-45-
Put umayo and describes the Piojé thusly;
The Piojés of the Napo are, of course, Aucas; but
those who have been in contact with traders — to whom they
supply hammocks in exchange for lienzo, knives, etc. —
disclaim this title, saying, "Auca no! Santa Maria runa,
Quiristiano!" (Not Auca! Santa Maria man, Christian!).
Upon the approach of strangers, their first action is
usually to indicate the nose with the forefinger, and to
blow and sniff through the nostrils to show their clearness
and freedom from catarrh, saying, "Huairahue, huairahud"
(Cold, cold); for after smallpox there is no disease they,
and most other Indians also, fear more than colds and
influenza. If they notice signs of the affliction, or
sneezing, in their visitors, they are alarmed; and if the
latter is repeated they decamp (sic)...
The dress of the men consists of a sort of bag or
shirt... reaching down to the knees, whilst the women wear
a band of woven chambira-fibre, eight inches wide, round
the loins, the body being painted almost all over. The
ornaments are feathers, and necklaces of jaguar's and
peccaris' and monkeys' eye-teeth (1886:193-195).
In the Nineteenth Century the Encabellado's contact with the out¬
side world shifted from the missionization efforts of the Jesuits to
sporadic bartering with river traders, exchanging forest products and
hamniocks for iron tools, cloth,and other manufactured items. They were
still considered Aucas (savages), were still at war with the Awishira
(Simson 1886:197), and continued to be plagued by the diseases intro¬
duced by whites.
The Modern Period (1900-Present)
The events of the Twentieth Century have drawn the Western Tuca-
noans of the Aguarico and Napo into ever increasing contact with the
outside world. There have been three somewhat overlapping phases of
contact. The first phase was the rubber boom which began around the
turn of the century and petered out by the 1920's, but which left a

-46-
system of debt peonage which affected some Secoya until the 1940's. The
second phase was the renewal of missionary activity in 1955 by the
Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), which continues to the present.
The most recent phase of contact stems from the oil boom beginning in
1968, and the subsequent road construction into the Aguarico Basin and
the colonization which has followed it.
The Rubber Phase
The rubber boom was a disaster of enormous proportions for the
Indians of the Amazon. Tens of thousands died as a result of being
forced into semislavery as rubber collectors and from disease. Harden-
burg (1912) described the atrocities committed against the indigenous
peoples of the Putumayo, but there is little published material on the
Aguarico and Napo for this period. Langdon states that the brunt of the
exploitation on the Putumayo fell on Boran and Witotoan peoples, but
that the Western Tucanoan tribes felt its consequences also:
In general, the Siona living in the upper regions of
their territory disliked the patronage system and preferred
their freedom, but rubber collecting activities affected
those living downstream more heavily, particularly the Oyo
tribe and the Makaguajes. The oral history of the Siona
includes stories of rubber collectors and their cruelties...
a collector... took some sixty adults of the Oyo tribe at
Montepa to Peru because of debts they owed him. They were
never heard from again, and with their forced departure,
the Oyo tribe became nearly extinct. The gathering of
resins continued throughout the whole area until the middle
of the 1920’s. Moreover, no Indian, whether he worked for
the white man or not, could escape the consequences of the
growing importance of the Putumayo region (1974:37).
The Siona-Secoya living today can likewise recall details of the
rubber period related to them by their parents. Patrons established
themselves on the Napo just below the mouth of the Aguarico and exploited

-47-
the Indians in that general area rather directly (including the Secoya
on the Santa Maria River and its tributaries). Older Secoya men recall
their fathers collecting rubber for a patron named "Karamuna Paco," who
reportedly was a Spaniard living at Pantoja (at the junction of the
Aguarico and Napo). Ironically, the sons of the Secoya who worked for
this patron view the era with a degree of nostalgia, stating that cloth,
soap and ammunition could be acquired cheaply in those days. According
to Fernando Payaguaje, the /inti ba?ik±/ of Shushufindi, his father
v?ould work for about a month locating and felling rubber trees to make
a ball of rubber weighing two arrobas (about fifty pounds). This was
toted overland to Pantoja and could be exchanged for some cloth and shot,
powder and primers, or one muzzle loading shotgun of cheap manufacture.
In the 1930's the Secoya fell under the domination of a patron they
remember as "Mauricio David." Cecilio Piaguaje estimates that he worked
for this man for fifteen years felling trees, clearing pastures, and
cultivating rice, maize and plantain gardens. He describes the work as
"never ending," and says that he even had to request permission from the
patron to go hunting in the forest. He was paid one cushma or /hu?ika/
for each year's work (the cushma is a shiftiike garment worn by men).
This account is corroborated by Fernando, who says that all of the
Secoya men worked for "Mauricio David," and that his chacras were very
large.
The Sionas farther up the Aguarico also remember the accounts of
their fathers who collected rubber, but it appears that their patrons
were Peruvians and Colombians who made periodic visits to them in
launches. Simon Piaguaje says that his father collected rubber for a
"Sr. San Miguel" from the Napo and a "Sr. Tera" (Teran ?), who was a

-48-
Colombian. He was paid an axe, and a shirt and a pair of pants for four
years of work. If the Indians didn't work they were punished and
threatened with imprisonment. Life history materials indicate that some
Sionas of the Aguarico were able to maintain a degree of freedom from
the control of the patrons. According to Simon, those who didn't wish
to work went deeper into the forest and made their gardens there.
The Secoyas chafed under the conditions imposed on them by their
patron at Pantoja. Around 1940 the Secoyas were visited by Sionas from
the Cuyabeno who were related to them. In the words of Alejandro
Payaguaje, one of the Sionas who made the trip:
The father of Fernando was from a place a little down¬
river from Cocaya. He went down to live on the Secoya...
there were no Peruvians. Later the Peruvians arrived. The
father of Fernando was the brother of my mother...working
all day, not earning anything. They themselves said, "Let's
go to Cuyabeno." The Peruvians would not allow passage by
river. At Castaña, more than two bends below /bi?ikiya/
(Lagarto Cocha), there is a trail to /sekoya/. David and
Josecillo came together, later Fernando came. I went to
/sekoya/ once.
In 1941 war broke out between Ecuador and Peru over a border dis¬
pute, and Peruvian troops used the Napo as a route of invasion. Fernando
recounted the events of the war and the subsequent migration of a
portion of the Secoyas to the Cuyabeno:
War...we lived in the forest...we heard ta...ta...ta
(machine guns). At noon Peru was winning... arriving at
the mouth of the Aguarico, also the Coca. Mauricio (the
patrón) said, "Now there are no Ecuadorians." Peruvians
were living at the mouth of the Cuyabeno and Coca...clearing
their chacras...making pastures. Later they returned to
Pantoja in order to begin well (the peace).
Mauricio asking us to work...but did not pay us...
much work. After four months he gives me one piece of cloth
for my woman, two pots, thread, a shirt...mothing more.
This is how Mauricio paid. He robbed me...robbed me.

-49-
My father died, killed by chonta darts. It made me
sad. I said, "I am an Ecuadorian." Alejandro was my
"brother" /y± a?y±/. I said, "Let's go to your land."
And the father of Bolivar was my "grandfather" /y± ñek±/.
We made a path, a large trail, that came out at /?Smuya/,
a branch of the Aguarico below Lagarto Cocha. We ascended
the /sekoya/ by canoe and then took the trail and came out
at Lagarto Cocha. Alejandro and the father of Bolivar
took me. WTe went up the Aguarico and then entered the
Cuyabeno. First David and Cesarlo went, my brothers...I
was left alone. There I stayed...later I came. Mauricio
aid not know...we lived in the forest. We told him we
were going to look for /wansoka/ (a forest product).
The Return of Missionaries
In 1955 Orville Johnson, a member of the Summer Institute of
Linguistics (SIL) made contact with the Siona-Secoya living on the
Cuyabeno. He settled there with his family and built a short airstrip
with the help of the Indians, which permitted him t:o be resupplied from
Limoncocha, the SIL base camp in Ecuador. The availability of medical
treatment and the school at Puerto Bolivar on the Cuyabeno led to the
growth of the village as Siona families from the Aguarico were attracted
to these services. Another school was established at Shushufindi, but
folded after 1970,and most of the community migrated to Puerto Bolivar.
Then in 1973 most of the people on the Cuyabeno began migrating to
Shushufindi, and only eight households remained at Puerto Bolivar. In
A
1968 Johnson had visited Secoyas on the Santa Maria, Angoteros on the
Yubineto, and then travelled to the Angusilla where more Secoyas were
living (all of these sites are in Peru). In 1973 Cecilio Piaguaje
followed this visit up by hiking overland from the Aguarico to the
Angusilla to meet with kinsmen and invite them to move to Shushufindi.
As a result of these contacts there were migrating Secoya and Angotero
arriving in Shushufindi throughout the study period of October 1973 to
March 1975.

-50-
Figure 3. Age-Sax Distribution of Siona-Secoya
in Ecuador, March 1975 (266 Total).

51-
The Oil Boom and Colonization
In 1967 a consortium of the Texaco and Gulf oil companies dis¬
covered large petroleum reserves in northeastern Ecuador. Following the
location of the Lago Agrio and Shushufindi fields, Texaco-Gulf began the
construction of a 318 mile pipeline from the Pacific port of Esmeraldas,
over the Andes and down into the jungle. This line began operation in
June, 1972 and has a capacity of 250,000 barrels per day. A road paral¬
leling the pipeline was constructed from Quito-Lago Agrio-Coca, and the
area has become a hotbed of activity as oil companies, workers, entre¬
preneurs and colonists have moved into the region.
In 1972 there were 19 petroleum companies active in Ecuador
(Cabezas 1972:131). Camps to support exploration activities were set
up at a number of sites on the Aguarico and Cuyabeno,and most adult
Siona-Secoya men were employed at one time or another, although usually
for only a month or two at a time. They usually worked clearing sites
for the camps, building offices and sleeping quarters, and clearing
trochas (trails) through the forest. They earned S/ 25-30 ($1.00-1.20)
a day plus meals. The hours were long and the living conditions crude,
but the food was ample. The Indians delight in telling of the voluminous
amounts of rice, potatoes and canned meat they were fed, and how the
company cooks would throw the excess food into the river. After a month
or two, however, the Siona-Secoya men would tire of the monotonous
routine and separation from their families. They worried about the
state of their gardens, and if their women and children were getting
meat to eat. Having earned S/ 1,000-2,000 ($40-50) with u7hich to pur¬
chase cloth and ammunition, pots and fishline, they returned to their
homes.

-52-
Despite the buffeting of four hundred years of contact with white
civilization, the comparison of the early descriptions of the Encabel-
lado with the Siona-Secoya of today reveals a remarkable degree of
cultural continuity. One of the primary reasons for this is the fact
that their subsistence system gave rise to a form of social organization
based on small and relatively autonomous units with an inherent capacity
for fission and mobility. This continuity is most evident in the
central aspects of culture: subsistence, settlement pattern, kinship,
and religion and world view. Acculturation has also been significant,
especially in terms of material culture, house type, and penetration of
new religious values. The acculturative process and its influence on
the various aspects of Siona-Secoya culture will be discussed in sub¬
sequent chapters. Despite a tremendous attrition of the overall
population due to the stresses of contact, some local groups have
survived and their basic cultural pattern has remained viable.
Another factor in the survival of Siona-Secoya culture is the fact.
that the acculturative pressures brought to bear on them were not as
intense as those in some other areas of Amazonia. The Siona of the
Putumayo, who are very closely related to the Siona-Secoya of the Agua-
rico and share similar cultural traditions, are considerably more
acculturated due to a more acute exposure to outside influences. Today
only one or two of their old men wear cushmas, their children use
Spanish as a first language, their shamans are dead and the yagé ceremony
is no longer performed. Despite these things, Langdon was able to
collect excellent material on the Siona symbolic system, but she fears
that the next generation "may never know' the glorious worlds of their
forefathers" (19/4:ii).

-53-
The surviving Siona-Secoya of today face the greatest threat yet
to their survival as a culture: the settlement of their territory by
colonists from other regions of Ecuador and their assimilation into
Mestizo culture. The Ecuadorian government today does not perceive
the needs of the indigenous communities of the Oriente, nor does it
have any coherent policy for dealing with them. Government efforts to
provide services, such as registration of land titles, credit to agri¬
culturalists, medical care and education, are focused on colonist
communities along the highways of penetration.

NOTES TO CHAPTER III
The debate over Amazonian culture history is primarily between Meggers
and Evans (1956, 1957, 1958, 1968), and Lathrap (1970, 1972, 1973).
It centers on disagreement over the sources of Tropical Forest Culture
(especially the Polychrome Horizon Style) and routes of migration
within the Amazon. These theories are discussed in this chapter* in¬
sofar as they are relevant to the present study.
These surface collections were made at the request of Dr. Clifford
Evans and Dr. Betty J. Meggers, and were sent to the Smithsonian
Institution in Washington, D.C. for confirmation of identification,
and have been accessioned into the collections of the Institution.
3
Grohs warns that Velasco's dates are unreliable (1974:110). The most
complete source for the entire mission period is Chantre y Herrera
(1901). Although not a first hand account, this work is noted for its
fidelity to the original sources. It contains considerable detail,
much of which I was able to corroborate with data collected in 1973-75.
4
Chantre y Herrera states that Captain Palacios was killed by Omaguas
(1901:49). Other sources say that his attackers were Encabellados,
and Steward (1948b: 739) and Grohs (1974:101) accept the Encabellado
hypothesis, as does Oberem (1967-68:158) who reviewed the literature
on the Omaguas of the Napo.
There is disagreement as to whether Teixeira actually sailed from
Gurupá or Cametá. Reis reviews the various claims (1931:35).
^Informants insist that the rubber trees were felled, their trunks
slashed, and the latex collected in folded leaves. This contrasts
with the estrada method described by Wagley (1964:83-86) in which
the collector establishes a trail which he covers twice each day,
gashing the trees in the morning and collecting the rubber in the
afternoon. Wagley observes that the felling method is used for species
such as balata (Manilkura bidentata), rather than for true rubber
(Hevea brasiiiensis), which is not found in many areas of the Upper
Amazon (personal communication).
54-

CHAPTER IV
SUBSISTENCE TECHNOLOGY: HORTICULTURE
Introduceion
Food is among the most basic of needs for all societies. In
industrialized countries the mechanisms foi providing food to people
are complex and usually Indirect. In primitive societies they are
immediate. With the exception of infants and very old people nearly
everyone participates in food collecting or producing activities.
Patterns of food procurement vary according to the climate, the nature
of the land, the plants, animals, and available technology and knowledge.
Each mode of economic activity has requirements in terms of the human
i—■'
labor that must be performed if it is to function. That is to say, if
a means of food procurement is to sustain a group, the behavior of the
( ©
members of that group must be organized in such a way as to perform
vital activities of that particular mode.j This is not to say that there
can be only one cultural answer to the organizational requirements of
any subsistence technology, but is simply a statement of the fact that
\
the economic activities of a society have a profound influence on the *
nature of the culture as a whole. This chapter presents a description
of Siona-Secoya horticulture, and subsequent chapters will deal with
hunting, fishing, and collecting as means of exploiting wild food re¬
sources, and evaluate their relative contributions to the diet of the
people. The descriptions of these activities are also intended to
-55-

elucidate the behavioral patterns associated with food procurement, and
succeeding chapters will trace the influences of these patterns on
religion, social organization, and cultural adaptation.
The single most important phase of Siona-Secoya subsistence acti¬
vity is horticulture. It provides more calories than hunting, fishing,
acid collecting combined. Although the structure of Siona-Secoya society
is of a comparatively simple type, it would be an error to characterize
the people's knowledge of their habitat, and their skills for dealing
with it as "simple." The Siona-Secoya practice a form of shifting
cultivation variously referred to as "slash-and-burr,'’ or "swidden"
horticulture. It is shifting because the regular practice is to carry
out a cycle in which gardens are abandoned after a few years of pro¬
duction as new gardens are concurrently brought into production. The
system is not haphazard, but follows a cycle which is understood and
regulated.
In order to prepare land for cultivation the forest growth must be
cut. The debris is usually, though not always, burned after a period
of drying during the "dry" season. Nearly all gardens are intercropped.
This involves the planting of species with varying structural charac¬
teristics so that there is a layering effect from the subsoil to the
surface, up to the highest level of the garden. We can speak of "strata"
in the garden just as in the tropical forest itself, and indeed it has
been frequently observed that the structure of the intercropped slash-
and-burn garden imitates the complexity of the tropical rainforest
(cf. Bappaport 1971). This is significant, for the stratification of
the plants protects the soil from both the heavy rains and the direct
rays of the sun.

Root crops such as manioc (Manihot esculenta), sweat potatoes
(Ipomoea spp.), yams (Dioscorea spp.), and Xanthosoma. as well as
peanuts (Arachia hyp o ga ea), grow beneath the soil surface. Within one
or two faeters of the surface are naize (Zea mays), sugarcane (Saccharum
officinarum), and pineapples (Ananas sp.). Above two meters are found
the plantains and bananas (Musa spp.), and papaya (Carica papaya), and
finally, the tallest of the garden cultigens, peach palm (Bactris
gasipaes), and /bene/ trees (Inga spp.).
Siona-Secoya gardens are not made communally at the present time,
although there are indications that they were in the past.. ^ Generally,
each conjugal-nuclear household makes its own gardens, although there
was one case of an extended kin group making a large garden together at
Shushufindi. Not all gardens are alike. They vary in both size and
content according to the desires and interests of the individual culti¬
vator, and the availability of seed and clones at the time of planting.
The most complex and intensively gardened plots of the Siona- Secoya
are those surrounding their houses. A bare earth patio /w±?é raripi/ is
cleared around each house. Within this patio, and beyond its fringes in
the immediate vicinity of the house, are found a large variety of plants,
including medicináis, ornamentals, and condiments, as well as food
producers (the cultigen inventory for the village of Shushufindi appears
in Appendix 5). Portions of the house garden are also used as seed
beds for plants which are later transplanted to other parts of the house
garden, or in outlying gardens (e.g, peach palm).
When settlements are moved, the first clearings at the new site are
for the house and its associated garden. A temporary shelter, or
/ari wi?e/ ("little house"), is set up near the bank of the river while

the work progresses. The construction of the full sized house,
/hai wi?e/ ("big house"), is of secondary importance to the clearing
and planting of gardens. Some families at Shushufindi lived in their
/ari wí?é/ for up to a year after their arrival, while others abandoned
them within three months. No two house gardens are exactly alike. In
inventories taken of four house gardens, the number of plant varieties
ranged from 30 to 79. The content of the house garden changes over time
as new plants are brought in and old ones are lost. These shifts can
be quite dramatic as a whole area of a patio may be cleared off in one
day, leaving only bare earth. The house garden functions primarily as
a pharmacy, a snack bar, a spice rack, and an incubator. When someone
has a headache or mouth ulcer, the proper medicinal plants are only a
few paces away. And when the children are hungry they can snap off a
papaya, a /raiu toawika/ (Solanum tequilense), or a section of sugarcane
without bothering an adult. Likewise, the proximity of the seed bed
allows the head of the household to keep a close watch on his peach palm
seedlings (just below the pilings of the elevated house). The nearby
pepper plants (Capsicum spp.), coriander (Coriandrum sativum), ginger
(Zingiber officinale), and sweet potatoes (used to sweeten the manioc
beverage known as /a?so kono/) provide the condiments of the household.
Plantains and manioc are also planted in the house garden, but the amount
is small compared to that grown in outlying gardens, and is not suffi¬
cient to sustain a family for a great period of time.
The location of the outlying gardens depends on the terrain and the
availability of land suitable for gardens. On the Cuyabeno River,
gardens were limited to a few high banks at various spots along the
river, and people travelled to and from them by canoe. At Shushufindi,

-59-
on the Aguarico River, there is considerable high ground behind the
houses (away from the bank of the river-), and this area was the first
chosen for gardens in 1973, along with a few gardens that were made on
the riverbank opposite the village. By the end of 1974 the land behind
the village had been cleared to a depth of 400 meters, and people were
choosing new sites downriver and up the small tributary /wa?iya/ oppo¬
site the village (see Figure 4).
Site Selection
The land within the Aguarico Basin is not homogeneous. There are-
variations in soil conditions, elevation, drainage, and floral associa¬
tions, and all of these are considered by the Siona-Secoya when they
search for new garden sites. Travelling distance and/or accessability
to a navagable stream are also important factors in the evaluation of a
site. The actual land use pattern may vary considerably according to
the topography around a given settlement (later on the difference between
the Shushufindi and Cuyabeno sites will be discussed).
Site selection may be described as being of two broad types: (1) the
search for new gardens around an existing settlement; and (2) the longer
range search for new settlement sites with lands suitable for horticul¬
ture. In the former, the expansion of horticultural lands is not a
simple, growth cf concentric zones from the settlement center. The actual
patterning of gardens rarely takes this form due to differentiation in
elevation, drainage, and flora, as well as the presence of rivers and
streams. The latter type of site selection is actually a form of migra¬
tion determined by a complex set of ecological and social factors.

I
o
I
Figure 4. Siona-Secoya Gardens and House Sites at Shushufindi,

-61-
¡
Soils and Topography
The classification of soils is not one of the more developed
aspects of Siona--Secoya culture, and is not nearly so complex as that
of other slash-and-burn horticulturalists such as the Kekchi of Guatemala
(Carter 1969). The major classifications are made on the basis of color
and texture. The Siona-Secoya associate each of the soil types with
specific topographic conditions, and most particularly with drainage.
The basic soil types and native descriptions are:
1. /dayawi yihá/ ("swamp soil"). These are dark soils of poorly
drained areas that have standing water during the wet season.
They are not suitable for cultivation.
2. /nea yihá/ ("black soil"). These are dark soils of humid low
areas, but with sufficient drainage to preclude standing water.
These soils are considered good for the cultivation of maize,
plantains, and rice (a recently introduced crop), but are too
humid for manioc.
3. /meha yihá/ ("sandy soil"). These are light brown sandy soils
with good drainage characteristics. They are the preferred
soils for manioc cultivation, and are also considered suitable
for maize, plantains, peach palm and other garden crops.
4. /ma yihá/ ("red soil"). These are the red clayey soils of
hillocks and bluffs. They may be used for maize and plantains,
but are considered "too hard" for manioc cultivation.
5. /kina kurewi/. These are very hard red soils, which are said
to be "bricklike" (laterized), and are not suitable for
cultivation.
6. /soto yihá/ ("clay soil"). These are heavy clay soils which
are unsuitable for cultivation.
7. /bohiko soto/ ("white clay"). A special type of whitish clay
utilized in pot making.
8. /anaka yihá/. A dark yellow clay sometimes found in river
banks and used as a slip to paint designs on pots.
Each category of soil comprehends certain characteristics of elevation,
drainage, density, and floral cover, even when named only by its color

-62-
or texture (a laboratory analysis of soil samples taken at Cuyabeno
and Shushufindi is presented in Appendix 2).
As has been seen, the discussion of soils is closely related to
topography. The terms for the significant topographical types in the
habitat of the Siona-Secoya are:
1. /sitara/. Swampy areas which never dry out.
2. /dayawi/ ("swamp"). Areas of the forest that are low-lying,
and are usually very muddy. During the wet season there is
standing water in these areas, but they may dry out somewhat
during the dry season.
3. /ne?e dayawi/ ("Mauritia palm swamp"). These are swampy areas
that reportedly never dry out and have palms of the genus
Mauritia as the diagnostic vegetation.
4. /pa?pá dayawi/ (”pa?pá palm swamp"). These are swampy areas that
have /pa?pá/ palms (unidentified species; used for thatch)
as the diagnostic vegetation. They are said to be somewhat
drier and better drained than /ne?e dayawi/.
5. /sewa yihá/ ("Phytelephas palm earth"). These are relatively
well drained areas that are characterized by palms of the genus
Phytelephas (yarina in local Spanish), Said to occur in round
clusters about 200 meters in diameter.
6. /gcsa yihá/ ("Oenocarpus palm earth"). Well drained areas and
hillocks that have plams of the genus Oenocarpus as the diag¬
nostic vegetation.
7. /bene yihá/ ("Inga earth"). These are areas where trees of
the genus Inga are the diagnostic vegetation.
8. /aikunti/. Hills or hillocks. The mature vegetation is
primary rainforest, and the soil type is frequently /ma yiha/
or "red earth".
/tutupi yihá/ ("vine earth"). There are areas where the
dominant vegetation consists of dense growths of vines. The
/tutupi yihá/ association may be found in the forest or along
riverbanks, and includes few trees. Because the sun's energy
is admitted to the lower level of these matorales or bejucales,
they are very dense and hard to penetrate, and as a result-
trails usually bypass them. According to informants these
areas have high animal populations.
/mehawi/. These are beaches; along the Aguarico River they are
characterized by stands of cane (Gynerlum sagittatum) and dwarf
bananas (Musa sp.) springing from water-borne clones.
10.

63-
The Selection Process
Settlement sites are selected on the basis of suitability for horti¬
culture, hunting and fishing potentials, availability of feral plant
species needed for craft manufactures and construction materials, and
social factors such as the presence or absence of other human popula¬
tions. The Siona-Secoya do not go out on expeditions with the sole
purpose of locating new lands. They have occupied the same general
territory in the basins of the Aguarico, Napo and Putumayo Rivers for
at least 400 years (and probably much longer), and their recorded migra¬
tions have been from one point to another within the same territory.
Their myths and oral traditions are replete with the place names of the
rivers, lakes and prominent landmarks of the area. Because of this,
the Siona-Secoya have a general knowledge of their entire territory,
even including places they have never personally visited. They fre¬
quently travel through their territory on hunting and collecting trips,
and visits to kin. It is on these trips that they conduct a reconnais¬
sance of the land and its potential.
When the Siona-Secoya relocate their settlements they frequently
do so on old habitation sites. This does not mean that they clear only
secondary growth, however, for if the new population is larger than the
previous one they may clear significant areas of primary forest (this
was the case at Shushufindi).
When the decision is made to relocate a village the men make trips
to the new site several months in advance of the actual move to clear
gardens so that there will be some food available for the migrants when
they arrive. The men may stay for two or three weeks while the work of
slashing, felling and planting is carried out. During this time they

-64-
live in temporary shelters by the river's edge.
Once the house garden has been established, the tendency is to
begin the next gardens adjacent to the house site if land is available.
At Shushufindi the first arrivals from Cuyabeno selected their house
sites along the river bank, and then expanded their gardens into the
forest directly behind their habitations (1973-4). In the dry season
of 1974-5 some of them expanded these gardens farther back from the
river, while others cleared on the opposite side of the river or dovm-
river. In the interim, Secoyas from the Angusilla River in Peru arrived
and were taken into the households of their kinsmen near the center of
the line settlement of the village. After several months of visitation
in these houses they began to build their own houses in clusters around
their kinsmen. Since most of the land was taken along the "line" of
the riverbank, they squeezed their houses into the patios of their
kindred, putting bulges into the previously perfect line pattern. When
they began to make gardens in the latter months of 1974 there was no
land available near their houses, so they sought lands on the opposite
side of the Aguarico. Other residents had also begun to move upstream
and downstream, selecting sites along the banks of the river. They
explained that they were doing this because they prefer to transport
their produce by canoe, rather than expanding farther back into the
forest where their only means of transporting the heavy plantain and
manioc harvests is by a netted bag strung tumpline fashion over the
forehead.
In site selection, the order of preference for soils is: (1) /meha
yihá/ ("sandy soil"); (2) /nea yihá/ ("black soil"); and (3) /ma yihá/
("red soil"); the other types being generally unsuited to cultivation.

-65-
In actuality, nearly all of the horticultural land of the Siona-Secoya
on the Eno, Cuyabeno, and Aguarico Rivers is either /nea yihá/ or /meha
2
yihá/, since little /ma yihá/ is found in the area. /Ma yihá/ is re¬
ported to be the most common type of soil on the Putumayo, however.
Generally speaking, the Siona-Secoya prefer well drained land with
floral associations such as /sewa yihá/ where vine entanglements are
not a major difficulty. Some men state that they prefer areas without
extremely large trees, but others disagree, observing that when large
trees are present it is possible to make tree falls in which the larger
3
trees knock down the smaller ones.
As mentioned previously, the land along the Cuyabeno River is
scarcely elevated above the floodplain in most locations. Land suitable
for cultivation there is rare and at a premium. It occurs in isolated
spots here and there along the course of the river, and rarely exceeds
a third of a hectare in area. As a consequence, the spatial distribu¬
tion of gardens on the Cuyabeno is quite different than on the Aguarico.
The largest contiguous line settlement of the premigration community
consisted of only eight houses, because there was simply not enough
elevated bank to extend beyond that (the houses were arranged along a
bend in the river for a distance of about 100-150 meters). Elsewhere
there were smaller clusters of four or fewer houses. The arrangement
of kin clusters was almost exactly the same as in the new village of
S’nushufindi, but the limited stretches of high ground precluded larger
groupings in a contiguous line. Outlying gardens tended to be located
at high points along the bank upstream and downstream from the house
sites, rather than inland. Some of the gardens were three to four hours
away by canoe on the quebrada /tarapuya/ (corrupted to Tarapoa in

-66-
Spanish). People sometimes made stayovers of two and three days to
cultivate these dispersed plots, the sizes of which did not exceed .25
to .36 hectares.
Seasonality
The normal round of Siona-Secoya horticultural activities follows
the annual seasonal cycle. Although the people can now associate the
seasons with the months of the year as a result of contact with whites
and Mestizos, they normally reckon the seasons by the position of speci¬
fic constellations in the sky. /Ometékáwi/ is the name of the dry
season which extends from late November through March. New gardens are
slashed and felled at the beginning of this season, and after a month
or so of drying they are fired (under ideal conditions). Shortly after
firing they are planted (usually in January). A subseason within this
"dry” period is /?iné tikáwi/, or "peach palm season," when the clusters
of Bactris fruit are ready for harvesting. This is also the period of
the greatest fishing activity (especially on the Aguarico), for the
waters of the rivers recede, become clearer and less turbulent, and are
inhabited by migrating species of fish. The Siona-Secoya reckon the
arrival of /ometikáwí/ by the position of the constellation /usebo/
(Pleiades) just above the eastern horizon shortly after sunset (November-
December).
/?Okó t.ikáwí/ is the name for the rainy season which extends from
April to July. Weeding and maintenance of gardens takes place during
this period, but there is little or no clearing of new gardens. Hunting
continues during the wet season, but is made more difficult by the
standing water in many areas of the forest. A subseason which occurs

-67-
during this rainy portion of the year is /násówiyape tikáwi/ ("woolly
monkey is fat season1'), and is the time when monkeys have a layer of
fat due to a diet of seasonally ripening fruits. The hunting of /naso/
(Lagothrix lagotricha) is especially intense during this period.
The month of August coincides with /kako tikáwi/, or the season of
the /kako/ cicada which flies overhead at this time and is noted for
its chirping sound made from high up in the trees of the forest. /Kako
tikáwi/ is actually a short dry season following the deluges of /?okó
tikáwi/, and it is not uncommon for individual Siona-Secoya cultivators
to make gardens during this brief respite from the heavy rainfalls.
/Goi kinari/ ("turtle lays its eggs") is the turtling season which
occurs during November and December (and overlaps with /orne tikáwi/,
the dry season, somewhat). This is one of the most significant seasonal
hunts of the Siona-Secoya. although the importance of the hunt has
declined in recent years as a result of intense exploitation by seasonal
visitors from the Putumayo River.
Thus the major horticultural activities of slashing, felling,
burning, and planting, are for the most part confined to the long dry
season /orne tikáwi/ and the short dry season /káko tikáwi/. The harvest
ing of certain fruits is strictly seasonal (e.g. Bactris during February
and March, and then again during August), whereas plantain and manioc
may be harvested on a year-round basis. Weeding and other forms of
garden maintenance also continue throughout the year as needed.
Bordering — /tihuo siko/
When the Siona-Secoya have selected an area in which to make a new
garden their first step is to establish the outer boundaries of the plot

68-
At one corner they place a sharpened pole of about 1.6 meters in height
as a marker and then measure out from this point by pacing, or, more
recently, by measuring with a rod of one or two meters in length. At
Shushufindi, where, there is ample elevated and well-drained land, many
of the outlying gardens were measured to what was believed to be 100
meters per side. When the desired length was reached, another pole was
placed in the earth and a right angle was made, and once again the dis¬
tance measured or paced off. Markers were also placed along each side
at intervals of approximately 15 to 20 meters. Once the measuring and
placing of markers was accomplished, the land was considered to be the
property of the individual cultivator until such time as he abandoned
it after the normal horticultural cycle of two to three years.
The next task the Siona-Secoya perform is to slash a path of one
to one and a half meters in width around the previously established plot
perimeter. This work is performed with a machete from a squatting
position, and is accomplished by swinging the machete in an arc close
to the ground. This path serves as a more distinct border than the
previously set poles, and helps to orient the worker as he subsequently
slashes and fells the vegetation inside the boundaries of the plot.
Slashing — /hioye/ (Siona), /tetoye/ (Secoya)
The term "slashing" is used here to refer to the cutting of shrubs,
saplings, vines and undergrowth in a plot so that the larger trees are
exposed for felling with an axe. Among the Siona-Secoya this is the
work of men, although they may be assisted by their wives from time to
time. The principle tools for slashing are the machete and a file for
sharpening it (usually two machetes are taken to the field). In a

-69-
typical day of slashing the worker goes to the plot shortly after sun¬
rise, carrying nothing more than his tools and a container of /noka kono/
("plantain beverage"). His clothing consists of the /hu?ika/ (a shift¬
like garment of cotton which is called cushtna in Quichua and the regional
Spanish) and a cap. He may also wear trousers and rubber or plastic
boots for protection if he is wealthy enough to own these articles.
Little time is wasted once the work site is reached. The man begins
clearing from one corner of the plot and works inward from that point.
Slashing is for the most part conducted from a stooping or squatting
position. In secondary growth /sitowa/ ¡.sitos] everything from six to
seven centimeters in diameter and smaller is cut, while saplings and
vines of greater diameter are left for the felling stage. In slashing
with the machete, strokes are made in an arc parallel to the ground,
and at a height no greater than 20-30 cm. Cutting is accomplished on
both the initial stroke and the back swing, as the blade is flipped over
at the completion of the first arc. Although this would appear to be
tedious work, all of the Siona-Secoya men who were observed worked at a
4
very steady rate throughoxit the day. Around midday the slasher takes
a break of about 40 minutes to rest and drink his /noka kono/, and then
resumes the task as before.
The difficulty of slashing varies according to the nature of the
vegetation. In primary growth the dense forest canopy limits the amount
of sunshine which reaches the ground, resulting in undergrowth that is
not particularly dense (cf. Grubb ej: al. 1963). In secondary associa¬
tions, however, the growth may be quite dense at ground level, especially
when the secondary growth is relatively young (through the first four to
five years).

-70-
After a garden has been slashed, the view under the trees becomes
rather beautiful and parklike. The still standing trees provide cool
shade, and the debris from the cut vegetation forms a green carpet over
the forest floor. The view opens up and extends for 60-80 meters in
contrast to the limited visibility of the natural forest.
w
Felling — /k eñe sdklre/
Many of the trees in the primary tropical forest are extremely
large, and felling is a potentially dangerous activity. Even in second¬
ary growth, the trunks of the medium and smaller trees are sufficiently
heavy to crush a man's body when they fall. The Siona-Secoya consider
felling to be men's work. It is not a fast or haphazard activity, but
tends to steady and methodical work. Each tree is studied, and an
attempt is made to drop it into a specific spot so that the distribution
of trunks in the garden is controlled.
On unbuttressed trees, or trees with small buttresses, the cuts
are made at shoulder height. When the buttresses rise above shoulder
height the Siona-Secoya usually cut steps /yurisakawu/ in two or more
of the buttresses /totSbu/ so that they may stand on them and make their
cuts above the tops of the buttresses. On extremely large trees the
buttresses may rise to a height of five or more meters (15 ft.). The
Siona-Secoya have three ways of dealing with these behemoths of the
forest. The most common method is to cut notches into the buttresses
as footholds, and then cut through the buttresses themselves, and then
finally the trunk. This is a time consuming process, and it may take
two men working together two or three days to fell a single large tree
in this manner.

-71-
At times the Siona-Secoya make an elevated platform /yariwa/ of
lashed poles to rise above the buttresses, but this technique is rarely
used (it was never employed during the 18 months of fieldwork at
Shushufindi, even though many large trees were felled in the new garden
sites). A third technique for dealing with large trees is to pile dried
brush around their bases and then burn it. The heat of the fire kills
the tree, and it subsequently looses its leaves, allowing sunlight to
reach the ground. Only one large tree was treated in this manner at
Shushufindi; all others were felled.
Siona-Secoya men say that they prefer to fell the large trees be¬
cause it leaves the garden completely open to the sun, and because men
who leave trunks standing about in their gardens are considered slothful
(with the exception of certain species which are retained for their
usefulness; e.g. Iriartea palms whose trunks provide construction mater¬
ials). Although it is hard work, the men enjoy felling a great deal,
and when a giant tree smashes to the ground and makes the earth tremble
they howl with delight.
The accuracy of the men is usually quite good, but from time to
time unpredictable falls do occur. On one occasion I observed Reinaldo
working on a large buttressed tree which was soft wooded and took three
hours to cut through. He had planned for it to fall in an easterly
direction, but when it began to topple he was dismayed to see it going
towards the southwest at about a 120° angle to the intended trajectory.
It crashed mightily in one of his own gardens, destroying a considerable
amount of manioc, plantains and four Capsicum bushes. The base of the
trunk landed on top of his Colombian plastic boots which he had carefully
set to one side (which he was subsequently able to dig out). On another

-72-
occasion Reinaldo felled a Cecropia which took an unexpected twist and
landed only a foot away from the ethnologist's tape recorder, causing
much consternation to all concerned.
Before felling the larger trees the vines remaining after slashing
are cut with a machete or axe, and the smaller saplings are chopped down
with two or three strokes of the axe. The technique for felling the
larger trees is to make a lower cut on the side of the trunk in the
direction of the intended fall, and then a higher one 180° from the
intended path. The blows of the axe are struck rythmically and with
precision, sending chips of wood flying in all directions. When a tree
begins to shudder or groan, or the vines dangling from the tree become
taut and start to snap it is an indication that the tree is very close
to toppling. At this point all of the people in the vicinity become
quite serious. Only one individual remains close to the tree trunk to
deliver the final blows, as the others step away to the sides of the
expected path of the fall. During the felling process the ground quickly
becomes a maze of fallen trunks and debris that is difficult to trans¬
verse, and each person glances about for an escape route where he can
run if the tree falls away from the intended path. The remaining man
makes his chops at a slower rate at this point, listening and watching
after each blow for the slightest indication that the tree is beginning
its fall. When it first starts to topple, the movement of its crown is
s^ow and almost imperceptible, but it gathers momentum rapidly during
its descent. As soon as the person who has been chopping senses that
the tree is falling and can judge its direction, he shouts a warning to
others in the vicinity and strides gracefully away from the base of the
tree holding his axe in one hand and glancing back to keep an eye on the

-73-
trunk in case there is an aberration in the fall. Some of the larger
trees may take five minutes or longer to fall after the last man has
stepped away.
A number of problems can arise during the felling of a tree; dead
limbs can crash down /poka tara tomene/ ("rotten limbs fall"), entang¬
ling vines can bring down other trees in unpredicatble ways /suru taine/,
or the falling tree may strike other trees which are still standing and
kick back /£a?ine/. /Ora/ palms (Iriartea sp.) are particularly danger¬
ous when struck by falling trees because they have a tendency to flex
and then shatter, sending sharp fragments of very dense wood flying
about.
Those men who have only traditional clothing work barefoot, with
only a cushma for protection. Those who are able prefer to wear as much
clothing as possible to protect themselves from ants, wasps, and falling
material from the forest canopy. This nay include a cap or plastic
hardhat acquired while working for a petroleum company, a pair of pants
worn under the cushma, and rubber of plastic boots.
Felling in secondary growth is far easier than in primary growth,
but the differences in their energy requirements for slashing nearly
equalizes the number of man-hours of labor required to clear both asso¬
ciations (see Table 1). On the Cuyabeno River the lands suitable for
cultivation were so scarce that virtually all plots were either under
cultivation or in recent secondary growth. The fallow periods practiced
by the Siona-Secoya there were as brief as three to four years. On the
Aguarico the suitable lands are far more extensive, and there were real
choices between selecting primary or secondary growth for the new
gardens at Shushufindi. Nevertheless, there is no clearcut evidence at

-74-
the new village to suggest 3n overwhelming preference for either type.
The current house sites and their associated gardens are located where
there was previously secondary growth. (This was formerly the site of
a smaller Siona village as well as a temporary oil exploration camp.)
The outlying gardens were in some cases located in former secondary
growth, but for the. most part they were in areas of former primary
growth.
The example of Esteban illustrates the process of garden site
selection. He had lived at Shushufindi for two years before leaving in
1970 to join his mother at Cuyabeno who had migrated from the San Miguel
River. When he returned to Shushufindi in 1973 he made his first gar¬
dens in the secondary growth of his former house garden. His first
outlying garden was made in a patch of secondary growth where the trees
had been felled previously to clear the approach to the modest grass
airstrip used by the missionaries and oil companies from time to time.
Esteban desired to extend this garden into the primary forest nearby,
but Alejandro began to work on that area beforehe could get started,
and he was shut out of the band of new gardens in the primary forest
running parallel to the line settlement of the village. Rather than
leap frog over the new row of gardens into the primary forest, he decided
to go upriver to another area of secondary growth where he had had a
garden previously. However, he decided to double the size of the garden,
and therefore half of the new plot was located in former primary growth
and half in former secondary growth. His next garden was made in pri¬
mary growth on the bank of the Aguarico opposite his new house.

-75-
Burning — /slore ±oyi/
The term "slas’n-and-burn" horticulture presupposes that the garden
site is burned after the vegetation has been slashed and felled. How¬
ever, this is somewhat misleading with regard to Siona-Secoya horti¬
culture, for under certain conditions they plant their gardens without
having burned them. Burning is successful only when the fallen debris
has had a sufficiently long period of drying out. Whenever circumstances
preclude adequate drying, the Siona-Secoya do not attempt a burn, but
simply plant their crops in the ground beneath the litter. This is
similar to the "slash-mulch" system of the Pacific litoral (West 1957:
129 cited in Whitten 1974:67), except that the planting takes place
after the slashing and felling, rather than before.
As described previously, the Siona-Secoya prepare some gardens in
new areas in advance of their actual migrations. When on these journeys
they do not wish to spend weeks waiting for the felled material to dry
out, and they may also make the trip at times other than the dry season.
In addition, they have much work to do at the old habitation sites prior
to moving, and consider the time spent in the temporary /ari wi?e/ with¬
out their families as a period of deprivation.
Once the migration begins and groups of people begin arriving at
the new site there is an accelerated rate of clearing gardens, for the
cycle of bringing in a garden per year with a total of three to four
gardens in the active phase of the cycle has been broken. The members
of a household arrive at the new settlement site with but one small
garden that has not even reached full productivity. There may be a
little maize about ready for the harvest, but the manioc lacks three to
four months, and the plantains a year. The first year at the new site

-76-
the household makes gardens to bring its total area under cultivation
to approximately one hectare. This activity transcends the normal
seasonality of garden making because more gardens have to be made within
a one year period. As a result gardens are made during rainier months
and are planted without burning.
Once the area under cultivation approximates the amount that the
members of the household feel is sufficient for their subsistence, they
go into the regular rotation phase, meaning that they make a new garden
at the beginning of /orne tikáwi/. Burning is preferred to the nonburning
approach because it leaves a cleaner area which is easier to plant and
care for. Contrary to expectation, however, informants deny any signi¬
ficant difference in yields between the two types of gardens. The only
gardens which reached full production during the fieldwork were ones that
had not been burned, so there was no basis for a comparison of yields
between the types.
The timing of the burn is critical if rain is to be avoided. (This
is like Russian roulette; the longer one waits, the better the potential
for a good burn, but the odds for rain likewise increase.) The Siona-
Secoya judge the condition of the felled debris by walking over it; when
the smaller limbs crack and break it is an indication that the material
is dry enough for a good burn. Bark peeling off the trunks of felled
trees is another sign of sufficient dryness. The Siona-Secoya do not
spread the debris around in an attempt to get an even burn. They look
for a day that is sunny and windy, and wait until midday when the rays
of the sun are the most direct, and the wind is at its height."*
The task of burning is not physically demanding, but the Siona-Secoya
prefer to have two or more persons present to help control the fire if

-77-
necessary. The burn, is begun on the upwind side of the garden, and
spots several meters apart are touched off with brands of dried palm
fronds. The predominant activity is simply to light the fire and watch
it burn, but complications arise when a fire escapes its intended peri¬
meter and damages neighboring gardens. On rare occasions the people
make firebreaks prior to the burnt, but normally they depend on calcula¬
tions based on wind observations, and resort to firefighting to control
the blaze if necessary. On one occasion I was conducting a time-and-
motion study of Emilio burning a garden, and the fire escaped into his
mother's manioc garden. When she realized what was happening she rushed
out of the house and began flailing away at th.e flames with a stick and
making a /coo coo/ sound with her mouth. Emilio tried to help her, but
couldn't restrain his giggles. A total of twenty manioc plants and five
plantain trunks were burned. Emilio was fortunate, for he had burned
only the gardens of his own household. When the carelessness of a
burner damages a neighbor's garden the event becomes the subject of much
gossip and backbiting, and generates insinuations that the guilty party
is generally incompetent. Direct confrontations over such matters are
not common, however.
With proper conditions the burn is over quickly, not taking more
than two or three hours. The burns observed at Shushufindi were by no
means complete. The larger tree trunks remained, and there was always
a considerable amount of other unburned material as well. Some of the
men do some piling of unburned limbs and brush for a second burn within
a week of the first, but this is not a standard practice, nor is it
particularly intensive. (Third burns are rarely, if ever, attempted.)
If the cultivator waits too long and is caught by the rains he will go
ahead and plant his garden without burning.

Planting
Most Siona-Secoya gardens are intei~cropped, and the planting acti¬
vity is staggered according to the requirements of the individual
cultigens. Plantains and bananas are planted first, and are by far the
most difficult to work with, for their clones are heavy and bulky, and
must be transported from the donor plant to the new garden. During the
normal rotation phase of the horticultural cycle, cuttings may be taken
from producing gardens nearby, which minimizes the energy cost of trans¬
portation. In the migration phase, however, the cultivator faces a
difficult problem, for there are likely to be few or no producing gardens
in the area into which he is moving. At Shushufindi the people dealt
with this problem in several ways. Some brought cuttings along in their
canoes from the Cuyabeno River, especially certain prized varieties.
However, the amount of clones required for even a medium sized garden
is more than can be accomodated in a Siona-Secoya canoe. Most people
relied on cuttings from gardens of Victor's and Genaro's, approximately
two kilometers upriver from the new village site, and from the gardens
of the /eno bal/ ("Eno River people"). The Eno trip required a good
two to three days of travel, but it was easier to ascend the Aguarico
with an empty canoe, and then descend with a full load, than to make
the four day journey down the Cuyabeno, and then ascend the swiftly
flowing Aguarico,
Clones are selected from growing clusters of plantain trunks which
appear to be in good health. If the parent plant shows signs of brown¬
ness or "drying out" on its leaves it will be rejected as a donor of
clones. The clones /noka sitx/ are dug out with a tool /pa?ara/ (after
pala, the Spanish word for "shovel") that is fashioned by attaching a

-79-
narrow steel blade to a hand-wrought pole. (The blade is a trade item
which is in general use in the Oriente today; in the past digging sticks
were used for this work.) Following their separation from the mother
plant, the clones are inspected by trimming several layers of the plant
tissue away from the base and checking them for /noka peko/ grubs. If
there grubs or their holes are spotted in the base of the clone, it is
discarded. The acceptable clones are transported to the new garden (or
to the canoe, if a river trip is necessary) by packing them into netted
string bags which are then carried tumpline fashion. (Depending on the
size of the cuttings, 12 to 20 are about all that a man can carry.)
At the new garden site holes are dug (approximately 25 cm. in
diameter and 40 cm. deep) at intervals of 3.65 meters to accomodate the
clones, which are then dropped in and covered loosely with earth. At
Shushufindi the gardens were not completely covered by plantains; in
most cases they were planted over 60-70% of the plot. The shortage of
clones in the vicinity of Shushufindi was a factor in this, but it
appears that plots normally are not saturated with cuttings.
The second crop to be planted is manioc (Manihot esculenta). The
Siona-Secoya recognize 15 varieties of manioc, including two "poisonous"
/sima a?so/, and thirteen "nonpoisonous" types. It precedes maize
because if they are planted simultaneously the maize quickly shades the
manioc. It is necessary to allow the manioc to reach sufficient height
to insure that its leaves have access to sunlight before planting the
maize. (The interval between planting is about three weeks.)
Manioc is a very hardy and reliable crop, and is well adapted to
Amazonian conditions. It grows readily from clones cut from the stem
of the mature plant, which contains "eyes" with regenerative power.

-80-
When manioc is harvested the stems are first cut at a height of about
30. cm. from the ground, and the tubers are then extracted from the earth.
Normally manioc is harvested throughout the year as it is needed. New
gardens are usually planted in January during /orne tikáwí/, and as this
time of the year approaches the women begin to save the stalks from
recently harvested manioc plants.
When the time to plant the new garden arrives these stalks are cut
into sections and loaded into netted bags for transportation to the new
garden site. (Cuttings were "borrowed" from Eno for the initial plant¬
ings at Shushufindi.) The technique for planting these sections is very
simple; a sharpened digging stick is thrust into the earth at an angle
of about 30°, and then the clone is inserted into this nearly horizontal
gash. Three clones are placed in close proximity to each other so as to
form a cluster, and these clusters are spaced 1.8 meters apart throughout
the intercropped garden. (When the Siona-Secoya monocrop manioc the
spacing of the clusters is about 1.1 meters.)
More than any other crop, manioc is closely associated with women.
Unlike plantains and maize, manioc is planted and harvested primarily
by females. It is also the crop that demands the most from women in
processing labor. The utter drudgery of manioc processing has received
much comment from ethnographers (cf. Goldman 1963:61; Murphy and Murphy
1974:7-9).
When the freshly planted manioc is about three weeks old, maize is
planted. The seed comes from selected ears (primarily for size) that
have been stored by hanging from a roof beam over the household hearth.
Before planting, the cobs are grained and the seed is carried to the
field in a pot. There a large leaf is folded and held in place by an

-81-
i
Iriartea spine so as to form a cone /ha?o yokowi/ ("doubled leaf") in
which the seed kernels are carried during the actual planting. A dibble
/wea ote tubi/ is used to make holes approximately 14 cm. deep into
which four or five kernels are dropped. The holes are spaced from 76
to 99 cm. apart. Some Siona-Secoya men do not bother to cover the holes
after planting the kernels, saying that it is not necessary, but others
say that rats will steal the seed unless earth is tapped back over the
hole.
After the major crops have been planted, the remaining cultigens
are attended to, but in no specific order. Sweet potato (Xpomoea batatas),
avocados (Persea americana), /ünkWisí/ (Renealmia sp.), /bénl/ (Inga
spp.), /toa wi?ka/ (Solanum liximitante), sugarcane (Saccarum officinarum),
/toa/ (Chrysophyllum cainito), fish poisons (Lonchocarpus nicou,
Clibadium sp., Tephrosia toxicaría), yagé (Banisteriopsis spp.),
/uhahai/ (Brunfelsia sp.), /pia/ (Capsicum spp.), and /watihiko/
(Carica papaya) are among the many cultigens which are planted follow¬
ing plantains, manioc, and maize (see Appendix 5 for a list of Siona-
Secoya cultigens). Sugarcane is planted from cuttings in clusters about
two meters apart, but is not intercropped throughout the garden. Peach
palm seeds are extracted from the fruit and planted in beds near the
house. Subsequently the seedlings are replanted (when they reach a
height of approximately 50 cm.) about the house garden, and occasionally
in the outlying gardens.
Weeding — /siore huoyl/
Periodic weeding is necessary to insure good yields in Siona-Secoya
gardens. Weeding often precedes other activities in the garden; if a

-82-
man waits too long after burning his garden, he may have to weed it
before putting in his plantains. Likewise, weeding is frequently done
before harvesting maize or manioc, because it makes the work much easier.
Weeding is very similar to slashing, for it involves working with the
machete in a stooping and squatting position. The primary difference
is that in weeding care must be taken not to damage the cultigens in the
garden, vihereas in slashing the work is less inhibited. The outlying
gardens are commonly weeded four times during their two year utilization
cycle. House gardens tend to be weeded more frequently, but usually in
little spurts during the early morning hours (i.e., the people do not
take a full day off to weed the house gardens as they do in the outlying
ones).
Although weeding is important, it is one of the least popular horti¬
cultural activities. It is not uncommon to hear a man lamenting that he
has not done enough weeding in his gardens (such comments are usually
provoked as he walks by one of his gardens and sees the dense growth
choking his plants), but there is still a tendency to put it off until
immediately before harvesting the maize or manioc. One household at
Shushufindi even attempted to make a gift of manioc to some recent immi¬
grants from a garden that had not "been weeded since planting, but the
new arrivals found the job of harvesting so difficult that they soon
gave up, complaining that rather than receiving a gift they were being
tricked into doing the work of the owmers.
Harvesting
Most of the food crops of the Siona-Secoya are not harvested all
at once, but rather as they are needed, or as they gradually mature.

-83-
The major exception to this is maize. Although some maize is collected
for eating while the ears are green, the bulk of it is harvested after
it has been allowed to stand and dry (for as long as five to six months
from the initial planting). Maize is especially important during the
migration phase of horticulture because it produces food within three
months of planting.
Although manioc takes much longer than maize to mature (the fastest
varieties produce edible tubers in six months, but most require a year)
it has the great advantage of harvestability over a greater period of
time. In effect, manioc is "stored" in the ground until it is needed
(for a period of up to two years, after which the tubers begin to rot).
The women of each household harvest manioc for /?a5/ (manioc cakes) on
an average of once each seven to ten days, rather than daily as reported
for some Amazonian groups. The quantity harvested depends upon the size
of the household; for a group of six it may be about 45 kg (100 lbs.).
The /?ao/ that is produced from one harvesting is sufficient for about
a week, and is preserved by occasionally being hung on a line in the
sunlight.
Plantains take even longer than manioc to reach the production
stage (12-18 months), and do not have the inherent self-storage capacity
of the tuber. Fortunately, not all of the plantains mature at once, so
the cultivator can harvest the heads on a staggered basis. The normal
consumption of a household of six is two to three stalks per week.
The peach palms of the Siona-Secoya produce fruit during /?ine
tik.áwi/ (February-March), and again during /'kako tikáwí/ (August), and
during these periods make an important contribution to the diet. One
variety of peach palm does not have spines on its trunk, and the fruit

-84-
from these trees may be harvested by shinnying up the tree and cutting
the stem of the fruit cluster with a machete or knife. The fruit from
the trees with spiny trunks is obtained by leaning poles against the
palm and using these as scaffolding, or by climbing adjacent trees.
Some of the harvest is preserved for consumption over a period of several
months by sectioning the fruits and smoking them on a rack over a fire.
Refreshers such as sugarcane and papaya are harvested as desired
on a day to day basis, as are many other less important food plants.
Fruits such as /bene/ (Inga spp.) and /mi?ka/ (Annona sp.?), however,
are harvested on a seasonal basis.
Fallowing
As has been mentioned previously, the scarcity of elevated land on
the Cuyabeno River led to extremely short fallow periods of two to three
years. This would appear to be near the absolute minimum for slash-and-
burn systems, and the Siona-Secoya are cognizant of the fact that this
practice led to declining yields in their Cuyabeno gardens. Informants
state that on the second planting the yields remained satisfactory, but
that by the third planting there were appreciable declines in plantain
and manioc yields. Without a doubt, the scarcity of land suitable for
new gardens, and the declining fertility of the plots being utilized
were important factors in the migration of most of the households to
Shushufindi in 1973.
According to the statements of informants, fallow periods of five
years are adequate to insure adequate yields of food crops. Because of
the usual practice of relocating settlements on a periodic basis, how¬
ever, it is likely that most secondary growth which is utilized for

-85-
cultivation is somewhat older than this. Unfortunately, the extended
residence of the community at Cuyabeno prior to the fieldwork made it
impossible to study rotation cycles under conditions of greater land
availability.
Stresses on Horticulture
Any system of cultivation is subject: to stresses which prevent an
absolute maximization of yields. In Siona-Secoya horticulture the most
significant stresses are crop damage and loss due to garden pests, plant
disease, wind and flood. The impact of these stresses varies according
to the specific crop involved, as well as by spatial and temporal con¬
siderations. In Appendix 6-the major crops are discussed in terms of
these stresses based on field observations in five sample gardens at
Shushufindi.
Efficiency in Horticulture
Tables 1 and 2 present the gross energy expenditures and production
per hectare in Siona-Secoya gardens over a two year cycle. The sample
hectare is composed of four smaller gardens (.25, .30, .31, and .14
hectares respectively) made in five year old secondary growth at Shu-
shufindi during 1973-1974.b The energy expenditure data for most
activities are based on time and motion studies in the field as noted
in the "Derivation" column in Table 1.^ For those tasks in which it
wTas not possible to make formal time-and-motion studies (due to con¬
flicts with other research activities) estimates were made on the basis
of information provided by informants. (These data were cross-checked.)

-86-
TABLE 1. ENERGY EXPENDITURES PER HECTARE FOR INTERCROPPED SIONA-SECOYA
GARDENS IN SECONDARY GROWTH AT SHUSHUFINDI (1973-1974)
Activity
Man-Hrs.
Intercropped
hectare
Actual
Area
(ha)
Actual
Man-
Hrs .
kcal
Per
Hour
Total
kcal
Derivation
Garden Preparation
Site selection
4.00
1.00
4.00
360
1,440
Est.3, M-Jb
Bordering and slashing
47.08c
1.00
47.08
438
20,621
T-Md, M-J
Felling
16.40e
1.00
16.40
456
7,478
T-M, M-J
Burning
4.21
0.00
0.00
360
0
Planting
Manioc
45.00
0.77
34.65
312
10,811
Est., M-J
Collec. plantain clones
41.33
0.41
16.94
300
5,082
T-M, M-J
Transporting clones
16.00
300
4,800
Est,, M-J
Planting clones
36.95
0.41
15.15
300
4.545
T-M, M-J
Planting maize
76.80
0.56
43.01
312
11,097
T-M, M-J
Mise, intercropping
60.00
300
18,000
Est., M-J
Weeding
First
50.64
1.00
50.64
366
18,534
T-M, M-J
Second
50.64
1.00
50.64
366
18,534
T-M, M-J
Third
50.64
1.00
50.64
366
18,534
T-M, M-J
Mise, and intermittent
50.64
1.00
50.64
366
18,534
Est., M-J
Walking
72.24
360
26,006
T-M, M-J
Harvesting
Manioc
634.00
0.77
483.18
200f
97,636
T-M
Maize
55.94
0.32
17.90
318
5,692
T-M, M-J
Plantains
16.00
300
4,800
T-M
Peach Palm
25.50
300
7,650
Est.
Mise, crops
75.00
300
22,500
Est.
Transporting
Manioc
27.58
200f
5,516
Est.
Maize
24.88
0.32
7.96
300
2,338
T-M
Plantains
7.32
300
2,196
T-M
Peach Palm
10.42
300
3,126
T-M
Mise, crops
5.62
300
1,686
Est.
Totals
1
,209.51
337,206
^Derivation based on informed estimate.
Caloric expenditures based on Montgomery and Johnson (1976).
c
Secondary growth (Time-motion study in primary growth gave a rate
of 15 man-hours per hectare, but this may be a low figure).
^Derivation based on time-and-motion studies in the field.
0
Secondary growth (Time-motion study in primary growth gave rate of
43.75 man-hours per hectare).
^Caloric expenditure based on estimated moderate work rale for women.

-87-
TABLE 2. PRODUCTION PER HECTARE FOR INTERCROPPED SIONA-SECOYA
GARDENS AT SHUSHUFINDI (1973-1974)
Cultigen
Harvest
kcr
%
Edible
Portion3
Edible
Portion
kg
kcal/100
(INCAP)
g Total
kcal
Manioc
10,448
76
7,940
132
10,480,800
Maize
841
53
446
361
1,610,060
Plantains
1,807
72
1,301
122
1,587,220
Papaya
6,774
70
4,742
32
1,517,440
Sugarcane
3,818
46
1 ,756
82
1,439,920
Peach Palm
â– 578
67
387
196
758,520
Avocado
149
46b
69
96c
66,240
Sweet Potato
45
95
43
116
49,880
Caimito3
82
4Sb
39
68
26,520
Solanum tequilense
25
79
19
45e
8,550
Solanum liximitante
14
63
9
45e
4,050
Peppers (Capsicum spp.)
10
100
10
38
3,800
Pineapple
9
69
6
52
3,120
Achira (Canna edulis)
-f
—
—
—
—
Breadfruit
-f
—
—
—
—
Cacao
-f
—
—
—
—
Guayaba (Psidium guaqava)
-f
—.
—
—
—
Mango
—f
— - -
—
—
—
Sapote (Matisia cordata)
—f
—
—
—
—
Yam (Dioscorea trífida)
-f
—
—
—
—
Annona sp.
-f
--
—
—
—
Citrus spp.
-f
—
—
—
—
Inga spp.
-f
—
—
—
—
Passiflora spp.
—f
—
—
--
—
Pourouma cecropiaefolia
C
—r
—
—
—
—
Renealmia sp.
-f
—
—
—
—
Rheedia sp.
-f
—
—
—
—
Xanthosoma spp.
-f
Total
17,556,120
By actual measurement in che field (unless otherwise indicated).
bINCAP (Leung 1961).
CINN (Ministerio de Prevision Social y Sanidad 1965).
d.. ..... ..
ChrysopnyIlium camito.
e
Data for Solanum quitoense utilized as analogue.
^Planted, but not yet producing in the sample gardens.

-88-
The caloric expenditures were then estimated on the basis of indirect
caloremetry studies made by Montgomery and Johnson (1976) on the tropical
g
forest Machiguenga Indians of Peru.
It should be stressed that the data in Table 1 are presented on the
basis of one hectare in order to set a standard for comparison, and do
not necessarily indicate the number of man-hours spent in horticultural
activities by all Siona-Secoya households. This is because there are
variations in the areas of land' cultivated by different households, as
well as in specific crop ratios and other idiosyncracies.
Although there are a growing number of ethnographies with quanti¬
tative data on shifting cultivation in the tropical regions of the
Americas, there has been little standardization of the units of measure
employed; one frequently encounters local units combined with the
English and metric systems, and even combinations of English and metric.
As a consequence it is usually necessary to make a series of conversions
before the data can be put into comparable terms. In Table 3 below
data on several phases of shifting cultivation from various groups are
compared after having been converted to man-hours per hectare.
TABLE
3. A COMPARISON OF
PHASES OF SHIFTING
MAN-HOURS OF LABOR EXPENDED IN
CULTIVATION IN TROPICAL AMERICA
VARIOUS
Activity
Siona-Secoyaa
Neo-Brazilian^
Miskitoc
Kekchi^
Slashing
47.1
64.1
1 138.0
l 99.1
Felling
16.4
64.1
J
J
Planting
185.8
256.4
273.7
115.8
Weeding
202.6
205.1
178.5
49.1
Harvesting
622.4
—
464.1
98.2
3.
Garden made in five-year-old secondary growth.
^Wagley (1964:68).
CNietschmann (1973:142).
^Carter (1969:135). Garden made in "Sapling growth" of four to seven years.

-89-
The estimated total of 1,210 man-hours to clear, plant and harvest
one hectare in Siona-Secoya horticulture is comparatively low for
slash-and-burn systems. (This total is presented in Table 1.) Nietsch
mann, for example, concluded (1973:143) that Miskito (Nicaragua) labor
inputs are "relatively low," yet when his data are converted to the
metric system they indicate a total of 1,856 man-hours per hectare.
From time-and-motion studies on sample plots at Shushufindi it
would appear that the Siona-Secoya spend relatively less time slashing
and felling than indicated by the estimates for the other groups. The
differences may result from variations in vegetation, sampling error,
or perhaps variations in work patterns. Statements by Carneiro on the
Amahuaca (Peru) and Denevan on the Campa (Peru) are consistent with the
Siona-Secoya figures:
The average size of the chacras I sawT on the upper
Inuya was roughly an acre and a half...One plot
whose clearing I observed took a week of labor -
five days to clear the undergrowth and two days to
fell the trees (Carneiro 1964:11-13).
and,
Clearing is a concentrated process, and all other
activity comes to a near halt, with the possible
exception of early morning hunting...Working most
of each day, a man can clear an average-size chacra
of 0.5 to 1 hectare in one to two weeks (Denevan
1971:502-504).
Depending on whether a six or seven hour work day is used as the basis
of calculation (this is approximately how long the Siona-Secoya work
when fully engaged in an activity) these estimates range from 69 to 84
man-hours to slash and fell one hectare, and are reasonably comparable
to the 63.5 figure cited for the Siona-Secoya.

-90-
The estimated planting time (including intercropping and replant¬
ing) for the Siona-Secoya is intermediate between the estimates for the
Neo-Brazilian and Miskito, and Carter's Kekchi. The variation is
probably attributable to differences in crop ratios and transportation
costs. The same is true of differences in harvesting requirements;
where manioc constitutes a large proportion of the crop the labor in¬
vested in harvesting is correspondingly higher.
Regarding weeding C.arneiro states:
At best, the Amahuaca are reluctant weeders. As
often as not, a garden is not weeded at all. It is
the men who do whatever weeding gets done, but after
planting time most men prefer to spend as little time
in the chacras as possible (1964:14-15).
The Siona-Secoya, however, consider weeding to be an essential
activity to insure plant growth and ease of harvesting, although they
do not particularly enjoy it (as discussed previously). The weeding
estimates for the Siona-Secoya, Neo-Brazilian, and Miskito show close
agreement, whereas the Kekchi apparently invest considerably less time
in this activity. A probable contributing factor to this is the Kekchi
emphasis on maize which is harvested within a period of several months,
whereas the growth and harvesting cycle for manioc extends for two or
more years and may require secondary and tertiary weedings. (In the
Siona-Secoya estimate extra man-hours for "miscellaneous and intermit¬
tent" weedings are also included; this represents an attempt to allow
for the extra weedings in house gardens, which receive more intensive
care than outlying gardens.) Local fallowing cycles and floral associa¬
tions may also be significant factors; as Carter notes, "Weeding is
reported as much more arduous with low fallow" (1969:135).

-91-
Based on the energy expenditure and yield data presented in Tables
1 and 2 the gross efficiency of Siona-Sec.oya cultivation may be calcula¬
ted by the following formula:
Horticultural _ kcal Produced 17,556,120 ^ ^
Efficiency kcal Expended in Production 337,206
In comparison to shifting cultivation systems in some areas of the
world this is quite high. For example, Rappaport (1968:52) calculates
that the ratio of caloric return to input in Tsembaga (New Guinea)
gardens is 16.5:1, and Werge (1975:88) estimates that it is 18:1 for
upland peasant farmers in the Dominican Republic.. However, Nietschmann
(1973:229) reports 30.4:1 for the Miskito, and states, "If a person...
grew nothing but high calorie, high yield cassava...then his calorie
productivity would be quite different" (p. 228). Indeed, it is pos¬
sible to estimate that the efficiency of manioc production for the
Kuikuru of Brazil is 56.5:1 on the basis of data provided by Carneiro
(1957:170).9
The emphasis on manioc cultivation in Siona-Secoya gardens is a
primary factor in their high (for shifting cultivation) calorie return.
Other factors include the fact that Siona-Secoya cultivation is carried
out on mostly level terrain and that the walking distances to the sample
plots were short (.03, .18, .26, and .97 km. respectively). Also, the
Siona-Secoya do not do the fencing, terracing, guarding, extensive
piling and burning, and construction of graneries that are characteristic
of many other shifting cultivation systems. The gross production of
Siona-Secoya is actually well in escess of the population's caloric
requirements. Following Chapter V, which deals with wild food resources,

-92-
the relative contributions of the various subsistence modes to the
diet will be discussed.

I
NOTES TO CHAPTER IV
The members of the patrilineal, pa trilocal extended household, or
/hai wi?e/, cooperated in horticultural, labor as a general rule until
comparatively recent times. Prior to the introduction of iron tools
a communal organization such as that of the /hai w±?e/ would have
been an effective means of sharing the arduous labor of clearing new
gardens.
There are a few bluffs on the Aguarico River, and banks on the Cuyabeno
River which are of the /ma yihá/ soil category.
The Siona-Secoya term for this type of tree fall is /titoyi/ ("to
damage").
Esteban's (a 36-year-old male) rate for slashing secondary growth
ranged between 35.4 to 49.5 machete strokes per minute, with a mean
of 41 s.p.m. Emilio's (a 42-year-old male) rate in primary growth
was 37.5 s.p.m.
For example, one burn that was observed took place at noon on January
19, 1974 with estimated winds of 20-28 km. per hour (a force of four
on the Beaufort Scale; cf. Landsberg 1969:6) from the northeast. It
had not rained for 11 days prior to the burn.
'The distribution of cultigens in the sample plots was determined by
making ground surveys in the company of the cultivator, and the yields
from these gardens were weighed on a hanging scale. Since none of the
four subplots were entirely depleted at the end of the fieldwork, the
remaining harvest was estimated on the basis of the histories of
similar gardens at Shushufindi.
1
The time and motion studies were conducted by going to the field with
a stopwatch, log, and tape measure, and recording the working times
and areas covered for each activity. The figures given are based on
observations of from one to three days for each activity, using multi¬
ple subjects.
*The rates reported by Montgomery and Johnson (1976) are applied
directly. Although the body weights of the Mac’niguenga subjects are
somewhat less than for the Siona-Secoya (e.g. 53.4 kg versus a 62.1
kg mean for Siona-Secoya males, and 43.3 kg versus a 58.6 kg mean for
Siona-Secoya females), they live at a higher altitude (700 meters
versus 224 meters) where the mean annual temperature is likely to be
somewhat lower. For computative purposes it has been assumed that these
factors tend to cancel one another, rather than engage in a series of
minor corrections which would not have a great influence on the overall
values.
-93-

-94-
Carneiro estimates that the potential yield of Kuikuru manioc pro¬
duction is one million calories per 59 man-hours of labor. Most
horticultural activities constitute "moderate" work (Durnin and
Passmore 1967:47, 67; Montgomery and Johnson 1976) with an energy
expenditure of approximately 300 kcal per hour. Therefore, the effi¬
ciency of Kuikuru manioc cultivation may be calculated:
1,000,000 = 1,000,000
59 x 300 17,000
56.5

I
CHAPTER V
SUBSISTENCE TECHNOLOGY: WILD RESOURCES
Wild foods are greatly esteemed by the Siona-Secoya and make an
important contribution to their subsistence. The significance of wild
foods derives more from their qualitative attributes than from the sheer
quantity of edible material they provide; virtually all of the meat
eaten by the Siona-Secoya is procured by hunting and fishing, and wild
plants provide seasonal variety to the diet. In nutritional terms, wild
food resources provide most of the protein and fat consumed, and provide
essential vitamins and minerals to the intake as well.
The availability of wild food resources is variable according to
biotope (i.e., local habitat), daily periodicity, seasonality, and pre¬
vious exploitation patterns in specific locations. The hunting, fishing,
and collecting activities of the Siona-Secoya are adapted to the reali¬
ties of availability, and these essential procurement activities in turn
influence the distribution and movement of the people over the landscape,
and their patterns of social interaction. In this chapter the basic
technology of wild food procurement is discussed.
Hunting
To the Siona-Secoya, hunting is the most glamorous of the subsis¬
tence modes. It is less tedious than horticulture, and although its
rewards are less certain, they are more appreciated. The Siona-Secoya
-95-

-96-
regard it as half-work, half-sport. Hunting is almost exclusively a
male activity. The only exception occurs when women are forced to hunt
because they have no male to provide for them. Nor is serious hunting
the work or boys; the acquisition of hunting skills is one of the primary
indicators of the transition from acclescence to manhood.
Tha traditional weapons of the Siona-Secoya are the blowgun and
the lance. They do not: use the bow and arrow for hunting or fishing,
although children sometimes use them as toys. The blowgun /hioyi/ is
fashioned from two pieces of soft wood which are shaped, grooved, fas¬
tened together, and then bored out with the abrasive material from the
tall of a stingray which is attached to a long rod. After this is done
a wooden mouthpiece is affixed, the outer surface of the tube is coated
with beeswax, and the tooth of an agouti /wi kuhi/ is added as a sight.
The darts /wa?ho/ are of wood carved into slender projectiles. A tree
fiber /hio yíi/ (Ceiba sp.) is attached to the base of the dart to serve
as a seal, and the point is dipped in poison. The darts are carried in
a quiver fashioned from a section of bamboo. To the quiver are attached
a carrying sling, a turnip-shaped gourd filled vrith /hio yii/ fiber, and
a tapered piece of steel which is used to score the dart near its tip so
that it will break off in the wound when the animal attempts t.o extract
it.
The blowgun is used to hunt birds and for small animals op to the
size of peccaries. In the hands of an experienced hunter, it is quite
accurate and is effective at ranges up to 20-30 meters. The inherent
silence of the blowgun allows a stealthy hunter to shoot repetitively
without warning his prey. It is reported that at times a single hunter
has killed ten or more woolly monkeys without exciting the group.

-97-
The manufacture of blowgun poison is a complex art and is not known
to all men. Fernando uses five ingredients, and presumably one of these
is curare (Strychnos toxifera). At the time of the present research the
indigenous poison is no longer commonly made, so searches for the speci¬
fic plants are not conducted with any great frequency, and it was there¬
fore not possible to obtain specimens of the various poison ingredients.
During the period of the rubber trade Peruvian comerciantes provided
manufactured poisons which were more effective than the indigenous
poison, and they replaced it in general use. The Peruvian-Ecuadorian
hostilities of 1941 sealed the border to trade, and the source of the
commercial poison was lost to the Siona-Secoya in Ecuador.
The lance /ui/ is the traditional weapon for hunting peccaries and
tapir. The Siona-Secoya use lances of several types, but the one that
is most characteristically theirs consists of a very sharp bamboo point
mounted on a shaft of Iriartea or Bactris palm wood, or sometimes of a
softer white wood. The points are made from a half-section of bamboo
which is semicircular at the base, and tapered to a fine point at the
other end. They are 40-50 cm. (15-18 in.) in length, and are attached
to the shaft by Astrocaryum fiber string and beeswax. The points of
these lances are designed to break off in the animal once it has been
hit (Tessmann 1930:207 has an excellent drawing of this weapon).
Whereas hunting with a blowgun requires great stealth, hunting with
the lance is more likely to involve open pursuit. When a herd of white-
lipped peccaries (Tayassu pécari) is sighted by an individual, or their
fresh tracks are encountered, the word is spread throughout the village,
and a communal hunting party is organized. If possible, some of the
members of the group hide behind large trees to one side of the herd,

-98-
and the remaining men then attempt to drive the peccaries in the direction
of the waiting hunters. In such affairs the kill is divided so that all
of the members of the party receive a portion of the meat.
If an individual hunter is out with his blowgun and comes across
fresh tapir (Tapi rus americanus) tracks, he quickly returns to his house,
drops off his blowgun, and picks up his hunting lances and dogs. Dogs
are extremely important in the hunting of tapir, which is a large and
lumbering animal, hut which is capable of outdistancing a man who does
not have dogs to assist him. The dogs chase the tapir until it seeks
refuge in a stream, or other body of water, and then keep it at bay until
the running hunter can catch up. If the tapir can reach a large enough
river it may escape by swimming, but usually it stops in whatever small
stream it happens upon. In such cases the tapir provides an easy target
for the lance, as the Siona-Secoya practice spear throwing from boyhood
and can hit small targets at ten meters (33 ft.). The hunter aims for
the heart, and if he is successful in hitting it he can kill the tapir
with only one lance. If not, it may take a second or third attempt.
(If necessary, the Siona-Secoya can improvise by fashioning additional
lances from materials on the spot.) When hit, the tapir may submerge
and then surface at another spot, or it may attempt to escape from the
water. However, the vicious dogs are effective at keeping it under con¬
trol .
During the past 20 years firearms have replaced blowguns and lances
for most hunting. When the Summer Institute of Linguistics established
contact with the Siona-Secoya community on the Cuyabeno River the mission¬
ary gave the men muzzle-loading shotguns and ammunition as pay for their
assistance in clearing a primitive airstrip near the settlement.

-99-
Subsequently, a Catholic priest of Spanish nationality lived in the
village and introduced modern breech-loading shotguns (retrocarga).
Today most adult men possess single-shot shotguns of American, Canadian,
or Brazilian manufacture, or their cruder Ecuadorian or Colombian imita- r
tions. The standard caliber is lb gauge, and shotgun shells, primers,
powder and shot are among the most actively traded items on the river.
Hunting trips take several forms, varying according to the length
of the stay, the number of participants, and the nature of the prey.
The simplest and most common type is the individual day hunt. The hunter
leaves his house between five and six a.m., walks through the settlement
and gardens, and then takes one of the numerous hunting trails that
radiate from the village. Or he may take his canoe and cross the river,
or go several bends upstream or downstream and pick up a trail from the
riverbank. The only equipment taken is a shotgun, a pouch or netted bag
with extra shells, and a knife or machete. One or two dogs usually
accompany him. The hunter may or may not carry a jug of /noka kono/
(plantain beverage), depending on his preference.
The day hunt is a hunt of opportunity; the hunter attempts to kill
whatever game animals he encounters. His primary' goal is to provide
meat for his immediate household. The hunter goes out the trail,
searching for fresh tracks and listening for animal calls, and Is alert
to the reactions of his dogs. If the hunter encounters no game he will
continue away from the village until midday', and then sit on the ground
and take a rest of about a half hour. If he has brought along /noka
kono/ he will drink it rapidly and unceremoniously; if not, he will sip
some water from a stream. After this pause the hunter returns in the
direction of the village; on some occasions he follows the same trail

-100-
he took in the morning, whereas other times he will deviate from it,
or choose another trail altogether.
If the hunter's kill is small (e.g. a currasow, guan, etc.) it will
not be shared beyond his immediate household. But if the hunter has a
good day and kills a large peccary or two, he will usually share his
kill with his parents and siblings, especially when their houses are
located near his. If the hunter has many married brothers and sisters
living beyond the sight of his house they are less likely to receive a
share of the meat. At times the hunter will also share some of his kill
with the /inti ba?iki/ (headman), or with someone with whom he wishes
to establish a relationship (such as a new migrant to the village). In
the former case, the act of giving is in recognition of the prestige
and power of the headman, and no repayment in kind is expected. Rather,
it is believed that a good /inti ba?iki/ is watching over the people of
his village and communicating with the spirit beings to learn of the
portent of danger and illness. Therefore it is a logical expression
of Siona-Secoya belief for the hunter to give meat to the headman as
a token of respect and to remain in his good graces.
The most widespread sharing of meat occurs when a tapir is killed.
A fully grown tapir weighs in excess of 225 kg. (500 lbs.). Even when
butchered the weight is far more than a single man can carry. As
mentioned previously, tapirs are usually killed when they take refuge
in water. The solitary hunter will cut off a piece of meat to carry
home after the kill, but leaves the bulk of the carcass submerged in
the water at the kill site (secured to the bank by a vine). As he re¬
turns through the village he will excitedly tell those he encounters
that he has killed a /wek±/. The word spreads rapidly through the

-10.1-
village and people come to the house of the hunter to hear the details
of the hunt. The hunter relates the events of the chase and the kill
in minute detail, including imitations of the sounds of the dogs and
the shotgun. The hunter then invites the men of the village to assist
him in the butchering and carrying of the meat back to the village on
the next day.
The following morning the men depart in a party and travel briskly
to the kill site. Tine tapir is hauled out of the water and butchered
on the spot, with the meat being divided into piles by the hunter. The
invitees keep the load of meat that they carry back to the village.
When the men return the meat may undergo some secondary redistribution,
but the bulk of it goes to the household of the hunter and the men who
brought it back to the settlement.
The patterns of meat distribution allow for efficient utilization
of the resource. The primary technique for preserving meat is to smoke
it on a babracot above the firebox. It can be preserved for only a
week or so in this manner before becoming infested with maggots. If
the kill of the hunter is more than his household can normally consume
in a week, he shares the excess with the households of his kinsmen
(i.e., the closest members of his lineage). These are precisely the
households that are most likely to share meat with him when they have
a large kill. Thus reciprocity serves as a mechanism by which the
hunter can spread his meat over a period of time that is greater than
his limited food preservation techniques allow. When a tapir is killed
the meat is greater than the requirements of even the hunter's lineage,
and so a broader distribution is effected. But this also entitles the
hunter to a portion of a future tapir kill by anyone to whom he has
given meat.

-102-
Hunting at "Salt" Licks /tu?aro/
Another hunting technique is to set up watch at a salt lick /tu?aro/.
According to Reinaldo there are two licks near the former village site
on the Cuyabeno River; one is two hours walk from the old settlement,
and the other is ten minutes beyond the first. Their names are /sá?sá
tu?aro/ ("wambulla lick"; named after a hardwood used to make house
pillars), and /?oko siopi tu’aro/ ("headwaters lick"; named after a
nearby stream). These licks consist of deposits of white clay whose
mineral content attracts tapirs, peccaries, and other animals. The
larger of these two licks has been hollowed out by the licking of the
animals so that it forms a room--iike enclosure six meters square and
2.6 meters deep. Reinaldo described one hunt he made at this lick:
We left the house an hour before sunrise...two hours
later the /weki/ (tapir) was already in the lick. (Here
Reinaldo imitated the sound of the tapir sucking the clay.)
The dog wTent ahead...I shouted /ca hü?ü...£a hu?u/ ("Chase
it...chase it").
The tapir came out of the lick and ran down to a
small stream. There he sat, with only his head above the
water. He was angry...very angry...with white eyes. I
shot...killed him with one shot in the ear. He died
quickly.
I made a hole in the tapir's mouth with my machete,
and cut a piece of /ya?i/ vine three meters long to tie to
him. Tiburcio, a relative of Victoriano, helped me pull
him out of the stream. We cut out the intestines, and then
cut up the tapir w7ith a knife. We threw away the head...
it was very heavy, pure bone.
We made a /gosa ha?o turubi/ (burden basket of
Oenocarpus palm leaves). We loaded it. We went up a
hill. We rested...we were hungry...without anything to
drink. Later we came down to the stream called /tu?aroaya/
("river of the lick"). I left one foreleg there (submerged
in the water). We arrived at the house an hour before
sunset. The next day I went back. We gave meat to Delfin,
my mother, and Tiburcio took two legs.

-103-
l
The lick nearest Shushufindi is downriver from the village, and
thirty minutes inland from a spot known as Remolino ("Whirlpool"). It
is too far from the village to be reached on day hunts, but is visited
from time to time during extended hunts.
r
Hunting with Traps
The Siona-Secoya use several types of traps for specialized types
of hunting. The / tao tx?wi/ or /seme kuawü/ is a deadfall trap used
to catch agoutis, armadillos, and rodents. There is no bait placed in
this trap; the animal enters a passageway formed by two parallel rows
of sticks placed in the ground, and springs the trap by stepping on a
treadle which releases a section of heavy water-filled bamboo propped
over the passage. JThese traps are also placed in house gardens to kill
the rats which come to eat the peach palm seedlings.
The /akapa/ is a tension trap that is set up on animal trails and
is used to catch ground-dwelling birds. It is made by tying a cord with
a slip noose to a sapling which is bent over and pinned to the ground
with twigs. The noose is spread in a circle on the trail, and when the
bird's foot steps into it and pulls on the string the sapling is sprung,
lifting the victim into the air.
The /yihá kohe/ is a pitfall type of trap. A hole approximately
a meter deep is dug into the ground and sharpened points of /mame/ (a
variety of bamboo) are set in the bottom, and then the hole is covered
with leaves. The /yihá kohe/ is used to catch /seme/ (Agouti paca).
The Siona-Secoya also use a variety of animal calls to attract
game, and carve a whistle from the wood of the "whistle tree"
/wi?si ñi/ which they use to imitate the call of the agouti /w±/.

-104-
TABLE 4. YIELDS FOR SIONA-SECOYA HUNTERS AT SHUSHUF1NDI
(OCTOBER 1973-MARCH 1975)
Hunter
No.
Trips in
Sample'3 ’0
Yield in kg
Butchered
Wt.
Mean Y'ield
in kg
B.W.
Standard
Deviation
% Trips
with Kill
Elias
6
78.47
13.08
12.89
83.33
Belizario
8
109.11
13.64
9.46
100.00
Emilio
42
646.06
15.38
19.59
88.10
Camilo
7
116.64
16.66
15.06
85.71
Esteban
'53
918.39
17.33
24.26
S3.02
Simón L.
9
173.31
19.26
3.09
100.00
Luis
24
503.65
20.99
26.53
87.50
Agustin
5
10S.02
21.60
16.54
80.00
Simón P.
12
264.20
22.02
24.68
91.67
Reinaldo
7
162.71
23.24
18.78
100.00
Celestino
11
256.69
23.34
18.78
100.00
DeIfin
“7
/
222.57
31.80
35.88
100.00
Delio
8
371.00
46.38
38.83
100.00
Lucho
9
421.11
46.79
47.50
100.00
Bolivar
5
234.17
46.83
88.43
60.00
ALL OTHERS
70
1,455.81
20.08
24.51
87.14
Totals
283d
6,042.21
21.35
27.08
88.69 •
3Vickers (1975b) discusses the significance of the data presented
in this table.
^Each trip is the equivalent of one man on an average one-day
hunt (hunts of more than one day are broken into daily units for
computative purposes).
"Variations in sample size are a function of the dispersed settle¬
ment pattern, and do not represent differences in hunting frequency
dIt is estimated that this size sample represents approximately
22% of the total number of hunts originating from Shushufindi. in
a one year (1974) period.

-105-
According to Reinaldo, tapirs, ocelots, and peccaries may also be
attracted to the sound of this whistle.
Fishing and Aquatic Hunting
Fishing is not restricted to men as is hunting; women and children
participate in this important, subsistence activity. There has been
considerable discussion in the literature regarding the relative im¬
portance of fishing and hunting as protein providing techniques (cf.
Lathrap 1973). The data from the Siona-Secoya indicate that there is
no simple answer to this question; that is, fishing and hunting re¬
sources vary spatially and temporally, and the relative contribution
of each is not constant, but changes according to a number of factors.
The Siona-Secoya use a variety of fishing techniques, including
hook and line, the harpoon, fish, poisons, and traps. They have a good
knowledge of the habits of the various fish species present in local
waters, and their fishing is specific; i.e., they use specific tech¬
niques at specific times and places to catch specific varieties of fish.
On the. Cuyabeno River fishing is practiced year-round, and it
surpasses hunting in importance. The Cuyabeno arises entirely within
the lowlands, and its waters are black and relatively clear. It would
seem that it should be classified with the so-called "black water" rivers
of the Amazon (cf. Meggers 1971:12). The difficulty with this classi¬
fication, however, is that black water rivers are usually described as
having an impoverished fish life. While no limnological studies of the
Cuyabeno have been made, it is evident from the yields of the Siona-
Secoya that the river provides a reliable year-round supply of small

-106-
to medium-sized fish. Its associated oxbow lakes are ideal for the
utilization of fish poisons during the dry season. It appears that
the "white water," "black water," "clear water" system of classifying
Amazonian rivers is in need of greater refinement.
The Aguarico River, on the other hand, is a classic white water
river. It carries so much suspended silt from the Andes that its
characteristic color is a creamy light brown, and as a result is not
very appealing as a source of drinking water or as a place to bathe.
With the exception of the /naho/ or paiche (Arapaima gigas) there are
more species of large fish in the Aguarico than in the Cuyabeno, es¬
pecially of the catfish family Pimilodidae. The fishing in the Aguarico,
however, is highly seasonal. During the rainy months (April-July) the
water levels of the rivers and streams rise, and tire fish go back into
the headwaters of the small streams. The Aguarico also has a strong
current during this period, which mades canoe handling difficult. Little
fishing takes place on the Aguarico during this time.
The most common form of fishing is with hook and line. Fernando
can remember a time when lines were made of Astrocaryum fiber and hooks
were- carved from the legbones of agoutis, but today nylon line and steel
hooks are purchased from comerciantes or missionaries. Many types of
bait are used, including both large and small earthworms, palm grubs,
grasshoppers, wasps and their larvae, pieces of meat, plantains, and
palm fruit (Bactris and Mauritia). For small fish the line is usually
attached to a pole about two meters in length. When fishing for /wani/
(Cichlidae) along the shores of the Cuyabeno lakes, the tip of the pole
is whipped back and forth in the water to attract the fish. I once
observed Reinaldo catch 11 fish in 45 minutes with this technique, while

-107
I only had one bite in the same period. (Both of us were using small
earthworms for bait.) The water-beating technique is also used for
catching /buñu/ or piraña (Serrasalmus spp.) in still branches of the
Cuyabeno. Here the bait consists of small pieces of raw fish or meat,
and the fishing is done from a canoe. A wire leader is attached to the
hook so that the sharp teeth of the piraña will not cut the line. This
is exciting fishing, for when the piraña is pulled into the canoe it
flips about wildly and snaps at everything it comes near. The fisherman
must be alert if he is to avoid being bitten. As soon as the /buñu/ is
landed, the Siona-Secoya attempt to pin it down and strike it on the
head or eyes with a machete; once the hook is extracted from the stunned
fish the angling continues.
When fishing for the larger catfish /simi/ on the Aguarico, the
Siona-Secoya use a thick line and a large hook attached to a carved
balsa wood plug which is called /kurime/. During the dry season
(December-March) the large catfish are in the main rivers. The Siona-
Secoya fish for them at the mouths of streams, or at whirlpools /kiwira/
which form where there are depressions lower than the primary river bed.
The surface water over many of these whirlpools is actually quite placid
in appearance, but if one observes closely, the rotating current over
the hole can be detected. The Siona-Secoya bait their hooks with sec¬
tions of enormous earthworms and throw them into the whirlpools.
According to informants, the whirlpools are from 30-50 meters deep,
with catfish being caught at the middle and lower depths.
On the smaller streams around the village of Shushufindi (which
are all tributaries of the Aguarico), the Siona-Secoya use smaller hooks
and line to catch a variety of smaller fish. One method is to throw

-108-
wasp larvae into the water, thereby attracting large numbers of fish who
begin to eat indiscriminately and are easily hooked by the fishermen.
Another technique involves the use of a blind for catching very small
fish or sardinas. The blind is constructed of leaves, and the fisherman
hides behind it and throws larvae into the water. Since the excited
fish strike at everything, the hooks are not baited. Elias told me that
he and his mother once caught several hundred sardinas on the Shushufindi
River with this technique.
The /sesotubi/, or harpoon, is another fishing tool. They are used
to spear /suara/ (boca chico; Prochilodus sp.), as well as caiman,
palche, and manatee. The harpoon is nearly three meters in length and
has a shaft of dense Iriartea or Bactris palm wood. The point is of
iron and has a single cutting ed£e and barb, and has a cup in its base
into which the shaft is inserted (the point is a trade item). The point
is not firmly attached to the shaft, but is held in place by the tension
of a single piece of twine tied to the shaft. When a hit is made the
point is embedded in the animal, and the shaft breaks free from the
point (which is tied to a long line), and consequently the animal cannot
shake the point out.
The hunting of the manatee (Trichechus inunguis) is a very dif¬
ficult task due to the cryptic nature of the animal. Manatee are hunted
on the Cuyabeno River and its lakes, with the hunters arising well be¬
fore sunrise in order to be on the water at the first break of light.
The manatee feed on aquatic plants in the early morning hours, and the
hunters watch for any signs of movement among the plants floating on the
surface of the water. (The hunters work in pairs; the nan with the
harpoon in the bow and a paddler in the stern.) If movement is detected,

-109-
the aft man paddles to the spot as silently as possible, and the bow
man throws the heavy harpoon. The point of the harpoon is attached to
a line of about fifteen meters which has a balsa wood float at the other
end. The line is not held by the hunter or tied to the canoe, because
the manatee is too strong for the men to handle. If the manatee is hit
it reacts with great force, and the hunter simply throws the float into
the water and observes its movement. As the manatee swims, the float
is pulled under the water, but when it stops the balsa pops to the sur¬
face. According to Esteban, the manatee begins to tire after ten or
fifteen minutes, and after a half hour it can be brought to the surface
where the hunters force wooden plugs in its nostrils, causing it to
suffocate.
The manatee is not found throughout all of Siona-Secoya territory,
for its range is limited to those areas where the limnological condi¬
tions favor the aquatic plants which constitute its food. The Siona-
Secoya name for manatee is /siáya wek±/ or "river tapir." Like the
tapir, the manatee is a large animal, and the infrequent kills are
notable events in the life of the community. Informants still residing
on the Cuyabeno report that there were no kills of manatee during 1973-74.
Fermin Rogelio said that he had hunted them, but that they always got
startled as he approached with the harpoon.
The Siona-Secoya use the harpoon also to take paiche, or /naho/
(Arapaima gigas), the largest fish of the Amazon. They report that the
/naho/ on the Cuyabeno reach two meters in length and 70 kg. (150 lbs.)
in weight. The only paiche taken during the fieldvrork was harpooned by
Elias in December, 1974 in an oxbow lake where Delio, Lucho, Simón and
Alejandro had been using /eo/ or barbasco (Lonchocarpus nicou; a fish

-110-
poison). According to Elias, the large fish was surfacing from time to
time to take air, and then submerging and leaving a trail of bubbles
behind it. The men who had used the fish poison had made a good catch,
but failed in all their attempts to harpoon the /naho/. When Elias
arrived in the scene after two days he went out on the lake and speared
the fish on his first attempt (by aiming a meter ahead of the rising
bubbles), which caused the others a good deal of chagrin.
Fishing with Poison
Another important fishing technique involves the use of poisons
derived from forest plants (some of which have become semidomesticates).
This method may be used in the smaller streams and oxbow lakes of
certain rivers during the dry season. The use of fish poisons requires
a cooperative effort. Before the fishing is to take place the poison
must be collected. The /eo/ is then cut into two-meter lengths and
bound into bundles of about 25 pieces each. About eight of these bun¬
dles are required, and each participant carries a bundle to the site
where it is to be used. Then a barrier is constructed across the stream
by first sticking poles close together to form a framework, and sticking
/pa?pá/ palm fronds (unidentified) into this supporting structure.
The barrier must be high enough so that the fish cannot jump over it.
(If the stream is 65 cm. deep, for example, the total height of the
barrier should be about two meters).
After the barrier has been constructed, the men carry the bundles
of /eo/ about 200 meters upstream, where they are untied. The sections
of vine are then cut into one-meter lengths and held against a tree
trunk while another person smashes them with the flat side of an axe.

-Ill-
According to Esteban, four or more people must work several hours to
smash all of the /eo/ vine. All of the smashed vines are then thrown
into the stream at once, turning the water a white color. After one
or two hours the small fish in the stream begin to die, and the larger
ones jump in the water. After three hours the larger begin to die also.
The people wade into the water and catch the fish with their hands,
with a lance, or sweep them up with baskets. The catch of each parti¬
cipant goes to his or her household, so the larger households take home
a proportionately greater number of fish. Esteban says he has received
20 fish, whereas Cecilio's household got 50, with the overall catch
being about 300.
These communal fishing events occurred about twice a year (always
during the dry season), prior to the migration to Shushufindi. In 1975
several families made special trips to the Cuyabeno River to fish with
/eo/.
Collecting Animals and Their Products
The collecting of turtle eggs is an important seasonal activity
from November to January when the /ta?ri/ or charapa (Podocerais unifilis)
lay their eggs in the sandy beaches of the rivers. Family groups go
out in canoes and search up and down the Cuyabeno for signs of the
turtle's nests, which contain 20-30 eggs each. In recent years the
Siona-Secoya have had to compete with whites from the Putumayo River
who now make trips to the Cuyabeno during each turtle season, and as a
consequence the yields from this resource have declined sharply. Vic¬
toriano says that four years ago (ca. 1970) he filled his entire canoe
with /ta?ri/ eggs on a single collecting trip, and that each member of

-112-
his family collected about 2,000 eggs. (The estimated total is 10,000
eggs for the entire household.) During the .1973-74 season his household
collected only 1,000 eggs, and the total for all eight Siona-Secoya
households remaining on the Cuyabeno was no more than 3,000.
In November and December of 1974 Simón Piaguaje made a 24-day trip
from Shushufindi. to the Aguarico below the mouth of the Cuyabeno, located
27 turtle nests with an estimated 500 eggs, and also captured one turtle.
Lucho made a similar trip and found no eggs, but caught eleven /ta?ri/.
T.n former years the large harvest of turtle eggs provided a rich source
of protein during several months of each year. These eggs are smoked or
salted in order to preserve them for periods of up to several months.
The turtles themselves are kept alive until they are needed. The turtle
season was particularly significant on the Cuyabeno River where ter¬
restrial game is scarce. Because of the declining yields and the move¬
ment of the main village away from the primary turtling areas on the
Cuyabeno and lower Aguarico, fewer families now participate in this
once important part of the yearly round. Even though the family groups
that still participate in the turtle egg hunt can manage only modest
harvests, they suill return to the village with some smoked eggs to
share with their kinsmen so that all can "remember" the flavor of this
once important food.
Honey is one of the most preferred of all animal products, and the
Siona-Secoya are constantly on the look for it. when they travel about.
They recognize two general classes of honey bee: ( 1) /o?a/, which are
black, stinging bees that build their hives on the outside of tree
trunks; and (2) /meha/ which are stingless bees which make their hives
inside hollow tree trunks. Examples of the first class include the

-113-
/weki o?a/ ("tapir bee of o?a class") and the smaller/wea o?a/ ("maize
bee of o?a class"), These bees make hives which are similar to termitaria.
In order to collect the honey of these bees the tree is felled and the
bees are driven off with torches made from the dried fronds of the
Mauritia palm. The Indians usually get stung during this process. Then
the honey comb is wrapped in leaves and carried home where it is eaten
as a delicacy.
The /nea meha/ ("black bee of meha class") and /s±o meha/ ("hairy
bee of meha class") are examples of the second category of honey bees.
Their host trees are felled, and then the trunk is cut open with a
machete to reveal the hive and its honey inside. Little precaution is
taken because these bees are stingless. (According to Elias, "They try
to bite, but they don't bite hard.") Another type of /mehá/ bed is the
/ui meha/. Its honey is bitter and is not collected, but its wax is used
to repair cracks in canoes. The wax of other bees is used to make
candles /maní/ by soaking cotton in the melted wax and then twisting
it into a ropelike wick before it hardens.
Palm, grubs are another preferred food. The /hiko/ is a type of
grub that is found in palms such as the /pa?pa/ (unidentified),
/ine/ (Bactris sp.), /ora/ (Iriartea sp.), and /gosa/ (Oenocarpus sp.).
Prior to the actual collection the Siona-Secoya prepare these palms to
serve as a home for the grubs. First the palm is felled, and then two
holes the diameter of a hand span are cut in opposite sides of the trunk
near the crown. The /ku?uko/ beetle deposits its eggs in these holes
and the eggs develop into grubs. After three months the grubs grow to
the size of a man's finger and are collected, fried, and eaten.
The /sani/ is another palm gi'ub which is extracted from palm trunks

-114-
when they are felled (without any initial preparation). They are
smaller and whiter than the /hiko/, and are used as fish bait as well
as for food.
Unlike some tropical forest tribes, the Siona-Secoya are not par¬
ticularly fond of eating insects. When asked if he ate grasshoppers,
one man replied with disgust, "They are very dirty." Some Siona-Secoya
admit that they do eat the /meka/, a large ground-dwelling ant. These
are collected during the month of August when they can be driven out of
their holes with fire. Only the abdomen is eaten and is said to have
a greasy flavor. Other Siona-Secoya say that the /meka/ is eaten only
by Quichuas. (It is believed that the Quichuas will eat anything, in¬
cluding dead animals encountered in the forest.)
Collecting Plant Products
Collecting provides many of the fruits, nuts, condiments, stimu¬
lants, and dietary novelties .consumed by the Siona-Secoya. As a food
procurement mode it does not approach horticulture, hunting, or fishing
in terms of the calories it provides, but certain forest products make
important contributions to the diet on a seasonal basis, and others
offer the advantage of availability during hunting trips or migrations.
Collecting is done by men, women, and children.
The number of forest plants from which products are collected is
large (see Appendix 3). Only a few species, however, make relatively
important contributions to the diet. The single most important collected
food during the fieldwork was the dwarf banana known as /wati noka/
("demon banana"). Actually this is not a true feral species, but is a
type of banana (Musa nana) which has the ability to self-propagate in

-115-
the natural habitat of the Siona-Secoya. It is not a preferred food,
but during the migration cycle it becomes important as a substitute for
plantains until the gardens of the Siona-Secoya become established.
The /wati noka/ is not found throughout the tropical forest, but
rather along the banks of rivers where the clones are deposited during
flood periods. No other variety of plantain or banana known to the
Siona-Secoya survives under the marginal conditions in which the /wati
noka/ appears to thrive. The name "demon banana" is given because the
stands of /wati noka/ that are found on deserted beaches and riverbanks
are not planted by humans, hence they must derive from some supernatural
force.
When the main Siona-Secoya village in Ecuador was moved from the
Cuyabeno River to Shushufindi on the Aguarico River, the people depended
on /wati noka/ for the 14-18 months that it took for their plantains to
reach the production stage. Under normal conditions, however, the
/wati noka/ is little used. The average household may have one or two
plants in their gardens, but the vast majority of their /noka/ (generic
name for Musaceae) consists of varieties of plantains which are con¬
sidered far superior to bananas for cooking and making the /noka k5no/
beverage.
The most important collected species which are truly feral are
seasonal produces like /ne?e/ (Mauritia vinifera) , the /ñiík a/ palm
(Astrocaryum tucuma) which produces small /peto/ ("coconuts"), and
/suni/ nuts (Caryodendron orinocense). These fruits and nuts are col¬
lected by members of all households, and become significant elements in
the diet during certain periods of the year. The Mauritia palm, or
/ne?e/, produces bunches of fruit in January and February. These fruits

-116-
are the size of hen’s eggs and are very hard when green. The Siona-
Secoya search for these palms in the forest, and when they are located
the tree is felled and the fruit clusters are buried in the ground for
four days. Then they are dug up and carried to the village where they
are steamed in a pot, peeled and eaten, or made into /ne?e kono/
("Mqitri ♦-t a Kowar anc!,'\ . .
The /nukWa/ (Astrocaryum tucuma) provides its golf ball sized
/peto/ nuts during November and December. The tops of these nuts are
cut off with a machete, the liquid is drunk, and then the white meat is
removed and eaten. /Petó/ nuts are eaten primarily as a snack.
/Suni/, or mani del monte ("peanuts of the forest"), are nuts that
are produced by large buttressed trees in the forest (Caryodendron
orinocense) during the dry season of /ometíkáwi/. The roundish, brittle
/suni/ pods contain three kidney shaped nuts, which the Siona-Secoya
extract and toast in the fire before eating. In addition to the afore¬
mentioned fruits and nuts are a group of berries and fruits of lesser
importance, including many varieties of /bené/ (Inga spp.), /apási/
(Matisia cordata), /suni/ (red berries produced by a large unidentified
tree), /?airo k i ya?i/ (Pourouma aspera), /sunori/ (Herranla sp.)> and
/si?ra/, a sprouting palm nut harvested from the forest floor. The
fruit of the emetic producing /kási/ (unidentified tree) is also
baked in coals and is similar to breadfruit in texture and taste. Two
plants which occur in secondary growth are /siri bia/ (Physalis angulata),
and /boho/ (Phytolacca sp.), which provides edible leaves. Heart of
palm /wiña tikubi/ ("young shoot") is taken from /ora/ (Iriartea sp.),
/±né/ (Bactris sp.), /gosa/ (Oenocarpus sp.), and /si?ra/ and /ini bo?e/
(unidentified Palmae).

-117-
TABLE 5. ANNUAL COLLECTING YIELDS FOR A HOUSEHOLD OF FOUR AT SHUSHUFINDI
Food
kg
%
Edible
Portion
Edible
Portion
kg
kcal
kg
E.P.a
Total
kcal
Flora
Palm fruit (Mauritia vinifera)
27.22
38
10.34
1,430
14,786
Palm nut (Astrocaryum tucuma)
22.68
28
6.35
990b
6,286
Heart of palm (various spp.)
.45
100
.45
260
117
Nut (Caryodendron orinocense)
18.14
37
6.71
6,960C
46,702
Wild sapote (Matisia cordata)
10.89
26
2.83
480
1,358
/yahi/ (unidentified berry)
.60
75d
.45
8106
364
Wild cacao (Herrania sp.)
1.56
37
.58
710f
412
Groundcherry (Physalis angulata)
.45
90d
.40
730g
292
Wild guaba (Inga spp.)
4.54
20
.91
600
545
Pokeweed (Phytolacca sp.)
2.72
85d
2.31
300h
693
Tree grape (Pourouma aspera)
1.00
50d
.50
5701
285
/sayaro/ (unidentified fruit)
1.36
40d
.54
480j
259
Dwarf banana (Musa sp.)^
500.76
78
390.59
970
378,875
Fauna
turtle eggs
7.36
83
6.11
1,150
7,026
honey
1.36
100
1.36
3,060
4,162
grubs
.40
100
.40
2,15o1
860
Total
463,022
aiNCAP (Leung 1961).
Data for Astrocaryum standleyanum used as analogue,
c
Data for Carya illinoensis used as analogue.
^Estimated.
e
Data for Prunus capuli used as analogue.
^Data for Theobroma bicolor used as analogue.
Data for Physalis peruviana used as analogue.
bData for Spinacea olerácea used as analogue.
â– "â– Data for Vit.is tiliifolia used as analogue.
^Data for Matisia cordata used as analogue.
Higher than most years due to immaturity of plantains in gardens.
(This is a self-propagating variety of dwarf banana; see text.)
^"Data for "mortadela" sausage used as analogue (INN 1965).

-118-
The use of yoco (Paullinia yoco) is one of the diagnostic traits
of Western Tucanoan culture. It is a woody vine with a caffeine con¬
tent (Schultes 1942), and is used primarily as an early morning stimu¬
lant, although it is also utilized in shamanistic curing rituals at
times (Cooper [1949:549] denies knowledge of yoco being used for magico-
religious purposes). Upon rising, Siona-Secoya men scrape the bark of
the vine into a gourd containing a little water, and then squeeze the
scrapings until the water turns brown. After a final squeeze, the bark
is removed, and the remaining bitter infusion is ingested. The search
for yoco is combined with hunting activities, and when the vines are
located in the forest they are cut into sections and carried back to the
village.
Ritual in Hunting and Fishing
There is considerably more ritual and magic associated with hunting
and fishing than with horticulture. This is consistent with Malinowski's
principle that those activities which involve a higher degree of un¬
certainty will have a greater incidence of associated ritual, than those
which are relatively assured (1935). Essentially, there are two forms
of behavior which seek to insure good hunting. The first consists of
magic and taboos which apply to all hunters, and the second of special.
yagé rituals which are performed by shamans. The former are intended to
improve the skill of the hunter and his dogs, whereas the latter are
intended to increase the game supply.
The magical acts usually involve the use of plants which are be¬
lieved to have special properties and contagious magic. The plants used
in hunting and fishing magic include:

-119-
1. The bulb of the magical plant /nuni/ (Cyperus sp.) is rubbed
on spear points and hands. It is believed that the animal
will not escape the lance. Hunters use /nuni/ at the instruc¬
tion of a shaman in imitation of the beings of the heavenly
realms who also use /nuni/ to treat their lances. /Nuni/ is
also rubbed on the shoulders and body of hunting dogs so that
they will catch game.
2. The term /ma?ña/ refers to a class of plants which may be
glossed as "perfumes." The leaves of /ma?fta/ plants are cut
in half and placed in the mouths of hunting dogs. /Ma?ña/ is
also rubbed on fishing hooks and lines in the belief that it
will cause the fish to approach tamely. The /wiña wa?i/
(heavenly beings) are the custodians of /ma?ña/, and use it
in their fishing also.
3. /Weki kaho/ ("tapir itch"; Xanthosoma sp.) is a cultivated
plant with leaves that are believed to be similar in appearance
to the ears of tapir. The leaf of this plant is boiled with
plantains, and the mixture is fed to hunting dogs in the belief
that a tapir will not escape dogs treated in this manner.
4. /Ya?w± kaho/ ("collared peccary itch"; Xanthosoma sp.) is pre¬
pared and used in the same manner as /wékí kaho/, but is
specific for collared peccaries.
It is believed that all of the aforementioned plants were procured from
the sky realms by Sicna-Secoya shamans.
Practices involving the preparation and consumption of game are
also believed to affect luck in hunting. The woman who is cooking the
meat must not allow the pot to boil over lest the aim of the hunter be
affected. When a novice hunter makes his first kill he should eat only
the body of the animal, not its head or extremities, or in future hunts
he will have a tendency to hit these parts and the animal may escape.
Likewise, the hunter who kills monkeys with a blowgun should eat only
the body, arms and legs of the animal, and not its head, eyes, tail,
hands, feet, or intestines. If he eats the tail or foot, for example,
his darts will strike these parts on future hunts and the animal will
escape. If the hunter eats the eyes or head, it is believed that the
monkeys will see the hunter before he shoots. In a similar fashion the

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hunter should not eat the wings of birds he has killed, or his shots
will not strike the bird's body.
If a hunter has been troubled by poor aim he may improve it by
holding the muzzle of his shotgun in the vapors of a pot where meat is
cooking. In blowgun hunting, it is believed that the force of a man’s
breath can be strengthened by taking an emetic made from /kasi/ (an
unidentified primary forest tree). About ten fruits are grated and
mixed with lukewarm water, and then the hunter drinks about five gourds
full of this liquid, which induces vomiting within a short time. This
treatment helps the hunter to develop a harder blow which gives the
dart a higher velocity and allows it to penetrate thicker skins.
Sexual relations are not proscribed before a hunt, but it is be¬
lieved that preoccupation with sex will result in poor marksmanship and
a reduction in animation to hunt. It is also believed that a man should
eat well before hunting. This is based on the principle of contagious
association: a hungry hunter continues to experience hunger. The
pragmatic aspect of this is that a well fed hunter will have more energy
than one who has not eaten sufficiently.
One of the greatest dangers encountered when hunting in the forest
is snakebite. In the past, the Siona-Secoya captured the /nutiyo/ (an
unidentified poisonous snake) and allowed it to bite them in the belief
that it would immunize them from future attack. Another magical prac¬
tice involves scarification during adolescence, and is aimed at improving
luck in fishing and the hunting of riverine animals. The bark of a
tree known as /tua?u/ (unidentified) is collected and then cut into
narrow strips and tied tightly around the forearms, forming four parallel
rings on each arm. These strips are left in place for several minutes,

-121-
and are then removed; subsequently blisters appear which encircle the
entire arm. After healing, permanent bands of light scar tissue, remain
visible. Informants agree that persons who have undergone this scarifi¬
cation do not fail as fishermen or hunters of river turtles.
The importance of the shaman is manifest in the foregoing descrip¬
tions of magical practices in the sense that he is.the provider of the
ritual plants via his intercession with the spirit beings who are the
custodians of the supernatural plants. But there is an even greater
task beyond the individual hunting rituals in which the shaman must
assist, and this is the "calling" of game. It is a tenet of Siona-Secoya
belief that the greater the power of a shaman, the greater the abundance
of game around the village where he resides. The people say that where
the shaman performs the yagé ceremony and is strong, there is manifestly
abundant game; herds of white-lipped peccaries run so close to the
village that they can be heard. Indeed, they practically run through
the village. Fat tapirs are present along the hunting trails, and all
is well in the village.
When the luck of the hunters has been poor they approach the shaman
and ask him to perform special yagé rituals to bring game to the area.
Yagé provides the medium through which the shaman communicates with the
keepers of the game animals. Each species of animal has its own keeper.
The generic name for keeper is /ta?ni/, and it is a spirit being who
keeps the animal in an enclosure or corral. /Ya?wí ta?ni/, /naso ta?n±/,
and /?émü ta?ni/ refer to the keepers of collared peccaries, vroolly
monkeys, and howler monkeys, respectively. Some animals have keepers
with mere specific personal names, such as /weapau/, the keeper of the
white-lipped peccaries, or /sésé/. /Weapau/ lives in the underworld,

122-
and the shaman can communicate with him after ingesting yagé and request
that he send herds of white-lipped peccaries to the village. /?Okome/
is the keeper of the fish in the rivers. He is a small anthropomorphic
figure who is one meter tall, and lives in the waters of the river. The
shaman can confer wTitn him in order to improve the fishing near the
village.
The most elaborate calling ritual is for tapir, the largest and
rarest game animal of the South American rainforest. The killing of a
large tapir results in a varitable bonanza of high quality meat for the
village. Because the tapir is rare, yet highly prized for the quantity
and quality of its meat, it follows logically that its associated calling
ritual is the most complex of all calling ceremonies, and is even con¬
sidered dangerous if the ritual conditions are not followed precisely.
Lutayo is the /ta?ni/, or keeper, of tapirs. She appears in Siona-
Secoya myth as one of the wives of Muhu ("Thunder"), the antagonist of
the culture hero Baina. It is believed that, if the tapir calling
ceremony is not correctly performed, Lutayo will be displeased and
cause the earth to sink and flood. Indeed, the inherent danger of the
ceremony is so great that the shaman is very reluctant to perform it.
If requests for the ritual continue, however, the shaman will eventually
be persuaded to hold it. Since the ceremony places the land in jeopardy
of sinking, special precautions are taken with regard to human contact
with land and water. The entire village must be silent throughout the
several days of the ceremony. The day that the yagé is to be taken, all
of the men gather at the /yahé w±?é/ ("yagé house"), while the women are
confined to their houses and are not allowed to talk. No one is allowed
to bathe in the river on this day. From the time of the taking of yagé

in the evening until the termination of the ceremony the next day, no
one is allowed to walk or to urinate on the ground. If any of these
conditions is violated it is believed that the very earth where the
village is located will sink and be flooded, just as the footprint of
the tapir fills with water after the animal has passed through the
forest.
During the night the soul of the shaman flies to Lutayo, states the
need of his people for meat, and appeals to her for assistance. In the
morning the shaman indicates the results of his efforts: "The tapir is
on that trail...go and see." Informants say that when this ceremony is
performed the tapirs come tamely and are very fat.
No ritual behavior associated with the collection of wild plants
for food purposes was discovered. There is, of course, ritual associ¬
ated with the collection of yagé, other medicinal and psychotropic
plants, and certain other plants that have ceremonial uses (e.g.
/mamekoko/ which is used to make shaman's rattles). The only ritual
associated with the collection of animal products is related to turtle
eggs, by means of the principle of shamanistic contact with the keeper
of the turtles via the medium of yagé.
Efficiency in Wild Resource Procurement
Of the 283 hunting trips originating from Shushufindi for which
yield data were obtained, exact times of departure and return were
recorded for 92. The mean time for these hunts was 7.56 man-hours.
As shown in Table 4, the mean yield was 21.35 kg of butchered meat
(i.e., gutted, but including bone) per hunt. In order to calculate
the caloric return the yield is reduced an additional 30% to allow for

-124-
inedible bone and body parts, resulting in an estimated mean yield of
14.94 kg of edible meat per hunt. The mean caloric value of Siona-Secoya
game is estimated to be approximately 170 kcal per .100 grams of edible
meat, or 1,700 kca.l per kilogram (based on a survey of meats in Leung
1961). Since most hunting time is spent walking over level terrain,
Montgomery's and Johnson's (1976) figure of 6 kcal per minute (or 360
kcal per hour) for this activity is taken as the basis for computing
caloric expenditure. (It is assumed that periods of rest or slow stalk¬
ing are compensated for by the extra energy expenditure required when
carrying game back to the village.) With these figures it is possible
to estimate the 1973-5 Shushufindi caloric return in hunting with the
following formula:
Hunting _ 14.94 kg x 1,700 kcal per kg 25,398.0 _ q 30
Efficiency 7.56 man-hrs x 360 kcal per man-br 2,721.6
Using the same method of computation the caloric return in hunting on
the Cuyabeno River is estimated to be 2.48 to 1 (based on a small sample
of 17 hunts with a mean yield of 5.67 kg butchered weight; recorded
during a June, 1974 visit).
In fishing, a sample of 81 trips originating from Shushufindi
lasted a mean of 8.8 man-hours and produced a mean yield of 8.95 kg of
fish. With a 30% allowance for waste, 101 kcal per 100 grams of edible
portion, and an estimated energy expenditure of 240 kcal per hour (based
on a moderate work rate of 4 kcal expenditure per iTiinute) , the caloric
return for Shushufindi fishing is estimated to be 2.99 to 1. For
Cuyabeno, a small sample of five fishing trips lasting an average of
4.15 man-hours produced a mean yield of 2.81 kg of fish, giving an
estimated caloric return of 1.99 to 1.

-1Z0-
Several explanatory remarks are in order. The caloric return of
9.33 to 1 for hunting at Shushufindi is indicative of the good condi¬
tions for this activity during the initial years of a new settlement.
Although based on a small sample, the 2.48 to 1 ratio for the Cuyabeno
area points to the potential for game depletion around long established
settlements.
The fishing ratios are somewhat deceptive, for the nearly 3 to 1
calorie return at Shushufindi would appear to surpass the nearly 2 to 1
return at Cuyabeno; however, it must be remembered that fishing at
Shushufindi is primarily limited to the dry season, whereas fishing on
the Cuyabeno River is a year-round activity. (Unfortunately, it was not
possible to spend sufficient time on the Cuyabeno to record a large
number of yields, but informants stated that the samples recorded were
representative.)
In addition, the 2.48 to 1 hunting ratio for the Cuyabeno appears
to offer a better return than the 2 to 1 fishing return. However,
usually reliable informants state that fishing yields regularly surpass
those of hunting in the Cuyabeno area. I tend to accept these statements
because the small hunting yield sample for Cuyabeno includes kills for
several hunts to the headwaters of the river; these extended hunts are
undertaken at intervals of several months, and by coincidence my visit
to the area coincided with the return of the hunters, thereby inflating
the figures beyond what they otherwise would have been.
In Chapter VI the relative contributions of the various subsistence
modes to the Siona-Secoya diet are discussed, as well as the changing
strategies employed in resource utilization. In terras of organizational
patterns, the discussion presented in the present chapter has indicated

-126-
how the procurement of wild foods can be pursued effectively at the
individual level; the dispersed nature of most faunal and floral re¬
sources and the relatively simple and light tools and weapons employed
afford no advantages to group participation in these activities. Most
hunting, fishing, and collecting tasks do not require group coordination
or an active leadership function. The largest cooperative groups form
when special conditions of increased resource availability exist; i.e.,
for communal hunts on the occasionally appearing herds of white-lipped
peccaries, and for fishing with poison during the dry season. Even on
these occasions the number of participants need not be more than 10-15,
and rarely exceeds 20-25 individuals. Hence the members of one, or
perhaps two, extended households or /hai w±?e/ are sufficient to conduct
the occasional communal hunting and fishing activities of the Siona-
Secoya.
From the native point of view, the most important factor in hunting
and fishing success is the intercession of the shaman in his role as
mediator with the supernatural keepers of the game. Therefore, the
members of the /hai wi?e/, along with its headman-shaman or /inti ba?ik-i/,
provide both the personnel and the spiritual aegis for the effective
exploitation of wild food resources.

I
CHAPTER VI
SUBSISTENCE CONTRIBUTIONS AND STRATEGY
The preceding chapters presented a discussion of the basic tech¬
nology of Siona-Secoya subsistence. The present will consider the
relative contributions of the various modes of food procurement to
the diet, some of the parameters of resource availability, shifting
strategies of utilization, and the role of movement as an adaptive
response to the economic baseline.
The majority of the data collected on subsistence activities are
from the settlement of Shushufindi on the Aguarico River. The popu¬
lation there was not uniform throughout the research period, as Siona-
Secoya migrants from the Cuyabeno and Secoyas from the Angusilla River
in Peru arrived at various times throughout 1973 and 1974. In addition,
the newly arrived Secoyas frequently visited back and forth between
Shushufindi and Caño Negro (a small settlement on the Aguarico below
the mouth of the Cuyabeno River). All together, the number of Siona-
Secoya who spent some time in Shushufindi - reeded 200 individuals, but
it would be inaccurate to take this number as the population of the
village. By prorating each individual according to the time actually
spent at Shushufindi it is possible to estimate that the mean population
of the village for 1973-4 was 132 persons (i.e., the equivalent of 132
persons living in Shushufindi full-time).
In the central village there were a total of 16 production units
in horticulture. Twelve of these consisted of conjugal-nuclear households,
-127-

-128-
three of small extended households (of two conjugal-nuclear pairs each),
and one was made up of a large extended group of four conjugal-nuclear
pairs. As mentioned in Chapter IV, the predominance of conjugal-
nuclear households as the productive units in horticulture is a recent
development, and derives its viability from the increased efficiency
afforded by metal tools. The one large extended household at Shushufindi
follows the pattern of the traditional /hai w±?e/ ("big house").'*'
Twenty-six hectares of land were cleared and planted from the
inception of the village in early 1973 through January 1974 (see Figure
2
4). Since the next major clearing of land did not occur until the
following dry season (November-January 1974-5), and the fieldwork ended
in March 1975, this figure represents the effective amount of land in
horticulture for the study period.
The mean size of the holdings of the 16 production units as of
January 1974 was 1.6 hectares each, with a standard deviation of 0.7
hectares. The holdings were usually broken up into several small plots.
In total there were 42 gardens (a mean of 2.6 per production unit) with
a mean size of 0.6 hectares (and a standard deviation of 0.4 hectares).
In Table 6 the annual production figures for the various modes of
subsistence are compared, based on the data for a conjugal-nuclear
household of four individuals. (The ratios of the calories actually
consumed differs from those of the gross production as the third column
in Table 6 indicates.) 5 In order to estimate the annual production
figures for the entire settlement at Shushufindi the weighed sample
is multiplied by the nonweighed factor for each subsistence mode as
presented in Table 7.
Since the efficiency ratios (calories produced : calories expended

-129-
TABLE 6. RELATIVE ANNUAL CONTRIBUTION OF SUBSISTENCE MODES TO
SIONA-SECOYA HOUSEHOLD OF FOUR AT SHUSHUFINDI (1974)
Subsistence
Mode
Gross Production
kc.al
Per Cent
Estimated Per Cent in
Actual Consumption3
Horticulture
8,778,340
84.6
72.0
Hunting
1,047,316
10.1
18.4
Fishing
79,356
0.8
2.0
Collecting
475,532
4.6b
5.1b
Purchased foods
—
—
2.5
10,381,044
100.ic
100.0
afiased on
dietary surveys and
observations
of consumption patterns.
High due to dependence on collected dwarf bananas /wati noka/
following migration (until plantains in gardens begin producing).
c
Off due to rounding.

-130
TABLE 7. ESTIMATED ANNUAL PRODUCTION FOR VARIOUS SUBSISTENCE
MODES AT SHUSHUFINDI (1974)
Subsistence
Mode
Weighed
Sample
kcal
Nonweighed
Factor
Estimated
Total
kcal
Horticulture
8,778,340
26.00
228,236,840
Hunting
5,992,706
4.48a
26,857,861
Fishing
439,222
5.52a
2,422,490
Collecting
475,532
22.87a
10,877,794
Total
268,394,985
Estimated annual requirement for the village'0
105,706,920C
aRounded.
^132 individuals times 800,810 kcal/year; based on FAO (.1957)
method of computation.
c
The differential between the total estimated kcal produced and
the estimated annual requirement is a measure of the higher
than usual rate of garden clearing following migrations (in
the initial year the clearing rate is approximately double that
of years when the cropping cycle is established), and the re¬
serves of unharvested crops extant (primarily manioc).

-131-
in production) for the various modes are calculated to be 52:1 for
horticulture, 9.3:1 for hunting, and 3:1 for fishing (see Chapter V),
horticulture is not only the largest producer of calories, but is also
a more "efficient" means of production. The significance of the pro
ductive modes should not be determined solely on the basis of quantity
and ease of production, however; one must also consider the qualitative
aspects of food production. Physical well-being is maintained not only
by the consumption of adequate numbers of calories; the diets of indi¬
viduals must also contain a reasonable distribution of carbohydrates,
proteins, fats, and essential vitamins and minerals if they are to
enjoy good health.
Calorie Requirements
The recommended allowances for various nutrients have changed over
time as food science has developed, but for the most part they have
been based on the populations of industrialized nations of the temperate
zone. Some organizations, such as the Food and Agricultural Organization
of the United Nations (FAO), have examined the problems of nutrition on
a world-wide basis, and a number of individual researchers have con¬
ducted studies on non-Western populations. Unfortunately, there have
been relatively few nutritional studies of the tropics in general, and
of the aboriginal peoples of lowland South America in particular.
/
<9
In spite of the deficiency of studies in tropical nutrition, it
is possible to evaluate the general status of the Siona-Secoya on the
basis of surveys of their daily dietary intakes. Table 8 shows the
estimated caloric requirements for the Siona-Secoya based on FAO (1957)
guidelines.
The estimate of daily requirements are adjusted for sex,

-132-
TABLE 8. ESTIMATED DAILY CALORIE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE SIONA-SECOYA
OF ECUADOR (BASED ON THE FAO METHOD OF COMPUTATION)
Category
Ages
Number
Mean
Individual
Requirement3
To ta 1
Category
Requirement
Children
0-4b
51
l,272b
64,872
5-9
35
1.970
68,950
10-14
37
2,630
97,310
Adolescent males
(mean wt. 57.3 kg)
16-19
15
3,037
45,555
Adolescent females
(mean wt. 52.2 kg)
16-19
16
2,132
34,112
Adult males
(mean wt. 62.1 kg)
20-30
21
2,864
60,144
30-40
13
2,778
36,114
40-50
14
2,692
37,688
50-60
6
2,477
14,862
60-70
5
2,263
11,315
70+
1
1,976
1,976
Adult females
(mean wt. 58.6 kg)
20-30
22
2,228
49,016
30-40
11
2,162
23,782
40-50
9
2,094
• 18,846
50-60
9
1,928
17,352
60-70
1
1,760
1,760
Total
266
583,654
Mean requirement
2,194 calories/person/day
All requirements adjusted
for age,
sex, body weight, and mean
annual temperature as indicated by FAO guidelines (1S57).
^Additional calorie requirements for pregnancy and lactation
included in 0-4 age group.

-133-
age, body weight, and mean annual temperature. The mean overall re¬
quirement according to this method is calculated to be 2,194 per person
per day.
Table 9 presents an analysis of the diet at Shushufindi based on
fifteen daily intakes (a total of five individuals were surveyed for
three 24 hour periods each). The mean daily requirement for this group
is 2,223, or very nearly the mean requirement for all Siona-Secoya age
groups as calculated in Table 8. Therefore the calorie requirements for
the age-sex-size ratio of the dietary survey sample is comparable to the
overall mean requirements for all of the Siona-Secoya in Ecuador. As
can be seen in Table 9, the mean daily intake for the survey sample is
2,215 calories per person, which is nearly identical to the FAO recom¬
mended 2,223 calories per person per day. Therefore the survey data
suggest that the Siona-Secoya diet is adequate in terms of caloric
intake.
Protein Requirements
The FAO (1973:74) recommended allowance for protein is from 37 to
62 grams per day for an adult male weighing 65 kgs.. (depending upon the
quality of the protein). As shown in Table 10, the mean amount of
vegetable protein in Siona-Secoya diets is 15.4 grams per day. It is
this low because the primary vegetable foods, manioc and plantains,
contain only about 1% protein (Leung 1961:25,61). It is impossible for
the Siona-Secoya to meet their protein requirements with their tradi¬
tional vegetable crops; an individual would have to eat 5 kgs of manioc
to get 50 grams of protein, but in the process would consume 6,600
calories, which is far in excess of the calorie requirements for one.

TABLE 9. MEAN DAILY INTAKE FOR FIVE SIONA-SECOYA INDIVIDUALS AT SHUSHUFINDI
(BASED ON
A SAMPLE
OF THREE
DAYS EACH)
Sex
Age
Wt.
kg
FAO
Recommended
kcala
Actual
Mean
kcal
Animal
Protein
8
Plant
Protein
g
Total
Protein
g
Fat
g
Carbo¬
hydrate
g
Male
44
63.5
2,736
3,365
85.0
24.1
109.1
41.5
685.3
Male
24
61.7
2,849
2,895
92.7
22.9
116.0
47.0
595.0
Female
65
52.8
1,632
1,849
55.3
13.2
68.2
26.8
384.0
Female
25
55.8
2,350
1,961
71.2
12.6
83.8
28.7
404.0
Female
4
15.0
1,550
1,005
19.0
8.4
27.4
8.8
242.0
Mean values
2,223
2,215
64.6a
16.2a
80.9a
30.6a
462.1a
aDifferences between results in this table and Table 10 due to rounding.

TABLE 10. COMPONENTS OF SIONA-SECOYA DIET AT SHUSHUFINDI
(BASED ON A SAMPLE OF FIFTEEN INDIVIDUAL DAILY INTAKES)
Food
Mean
g/Day
kcala
Animal
Protein
g
Plant
Protein
g
Total
Protein
g
Fat
g
Carbo¬
hydrate
g
Woolly monkey
146.7b
242
27.4
—
27.4
13.8
—
Spix's guanc
7.7C
9
1.6
—
1.6
0.3
—
Fish
198.ld
200
35.5
—
35.5
5.3
—
Turtle egg
6. ld
7
0.8
—
0.8
0.4
—
Plantain
18.1
22
—
0.2
0.2
0.1
5.8
Plantain soupe
43.0f
57
—
0.5
0.8
0.0
15.2
Plantain beverage?
28.1 2f
343
—
2.8
0.8
0.8
90.8
Banana
9.8
10
—
0.1
0.1
'
2.5
Manioc (boiled)
129.8
171
—
1. 3
1.3
0.5
42.6
Manioc cake*1
107.8
345
—
1.8
1.8
0.5
87.3
Manioc beverage1
167.6
221
—
1.7
1.7
0.7
54.9
Peach palm
24.8d
49
—
0.6
0.6
1.1
10.3
Peach p. beverage^
205.0f
303
—
3.6
3.6
4.8
75.6
Papaya
43.2
14
—
0.2
0.2
—
3.6
Sugarcane (juice)
66.5
55
0.2
0.2
0.1
13.6
Renealmia sp.
13.0
4
—
0.1
0.1
—
1.0
Psidium sp.?
trace
—
—
—
—
—
—
Capsicum sp.
trace
—
—
—
—
—’
—
Rice-*-
31.9
116
—
2.3
2.3
0.2
25.4
Sugar-*-
12.1
47
—
—
—
—
12.0
Total 1
,445.9
2,215
65.3
15.4
80.7
28.6
441.6
aiNCAP (Leung 1961).
^Data for goat meat used as analogue.
Q
Data for chicken leg meat used as analogue.
^Seasonally abundant during survey period (December 1973-March 1974).
6/ku?re/.
^Equivalent dry weight (25% of wet weight as determined by analysis).
Cr * .
6/noka kono/.
h/?a6/.
1/a?sc5 kono/.
d/hamesi kono/, actually made from a mixture of peach palm fruit
and plantains.
Data for pumpkin used as analogue.
^Purchased from river traders.

-136-
V
day. Furthermore, the protein found in manioc is "incomplete" in that
it is very low in essential amino acids (Pyke 1970:24-25).
Animal protein, on the other hand, is usually "complete" because
it contains the essential amino acids methionine, phenylalanine,
tryptophan, threonine, leucine, isoleucine, valine, lysine, arginine,
and histidine. These compounds are said to be essential because they
are the amino acids that cannot be synthesized by the human body. Amino
acids are necessary because they constitute the structure of many body
components, such as muscle, blood vessels, digestive and metabolic,
enzymes, certain hormones (e.g. insulin), and antibodies (e.g. gamma
globulin). They also provide for body regulation by maintaining the
4
osmotic pressure and pH of the blood. Animal protein tends to be com¬
plete (i.e., it contains most'of the essential amino acids) because
animals are concentrators in the food chain.
Although plant foods provide 79.3% of the calories in the diets
surveyed, they supply only 19.1% of the total protein. Conversely,
meat and animal products supply only 20.7% of the total calories, but
80.9% of the protein ( a mean of 65.3 grams per person per day). Thus
hunting and fishing are vital activities for the Siona-Secoya, even
though they are not as "efficient" as slash-and-burn horticulture in
terms of caloric production.
Distributional Requirements
The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences
recommends that the average diet for Americans should derive approxi¬
mately 50% of its calories from carbohydrates, 40% from fats, and 10%
from proteins (1968) . Dr. Howard Appledorf, a food and nutritional

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scientist at the University of Florida, believes that the optimum ratio
is 60% from carbohydrates, and 20% each from fats and proteins
(personal communication). Carbohydrates and proteins contain four
calories per gram, and fats have nine calories per gram. By multiply¬
ing the number of grams of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats times their
caloric values, it is possible to estimate that carbohydrates supply
approximately 75% of the calories in the Siona-Secoya diet, whereas
proteins supply 14% and fats 11%. Therefore carbohydrates exceed the
recommended values, and proteins fall within the range suggested by the
Food and Nutrition Board and Dr. Appledorf. Of the three major food
components, fat is the only one which falls far below the recommended
values.
Although the Siona-Secoya have never made a scientific analysis of
their consumption patterns, the scarcity of fat in their diet is not
lost on them and receives expression in a number of ways. When foods
such as peach palm fruit, turtle eggs, or manatee are mentioned in
conversation, the first comment is always that they contain much oil
or lard. The Siona-Secoya have a marked preference to hunt woolly
monkeys during the month of April when they have a layer of fat on their
bodies, and have even given this period the name /nasowiyape tikáwi/
("woolly monkeys are fat season") . Upon killing a wToolly monkey, the
first act of the hunter is to pinch the animal's flesh at its waist to
ascertain the thickness of the fat layer.
Throughout the fieldwork, the people at Shushufindi tried to
cajole cooking oil from the ethnologist's wife (with mixed results).
On one occasion Esteban bought two pounds of lard from a river trader
for frying pruposes, but shortly thereafter his wife's sister visited

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the house and her children crept into the cooking area and ate the
entire package. It may also be noted that the special yage ceremony
to call tapir (described in Chapter V) is specifically intended to
attract fat animals whose lard can be rendered and stored in pots for
future consumption.
The Ongoing System
The population of Shushufindi continued to grow throughout the
fieldwork, and by the dry season of 1974-5 13.2 hectares of new gardens
had been cleared and planted (9.6 additional hectares by residents of
the previous year, and 3.6 by new arrivals). This brought the total
amount of land under cultivation to 39.2 hectares. Given this rate of
clearing there is no indication of an absolute land shortage developing
at Shushufindi, even if the settlement continues to receive immigrants
from other Western Tucanoan communities. However, there was a preference
to locate the new gardens close to the river or one of its small tribu¬
taries, rather than to move deeper into the forest away from the river;
six households extended their plots around the main village, but 16
others sought new sites on the north side of the Aguarico, or along its
banks away from the village proper (see Figure 4). Ease of transporta¬
tion was the primary reason given for this pattern of land utilization.
Therefore the perception of desirable land for horticulture may be
somewhat less than the amount of well drained land that is available in
absolute terms.
By mid-1974 the plantains of the Siona-Secova at Shushufindi began
to reach maturity and the dependence on the collection of wild dwarf
bananas dropped correspondingly. As a result of this the overall

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contribution of collected plant foods to the diet declined to a much
lower level (ca. 1% of the total caloric intake) than during the initial
months of settlement.
The hunting yields recorded for December 1974-March 1975 show a
drop of 40.6% from the corresponding period of 1973-4. (The mean yield
per hunt dropped from 25.78 kg butchered weight to 15.31 kg). Table 11
shows the probabilities for killing the major game animals for these
two periods. As can be seen, the probabilities for all game in Group A
declined (with the exception of tapir; see note c), with the most
dramatic decline being that for white-lipped peccaries and the four
species of game birds. Given the large size and far ranging nature of
white-lipped peccary herds, it does not seem likely that their dis¬
appearance from the second sample results from their having been hunted
out. Since the collared peccary lives in smaller groups and has a
relatively limited range, it would appear to be more vulnerable to local
hunting pressures than the white-lipped peccary. The declining yields
recorded for collared peccary, woolly monkey, and the game birds, are
probably reliable indicators of the inroads of hunting on these species
during the sample period.
The animals in group B of Table 11 deserve special mention. Their
increasing incidence in the sample represents the shifting strategy of
the Siona-Secoya hunter over time. When the village of Shushufindi was
first founded in early 1973 hunting was good, and the men preferred to
go out on what have previously been described as "hunts of opportunity."
That is, they liked to leave the village in the morning and hunt outward
until mid-day, and then return to the village in the afternoon. For the
first year or so their yields were quite good, and consisted primarily

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TABLE 11. COMPARISON OF KILL PROBABILITIES FOR SELECTED GAME SPECIES FOR
CONSECUTIVE DRY SEASONS (DEC.-MAR. 1973-4 AND 1974-5) AT SHUSHUFINDI
Species
Per Cent
Dec.-Mar.
Chance of
. 1973-4 (;
Kill During
n) Dec,-Mar
One Day Hunt.
. 1974-5 (n)b
Group A (Primary targets)
Tapir
1.3
(1)
3.6C
(1)
White-lipped peccary
69.7
(53)
0.0
(0)
Collared peccary
42.1
(32)
32.1
(9)
Woolly monkey
27.6
(21)
25.0
(7)
Currasow
31.6
(24)
17.9
(5)
Piping guan
26.3
(20)
7.1
(2)
Spix's guan
6.6
(5)
3.6
(1)
Trumpeter
7.9
(6)
3.6
(1)
Group B (Secondary targets)
Armadillo
d
0.0
(0)
17.9
(5)
Caiman
0.0
(0)
7.1
(2)
Agouti
1.3
(1)
7.1
(2)
Paca
0.0
(0)
3.6
(1)
3. -
Based on a sample of 76 hunts.
bBased on a sample of 28 hunts (reduction in sample size is due
to nature of fieldwork activities and not a reduction in hunting
frequency).
c
Since tapir kills are important events in village life they are
always reported, and the increased probability shown in therefore
due to the small sample size, and not an increased kill rate.
^Shift in probabilities are the result of changing hunting
strategies.

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of the animals listed in Group A in Table 11. These animals are diurnal
and, with the exceptions of the guans and the trumpeter, are relatively
large. By December of 1974, however, white-lipped peccaries were not
appearing and the other species in Group A were growing more scarce. At
times when no other meat was available, the Siona-Seeoya turned to the
animals in Group B. These species are considered to be good eating, but
are less desirable than Group A animals because they are generally
smaller in size and require specialized hunting techniques. The arma¬
dillo has to be dug out of its hole and the agouti called with a whistle.
The paca and caiman are both nocturnal and are hunted at night from
canoes. (The paca is shot as it comes down to the river's edge, and the
caiman is speared or shot in the water.) So, even though the mean
hunting yield at Shushufindi was still quite good at 15.31 kg of butch¬
ered meat per hunt, there is evidence that the Siona-Secoya were turning
to smaller species and nocturnal hunting to compensate for periods when
the larger game were not available.The observed 40.6% decline in
hunting yields over a one year period and the marked seasonality of
fishing suggest that protein availabil ity may be a potential limiting
factor on the permanence of settlement at Shushufindi. Thus the situa¬
tion there is fundamentally different from that faced by the people when
they resided on the Cuyabeno River, where the scarcity of lands suitable
for horticulture resulted in the 1973-4 outmigration.
The advent of modern firearms has without a doubt increased the
short term efficiency of hunting, for they are superior to native
weapons in both range and shocking power. It would seem logical to
assume that the rate of game depletion is greater with firearms than it
was previous to their introduction. Unfortunately, all of the quanti¬
tative data on hunting inputs and yields presented in this dissertation

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are from hunting with firearms, and there are no comparable data for
Siona-Secoya hunting with the blowgun and lance.
While granting that there is likely to be an increase in the kill
with firearms as opposed to that without firearms, there are other
factors which bring into question the assumption that the present kills
are significantly greater than the traditional ones. Firstly, the
Siona-Secoya are primarily motivated to hunt by an absence of meat in
the house; when the meat supply is gone the man of the household goes
hunting, and if he is not successful the first day, he goes out again
and again until he finds game. This is the pattern at present, and all
informants agree that it was the same before the introduction of fire¬
arms. Once a kill is made, the household is supplied with meat for a
period of several days, and then the cycle repeats. Therefore, the
important factor is the amount of game taken and not the ultimate killing
potential of the weapon. In fact, my informants insist that the tradi¬
tional weapons are as effective, or more effective, than firearms in
many situations. For example, Esteban says that it is as easy to kill
a tapir with one or two lances as it is to do with a shotgun (i.e., the
tapir is sitting in the water and is unlikely to escape in either case).
Others claim that the blowgun is actually superior to the shotgun in
the hunting of monkeys, because the animals can be picked off one by
one without startling the group, whereas they scatter rapidly after the
first shot of a gun. Some Siona-Secoya men say that they would still
use the blowgun for hunting monkeys if the poison were available.
The amount of the kill may also be limited by the hunter's supply
of ammunition. Shells and reloading supplies are expensive; a factory
loaded shell costs S/10 ($0.40), primers are S/130 ($5.20) for a box of

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A
i
100, powder is S/$7.60) for a one pound can, and shot is S/120 ($4.80)
for a ten pound bag. In response to these prices, the Siona-Secoya use
their ammunition judiciously. They do not attempt to shoot birds on
the wing, for example, but always stalk them, getting as close as pos¬
sible before firing.
One of the great myths about Indians is that they are rational
conservationists who are dedicated to living in harmony with nature and
never killing beyond their needs. This romantic view is not supported
by the Siona-Secoya data; they kill animals at a rate that is close to
their maximum potential (on those days when they are hunting), including
females and young offspring. The main limiting factors are the number
of animals encountered and the hunter's supply of ammunition. If a
hunter has ample ammunition he will kill nearly everything that he can.
When on a communal peccary hunt he may not fire at small game early in
the day so as not to startle the peccaries, but during the return home
he most likely will. The only instance in which a hunter was learned
to have passed up a shot was on one occasion when Esteban had already
shot one white-lipped peccary during a communal hunt, and did not shoot
another because he did not want to carry the extra weight. (In this
instance he knew that the other hunters had killed peccaries also, so
that there would be an ample supply of meat for everyone.) However, on
other hunts he did not hesitate to shoot two or more peccaries.
It is not the individual's rational thought or restraint in hunting
that provides the conservation mechanism for maintaining the balance of
game populations in the Siona-Secoya habitat. Rather, the total cul¬
tural system has evolved in a way that allows the utilization of animal
resources without their degradation. The primary mechanisms are the

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maintenance of a low overall human population density (to be discussed
in Chapter IX), a scattered settlement pattern, and the periodic
movement of habitation sites. If an area becomes hunted out to the
extent that the people have difficulty encountering game (and the local
fishing yields are not adequate to compensate for the scarcity of meat),
they will simply move elsewhere, and the game populations in the area
will tend to recover over time.
It is important to stress, however, that a simple unifactorial
explanation for migrations and village relocations is not adequate.
Settlement sites are often relocated prior to the point where hunting
yields become so depleted that they cannot meet the nutritional needs
of the people. Movement is a response to one or more stimuli, and the
stimuli in a given case may or may not include declining hunting yields.
Regardless of this, the effect of the movement of human settlements is
the same on animal populations; every tine a Siona-Secoya habitation
site is changed the hunting pressures shift, allowing the animal popu¬
lations to begin recovery in the departed areas.
This dynamic is the same for the other finite natural resources
utilized by the Siona-Secoya; periodic movements of settlements gives
access to rested areas with greater resource availability, and allows
recovery in previously inhabited spaces. Thus movement, whether stimu¬
lated by "ecological" or "social" perceptions, affords an adaptive
advantage because it tends to increase the overall efficiency of the
subsistence system. Succeeding chapters will discuss some of the social
and religious aspects of Siona-Secoya life and their relationship to
the ecological adaptation heretofore described.

NOTES TO CHAPTER VI
Upriver from Shushufindi (on the Eno and Aguarico Rivers) there are
settlements which consist of extended patrilocal residence clusters,
each having its own headman-shaman. These are in the style of the
traditional /hai w±?e/, except that the married sons and their wives
and children now reside in separate structures instead of the par¬
titioned "big house," and make individual rather than communal gardens.
Garden maps were made from aerial photographs taken from a light air¬
craft, and Twere checked by ground measurements with a tape and lensatic
compass. Fieldchecks were made with informants to determine plot
boundaries and other matters relating to their horticultural practices
(e.g. times of clearing and planting, cultigen inventories, soil con¬
ditions, yields, etc.).
*The household consists of a 36 year old man, his 30 year old wife, and
two daughters, aged 12 and 6 respectively.
^Personal communication from Dr. Howard Appledorf, Department of Food
Science, University of Florida.
*Game such as tapir and collared peccary are also nocturnal in their
activities, but are hunted in the daylight hours when the dogs of the
Siona-Secoya roust them from their sleep.
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CHAPTER VII
THE SYMBOLIC SYSTEM
The subsistence activities of the Siona-Secoya provide the material-
foundation upon which the society is based. But subsistence does riot
take place in an intellecutal vacuum; the native perception of the
natural order and the causal forces within the universe are powerful
influences on behavior. The logic or "science" of Siona-Secoya thought:
is based on the cult of yagé, or the complex of ceremony and belief re¬
lated to the use of the hallucinogenic vines of the genus Banisteriopsis.
Yagé is not a deity to be worshipped, but is the medium through
which knowledge and power are achieved. It provides a means for per¬
ceiving the universe, communicating with supernatural forces, and
influencing worldly events. Yagé derived beliefs permeate all aspects
of Siona-Secoya thought, and will be referred to frequently throughout
the remaining sections of this dissertation. The yagé complex articu¬
lates intimately with the subsistence ecology of the Siona-Secoya, for
it influences demography and land use patterns via concepts relating to
sexuality, population policy, disease etiology, and supernatural control
of environmental resources. Social organization is equally related to
the yagé cult, for participation in yagé rituals serves to establish
ingroup identity and to validate the status of the headman-shaman, or
/inti ba?ik±/, the holder of the highest political authority within
Siona-Secoya society. The present chapter provides the background to
this intellectual order, which is vital to the understanding of Siona-
Secoya culture as a whole.
-146

-14/-
The Creation Myth
The Siona-Secoya have a rich and varied oral literature which is
expressed in a number of forms. For the purposes of discussion, this
literature may be divided into the categories of oral history, tales of
demons, women's tales, and mythology. Oral histories relate the events
of men in the present and recent past. They may include some super¬
natural aspects, such as shamanistic magic, but usually do not involve
radical transformations of elements. Tales of demons, on the other
hand, serve to express anxieties of the unknown. They are stories of
forest monsters who may cause harm, but who may be outwitted by resource¬
ful individuals. Women's tales are more mundane accounts of minor
characters, and have morality plots that express marital frictions and
affinal tensions.
Of the literary forms, mythology receives the greatest elaboration,
and provides the foundations of their cosmological system. Siona-Secoya
myths are symbolic accounts of the supernatural forces and events of the
distant past and serve to explain the natural order as experienced by
the people in daily life. They are related primarily by shamans and
older men, who are the repositories of the cultural tradition.
Although all Siona-Secoya informants relate myths that are indi¬
vidually unique in certain details, it is evident that they all derive
from certain core concepts relating to the structure of the universe and
the forces within it. After collecting a series of these myths it was
realized that most of them deal with portions of a chronological sequence
of legendary events, and can be linked together to form one long account
of the creation. Excerpted below are sections from the lengthy creation
account of Fernando Payaguaje which serve to illustrate the general

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framework and thrust of the mythology:
Lutayo and Repao (the wives of Muhü) made chicha.
The people drank and drank. Muhü whittled a machete of
/mame/ (a type of bamboo). After making a sharp edge he
went to bring Baina (the culture hero). Baina had been
there drinking, but Muhü didn't recognize him because he
was ugly and covered with fungus. That is why he went
(to Baina's house). When Muhü was still travelling
Baina was already back at his house, all dressed up and
lying in his hammock. He had made the trail that Muhü
was walking on longer.
When they were back at the house of Muhü, Muhü
turned into an ugly person...before he had been handsome.
Later, everyone was drinking, and Muhü said to Baina,
"Let’s fight," and Baina answered, "Good." It was for
the women.
Baina hung from a rafter and Muhü tried to cut him
with the /mame/. But the machete did not enter...Baina
was like rubber. Then Muhü hung, and when Baina hit him
he was cut like water. The lower half of his body fell.
The upper part was still hanging...then it fell. The
blood turned into /kwakwiyo/ birds and flew away.
Lutayo cried, "Ay, my husband!" and angrily turned
over the pots of chicha. She was swimming right there,
for the earth had begun to sink. Baina said, "You are of
the water," and stepped on her head and pushed her under
the water. But he pulled Rebao from the water and turned
her into a comb which he wore in his hair.
Baina was standing on a tiny piece of ground surrounded
by water. Then a "pineapple” armadillo /insi ha?mo/ sur¬
faced and put a little dirt at the feet of Baina. After
the armadillo had added some more, Baina stepped on this
spot and- the earth was recreated.
After making the earth, Baina walked with Rebao. The
earth was like a beach...without trees and leaves. Rebao
said, "How can the people make a house in which to sleep?"
When she was thinking that /wi wati/ (a demon) arrived, and
Baina told him to scream. While he was screaming the earth
was covered with a forest, and it was not easy to walk. It
was very dense. For this reason Baina burned the forest a
little and made it easier to walk.
Now Baina began to take out the people (from beneath
the earth). A /hikomo bai/ (tailed person) was cutting
/ya?i/ vine. Baina followed him and stepped on the vine he
was pulling. When the man saw him Baina asked, "What are
you going to do with this vine?" and the man answered,

-149-
"I'm going to smoke peach palm fruit." Baina told him
to bring out some fruit so he could try it. The person
went into a hole in the ground and brought out some red
clay. When Baina saw the clay he said, "This is not
peach palm fruit!" and threw it down. He gave the man
the true fruit to eat, and then told him to take some to
his people.
As these /hikomo bai/ came out of the earth Baina
pulled off their tails (in this manner they became the
Siona-Secoya). The tails were transformed into spider
monkeys and howler monkeys. While the /hikomo bai/ were
still coming out, a menstruating woman emerged. This
angered Baina and he covered the hole with his foot and
wouldn't let anyone else out. Today these are the people
who live below this world /yihá bai/.
At first the person Wéki ("Tapir") wanted to be like
a god. He made a trap in the stream and caught worms,
which he thought were sardines. Seeing this, Baina said,
"It is not good to eat worms. There are fish to eat."
When Baina brought fish Wek± become angry and turned his
back. The women roasted the fish and ate them with black
pepper sauce. The scent carried to the nose of Wéki, and
when he smelled it he said, "Hmmm, what a delicious smell!"
When Baina saw that Wékí wanted to eat, he said to his
wives, "Give some to your father so that he can try it."
Wekx asked, "I want to see. Are there a lot of fish?"
Baina answered, "First eat. Later you can go and see."
After eating, Wéki went to see the trap that Baina had
made. He entered the water, but thorns stuck him in the
hands and feet, and he could not catch the fish. When he
returned to the house be asked Baina to extract the thorns.
Baina had needles of /ora/ (Iriartea sp.). He extracted
the thorns, but left the /orá/ needles in (this was the
origin of the tapir's hooves). Then Baina said, "Press down
to see if there is any pain." As Wéki did he kicked, and
Baina said, "You are the tapir, so act like a tapir."
Immediately Wéki ran away as a tapir.
Later Baina told his wives to make maize chicha and
to place some masato (the concentrate which is mixed with
water to make the chicha) on each trail (this was the
origin of salt licks). On one trail only deer had eaten,
but on another the tapir had visited. "That is your father,"
Baina told his wives. When they heard this they cried, but
Baina said, "Don't cry, because your father will never die.
There will always be tapirs, they will never end."
Later the tapir came to the house and asked Baina what
he was to eat. Baina answered, "All the leaves are your
food.../ne?e/ (Mauritia sp.) is also your food, but only

-150-
during its season." A few days later the tapir returned
again, and said, "I am very heavy." So Baina told him-,
"Go and bathe in the river." When the tapir arose from
the water Baina cut him in two with a machete, and the
rear half fell into the river and became the /siáya weki/
("river tapir;" i.e., the manatee). From the blood that
spilled went a thin tapir /wek± ta?o/, which is the demon
of tapirs that lives in the forest.
Later Baina finished with the animals... There was a
/kütigo*/ (tortoise) who hoarded the water...it was a tree
that reached to the sky, and it was a river. A squirrel
climbed it to chop limbs so that water would fall. Baina
made the tree fall, thus forming the rivers. Then he
thought, "What will the people drink?" So he made /noka/
(plantains) to mix with the water. He left everything in
the hands of the people to that they did not lack anything
to eat. Having finished this he departed for /ma?timo/
(the heavenly realm).
Later Baina sent his nephews to chase the tapir.
These were the /Usebo bai/ (Pleiades) . The}7 passed over
to the Rio Napo and followed the trail of the tapir. When
they passed the feces of /ne?e/ they asked, "WTien did
your father leave?" and the feces replied, "My father is
very far away."
They came to a large river /hai siáya/, and later saw
a caiman. This caiman was called /ko?eo/ (a term of
address for "grandmother"). The eldest brother crossed
the river on the back of the caiman first, saying, "Ko?eo,
ko?eo." As the youngest brother crossed he also said,
"Ko?eo, ko?eo," but when he was halfway across, he said,
"This is not grandmother, this is a caiman!" At this
moment the caiman wanted to submerge, but he said, "You
are my grandmother," once again.
WTien he arrived at the other side the youngest brother
tried to kick the caiman in the eye, and it bit off his
leg. The Usebo bai tried to dry the river with termite
nests (in order to recover the leg), but they couldn't.
At last they found a sloth /u?u/ who had a pole /omepepi/
that had the power to dry the river...They took it from
the sloth and put it in the river and it dried up.
They asked the caimans, "Where is grandmother?" The
leg that had been cut off answered, "Here I am!" The
Usebo bai carried the caiman to land and killed it with an
axe. Then they tried to cook the caiman over a fire, and
asked, "Are you cooking?" The meat of the caiman answered,
"No, I'm still cold. I'm only getting a little bit warm."
When they couldn't cook it, the caiman advised them, "I
want firewood of /susi/ (nettles). Hearing this, they

-151-
collected nettles and cooked the caiman. When the meat
no longer answered they began to eat. After eating they
hung the jawbone of the caiman on a vine. Later they
took the leg from the belly of the caiman and joined it
to its stump.
Then the Usebo bai continued to chase the tapir, and
when they caught up to it they killed it. They melted
down the fat of the tapir and bathed in it. But one of
the sisters ate some of the meat. When the brothers
learned of this they asked, "Why did you eat?" But the
sister aid not answer. When they bathed in the fat again
it began to burn, and the flames blew like the notes of a
flute. Then they became the Usebo bai (the constellation
Pleiades). Today they are the ones who make /ometikáwi/
(dry season).
The Usebo bai live, when in truth you know them by
drinking yagg (Banisteriopsis). This is not a lie...it is
certain that there are Usebo bai, and I have seen them.
It is no good to lie. It has to be truly seen...not by
walking around lying to others for no reason. This is how
Baina made everything. I have lived where Baina lived (on
the quebrada /selcoya/) . My grandparents also lived there.
It is the only place where we have lived. There is no
other river. This is my land. I was born on that spot
and there is no other land where we have come from. I am
naturally of this place.
Cosmology
In common with many other peoples of the world, the Siona-Secoya
believe in a layered universe. In many ethnographies it is possible to
find schematic representations of the structure of the universe
according to the world view of the culture in question (e.g. Chagnon
1968; Langdon 1974; Weiss 1969). During the fieldwork with the Siona-
Secoya, however, it soon became evident that individual perceptions of
the universe differed in terms of content and scope. While there is
general agreement on certain major features, the elaboration of elements
varies from shaman to shaman and from river to river.
All Siona-Secoya agree that the universe consists of an underworld

~ibz-
called /yihá w±?é w±/ ("earth home"), the world in which mortals live
/yihá/ ("earth"), and a multilayered sky world including /ma?timo/ and
/kinawi/. Each of these realms is an analogue of the others, having
beings, animals, plants, and rivers. However, the layers are not exact
replicas of each other, for the people of /yihá/ are mortal human
beings, whereas the people and animals of the other layers are spirit
beings. Furthermore, the conditions of life vary in the different
realms, with the sky world of /ma?timo/ being a true paradise without
warfare, sorcery, or subsistence-related labor.
The underworld /yihá w±?é wi/ is the mythic homeland of the Siona-
Secoya. This region is still inhabited by the /hikomo bai/ or "tailed
people" who could not ascend to the earth layer before Baina covered the
hole in his ire over the emergence of a menstruating woman (as related
in the creation myth). Weapau, the keeper of the white-lipped peccaries,
is another resident of the underworld, and when the shaman wishes to
increase the supply of peccaries for the hunters of his village he must
take yagé and descend to the underworld to bargain with him.
The earth layer /yihá/ is the normal domain of man. Other inhabi¬
tants of the earth layer include the /wati/, most of whom are forest and
river demons. Each demon has its own specific characteristics and
dwelling place. Generally they have great powers of transformation and
may appear in human form, although usually manifesting some telltale-
anatomical or behavioral aberration. The /wati/ eat people, or some
favorite portion of the human body, and particularly relish children.
The mere mention of the word /wati/ to a small child as night approaches
is enough to send him home screaming in terror.
The /bal hoyo wati/ ("human soul demon") is not a forest demon,

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¡
but is the spirit or soul of deceased persons that returns to earth to
revisit the places and people it once knew. This is one /wati/ that
does not necessarily have evil intentions. It is feared, nevertheless,
for it may inadvertently harm mortals as it wanders about. The souls
of dead shamans are particularly feared in this respect, for they are
believed to be more powerful. The Siona-Secoya cover the eyes of de¬
ceased shamans with beeswax and cotton prior to burial in an attempt to
blind the soul so that it will not be able to find its way back to
earths The salient characteristic of Siona-Secoya thought concerning
the class of supernatural beings known as /wati/ is that they are to
be feared, for, whether by intention or carelessness, they have the
potential to harm man.
Of all of the layers of the universe, it is the sky realms that
fascinate the Siona-Secoya most. The lowest division of the sky lies
close to the earth, and is the space within which clouds occur. This
is the domain of Muhü, the antagonist of the culture hero Baina, who was
transformed to thunder in the creation myth. Above the cloud layer is
a hard glass-like shell known as /kinawi/ (/kina-/ is a noun stem in¬
dicating a hard stone-like substance). The /kinawi/ shell is blue, and
gives the sky its blueish tint (it is often described as being like a
bottle).
To the east there is a small hole in the /kinawi/ layer which is
the portal to /ma?timo/, or the upper heavens. When shamans take yagd
their souls rise and travel through this hole to enter the world of the
/ma?timo bai/ ("heavenly people"). Siona-Secoya burials are oriented
to the east so that the spirits of the dead will set out on the proper
path to /ma?timo/.

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According to Fernando, the /inti ba?iki/ (headman-shaman) of
Shushufindi, the /ma?t±mo bai/ live along the banks of a great celestial
river called /ume siáya/ ("burning rope river") which has no current
and is so wide that it is impossible to see the opposite bank (because
of these qualities it is sometimes referred to as an "ocean"). The
/ma?timo bai/ are divided into local groups, and just like the Siona-
Secoya on earth each group has its own habitation site at various points
along the river. The number of /ma?t±mo bai/ groups is large, and their
exact enumeration varies from shaman to shaman. Not only are the groups
named, but the shamans know the names of the individual spirit beings in
each group. These individual beings are the sources of the traditional
personal names given to Siona-Secoya boys and girls (as discussed in
Chapter IX). The heavenly manifestation of Baina, /Mai ha?k±/ ("Our
father"), also lives in a house along the celestial river, and may be
visited by the spirits of shamans during yagé journeys.
The world of the /ma?t±mo bai/ is an idyllic realm. The land along
the banks of /ume siáya/ is like a broad beach where crops may be planted
without the necessity of felling trees. Manioc tubers dangle from the
plant like papayas and do not have to be dug from the ground. The
/¡na?timo bai/ are always finely dressed in new cushmas, vast strands of
beads, and ornate double and triple headdresses. Each of the local
groups has a large metal canoe of brilliant colors and spends much of
its time traversing the placid /hai siáya/ ("big river"; a synonym for
/ume siáya/) visiting its neighbors. According to Fernando, there are
so many /ma?timo bai/ standing together that it looks like a meeting,
but this is actually where they live all the time. All of the /ma?t±mo
bai/ are good people; there is no warfare or sorcery in the /ma?t±mo/

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realm, hence no death. The dense population and amicable relations
there represent the polar ideal of conditions on earth, where the num¬
bers of people are low, and relations between groups are marked by
suspicion and fear of sorcery.
There is no hell in traditional Siona-Secoya thought, nor concepts,
of sin and salvation. All children receive the names of /ma?timo bai/
and are destined to join them along the banks of /uroe siáya/ after
death. All that is needed is for a shaman to perform the proper yagé
ritual to send the soul /hoyo/ of the deceased along the proper path.
Science
Siona-Secoya explanations of natural phenomena are embedded within
their mythology and system of thought regarding the cosmological order.
That is to say, their "science" and "religion" spring from one theory
of causality in the universe. This is particularly clear in ethno-
astronomy where the major celestial bodies are incorporated into the
oral traditions of the people.
Most stars are simply called /máñoko/, and are believed to be birds
which feed on celestial trees known as /?ao ne’e ñu/' ("Mauritla food
tree"). When these birds fly from one tree to another they appear as
shooting stars. Siona-Secoya constellations figure more importantly in
their mythology. When the /usebo bai/ of the creation myth ascended to
the heavens they became the constellation /useo/, or Pleiades. The
constellation /b±?± y±ti se?e/ is the jaw of the caiman killed by the
/usebo bai/ (the Hyades, or the V-shaped face of Taurus). The handle
of the axe /su?u tikao/ that was used to cut the nettles for the smoking

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of the caiman is Orion's Belt, and the trail over which the /usebo bai/
chased the tapir /wéki ma?a/ is seen in the sky as the Milky Way.
The sun /?is±/ is believed to be a mirror which hangs at the bow
of a celestial canoe, or /?±s± yowi/ ("solar canoe"), and the march of
the sun across the sky each day is occasioned by the movement of the .
/?isi yowi/ on the sky river /ume siáya/. Night occurs when this canoe
turns a bend in the river and is lost from sight. Solar eclipses are
the result of the mirror being turned around for cleaning by the master of
the canoe who is /si?e kuri wati/ ("the demon of red blood").
The moon is /ñañi/, the son of Rebao of the creation myth. At the
beginning of the lunar month he is a small boy. As he walks about he
grows to adolescence and appears as a quarter moon. As /ñañi/ grows still
older he puts on a cushma and begins to adorn himself with a feather
headdress. By the time he is an adult, he is all arranged in his finery
and appears as the full moon. At times /ñañi/ tires in his walking
about, and Rebao takes him to visit a jaguar which eats him, leaving
only the red glow of a drop of spilled blood in the sky (the corona of
V
a lunar eclipse). But then the jaguar begins to defecate wat it has
eaten, and the moon reforms and shines once again.
Thunder is Muhü, who was cut in two in his duel with the all
powerful culture hero Baina. According to Celestino:
He was cut into two parts...the lower part, where
there is more water, went to the east. The head, where
there is less water, went to the west. Today, when there
is thunder in the east, people say that it will rain soon
...when there is thunder in the west they say that it
will not rain much.
This explanation is consistent with the actual rainfall patterns in the

-to/-
Oriente; the prevailing winds are from the east, and when there is
thunder in that direction the chances are that the storm will be blown
in the direction of the village. The blood of Muhü was transformed to
/kWakWiyo/ birds, and when it thunders, these small gray birds sing in
answer to their father.
Explanations for rainbows vary considerably, but all consider them
to be supernatural phenomena and ill omens. Elias says they are traps
set by Wek± to kill Baina. Dario’s father told him that the rainbow is
a hammock that Baina left behind when he ascended t:o the heavens. Later
a man who was cold stopped to sleep in the hammock, and while he was
asleep a /wati/, or demon, made it rise up into the sky. When the man
awoke he arose to urinate and fell to his death, and the hammock re¬
mained suspended in the sky. Dario says, "It makes one afraid to see
it."
Shamanism
The cosmology and its supporting mythology that have just been
discussed are the foundations of Siona-Secoya thought. They provide a
structured universe and an explanation of the relationships between the
phenomena within that universe. But not all Siona-Secoya are equally
learned in the lore of their culture. In order for an individual to
gain a masterful understanding of the cosmological order and develop
competence in dealing with the supernatural realms he must aspire to
the status of /yahe ünkuki/ ("drinker of yagé"), or shaman.
As in most American Indian groups, shamans are the primary magico-
religious practitioners and curers. Among the Siona-Secoya they also
serve important political functions which ultimately have a significant

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re latí onship to the subsistence adaptation. Political authority is not
strongly developed in terms of formal institutions; cohesion exists
primarily at the local level, and is consistent with the traditional
Tropical Forest Culture model. To the extent that political authority
exists in Siona-Secoya society, it derives from the context of shamanism.
There are no chiefs whose statuses are validated by distinctive secular
abilities; the status of headman, or /inti ba?iki/, demands a strong
shamanistic background (headmanship is discussed in greater detail in
Chapter VIII).
A central aspect of the political function of the shaman is his
role as the interpreter of supernatural events and protector of the well¬
being of the members of his constituency against the ritual aggression
of sorcerers (i.e., the shamans of other local groups). According to
Siona-Secoya belief, most forms of illness result from sorcery. Curing
rituals are an integral part of all yagé ceremonies, and always involve
diagnosis and the external projection of guilt to sorcerers beyond the
local group. The brittle nature of intergroup relations derives in
large measure from the fear of sorcery. The immediacy and reality of
sorcery is apparent to each individual in the history of illness and
death within his own household and lineage. Through time the pattern of
guilt projection leads to situations that can be described as feuding.
Throughout history the suspicion and anxiety deriving from the con¬
cept of outgroup sorcery as the causative agent in ingroup disease and
death have been important factors in maintaining the dispersed settle¬
ment pattern of the Siona-Secoya. (The Jesuit accounts discussed in
Chapter III attest to the antiquity of this dynamic.) In this regard
the shamanistic complex has an ecological function, for by contributing

-ipy-
to the dispersion of settlements it serves to regulate human demands on
environmental resources, and is consistent with the requirements of a
subsistence system based on shifting cultivation and the exploitation
of wild food resources.
In traditional Siona-Secoya society the status of shaman is the
only "career" a youth might seek that will offer an alternative expe¬
rience and relatively permanent prestige. As a consequence, many young
men entertain ideas of entering into shamanistic training. For those
who are the sons of /yahé ünkuki/ the process of becoming a shaman's
apprentice is not clearly defined. Throughout their childhood they are
present at innumerable yage ceremonies, and receive much exposure to
myth telling and shamanistic interpretation of events and dreams. In
short, they are witness to shamanistic behavior on a daily basis.
The sons of non-shamans are also present at a number of yagé cere¬
monies and other shamanistic performances, but do not have the same
intensity of exposure. In other words, it is taken for granted that a
shaman's son will pursue shamanistic training, whereas the son of a
non-shaman has to petition a shaman in order to become an apprentice.
The major thrust of this petition is to convince the shaman that the
applicant has serious intent and is willing to forgo the material con¬
cerns of everyday life in his quest for supernatural knowledge.
That a person must suffer in order to arrive at a higher level of
understanding is a given in Siona-Secoya thought. An apprentice must
purge his- mind and body of mundane influences in order to prepare for
greater intensities of hallucinatory experience. Hallucinations are not
believed to be chaotic or aberrant perceptions; they are glimpses of
another reality, which experience will reveal as orderly and coherent.

—lbU—
The primary restrictions on the apprentice's behavior are related
to diet and patterns of interpersonal interaction. It is expected that
he must "become thin," for it is believed that if a person is light his
soul can fly to the sky realms with greater ease. The meat of all large
(i.e., heavy) animals, including tapir and both species of peccaries,
is excluded from the diet of the apprentice. His food consists of weak
/noka k5no/ (plantain beverage), toasted maize, and a little meat from
the smaller game animals and fish. (This diet is low in both calories
and protein, and such deprivation probably tends to increase the inten¬
sity of the hallucinatory experience.)
Both married and unmarried may aspire to shamanistic status, but
may not engage in sexual relations during the apprenticeship (appren¬
tices usually range between 18 and 30 years of age). Women are considered
ritually unclean, and most particularly so during periods of menstruation.
Siona apprentices who are married sleep in hammocks apart from their
wives, whereas the Secoya are required to reside in a separate /ari w±?e/
("small house"). If an apprentice breaks this rule it is believed that
he can never become a truly powerful shaman, for he is "damaged." This
will later manifest itself in an inability to sing shamanistic songs
well, and the performance of inefficacious cures. Furthermore, a men¬
struating woman presents a danger to a male drinker of yage, because
sexual relations with a contaminated woman will cause him to hemorrhage
from the nose and have headaches.
Other forms of interpersonal relations are also circumscribed. The
Siona apprentice is expected to refrain from the usual visiting behavior
in the village or to other residence clusters, and the Secoya is isolated
in his /ari w±?e/ (he can travel into the forest in search of plants,

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but not into the village). Once again, these practices serve to elimi¬
nate distractions and frivolous behavior from the apprentice's awareness.
Becoming a shaman requires not only a mastery of discipli.ne, but
also of knowledge, experience, and form. The apprenticeship is a period
of active study of plants and their properties. Not only must the
apprentice prepare and consume potions of the more faimilar medicinal
and psychotropic plants, but he is also expected to venture into the
forest to seek unknown plants and make experimental preparations from
them. When asked about their apprenticeships, the established shanans
are prone to reply, "I drank all the leaves," (i.e., "I tried all of the
plants in the forest"). Without a doubt these claims are exaggerated;
nevertheless, they are statements of the ideal. This ideal is based on
the belief that, having experienced the effects of all of the plants,
the apprentice will gain an understanding of their properties, and
therefore be able to prescribe the proper remedies for people who are
ill.
By "mastery of form" it is meant that the apprentice must become a
competent performer of ritual behavior. The most important aspect of
this is the ability to sing shamanistic songs. In order for a yagé
ceremony to be considered adequate, the presiding shaman must present
a virtual tour de force of singing. Each phase of the ceremony has its
own songs, and there are specific songs for curing various illnesses,
calling specific species of animals, and so on. The men who attend
yagé ceremonies do sing responsive choruses to some of the shaman's
songs, but their lack of proficiency is obvious (even to the untrained
ear of the ethnologist). During the apprenticeship the youth is ex¬
pected to practice and perfect his singing technique. The inability to

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sing well is taken as an indication of poor shamanistic aptitude (i.e.,
the Siona-Secoya believe there is a direct correlation between singing
ability and shamanistic competence).
Mastery of form also includes the performance of magical feats
during yagé ceremonies. This frequently involves the plucking of ob¬
jects from the air (e.g. colored thread, needles) which are given to
individuals who are present. Sleight of hand may also be used in the
extraction of objects through sucking and massage during the curing
phase of the yagé ceremony.
The most important aspects of becoming a shaman, however, are the
experiences of soul flight, physical transformation, and visions asso¬
ciated with the use of yagé. In order to produce the necessary intensity
of experience the apprentice follows the dietary restrictions, purges
himself with an emetic of /kási/ (an unidentified tree), and ingests
great amounts of the yagé at frequent intervals. (The time between
sessions is often no more than one to three days.) The goal of the
apprentice is to liberate his soul so that it can escape to the astral
and nether realms and commune with the /ma?timo bai/ and /yihá bal/. No
matter how diligent his efforts, the aspirant cannot become an accred¬
ited shaman if he fails to experience the proper visions. Established
shamans admit that the attainment of these visions is a cumulative pro¬
cess, developing progressively through the period of study. It is this
factor that determines the length of the apprenticeship. If the guiding
shaman judges that the novice has achieved the proper level of knowledge,
he will declare the apprenticeship over, and the aspirant will be
recognized as having attained the status of shaman.
If the apprentice does not abide the restrictions of the novitiate,

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or simply does not experience the proper intensity of visions, the master
shaman will terminate his candidacy with a few words stating the dif¬
ficulty (e.g. lack of discipline, failure to have the proper visions,
etc.). Most aspirants do not achieve shaman status, but this is not a
matter of great shame. Men state matter of factly, "I never saw any¬
thing," or, "I was too weak." Such individuals continue to participate
in yagé ceremonies throughout life, however, and will attempt to perform
cures when there is no shaman available.
The accreditation of a shaman does not relieve him of the necessity
of proper conduct in order to validate his status. New shamans are
thought to be inexperienced and less powerful than established shamans.
Furthermore, there is the realization that a new shaman may "go bad" by
becoming /dawu/ (a sorcerer) and using his shamanistic powers to harm
others.
The Yagé Ceremony
El major regocijo de esta nación es el juntarse á
oir los cantos y desvarios de los adivinos, en que
gastan noches enteras, mezclando de cuando en cuando
algunas danzas y música de flautas, para lo cual
convidan también con tiempo á los que viven en las
rancherías mas cercanas.
Pablo Maroni (1889-92[27]:78)
The use of the hallucinogenic Banisteriopsis vine in Siona-Secoya
culture takes place in a highly ritualized and religious context. It
is not used as a means of aggression against the norms of society, but
represents the highest and most sacred values of the culture.
There is no regular schedule of yagé ceremonies corresponding to
specific dates. They are frequently held at -intervals of about one

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month, but may be performed within a few days of each other if the
shaman has a specific purpose in mind, such as to appeal to the. spirits
for a cessation of the rains so that the fields may be burned. The
preparation of the yagé is not done by the shaman himself, but by two
or three assistants known as /yahe kWakoki/ ("yage cook"). The after¬
noon before the ceremony is to take place these assistants go to the
garden or forest to cut lengths of the Banisteriopsis vine, and then
carry them slowly and respectfully to a special ceremonial hut known as
the /yahé w±?é/ ("yagé house"), located in the quiet of the forest.
Then they return to their houses to spend the night.
The following morning the assistants return to the ceremonial
house. One is in charge of cooking the yagé, while the others must
bring water and firewood, and clean the ceremonial house and the area
around it. The sections of yagé vine are pounded and then placed in
a large clay pot with water and the leaves of the plant called /yahé
?okó/ (Banisteriopsis rusbyana), and this mixture is boiled throughout
the day. The assistants perform a series of rituals during this period
to protect the yagé from demons (who are believed to be attracted when
the yagé is being prepared). In the afternoon the contents of the pot
are strained, and only a thick honey-colored liquid remains. This
liquid is known as /wea yahé/ ("maize yagé"), and is the actual potion
that is consumed.
Shortly before sunset the shaman arrives at the ceremonial house
along with the others who are to participate in the ritual. The drinking
of yagé is a communal act in Siona-Secoya culture. Whole families may
take part and the number of individuals present may exceed twenty. They
arrive in their best cushmas and are adorned with elaborate red face

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paintings, many strands of brightly-colored beads, and fragrant plants
fastened to their arms by woven cotton bands. For the first, hour or so
the people discuss everyday topics such as their luck during recent
hunting trips or their gardening activities. Then the shaman sits on
a special log bench and begins a long and rhythmic chant over the yagé
pot. After he has sung for nearly an hour, he serves yagé to each per¬
son wishing to take it (normally this will include everyone present,
except for very small children).
As the shaman serves the yagé he performs a blowing ritual and
shakes a leaf rattle of /mamekoko/ (unidentified) over the person who
is about to drink. These actions are intended to startle away any
demons that may be lurking about. After they have been served, the
others return to hammocks which they have hung from the house posts and
wait for the drug to take effect. After an hour or two many of the
participants experience severe nausea or diarrhea, but the shaman mani¬
fests little discomfort due to his great experience with yagé. Following
this period of physical discomfort among the participants, they are
prepared to enter into a spiritual experience with the shaman as their
leader.
The shaman sings and chants to the beat of the leaf rattle which
he shakes in one hand. The words of his song are in a magical dialect
which is only partially understood by the others present. It is believed
that during the ceremony the shaman's soul rises to the heavenly realms
and mingles with /ma?timo bai/ groups such as the /hi?e saipi bai/
("plum-throated cotinga people") and /wakara bai/ ("heron people").
The world of the /ma?t±mo bai/ is one of great beauty and bounty, and
the shaman describes it in detail. The /ma?timo bai/ may even descend

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to the earth during the yagé ceremony. However, only the shaman sees
them clearly, and he interprets his vision to the other drinkers of
yagé. With his guidance they may understnad the significance of the
vision and the shaman's song. The shaman may also play a one-stringed
musical bow, and it is said that the /ma?t±mo bai/ dance to the haunting
music produced by this instrument. The shaman continues to chant
throughout the night, and from time to time his songs are answered by
choruses from the others in their hammocks. The virtuoso curaca never
rests or reclines in a hammock, however. He must blow the fragrant
smoke of beeswax over the others to protect them from demons, chant
over them when they become ill, and guide them through the long night.
As the dawn breaks, the shaman serves additional portions of yagé
to those who desire it. Then he performs curing rituals on those who
are suffering from ailments. In order to effect a cure the shaman musL
contact the /wati/ that is the spirit helper of the sorcerer who has
caused the illness. Once communication with the /wati/ has been estab¬
lished, and the identity of the sorcerer learned, the shaman contracts
with the /wati/ to end the illness. Finally, the shaman sings special
curing songs, and sucks and massages the afflicted part of the patient
to extricate the foreign body causing the pain (e.g. darts, thorns, or
pebbles). By mid-morning the people begin to roll up their hammocks and
depart the ceremonial house. Before returning to their individual homes
they may stop at the house of the shaman for a plate of fish and manioc
cake.
The power of /dawu/ (sorcery) is an inherent aspect of shamanistic
skill. In order to perform cures the shaman must communicate with the
various /wati/. Conversely, an evil shaman must contact the /wati/ to

-167-
enlist its assistance in order to perforin sorcery. Therefore, any
shaman who has the ability to effect cures also has the means to prac¬
tice sorcery and cause illness. In normal conversation, however, shamans
consistently deny that they have /dawu/ powers. After many attempts to
elicit information on sorcery from Fernando, he finally gave me details
on how the "Quichuas" perform it. Actually, there is little incentive
for a shaman to admit that he has /dawu/ ability. Latent suspicion
always exists in the minds of some individuals, especially in hetero¬
geneous villages like Shushufindi, where not everyone is of the shaman's
lineage. When people begin to die, and no resolution of the blame is
forthcoming, accusations begin to be murmured. If counter-sorcery is
not effective, murder may eventually follow.
In summary, Siona-Secoya cosmology is based on a belief in a multi¬
layered universe consisting of an underworld /yihá wí?é wi/, the earth
world /yihá/, and several sky realms, including /kinawi/ and /ma?t±mo/.
Each layer of the universe is inhabited by groups of anthropomorphic
beings and animals, and contains plants and various features of terrain
such as rivers and beaches, but the conditions of life improve as one
moves from the lower to the upper realms. The mythology focuses pri¬
marily on the culture hero Baina and his rivals Muhü (Thunder) and Weki
(Tapir), and accounts for the creation of the world and its associated
flora and fauna. The Siona-Secoya believe that their well-beipg depends
upon the ability of their shamans to maintain the proper relationships
between the various elements and forces of the multilayered universé
through the medium of yage. This includes responsibility for the diag¬
nosis and treatment of disease, and involves the divination of sorcerers
and their spirit helpers who are believed to be the causative agents in

-168-
most forms of illness. The traditional pattern is Siona-Secoya society
is one in which shamans serve as curers and protectors of their local
groups while projecting the blame for death and disease to neighboring
shamans. As a consequence of this theory of disease etiology, relations
between residence groups are marked by anxiety and hostility which serve
to rationalize and perpetuate the dispersed settlement pattern and
atomistic political structure of Siona-Secoya settlements. Hence the
world view of the Siona-Secoya is consistent with the dynamics of their
subsistence ecology, and provides an intellectual environment which
assists in the maintenance of a viable balance in their utilization of
natural resources.

CHAPTER VIII
SOCIAL ORGANIZATION
In the discussion to this point there have been many references to
the "village-level" organization characteristic of the terra firme
Indians, which has been one of the traits associated with the traditional
Tropical Forest Culture paradigm. The Siona-Secoya are among those
groups that fit this pattern; their social organization is based on
kinship and membership in a local residence group. The foundation of
their kinship is the patrilocal, patrilineal sib, which provides each
individual with a reference group of "brothers" and "sisters," and de¬
lineates potential affinal relationships. Residence groups are flexible;
in many cases they consist of no more than the extended patrilocal house¬
hold, whereas in others they are settlements comprised of a number of
such households. In either case, the highest individual authority rests
in the person of the /inti ba?ik±/, or headman-shaman. That more ela¬
borate social and political structures did not develop among the Siona-
Secoya is understandable in that such forms offer no additional adaptive
advantage given the resources and level of technology possessed by these
people. The following sections describe the particular institutions
which evolved in a specific human ecological setting within the tropical
forest, and which serve effectively to organize Siona-Secoya patterns of
interaction.
-169-

-170-
Kinship
En los relaciones existentes acerca de estos indios,
...no encontramos la significación propia de los nombres
con que se distinguían, fuese por el de sus caciques o
por el de los lugares habitados... Seria muy importante
conocer cuál correspondía al individuo, cuál al grupo,
cuál al lugar, si el rio...tomaba su nombre del grupo
o viceversa y cuál era su traducción o significado en
la lengua correspondiente. Asi podríamos llegar al
conocimiento de ciertas cuestiones relativas a su origen
e ideas relacionados con el culto totémico.
Espinosa Perez (1955:26)
The basic, social unit of Siena-Secoya culture is the patrilineal,
patrílocal extended household consisting of a man and his wife, their
unmarried children, and their married sons and their wives and children.
Prior to the present generation all of the members of this extended
family resided in a /hai wi?e/ ("big house"), which was a large oval
structure with an earthen floor. A communal cooking fire was located
at one end of the /hai w±?e/, and compartments for each of the con¬
jugal-nuclear pairs were arranged along the sides of the house, with a
passageway running down the center. These is evidence that in earlier
times these conjugal-nuclear areas were sometimes partitioned, but on
occasion they may have been demarcated simply by the location of the
hammocks of the residents.
The Siona-Secoya residence pattern was characterized by dispersed
/hai wi?é/, each associated with a particular section of a stream or
river. Where the /hai wá?é/ were isolated, the eldest and most respected
male (i.e., the father of the extended family) perfoi'med the necessary
shamanistic rituals to maintain the well-being of the local group, and
was its headman. Not infrequently, other individuals or conjugal-nuclear
pairs become attached to a /hai w-i?e/ other than their father's due to

171-
death or other circumstances. If a headman-shaman was known to be
particularly beneficent or powerful he might increase his sphere of
influence by attracting otherwise unattached individuals or conjugal-
nuclear households to the vicinity of his settlement.
Recent generations of Siona-Secoya residing in Ecuador have aban¬
doned the traditional /hai wi?e/ in favor of smaller elevated houses
with rectangular floor plans. (This new style is a generalized form
that has wide distribution in the Upper Amazon, although the details of
construction may vary locally.) As a result of this architectural shift.,
extended households now take the appearance of a cluster of elevated
houses, with a conjugal-nuclear family residing in each unit, rather
than the compartmentalized /hai wi?e/. In the past, the members of the
/hai w±?e/ formed the basic unit of production and consumption in all
phases of subsistence; the men of the extended household cleared and
planted gardens together, and game, fish, and collected foods were pre¬
pared in the communal cooking area and shared equally. The introduction
of iron tools and firearms in historic times has made cooperative labor
less needful, and this and the adoption of the conjugal-nuclear dwelling
have led to increasing individualization in subsistence activities (as
discussed in Chapter IV). Despite the changes of recent years, the
/hai w±?e/ model still serves as an important reference point for under¬
standing the functioning of the Siona-Secoya lineage and sib.
Kinship Terminology
Both the Siona of the Aguarico and the Secoya of the Santa Maria
have Omaha kinship terminology, but their nomenclature differs in some
details. (The terminologies for both Siona and Secoya male and female

-172-
egos are presented in Figures 5, 6, 7, and 8). In unilineal systems such
as Omaha/ sib members are thought of as brothers and sisters. Each indi¬
vidual belongs to one sib throughout life, and marries outside it. Totems,
rituals, and myths are frequently associated with the sib. Omaha kinship
terminology is said to be "classificatory" because sibling terms include
both lineal and collateral kin, and "bifurcate merging" because father's
brother is denoted by the same term as father, as are mother's sister and
mother, whereas father's sister and mother's brother are given separate
terms. (These features are not exclusively Omaha, for they are also true
of Crow systems, the matrilineal mirror-image of Omaha, and other uni¬
lineal systems such as Iroquois. Crow and Omaha systems are distinguished
from other unilineal systems by the manner in which the sib principle
overrides the generation principle in the line of father's sister and
mother's brother.) - -
The terminology of the Siona of the Aguarico is Omaha, but has an
additional elaboration in that certain terms in ego's generation and in
the first ascending generation have age-grading prefixes. Secoya termi¬
nology has age grading in ego's generation, but not in the first ascend¬
ing generation.
Siona-Secoya kinship terms are based on noun stems, sex-indicating
suffixes, and prefixes which indicate relative age (for some terms, but
not all). For example, the term for "father" is /ha?k±/, and that for
"mother" is /ha?ko/. Here the stem /ha?k-/ indicates "parent," and the
suffixes /-if and f-o( indicate "male" and "female" respectively.
In Siona (Aguarico) terminology FaBr is denoted by the term for Fa
/ha?k±/ plus a prefix to indicate the age of FaBr relative to Fa (not to
ego). Father's older brother is /ai hd?k±/, and father's younger brother
is /si ha?k±/. Likewise, /ai ha?ko/ and /si ha?ko/ indicate mother's

-173-
o
r<3 kwi
"O ai ha?ko
O ñeko
<3 ~ - w.
^ ne - a.
<3
O si ha?l
O ha?ko
r<í
O ñeko
<]si ha?ki
<\~ i w
nek ±
ha?ki
o
-0_L:
<]
O
ha?ko
K] slkWa
rO a?y°
a?yi
o
L -O yoheo
ñ
L q a?yo
-Qyoheo
<]
o
^ EGO
o
<3 yohs
O
L .Q yoheo
rO yoheo
O
" O si ha?lco
G
-<] síkwí
"O hotao
O
*-<| hotai
rO mamao
O
â– 0 hotai
rO mamao
O
l<3 mamai
pQ hotao
- O
*-<3 hotai
O hotao
O
<3 hotai
<5 wai
O
L<3 wai
O mamao
- O
I»
Kj mamai
-O mamao
-O
mamai
rO hotao
O
hotai
O mamao
O
£
-c
I
L (O hotao
mamao
mamai
si ha?ko
sik i
naheo
nahe
naheo
nahé
naheo
nahé
naheo
nahé
naheo
nahe
naheo
nahé
naheo
nahé
naheo
nahé
naheo
naheo
i '
naheo
o
Vi
to
Siona (Aguarico) Kinship Terminology, Male Speaking.

-174-
o
r<] kw±
<1
O ñeko
<3 ñekW4
o
â– Q si ha?ko
<¡
b
ha?ko
r<3 ha?ki
q ñeko
<¡ ñekwi
o___
kí si ha?ki
o_
kj ai ha?ki
b
bu?lco
rO si ha?ko k)
^ lo
o
V’
sikw±
ai ha?ko
kl
O a?y°
o
k a?yi
rO yoheo
Q
'kJ” yoke
rO a?yo
b yoheo
<3
â– 0 EGO
o
k} yohe
o
k] a?ya
rO yoheo
<3
O
ur
yone
Q a? ye
<]
O
kj a?yí
o maTiao
¡i —
<1
o
yoeno
k yohe
q si ha.'•
O
L â– Omamao
O
'.O
k mamai
Ohotao
O
k hótai
rO mamao
O
k nama±
jO hotao
"Ujhotai
rO rr.anao
- O
P ~—
Tnama±
rO mair.ao
- O
£
â– C
Í
£
â– c
â– c
hotao
hotai
si ha?ko
s ikwi
naheo
nahé
naheo
nahé
naheo
nahe
naheo
naf.e
rO naheo
k mamai
O wai
O
1!
k wai
^hotao
0
l<3 nahe
rO naheo
k nahe
C naheo
nahe
O naheo
k hotai
r° hotao
O
k hotai
pO mamao
O
<3 nahe
rO naheo
“U, nahe
naneo
nahe
-O mamao
O
k mamai
ao
rO hot
j O
<1 mamai
‘-g nota±
O naheo
- O
~ rQ naheo
- O
i nane
~0 naheo
k nahe
Figure 6. Siona (Aguarico) Kinship Terminology, Female Speaking,

-175-
O ñeko
Ji
nekwi
Q ñeko
<3 ñekw:
o
r< kw¿
O piki yoheo
k kw-
<3
b
ha?ko
k ha?k?
O
o
•o_!
^3
rO
<3
O
a?yo
a?yí
k
rO yoheo
1 u-
<3
O piki yoheo
&
yone
o aí
a ryo
_q yoheo
<3
O
-Q EGO
O
<] piki yohe
- k hotai
/-N oiki yoheo pO yoheo
f [o
O
k yohe
O piki yoheo
O
k kwi
-Q hotao
O
â– e
c
mama o
naraa±
piki yoheo
i w-
k i
pQ naheo
L rO mama o
o_
TT-ama»
"O hOtao
O
k hotai
rO mamao
- O
k mama±
“O hotao
- O
* —
k hotai
O hotao
- O
k hotai
rO mamako
O
-<4 mamaki
~0 raamao
O
.<3 mamai
rO mamao
O
k hotai
O mamao
O
k nahe
rO
.-i
-c
nahe
naheo
nahe
naheo
nahe
naheo
nahe
naheo
nahe
naheo
nahe
naheo
r°
<3 nahe
leo
nahe
naheo
í
Figure 7. Secoya Kinship Terminology, Male Speaking.

-176-
O
II —
r<]
K>
O ñeko
ii-
nek ti
kw4
HO
r O ñeko
o
u ■■ ■ — *■ ■"*~
<] ?i ki yohe
<3 n~ekWi
ha?ki
o
r<3
K3
<3
piki yoheo rO yoheo
<1
o
kwi
rO a:yo
<3
vone
-O piki yoheo
- O
hotao
hótaí
Diki voneo
o
¡I
-<] a?yi
yoheo
L rO namao
- 9
mamai
rO hotao
piki yoheo
rO
<3 “
_q yoheo
yohe
a?yo
o
<3
O
ti —
W
o
tt---
vrn
ih vjU
yone
a?y±
yoheo
piki yohe
q a?yo
o
kr
a?yi
d u: ko
rO mamao
<3
o__
Kj mamai
rO namako
- O
-<] raamaki
-O hotao
O
*-<3 hotai
rO hotao
O
-<] hotai
rO mamao
O
kj mamai
"O hotao
O
<1 hotai
mamao
f°
-Jo
i raanai
hotao
- 9
kj hotai
rO naheo
- O
*•<3 nahé
-Q naheo
- o_
k3nahe
piki yoheo
k jw-
i-<3 naheo
k nahé
naheo
^ nahé
P-'tnamao ^
I q ftJ naheo
naheo
L ^ naheo
ki nahé
naheo
nahé
£
*<1
jO nal
J aeo
nahé
rO naheo
<3 nahé
jOnaheo
L<3 nahé
Figure 8. Secoya Kinship Terminology, Female Speaking.

-177-
older sister and mother's younger sister. Father's sister and mother's
brother are denoted by the terms /bu?ko/ and /kW±/ (regardless of relative
age). In the second ascending generation (and all lineal and collateral
males and females of the second ascending generation, and preceding
generations) father's father and mother's father are referred to as
/ñekW±/, and father's mother and mother's mother as /ñeko/.
In ego's generation different noun stems are used to indicate rela¬
tive age, but the sex-indicating suffixes are the same; /a?yi-/ and /a?yo/
refer to older brother and older sister respectively, and /yohe/ and
/yoheo/ refer to younger brother and younger sister. Parallel cousins
receive the same designations, but relative age is determined not by a
comparison of ego to referrant, but rather by a comparison of ego's
parent to ego's parent's sibling (e.g. the children of father's older
brother /ai ha?k±/ are referred to as /a?yi/ and /a?yo/, even when they
are younger than ego).
Paternal cross-cousins of male speakers (FaSiSo and FaSiDa) are
referred to as /hotai/ and /hotao/ ("nephew" and "niece"). These terms
indicate that the individuals referred to are not members of ego’s sib.
Maternal cross-cousins for male egos (MoBrSo and MoBrDa) are referred to
as /si kW±/ and /si na?ko/, or "younger mother's brother" and "younger
mother," identifying then as members of mother's sib.
In the first descending generation, ego's children are referred to
as /wai/, regardless of sex. Ego's "brother's" children (of both true
and sib "brothers") are referred to as /manai/ (BrSo) and /mamao/ (BrDa).
Ego's "sister's" children (both actual siblings, and sib "sisters") are
/hotai/ and /hotao/ ("nephew" and "niece"), which again indicate sib
membership other than ego's (sib exogamy prescribes that ego's sib
"sisters" marry men of another sib). The children of FaSiSo and FaSiDa

-178-
become /nahé/ and /naheo/ ("grandson’' and "granddaughter"), whereas the
offspring of MoBrSo are /si kW±/ and /si ha?ko/ generation after genera¬
tion (this overriding of generation is one of the diagnostic traits of
Crow-Omaha systems). The children of MoBrDa /si ha?ko/, however, become
/yohe/ and /yoheo/, and their offspring follow the same terminological
rules as other /yohe/ and /yoheo/ (cf. Figure 6).
For a female ego the children of FaSi /bu?ko/ and the offspring of
real and sib sisters become "sons" and "daughters" (/mami/ and /mamao/),
while real and sib brother's offspring become "nephews" and "nieces"
(/hotai/ and /hotao/).
The kinship terminology of the Siona of the Aguarico, therefore, is
basically Omaha, with an additional elaboration in the form of the rela¬
tive age principle in the first ascending generation with the /ai-/ and
/si-/ ("older" and "younger") prefixes, and the /a?-/ and /yoh-/ ("older"
and "younger") stems to designate real and sib brothers and sisters.
It is also slightly different in that no sex distinction is made between
ego's true sons and daughters.
Secoya Terminology
The preceding discussion of Siona (Aguarico) terminology provides
a good background for looking at Secoya terminology because both systems
are quite similar. The Siona terminology was introduced first because
in certain respects it is more recognizible as an Omaha system. The
bifurcate merging nature of Siona is clear as FaBr is classified with
Fa, and MoSi with Mo (preceded by the relative age-indicating prefixes
/ai-/ and /si-/). In Secoya terminology the relative age prefixes are

-179-
dropped (no chronological or evolutionary implication is intended here),
and all FaBr are referred to as /p±ki yohe/ and all MoSi as /piki
yoheo/.
Note here that the terms for Fa /ha?k±/ and Mo /ha?ko/ do not form
the base for the terms for FaBr and MoSi as one would expect in a bi¬
furcate merging terminology such as Omaha. Despite this seeming anomaly,
the Secoya do perceive Fa and FaBr, and Mo and MoSi as being linked in
the same way as the Siona. They are also aware of the relative ages of
FaBr to Fa, and MoSi to Mo (even though the relative age prefixes are
not used), for the terms for FaBrSo and FaBrDa, and MoSiSo and MoSiDa
are the same as in Siona (Aguarico); that is, /a?yi/-/a?yo/ and /yohe/-
/yoheo/ indicate "older brother or sister" or "younger brother or
sister," depending on the relative age of their parent to ego's parent.
The terms for other individuals of the ascending generations are the
same as in Siona (except that /bu?ko/ becomes /pu?ko/ following the
Secoya pronunciation of the allophones /b/, [p J).
w~
In Secoya MoBr is /k 4/ as in Siona, but MoBrSo, MoBrSoSo etc.,
are also referred to as /kW±/, thus dropping the relative age indicating
prefix /si-/. MoBrDa is /piki yoheo/ as would be expected (given the
same term for MoSi in Secoya terminology), but once again her offspring
take /yohe/ and /yoheo/, as in Siona (Aguarico) terminology.
Unlike the Siona, the Secoya terms of reference for So /mamaki/ and
Da /mamako/ distinguish sex, and also utilize sex-distinguishing terms
of address /si wTa?i/ and /si wa?o/. The changes in terminology for a
female speaker are analogous to those for a Siona woman, given the dif¬
ferences in Secoya terminology.
An important question to be considered is the extent to which

-180-
Western Tucanoan social organization is similar to that of the Eastern
Tucanoans. Goldman's study (1963) of the Eastern Tucanoan Cubeo is one
of the most detailed ethnographies extant on an Amazonian society, and
in it is presented ample evidence that the Cubeo sib is the master prin¬
ciple around which the culture is organized. Cubeo social and intellec¬
tual life is centered on the patrilineal sib and its attendant rituals
and mythology, its social ranking relative to other sibs, and its place
associations and the maloca which is the symbolic uterus of the sib.
Other Eastern Tucanoan groups such as the Desana and Tucanos also have
elaborate sib organizations.
Among the Western Tucanoans, however, the sib received a far less
elaborate expression. The surnames used by the people today strongly
suggest sib names based on totemic symbols, but no recollection of
separate myths for the various sibs exists; rather, there is a general¬
ized origin myth for all of the Siona-Secoya regardless of sib membership
Siona-Secoya sib names generally consist of two morphemes. The first is
most often taken from the name of a plant or animal and serves as a
descriptive prefix to identify the specific sib being referred to. The
second morpheme is /wahi/, which may be glossed as "living" (cf. Wheeler
1970:116 and Langdon 1974:108). The format of these sib names suggest
certain affinities with those of the Eastern Tucanoan Cubeo, which con¬
sist of descriptive prefixes and terminate in /-wa/ or /-wii/ (Goldman
1963:90-105).
At Shushufindi the following sib names are represented:
/bi?a wahi/ "living bird"; said to derive from the necklaces
of desiccated birds worn by the members of this
sib. Written as Piaguaje in Spanish.

-181-
/bayo wahi/
"living grease"; said to derive from the oily
faces of the members of this sib (which are
considered attractive). Written as Payaguaje
in Spanish.
/yai wahi/
"living jaguar." Written as Yaiguaje in Spanish.
/wTani wahi/
"living mojarra"; derives from the name of a
fish of the Cichlidae family. Written in Spanish
as Maniguaje.
/daña wahi/
"living hair." Written in Spanish as Dañaguaje.
/yi?yo kuru wahi/ "living /kuru/ wood bead." Written in
Spanish as Yiyocuru.
Other examples of
Western Tucanoan sib names include:
/hámü wahi/
"living armadillos." Written as Amoguaje in
Spanish.
/ko?re wahi/
"living ticks." Written as Correguaje in Spanish
/si?si wahi/
"living opossums."
/wasi wahi/
"living earthworms." Written as Guaciguage in
old Spanish accounts.
/sése wahi/
"living white-lipped peccaries." Written in
Spanish as Senseguaje.
In addition to these sibs, there are many others (cf. Steward 1948b)
which are now extinct, and for which the name translations are somewhat
speculative. There is no evidence that Western Tucanoan sibs were orga¬
nized into moieties or phratries as among the Eastern Tucanoans. Steward
suggests that the Western Tucanoans may have had incipient sibs, meaning
that at the time of European contact their social organization was in a
formative stage, and implying that they could have been in the process
of developing more elaborate forms such as those of the Eastern Tucanoans
(1948:527). Goldman, however, has suggested that the Western Tucanoans
may have been declining from a higher form of social organization (per¬
sonal communication).

-182-
Affinal Kin
The Siona-Secoya refer to affinal kin as /wa bai/. (The terms for
affinal relationships are presented in Figure 9.) Because of the rule of
sib exogamy, marriage partners are sought who have a different toteraic
surname. Therefore /-wa bai/ are usually of another sib, although there
are some exceptions to this general rule. For the Siona-Secoya the ideal
marriage rule is that one must seek a marriage partner beyond one's own
sib, and also beyond mother's immediate lineage (although individuals
who carry mother's sib surname may be considered eligible if they are
sufficiently distant and have no demonstrable link to ego's mothers).
Bptk-'CYos§5G«íisin—and parallel-cousin marriage are proscribed,
r'" ' "" "
The modern practice among the Siona-Secoya in Ecuador is to seek
marriage partners from distant settlements. There is a definite movement
of people through Western Tucanoan territory over time. Much of this
passes as simple visitation or the renewal of contacts with long separated
kin, but such trips also serve as a form of reconnaissance prior to
village relocations and migrations. The terrain is not the only thing
that is scouted during these visits to other settlements; the availability
of appropriate marriage partners is also assessed. Given the small size
and dispersion of most Siona-Secoya settlements, it is not unusual for
a shortage of potential marriage partners to exist in a given locality.
Moreover, the members of local groups are likely to be too closely re¬
lated to satisfy the marriage rule.
Life history materials and genealogies indicate that as recently as
three and- four generations ago there were Western Tucanoan settlements
on all of the larger tributaries of the Aguarico, as well as some of the
smaller ones (including the Cocaya, /sokora/ or "Zancudo," Cuyabeno,

íowa c
A^O
A* 6"
t,
ft) /
pr*
03
o
o
o
O
K
&>
o
cr
03
•o
?r
o
A=0
H*
H*
o/
Oí
s
s:
05
03
•v3
â–  -o
H*
H»
â– s
. A 1
Ó-A
A*o
£
w
AT
03
c
OÍ
<]
03
â– o
00
u>
I
OA
03
H»«
Figure 9. Siona-Secoya Affinal Kinship Terminology (Male Speaking).

-184-
Shushufindi, and Eno) as far west as the Pusino River (long. 77°W.), not
to mention the important settlements of the Putumayo, Caquetá, Ñapo, and
their tributaries. The impact of four centuries of white contact on
Western Tucanoan population has been enormous. Langdon (1974) reviews
population estimates from various sources which indicate a decline from
about 8,000 individuals at the time of first contact to about 1,300 at
present. Although there are still Western Tucanoan settlements scattered
throughout much of what was Western Tucanoan territory at the time of
the Conquest, the number of settlements and population density has de¬
clined drastically. This means that in many cases men must seek wives
from greater distances. In aboriginal times there may have been regular
patterns of marriage-partner exchange between local groups or sibs, but
the demographic realities of the 20th Century make the situation unclear.
The Drinking Party
...Lo mismo sucede con los nuevos Icaguates, que viven
entre Ñapo y Putumayo, quienes también la bebida que
hacen por la noche á la mañana misma la beben y reparten
á todos los vecinos á que luego se consume. Bebida
fuerte...no usan bebería si no es una 6 otra vez al
cabo del año, y esa en tan corta cantidad, que lo que
no bastará para un Omagua solo, basta y sobra para
satisfacer el apetito de 30 o 40 Icaguates.
Pablo Maroni (1889-92[27]:77-78)
Drinking parties are an ancient tradition in Siona-Secoya culture
as in many other Amazonian societies, and provide excellent opportunities
to observe patterns of kinship behavior. Among the Western Tucanoans of
the Aguarico and Napo they are held in association with good harvests
(as first-fruits celebrations), marriages, or simply as social events
without a major pretext. In recent years they have been held as the

-185-
concluding phases of mingas (work parties), a practice the Siona-Secoya
have learned from their Quichua neighbors.
According to informants, the traditional first fruit celebrations,
or /a?so kono ünkuye/ ("to drink strong chicha"), were elaborate affairs
that required advanced planning by the local /inti ba?iki/ (headman-
shaman) . About two weeks before the event, messengers were sent out to
invite the members of neighboring-residence groups. Some would travel
up to two days to reach the host household. The women of the host house¬
hold provided the chicha for these drinking parties which lasted for
three or four days, but it was the obligation of the guests to bring
smoked meat and fish to feed the people present.
Siona-Secoya informants emphasize that it has never been their
custom to "live drunk" like the Quichuas who drink fermented chicha as
a part of their daily diet. However, they did believe in providing well
for their traditional drinking parties, and the women of the host house¬
hold had to prepare four to eight /hai kWakoro/ (chest-high clay vessels
with an estimated capacity of 110-140 liters each) of /po?re kono/
(fermented chicha made from plantains) or /a?so po?re kono/ (fermented
chicha made from manioc and plantains; said to be stronger and sweeter
than /po?re kono/).
According to Elias, the /inti ba?iki/ (headman-shaman) took yagé
before the drinking party began:
...to see how it was going to go...to divine if any
fights would break out. In any case they drank the
chicha, but if the divination was bad they were afraid
...the /inti ba?ik±/ warned them to drink with caution.
The guests arrived wearing their finest clothing and ornaments.
Perhaps as many as 50 or 60 persons would be present. The men gathered

-186-
in the /hai wí?é/ ('big house") and sat on low wooden benches, and the
women and children sat apart from them. The /inti ba?iki/ took the
first drink of chicha to see if it was good, and then it was served to
the group. The drinking went on day and night. Food was served on clay
platters, with six or seven people serving themselves from the same
platter, The celebration went on for several days, and ended when all
of the chicha was consumed. Then the guests embraced the host and de¬
parted.
The preceding description of the traditional drinking party is
based on the accounts of informants, and represents the cultural ideal.
In fact, these gatherings frequently broke up in squabbles and fighting.
Drinking parties continue today as important social events in the Siona-
Secoya round of activities, although some of the material elements are
changed at times as the result of contact with the larger Ecuadorian
society (e.g. on occasion aguardiente, is substituted for chicha, ciga¬
rettes for native cigars, and the event takes place in a different house
type).
In August, 1974,a drinking party lasting three days took place in
Shushufindi, and provided an opportunity to observe the manifestations
of kinship in actual behavior. Although the details of such parties
vary, this event was typical of several that occurred during the field
work. A description of selected events at this party is presented here
as a microcosmic view of kinship behavior as expressed at a social event
(the names in this account are ficticious):
A comerciante visited Shushufindi on August 26,
bringing some aguardiente which he sold to Diego, who
had just made some money by selling a maize harvest
from a garden on the Cuyabeno River. That evening
about a dozen men and women gathered at Diego's small

-187-
temporary house by the riverbank to begin the drinking
(several lineages were represented in this group).
Only two days previously, Diego had returned from
an eight day trip to Puerto Ospina on the Putumayo
River, and while he was absent from the village his wife
had engaged in an affair with Alberto (a recently
arrived Secoya from the Angusilla River in Peru). A
number of people in the village had been commenting on
this during the past week; while Diego was away his wife
and Alberto were seen together in the forest by Angel,
Creoqui]da, and others. They were also seen leaving to
go "hunting” together, and Alberto loitered around the
house of Diego much of the time during his absence.
As the drinking party continued on the 27th, Noemi,
a widow with several children, told Diego about the
affair, apparently because she had hoped that Alberto
would marry her. (A few weeks previously he had made
overtures to her at a drinking party on the other side
of the river.) Noemi had been hanging around outside
the house where the party was going on for much of the
morning, peering in the entrance and over the walls, but
not participating actively in the drinking. At some
point during this time she passed the information on to
Diego. Diego wanted to strike his wife, but he was too
drunk, and she quickly escaped into the garden. According
to Angel, Diego did not pursue her, but simply "endured
it." I w^ent by the house shortly after sunset and ob¬
served Diego sitting rather quietly in one corner. He
was passing out aguardiente from time to time, but seemed
subdued and less inebriated and boisterous than the other
men present.
Rodolfo and Leonardo were standing arm in arm in the
passage way leading into the house. Rodolfo had just re¬
turned from a hunting trip to the Shushufindi River where
he had had the uncommon good luck of killing three tapirs
in one day, and flushing out another one that Cero killed.
They returned to the village at sunset with canoes full of
smoked meat. Rodolfo told me that when he arrived and
learned that there was a drinking party going on he had
said to his family, "They are drinking. We have hunted
well...let us go and drink peacefully." After recounting
this, Rodolfo looked me straight in the eye and said:
This is the way to drink. Peacefully.. Some,
people here do not drink that way. They fight when
they drink, but that is no good. They should drink
peacefully as we do now. Amongst family...(people
should)... drink peacefully. You wake up...(feeling)
. . .good.
Then Rodolfo went on to describe the killing of the
tapirs, as he and Leonardo continued to hang on to each
other's shoulders. Gradually Rodolfo tightened his grip
around Leonardo's neck and began to swing him back and forth

-188-
playfully. Despite the fact that he had arrived in the
village only an hour or so earlier, Rodolfo was already
quite drunk. Leonardo appeared to be somewhat uncomfortable
due to Rodolfo's hold on his head, and attempted to lift
his arms to free himself, and asked Rodolfo to let him go.
Suddenly Rodolfo squeezed Leonardo's head even harder,
and then whirled and threw him up against the bamboo wall of
the house, saying, "Let's fight!" Rodolfo pulled off his
cushma quickly, and Leonardo braced to fight him. Everyone
in the house now turned their attention to the combatants.
The women began to shriek, and Eduardo (the AO-year-old
paternal half-brother of Leonardo) rushed over and stood
between the two younger men without raising his arms.
Eduardo placed his face in Rodolfo's and shouted, "You are
bad! Let's go outside (to fight)!"
Rodolfo did not respond or attempt to strike Eduardo.
Meanwhile, Leonardo had also stripped of his cushma, and
the women continued to howl and protest the conflict. Then
Franco (the 18-year-old son of Eduardo) pulled off his
cushma, and moved to assist Leonardo, but his mother grabbed
him around the waist with both arms and held him back.
Franco had a great deal of difficulty, but finally pulled
himself free and lurched over towards Rodolfo, and his
mother quickly wrapped him up again.
Several other men stepped in front of Rodolfo and talked
to him rapidly, trying to restrain his anger. Cuandilio
stood nearby and smiled (he has fought with Rodolfo at
previous parties; his older brother is married to Rodolfo's
sister). As Franco struggled writh his mother, a kerosene
lamparina (a tin can with a cloth wick) was knocked over,
and a fire started on the floor. Diego beat at it ineffec¬
tually with a rag, finally managing to kill the flames.
(In the confusion I stepped on a child which was sleeping
on the floor, and he started crying.) Eventually Rodolfo
and Eduardo were separated. Sebastian then arrived and
grabbed Leonardo (his younger brother) and shouted, "Pani...
pani!” ("No...no!") at him. Diego went back to his corner
and sat down again, saying, "Free...peacefully (we drink)."
A few moments laters,Rodolfo went out the rear door and
around the house, and then reentered through the front of
the house. Then he grabbed Franco around the neck and said,
"Y± a?y±, yi a?yi” ("My brother, my brother"), while hugging
him face-to-face (Rodolfo w^as using the kinship term fic-
ticiously). Rodolfo held Franco for about five minués,
repeating the same phrase over and over as an act of recon¬
ciliation. Then he turned to go out the front door of the
elevated house, but made a misstep and fell to the ground,
landing on his face.
Noemi observed these events from a ledge outside the
house. Alberto was swinging in a hammock, and as Ana passed
by he grabbed her and pulled her into the hammock with him.
She laughed and put her arm around his neck; in a few minutes
they departed the house together. Ana's husband, Tomás, was
singing shaman's songs (in a non-ritual setting), and the
sound echoed up and down the river.

189-
I returned along the trail t:o my house, and as 1 passed
Maria's house she called out to ask who was passing in the
night. When she learned my identity she asked several ques¬
tions about the fight. (She is a creyente or missionary
convert, and no longer participates in drinking parties, hut
she had heard the din from her bed.)
Soon after I arrived at my house (150 meters from Diego's)
the shouting at the party began once again, and the sound
carried clearly across the village. I returned and saw
Rodolfo squared off against Franco, but: there were many women
standing between them and shrieking and howling. The men who
were present were so intoxicated that they were staggering
around rather ineffectively. For a moment things quieted a
little, but then Tomás stepped up to Rodolfo and said some¬
thing (which I could not. hear). Rodolfo then grabbed Tomás
by the front of his cushma and began to shake him vigorously.
The two men staggered out into the center of the room growling,
"A?yí, 3?yi" ("Brother, brother") to one another. Then
three women grabbed the back of Rodolfo's cushma and tried
to pull him away from Tomás, but he broke away from them and
pinned Tomas against a wall. As he did this he tried to
twist Tomas' cushma so as to choke him, repeating, "A?yi,
a?yi" all the while. Tomás attempted to defend himself by
pushing his hands back in che face of Rodolfo, but without
much effect. He was also saying, "A’yi, a?y±," but in a
croaking voice due to Rodolfo’s tight hold on his neck.
At this point Ana left Alberto and tried to help her
husband Tomás by joining the other women attempting to pull
the two men apart, but she only added to the clinging mass
of bodies. No blows were struck or fists used; rather there
was just a drunken flailing of arms, and pushing and shoving.
After having pinned Tomás for four or five minutes, Rodolfo
allowed himself to be pulled off, and lumbered over to an¬
other part of the room. Tomás went to the opposite side of
the room, stood there, and began talking to hi.mself. Then
he began stepping from side to side and speaking louder. As
people watched him, he began to gesticulate with his arms,
and then pounded his chest with his fists. After that he
began to shuffle around the room taking false swings at people
sitting or. the floor, and some of them laughed at him. He
then started twirling, prancing, and acting out the fight,
taking ever larger steps and circling the room. He grunted
and growled like a dog, saying, "I am a mad dog! I am a
mad dog!"
As Tomás continued his growling and grandng, everyone
laughed at him. Then suddenly he pounced on Rodolfo, who
had been observing his performance, and began shoving him.
But now Rodolfo did not raise his arms to defend himself; he
just stood there drunkenly and looked down at the smaller man
who was pumtneling his chest. Once again the women jumped up
and pulled Tomás across the room. For a moment the fight
appeared to be over, but then Rodolfo .lunged forward to grab
Tomás and the women screamed. Tomás stumbled back into a

190-
hammock and Rodolfo desisted. Tomás laughed and began to
sing shaman's songs.
Margarita, a 13-year-old girl, was perched on the ]edge
outside the house, intently observing Tomás and laughing at
his antics. Tomás continued to sing shaman's songs, becoming
increasingly louder. Alberto joined in the songs, and then
Rodolfo came over and sat in the hammock with Tomás, with no
evidence of rancor in his behavior.
Diego's daughter began to shuffle among the piles of
blankets on the floor and spread them out for sleeping. Diego
sat in the corner smoking "Full Speed" cigarettes, and said
that drinking was "forbidden" for the rest of the night.
People began to leave. Tomás said, "Mai ha?k± sent this
aguardiente to us to drink." Diego replied, "Don't ridicule
Mai ha?ki" ("Our father"; i.e., the celestial manifestation
of the culture hero Baina). The members of Diego's household
selected sleeping spots on the floor, and the other people
departed for their own houses as the lamparina was put out.
An Interpretation of the Events at the Drinking Party
Participation at drinking parties is not limited to a single
lineage or sib; invitations are also extended to members of other lin¬
eages living in the vicinity of the host household. As a consequence
there are usually affinal kin as well as unrelated tribesmen present.
The membership of the drinking party approximates the community of
individuals who interact on a week-by-week or a month-by-month basis.
Therefore it contains both the individuals with whom one cooperates, and
those with whom everyday conflicts and tensions arise.
One of the most characteristic patterns of Siona-Secoya social
behavior is the avoidance of confrontation in intravillage relations.
Incidents which give rise to petty annoyances and tensions occur fre¬
quently, but they are rarely resolved on a face-to-face basis in the
normal course of daily events. For example, someone may harvest from
the garden of another without requesting permission, or a child may chop
down seedlings in a neighbor's house garden, or steal items like a bar

—191—
of soap, an axe, or a machete. In some cases the losses may be sub¬
stantial, as when pigs are killed when marauding in the wrong gardens.
In almost all such cases, the victim receives feedback from his kinsmen
or other villagers concerning the event and the identity of the guilty
party. There is very little true privacy in the small world of the
village. It is most unusual, however, for a person to confront the
guilty party directly. As in many village-level societies, gossip and
backbiting form the major means for social control in these conflicts.
As the preceding description attests, the drinking party provides
an occasion when everyday social inhibitions are relaxed, and inter¬
personal conflicts are more likely to receive expression. The lowering
of inhibitions is also evident in sexually-suggestive behavior that is
far more likely to occur during drinking parties.
The situation of Alberto, Noerti, and Diego’s wife provides a case
for examination. Alberto is a 30-year-old man who migrated to Shushu-
findi from Peru in 1974. He was married to a much older woman (who had
been abandoned by her husband) during a previous drinking party in Peru,
but had come to Ecuador several months ahead of her in order to evaluate
the situation prior to migrating. After Alberto's arrival in Shushufindi
he bagan courting several of the younger women in the style of an un¬
married man. He would dress in his finest cushma /hu?ika/, put on his
beads and headdress, arrange fragrant /ma?ña/ plants under his wrist and
arm bands, and then spend entire days visiting the households where there
were eligible girls in residence. Although people knew that he had "an
old woman" in Peru, the general opinion seemed to be that he deserved a
younger wife who could present him with children.
Alberto spent a number of days at Diego's house ostensibly courting

-192-
the two daughters there. However, when Diego departed for the Putumayo
the affair developed between Alberto and Diego's wife. Noemi's motiva¬
tion for informing on Alberto at the drinking party appeared to stem from
her desire to marry him. Noemi is a physically-attractive 28-year-old
widow with five children. Siona-Secoya subsistence is based on a com¬
plementary division of labor in food production and processing. Noemi's
household consists of herself and her children, her mother, a 13-year-old
sister, and a 15-year-old half-brother. In terms of subsistence, Noemi
and her mother are unable to provide adequately for their household.
A.lthough they do some perfunctory hunting and gardening, the lack of an
adult male to carry on the heavier tasks of subsistence makes them de¬
pendent on the good will of their kinsmen, who provide them with some
meat and allow them to harvest from their gardens. (They also, however,
enjoy a reputation for slothfulness, and it is frequently commented that
they spend their days visiting other households looking for handouts.)
It is generally known in the village that Noemi desires a husband
so that she can provide for her children and herself, but she is handi¬
capped by the shortage of unrelated men of the appropriate age, the
reluctance of some men to marry a widow with so many children, and her
own noil-industrious reputation. The fact that the recently arrived
Alberto carried on a flirtation with her at the previous drinking party
was apparently sufficient motivation for her to inform on him to Diego,
thus souring not only the affair between Alberto and Diego's wife, but
also lessening his chances of marriage with one of Diego's daughters
(since the consent of the father is quite important).
Diego's rather ineffectual response to his wife's infidelity could
be interpreted as an expression of the principle of conflict avoidance,

-193-
but this avoidance is more characteristic of relations between members
of differing households, than of relations between marital partners.
Diego is not a particularly assertive male, despite the fact that he is
the son of an /inti ba?ik±/. (As a headman's son he would have been
considered as a successor to his father if he had demonstrated the
proper shamanistic powers and personality characteristics, which in
fact, he did not.) The fact that Alberto, had a reputation for being
a poxrerful shaman in Peru may also have caused Diego to temper his re¬
action to the affair (for fear of revenge by sorcery).
One of the most basic schisms in Siona-Secoya society is the dis¬
tinction between consanguine and affinal kin. Although the physical
distances between a married woman and her consanguine kin are not
necessarily great, marriage tends to remove women from daily inter¬
actional patterns with their own sib members. In effect the new wife
who goes to reside in the extended household of her spouse is forced to
live and work in a world of strangers. The tedious labor of harvesting
and processing manioc is no longer conducted with her mother and sisters,
but with the mother and the wives of her husband's brothers. (This is
mitigated to some extent in the larger villages which are more apt to
contain several sibs, and by some cases where sisters have married into
the same household.)
When women have the opportunity to visit with members of their own
lineage they are likely to recount the loneliness and abuses they have
suffered at the hands of the affinal group. Although there are cultur¬
ally sanctioned means for cooperation between affinal groups, such as
the sharing of meat, occasional cooperative labor, and bride service,
relations between affines tend to be very brittle, and underlying tensions

-194-
can surface with surprising speed. This then, is the cultural context in
which drinking parties take place.
The potential for violence at drinking parties is evident in
Rodolfo's assurances to his household that he wanted to drink "peace¬
fully" when he learned of the party after returning from the tapir kill
(in fact, Rodolfo has the worst reputation for fighting of any of the
men in the village). It was also manifest in the taking of yagé by the
/inti ba?ik±/ to divine the course of events in the traditional first-
fruits festival.
After Rodolfo arrived at the drinking party, he and Leonardo joined
arm-in-arm as the tapir kill was recounted (this is a familiar pose for
men and boys of the same age grade). The relationship between these two
men is an affinal one, Leonardo being Rodolfo's sister's husband's broth¬
er. With surprising suddenness the playful squeezing of the young men
erupted into a fight. Eduardo stepped between them, and, without raising
his arms, challenged Rodolfo to go outside and fight. This was an ex¬
pression of sib solidarity, for Eduardo is Leonardo's patrilateral half-
brother (and therefore sib brother). Rodolfo deferred, which was an
expression of respect for a man of an older age grade. But when Eduardo's
son, Franco, moved to assist Leonardo, Rodolfo was prepared to fight him,
for they are age peers.
Following the confusion of the fire, other men and women intervened
as peacemakers, and the first phase of the fight was broken up. A few
moments later Rodolfo attempted a reconciliation with Franco by hugging
him and calling /a?yi/ ("brother"). In this case the use of the kinship
term was a fiction, for Rodolfo and Franco are linked by affinal, not
consanguinial, ties. This kind of flexibility in the use of kin terms

-195-
is practiced by the Siona-Sec.oya when they wish to establish a closer
relationship with someone. In this case the fictive use of the term
/a?yi/ was an expression of reconciliation and friendship. The behavior
of the participants in this first phase of the fighting predictably
followed the lines of sib membership.
The second scuffle apparently began as suddenly as the first, with
Rodolfo once again losing his temper. In this instance, however, he
fought with Tomás, his father's brother's son, and therefore a sib
"brother," Such fighting between members of the same sib is rare, and
is supportive of Rodolfo's reputation as a bad actor. But even as the
two men grappled they continued to verbalize their sib tie. After they
were separated Tomás began the cryptic dance which developed into a
ludicrous parody of Rodolfo as a belligerent "mad dog" who would attack
anyone, even a sib brother. This chastisement apparently had an impact
of Rodolfo, for when Tomás turned on him, he offered no resistance.
Finally, the tw7o men joined together peacefully in the singing of sha¬
man's songs.
Among the Siona-Secoya the drinking party is primarily a secular
event, and seems to serve as a mechanism for the venting of social ten¬
sions within the community. Most drinking parties do in fact end as
brawls. The personal alignments in these scuffles are most often based
on consariguinealversus affinal kin ties.
Yage ceremonies stand in contrast to the drinking parties. Their
orientation is sacred, and the behavior associated with them is marked
by cooperation and tranquility. Yagé is a sacred plant, and its cere¬
monies represent man's attempt to communicate with ana influence the
supernatural realms which the Siona-Secoya believe control their destiny.

-196-
Inti ba?ikl
Ethnologist1s
question: "Who is the /inti ba?iki/ in Shushufindi?"
Marcelo: "Fernando... he is taking care...for this
you say /Inti ba?iki/...he sees all."
There is little political cohesion among the scattered Siona-Secoya
settlements. Each atomistic residence group, living on a small river or
section of a larger river, has its own headman-shaman, or /inti ba?ik±/.
In order to be a headman, an individual must first be an accomplished
shaman; one who has shown that he is capable of conducting yagé ceremonies
in the proper manner, wTith all the requisite singing, diagnosing and
curing of illnesses, and communication with spirits. Furthermore, a
headman must have the appropriate personality characteristics; he should
be more concerned with matters of the spirit than with material life, and
be rather restrained in his sexual activity (for the ritual uncleanliness
of women is a threat to the male drinker of yage). The headman should
be generous in his dealings with others, and display concern for their
needs. He roust be self-effacing rather than boastful or authoritarian.
He must combine these qualities with sufficient sincerity and charisma
to attract the support of other men, for the status of /inti ba?iki/
must derive from a consensus of the members of the local group.
Headman status is primarily achieved, but under certain circum¬
stances may take the appearance of a partrilineally inherited office,
passing from father to son. The son of an /inti ba?ik±/ has certain
advantages over his peers in meeting the qualifications for this posi¬
tion. Since his father is a shaman he receives informal shamanistic
training and instruction in the identification and use of ritual and

-197
medicinal plants at a very early age as a matter of course. It can be
said that his apprenticeship will last throughout his entire boyhood
and adolescence, whereas apprentices whose fathers are not shamans re¬
ceive a much shorter formal apprenticeship. All other factors being
equal, the son of an /inti ba?iki/ has deeper knowledge and experience
with shamanistic lore and ritual than his peers. Furthermore, if an
/inti ba?ik±/ is particularly charismatic, it is likely that his lineage
and /hai w±?e/ ("big house"; i.e , the extended household) will accrue a
degree of prestige that attracts remnants from other lineages (e.g.
orphans or conjugal-nuclear pairs whose lineages have been broken up
due to particular historical circumstances).
In Fernando?s case, the status of /inti ba?ik±/ had passed from his
father's father to his father, and then from his father to him. But it
did not pass to his only son. As one man explained:
An /inti ba?ik±/ should be /ünkuki/ ("drinker";
i.e., a drinker of yagé). Fernando was a cacique
(headman)... his father instructed him. But if the
son is bad, he should not be cacique. For example,
Fernando's son is not capable.
Neither the prestige, nor the charisma of an /inti ba?iki/ will pass to
his son if the son lacks the proper skills and bearing of a headman.
Fernando's son is viewed by the villagers of Shushufindi as a likeable
and generous person, but as one who has never demonstrated the interest
or discipline to become a true shaman. The other men enjoy his company
and hospitality, but he is seen as a weak personality. Since the Siona-
Secoya believe that the fortunes of the local group reside in the
abilities of their /inti ba?iki/, confidence is an important factor in
the selection of a headman.

198-
No formal election is held to choose a headman; rather the pre¬
ference is based on a consensus of opinion among the members of the
local group. As Elias said, "He (the headman) is very good...more
than others. There is one /inti ba?ik±/ in each settlement... a person
whom they trust." The man whose behavior and knowledge most inspire
confidence from his peers will be the man chosen as /inti ba?ik±/. He
is the person who most approaches the. Siona-Secoya concept of the ideal
man.
The /inti ba?ik±/ influences events by his counsel and example
rather than by coercive power. A man who wishes to be a leader cannot
declare himself /inti ba?ik±/. One such attempt was made by an indi¬
vidual on the Cuyabeno River. When I first visited that settlement in
August, 1972 I asked this person who was the headman and he replied,
"I am." Subsequently I learned that he had been attempting to install
himself in a position of leadership in dealings with white Ecuadorians,
and had even made a trip to Quito and visited President Velasco Ibarra,
where he had asked for tools and cattle to be sent to "his people."
During 1974 he had also tried to work through the Teniente Politico of
Puerto Putumayo to have a school and civil registry office established
on the Cuyabeno (as of March 1975 no results had been achieved). But
the Siona-Secoya never accepted this individual as a headman. First,
although he used hallucinogens and sang shaman's songs, he was not an
accomplished shaman. Secondly, he did not display the proper personal
attributes of a headman. Elias commented, "He wants to be jefe (headman)
with his force...but one who sticks out his chest...the people don't
want to hear him."
An /'inti ba?ik±/ does not go about telling people what to do. He

-199-
is consulted on important matters, and his opinion is given respectful
consideration, but it is by r.o means binding. In personal matters,
such as a consultation regarding illness, the advice of the headman-
shaman is usually adhered to without question. If the residence group
consists of only the headman's extended household his decisions are
final, but if it is made up of a heterogeneous combination of lineages
there may be a variety of opinions on any given matter. The judgement
of the headman is respected, but other men may state their own views
and ultimately decide their own courses of action.
A case in point is the manner in which households determine when
and where to relocate. The influence of an /inti ba?iki/ is greater
when a number of households join his own in forming a residence cluster.
But the headman can neither order people to join, nor to remain near his
household. The decision to join or depart a residence cluster is the
prerogative of the head of each household. The power of an /inti ba?iki/
is completely dependent upon his abilities to influence people, and does
not derive from any formally constituted authority of the office itself.
Siona-Secoya oral tradition is concerned primarily with the mythol¬
ogy of supernatural beings such as the culture hero Baina and his
antagonist Muhü, rather than accounts of great /inti ba?ik±/. This is
consistent with the cultural emphasis on the importance of the relations
between the human and supernatural levels of existence and the role of
the /Inti ba?ik±/ as mediator, rather than herioc leader, in these re¬
lations .
Jesuit accounts of the 17th and 18th Centuries mention the names
of a number of Encabeliado headmen, and consistently reveal the atomistic
political structure of the various local groups.
Individual missionaries

-200-
demonstrated great tenacity in searching out Encabeliado groups and
attempting to persuade their headmen to form reducciones with their
closest neighbors (Chantre y Herrera 190.1; Espinosa Perez 1955:9-34).
This was not easily done despite the allure of iron tools, because many
headmen insisted on forming independent settlements rather than joining
other Encahellados, and others joined reluctantly only to split shortly
thereafter as fears of sorcery, epidemics, and other problems beset the
missions.
There is fragmentary evidence to suggest that at one time there may
have been a particularly strong Secoya /inti ba?iki/ on the Santa Maria
River in Peru whose influence extended over all of the groups on that
river (Steward 1948:745; Tessmann 1930:218). Repeated questioning of
Secoya informants at Shushufindi eventually elicited one account that
was supportive of this possibility. When asked if any of the old
/inti ba?iki/ are remembered Elias answered:
/Waho sa?ra/,..he was the most valiant. He was
the first /inti ba?iki/. He was a fighter...he fought
the /?émü bai/ (Coto). He won. Even though he was
chief of all the Secoya he was very good with the lance.
He taught the boys...he taught them like conscriptos
(draftees)...(it was) a school for warfare, but with
lances of soft wTood without a point. These weré thrown
from a distance so the boys could learn to dodge. A
youth like myself (19 years old) knew how to use a
spear. Like a soldier.
Later there was another, /Kosi sasawu/, but he was
less. He was the second. /Waho sa?ra/ watched the
people...how they lived...punished cowards... killed
people. Following him there were no more good ones
(i.e., panvillage chiefs). The /inti ba?ik±/ were of
their villages only. They no longer led in the training
and in the warfare.
There is very little evidence, however, to support panvillage
chieftainship as a regular feature of Western Tucanoan sociopolitical

-201-
organization. To the contrary, there is much historical documentation,
as *?ell as data from existing groups, to suggest that the basic model of
political organization is one of atomistic local groups, each with its
own headman-shaman. This structure, however, is a highly flexible one,
and allows for an ongoing cycle of movement which is conducive to the
requirements of a subsistence system based on hunting, fishing, gathering,
and shifting cultivation. Membership within the local residence groups
is open to a certain degree of variability, and a particularly charis¬
matic /inti ba?iki/ can attract new members to his group, or even extend
his influence over other local groups within short distances.
Since European contact, white missionaries, patrones,and governments
have attempted to modify the structure of native leadership to suit their
own ends. Among the Siona and Cofán of the Putumayo River the Colombian
government has instituted the office of gobernador as the head civil
authority to supplant the headman-shaman or cacique-curaca. Langdon
describes this office among the Siona at Buena Vista:
The governor serves two functions; he organizes
and directs activities within the tribe, such as the
calling of communal work groups, settlement of disputes,
etc. His second function is that of spokesman for the
tribe to the outside world...
The role...has not been well understood...for it
lacks the traditional attributes of power; control over
the supernatural and ability to influence all aspects
of events in this wTorld...The elected governor does not
care for or protect the tribe in the traditional sense.
(1974:120-121)
The patrones of the Secoya on the Santa Maria and Napo Rivers recog¬
nized the /inti ba?ik±/, but attempted to manipulate them into serving
as the organizers of Indian Labor. Payment was made to the headman who
then redistributed the goods to individual Indians. The abuses of the

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patronés under this system grew so severe that they eventually led to
the outmigration of many of the Secoya to less accessible areas in Peru
and Ecuador (where they intermarried with the Siona of the Aguarico and
its tributaries).
The American missionaries working among the Siona-Secoya today have
sought to bypass the institution of /inti ba?iki/, for they view it as
the embodiment of. paganism and witchcraft. They refer to shamans as
"witch doctors," and have taught their converts, or creyentes, that the
ritual use of native hallucinogens is not acceptable for Christians.
In the stead of /inti ba?iki/, the Summer Institute of Linguistics
(SIL) has recruited bright young men for advanced education and teacher
training at their base camp at Limoncocha on the Napo River. These are
individuals who in former times would likely have entered into shaman's
apprenticeships. In essence, one form of leadership training is being
substituted for another, with the Bible and Christian doctrine replacing
Siona-Secoya cosmology and mythology, Western medicine replacing the
native theory of disease and shamanistic curing, and the culto
(Protestant religious service) replacing the yagé ceremony.
At the present time both the /inti ba?iki/ and teacher statuses
coexist among the Siona-Secoya and have overlapping constituencies, with
the weight of traditional wisdom and belief sustaining the headman-
shaman, and the power of modern cures for old diseases and access to
education and the material goods of the outside world supporting the
youthful teacher. The advanced Spanish fluency and literacy of the
profesor enables him to act as a cultural broker in relations with non-
Indian representatives of the dominant national society. This is an
area in which the ,/inti ba?ik±/ has no expertise. When the /inti ba?iki/

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of Shushufindi (the largest Slona-Secoya settlement in Ecuador) dies,
the transition of leadership from /inti ba?iki/ to profesor will be
completed, for there is no other practicing shaman of great stature in
the village. There remain, however, a few /inti ba?iki/ and /yahé ünkuki/
(shamans) on the Aguarico and its tributaries, as well as in settlements
on the Angusilla. Yubineto, and Santa Maria Rivers in Peru.
In conclusion, the traditional foundations of Siona-Secoya socio¬
political organization are the patrilineal descent group or sib, the
patrilocal extended household /hai wi?é/, and the headman-shaman
/inti ba?iki/. Tire basic building block of the society is the /hai wí?é/
for it incorporates all three principles (descent, residence, and head-
manship), and serves as the primary unit of production and consumption
in all subsistence activities. Each ,/hai wi?e/ has the ability to
function as an autonomous political entity. At times additional extended
or conjugal-nuclear households take up residence in the vicinity of
particularly charismatic or effective /inti ba?íkí/, forming clusters
which may be referred to as "villages." There are no pan-village cere¬
monials that focus primarily on membership in associations such as age-
sets, or even sibs. A village functions independently except that it
does not furnish its own marriage partners. Such settlements are loose
aggregations of households, and are not marked by great stability as
individual households join or moya away at will. As a social institu¬
tion, the /hai w±? é / is a viable adaptation to the subsistence system of
the Siona-3ecoya for it provides a group of males who cooperate in clear¬
ing, hunting, and fishing, yet is flexible and allows mobility in the
utilization of the variable resources of the trooical forest habitat.

CHAPTER IX
REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT
As in all human societies, the life of each Siona-Secoya individual
is conditioned by a cycle of physiological processes and related social
events. In anthropology this is referred'to as the "life cycle," and
derives from the articulation of culture with the biological processes
of reproduction and development. The present chapter is concerned with
the life cycle of the Siona~Seco37a as it related to the problems pre¬
sented in the discussion to this point: specifically, the functional
interrelationship of subsistence behavior with the other important
subsystems of the culture (i.e., symbolic and sociopolitical). The life
cycle reveals the integration of these spheres in some detail, and pro¬
vides additional information on the manner in which social institutions
and behavior articulate with the economic baseline to form a viable
cultural-ecological system.
In the sections that follow Siona-Secoya concepts of human sexuality
and reproduction are presented, along with a discussion of their "popula¬
tion policy." Of the latter Wagley has written:
Each society has a population policy - an implicit
or explicit set of cultural values relating to pop¬
ulation size. The social structure of each society
is closely inter-related with a specific population
level (1969:269).
In Chapters VII and VIII the belief in outgroup sorcery as the source of
ingroup illness and death was postulated as one of the primary cultural
-204-

-205-
"mechanisms" which serve to maintain the dispersed settlement pattern
characteristic of the Western Tucanoan peoples. The population policy
of the Siona-Secoya is another significant factor in their overall
adaptation, for as it influences reproductive rates and family size it
in turn affects overall population density and the rate of resource
utilization.
Basic Sexual Concepts
Contrary to the expectations of many lay people, the sexxtal behavior
of many primitive groups is not characterized by uninhibited expression.
Among the Siona-Secoya sexual expression is restrained by a system of
belief in which many aspects of human sexuality are viewed as potentially
harmful. This does not mean that the Siona-Secoya are afraid of sex,
but rather that certain ritual proscriptions influence their sexual be¬
havior.
Male dominance is a well developed theme of Siona-Secoya culture.
Although the sexual division of labor within the household makes women
essential to any residence group, it is believed that only men have the
strength and resourcefulness to hunt in the forest, fell frees, and
become great shamans. However, it. is said that this was not always so,
for in mythical times women enjoyed certain advantages over men, but
lost them through a series of blunders, dtorles accounting for various
aspects of sexuality are commonly told among women, and might properly
be classified as "women's tales' since they deal with sexuality and
morality themes in everyday life in contrast to the more herioc creation
myths tola by men.
One such woman's tale explains how women became afflicted with

-206-
menses after it has originally been a male function:
In ancient times the men were the ones who men¬
struated. They sat with their penises inside tubes of
bamboo and the blood drained out. They sat in a small
hut away from the houses. A woman came to give them
/kono/ (a beverage of plantains or manioc) and began
to laugh at them, "Ha, ha, ha...sitting like women...
ha, ha, ha." One man was chewing leaves of /yanamoko/
(to make his teeth stronger). He became angry and
threw the /yanamoko/ at the woman. It stuck to her
vagina, and he said, ‘"From now on all women will
menstruate." And this is the way it is until today.
Another version was told by a 28-year-old Secoya woman:
Once there were two women (at the hut) who did not
menstruate. Later a man came to menstruate, and asked
them, "You don't do this?" "No," they answered. "I
will teach you," he said. The man took out a piece of
rope and pounded it in a little water, and the water
turned the color of blood. The women drank it and then
began to bleed (from the vagina). They were afraid and
remained isolated from the other people. They thought
they were injured...for this reason they went (to the
hut) every month.
According to Siona-Secoya precepts women are ritually contaminated
because of their biological functions; menstruation, pregnancy, child¬
birth and postpartum periods are all potentially dangerous, and are
guarded by a series of behavioral and dietary restrictions. A recurring
aspect cf these restrictions is the isolation of the female.
Menstruation, in particular', is viewed by men with a mixture of
apprehension and disgust. A menstruating woman is considered to be
unclean and must be isolated from direct contact with others. In tradi¬
tional times a small menstruation hut was constructed apart from the
house, and the women slept there during menses. Although there are
still a few menstruation huts of this type at Shushufindi, the predominant
form is now a small platform or annex adjoining one side of the elevated
house.^

-207
The menstruating woman is not allowed to cook (lest she contaminate
others) and has a separate set of dishes for eating which are stored in
a bundle in the menstruation hut or annex. If there is no other woman
or girl in the household to prepare food, the husband will cook and serve
the food to his wife. The Siona-Secoya believe that the most appropri¬
ate work for menstruating women is clearing the earthen patio around the
house site, and during menses females are usually seen in the yard in a
squatting position, scraping up weeds with the blade of a machete. The
debris from this work is collected in little piles, and then carried
away on a plantain leaf and dumped in the house garden or on the river-
bank.
The Siona-Secoya do not view menstruation as a normal biological
function, but rather as a state of contagious illness and injury. Not
only is the woman afflicted, but the condition can affect the male if
the proper precautions are not taken. If the woman is not isolated, it
is believed that her husband will contract a condition known as
/mini hu?iñe/ ("paleness"), which is characterized by a pale complexion,
debilitation, and a lessening of hunting prowess.(This malady can be
diagnosed and treated by a shaman.)
A menstruating woman poses a danger also to any man who drinks
yagé (i.e., nearly all men in the traditional society). If a man who
ingests yagé has been in contact with a menstruating woman it will cause
him to have headaches, hemorrhaging from the nose, and in severe cases
may even result in death.
Courtship and Marrlage
Siona-Secoya precepts of ideal behavior call for premarital chastity,

-208-
and following puberty rites (pp. 227-230 ) girls are closely supervised
by their mothers. They are no longer permitted to play in the village,
and are instructed to stay in the immediate vicinity of their own house¬
hold. When visitors call, the girl is supposed to serve them a calabash
of /kbn5/, but is not allowed to participate in frivolous conversation.
Her demeanor should be polite, but reserved. Her behavior should be
indicative of her new status as a young adult with serious concerns, as
opposed to her previous status as a child.
Courtship in Siona-Secoya culture tends to be a rather formal pro¬
cess. As children, boys and girls of the village may occasionally play
in mixed groups, but most play occurs within groups of children related
through close kinship ties (parallel and cross-cousins). After her
puberty rites a girl no longer plays or socializes openly with boys or
young men. She may visit the central portions of the village with her
mother or sisters on certain occasions, such as when comerciantes (river
traders) arrive with goods to sell, and at these times she may exchange
glances with eligible young men. Eye contact that is too intense, how¬
ever, is likely to bring embarrassed giggles, and no overt contact takes
place.
If a bachelor is interested in a girl as a potential marriage
partner he will dress in his finest garments and ornaments and make
social calls to her household (frequently with a group of friends).
Normally the youth will spend most of the visit conversing with the men
of the household on topics relating to male activities such as hunting
and fishing. The girl will not participate directly in the conversation,
but may peek at the men from another part of the house as she goes about
her chores. One of the primary functions of this behavior is that the

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youth is demonstrating the seriousness of his intentions to his potential
father-in-law, and attempting to impress him with his worth as a worker
and provider. On a more private level, the bachelor may pass by the
household of the girl during his daily activities with somewhat greater
frequency than usual in the hope of seeing her, and also displaying him¬
self. He may also bring her small gifts from time to time.
The final arrangements for a marriage are usually worked out between
the parents of the boy and girl. These consist of negotiations in which
the merits of the respective son and daughter are alternately questioned
and defended. The main point of contention is whether or not the boy or
i
girl has demonstrated a sufficient degree of maturity, particularly as
evidenced by his or her performance of appropriate work activities (e.g.
for the male these would include hunting, fishing and the clearing of
land for gardens, and for the female knoxvLedge of cooking, willingness
to harvest and process manioc, and do washing).
The fragility of these negotiations often makes the seeking of a
mate a long and difficult process. During the 18-month field work
period in Shushufindi there was not a single marriage ceremony, despite
the fact that a half-dozen negotiations were attempted. If, however,
the discussions are satisfactory to both sets of parents, an agreement
wTiil be made to hold a wedding ceremony. In most cases the parents do
consider the wishes of their children, for if one of them is unwilling
there is little probability of a satisfactory union. In one case prior
to our arrival a young girl v;as .given in marriage to an older man she
did not like, and soon after the ceremony she escaped into the forest
and hid overnight. She was found the following day, but her parents
annulled the marriage.

-210-
The Secoya report that in times past parents sometimes did promise
their children as partners to the children of their "friends" (an
alliance function), but that these arrangements were often unsuccessful
due to the disinclination of the principal partners when they reached
the marrying age.
The marriage ceremony itself consists of a feast held at the house
of the girl. Food and fermented /kono/ are prepared, and all of the
residents of the village and neighboring residence clusters are invited
to participate. This is an occasion that calls for the finest clothing,
ornamentation, and decoration, especially on the part of the bride and
groom. When the people are gathered at the house of the bride, the
parents engage in orations extolling the virtues of their children. The
final symbolic act of union occurs when the bride appears and joins the
groom in a single hammock.
Later, the celebrants gather in the patio and perform a dance pro¬
cession to the music of vertical flutes and drums. In this procession
the lead group consists of several rows of men marching abreast and
playing the musical instruments or carrying lances. Behind them follows
the second group, which consists of women walking in rows like the men,
but joined arm-in-arm and singing /a?y± hi...a?yi hi/ ("Brothers...
brothers"). The lyrics are a traditional refrain of many Siona-Secoya
songs, and emphasize sib unity. Initially, the two groups march around
the patio in a counter-clockwise circle (turning to their left) in a
rather mechanical fashion, but as the dancers are served /kono/ from a
pot in the center of the circle they loosen their steps somewhat, and
the women sashay back and forth a bit. The overall impression of the
2
dance form, however, is one of control and restraint.

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Married Life
A period of bride service is expected of the groom following the
initiation of a marriage. Usually the man takes up residence in the
household of his wife’s father until this obligation is completed, and
then takes her to his father's household (resulting in an ideal pattern
of matri-patrilocal- residence). The length of bride service is not
rigidly set, but depends upon satisfying the expectations of the bride’s
father. A period of one or two years is not considered unusual.
For the Siona-Setoya, gestures of affection and physical contact
between husband and wife are normally reserved for private moments.
Whereas-it is commonplace to see adolescents holding hands and embracing
friends of the same sex, a man and his wife will not embrace or sit in
the same hammock in the presence of others. When visitors call on a
household the man of the house sits with the men, and the wife with the
women. When asked if husband and wife kiss, Elias answered:
They don’t kiss, even when the husband returns
from a long trip. They are afraid to kiss. When he
greets her, he embraces her; it is an expression of
affection. A mother and father may kiss infants, but
not others.
Chara and Mecias (adult men) saw an American kiss
his wife in Limoncocha...it shocked them very much.
When the woman spoke to them they turned their heads
away because it was something shameful to them. My
mother says, "Don’t kiss in front of others...it is
a demonstration of insanity."
According to male informants, it is the husband who initiates sexual
relations, because, "The woman is afraid to indicate interest... she can’t
talk." Relations take place in the hammock at night (more recently in
platform beds), and with as little noise as possible. Although some

-212-
informants deny that sexual relations take place in the forest during
daylight hours, others say that they do.
According to Siona-Secoya belief, too much sexual intercourse can
have a debilitating effect on the male. For this reason a man should
arise early and drink yoco (Pauliinia vocq) and twine Astrocaryum fiber
or weave hammocks. As Elias related:
A man can become ill by using the woman all the
time. He won't have good aim in hunting, and won't be
animated to do his work. For these reasons the man
should arise first...at 3 a.m. or so...especially the
recently married. We say, /wekó w±ni saiyehe yo?okehe
ñamibai/ ("People should not arise together as parrots
do"). The man makes vocq...the woman no I Later she
can get up to make /kóno/... after sunrise.
Prognancy and Childbirth
Female fertility is highly desired by the Siona-Secoya. Sterility
is considered a legitimate basis for divorce-:, and in one reported case
was the motive for the murder of a woman (who had faked two pregnancies
and miscarriages to her husband before her trickery was discovered).
The cessation of menstruation is recognized as the beginning of preg¬
nancy. No formal announcement is made, but the fact that the woman no
longer bathes with /bene/ (Inga spp.) leaves, or sleeps in the menstru¬
ation hut, reveals her condition to the village. Pregnancy is a period
of caution for both the woman and her husband. Ritual prescriptions
must be followed if the well-being of the fetus and the mother is to be
assured. After the onset of pregnancy a husband and wife abstain from
sexual relations and sleep apart (At times they may sleep on the same
platform bed, but with a space between them.) It is believed that if
the man disturbs the woman too much, or lays his legs across her body,

-213-
he can kill the fetus.
There are many taboos on the behavior of the man and wife during
pregnancy, and most are based on the concept of imitative or contagious
associations. For example, a man must not repair holes in his canoe
with beeswax because it will cause the baby to "stick" in the uterus.
Likewise, the man and woman must not. sit facing one another in the same
hammock or the fetus will reverse and present a difficult feet-first
delivery. If the husband kills a snake during the pregnancy it will
cause the fetus to rot in the uterus, and if the mother paints her body
with /we?e/ (Genipa americana) the infant will have birthmarks. Dietary
restrictions during pregnancy are also based on associative principles.
If the mother eats tapir meat the infant will have a big head, or if
she eats peccary meat it will have clubbed feet. The eating of twin
fruits (e.g. bananas) will cause twins to be born.
The pregnant woman is viewed with some discomfort by males other
than her husband. Although she continues to cook, she must touch only
those wares that belong to her immediate household. She may visit
around the village, but is not allowed to accept refreshment from the
utensils of others. Usually she carried a calabash with her and hides
it near the house she plans to visit; if she is offered food or drink
she will excuse herself for a moment and fetch her own utensil in which
to be served. If she has forgotten to bring her own calabash along, her
hostess may look around the house for an old one that can be burned after
use, or the visitor may drink from a folded leaf.
To give birth, Siona-Secoya women seek a private spot away from the
house. It is believed that the other children of the household will
fall ill if the birth takes place in the house. Birth may occur at the

edge of the gardens or on a riverbank opposite the settlement. The
husband assists by going to the chosen spot, covering the ground with
plantain leaves, and constructing a temporary shelter of the same mate¬
rial. He carries a hammock and water to the site, but does not stay to
witness the birth.
When the birth is imminent the woman goes to the shelter accompanied
by one or more older women who will assist her. If consanguineal kin
are available they will attend; if not, affinal women will help. The
hammock is doubled and tied to one of the poles supporting the shelter,
and the woman pulls on it as she gives birth in a squatting position.
If the birth is difficult, stinging netcles (Urtica spp.) or aji (Capsicum
spp.) may be rubbed in the woman's vagina. After the delivery one of
the assisting women cuts the umbilical with /mamekolco/ (unidentified)
and ties the stump with Astrocaryum fiber. The mother buries the placenta
in a shallow hole beside the place of birth. At times smoke from burning
beeswax may be blown over the burial to frighten auTay the demons that
might be attracted.
Soon after the birth the mother bathes the infant with cold water,
dipping from the pot with a folded leaf and dripping the water over the
newborn baby. The mother, and her infant, the assistants, and the hus¬
band return to the household within a half-hour or so of the birth. The
husband quickly constructs a rectangular room for the mother and child
under the floor of the elevated house by sticking palm fronds into the
earth. The mother and infant remain in isolation behind this screen for
approximately one month (until the mother's postpartum discharge ceases).
The husband observes a couvade for several days until the umbilical stump
drys and drops from the infant. He passes this time by swinging idly in

—215—
a hammock strung beside the room of the wife. Each day the father and
mother bathe in warm water and /bene/ leaves to "cleanse" themselves.
When the umbilical stump drops it is buried beneath the house, and the
father resumes his normal activitJes. The mother remains in isolation,
but receives visits from the women and port pubescent girls, who come
to view the infant. After three or four weeks the mother appears in the
village, carrying her infant about in a cloth sling /kahaka/ (formerly
made of bark cloth) and affecting a nonchalant air, but frequently
smiling as others admire the baby.
Population Policy
According to Siona-Se^oya ideal belief, the number of children that
a woman has should not be large. It is somewhat misleading to say that
the "ideal family size" is small because the Siona-Secoya have tended to
reside in patrilineal extended households. Therefore the size of the
extended family may be "large" without each woman having a large number
of children. Most informants agree that four children is about the
ideal number for a given woman (individual answers ranged from three
to six, but four was the modal estimate). The rationale offered by men
in support of this number is that, "We don't want the woman to suffer
too much," and "We don't want too much work for the woman."
The proper spacing of births is also important, and should come at
intervals no closer than four-to-six years, when the preceding child
"goes to fish alone...when the mother doesn't have to watch him too
closely. Then she can have another child." And in the words of a
Secoya man, "When the child can swim and walk alone."
In the village of Shushufindi there are three Siona women who have

-216-
small children who are closely spaced, and when the Secoyas see them
visiting around the village with an infant and another small child or
two clinging to them they ridicule them by making covert remarks such
as, /sisi pa?i yehé pa?iye ko?ahi/ ("We aren't opossums to live like
that!").
The. Siena--Secoya attempt to control the rate and spacing of births
by a variety of contraceptive techniques, including abstinence. .According
to ideal behavior, the husband should not resume sexual relations with
his wife following the birth of the child until she indicates that she
is ready to do so. This period of abstinence extends through the post¬
partum isolation of the mother and may continue for a year or longer.
In the words of one Siona-Secoya man:
...one-to-three years...you put up with it until she
answers that you can use her. You don't try to over¬
come her...having the baby was a big task. We endure
this hardship to conserve the woman.
If a woman is receptive to a resumption of sexual relations, but
does not wish another pregnancy she can go to a shaman to be "cured,"
or to some older woman who has knowledge of contraceptive potions. Some
informants state that shamans give the woman an infusion of yoco
(Paullinia yoco) and sing a special song to cure her. Fernando, however,
says that he uses /kono/ for contraceptive purposes and yoco for fertil¬
ity. He says that he can cure a woman for as long as she wishes, and
when she is ready for another child he can make her fertile again.
Celinda (a 28-year-old woman) says it is possible to brew a tea of
/ñumi/ (a sacred herb; unidentified) that has contraceptive properties, and
another woman is reported co make a brew of /kima/ roots (Psidium sp.?),

-217-
avocado seeds (Persea americana), /uhahai/ (Brunfelsia sp.) , and wood
from the heart of very hard trees like /wito sa?si/ (unidentified).
The contraceptive methods of the shaman appear to be based on his
personal powers of communication with supernatural forces rather than
any inherent properties of the potion used, for /kono/ (a beverage of
manioc or plantains) is an everyday food, and yoco is taken on a daily
basis also (although used primarily by men). The /ñumi/ tea does not
seem to be widely known as a contraceptive; generally it is believed to
be a sacred plant which was given to the Siona-Secoya as a consequence
of the shaman's mediations with the /ma?timo bai/ ("heavenly people").
The more complex mixture of /kima/ roots and other ingredients appears
to derive its efficacy from the principle of contagious magic, with the
quality of "hardness" being conceived as a polar opposition to fertility
(and perhaps "coldness" also, for /uhahai/ is said to produce this sensa¬
tion) .
The only indigenous abortive agent reported is /uhahai/ (Brunfelsia
sp.), which is said to induce miscarriage three days after ingestion.
Women are also said to know how to produce abortions by massage.
Infanticide is practiced by the Siona-Secoya in a variety of situa¬
tions. The birth of deformed infants and twins is the most common pre¬
text j but at times other factors may enter into consideration. Siona-
Secoya women readily state that they do not wish to raise something
"ugly" (i.e., deformed). Twins are considered to be an abomination,
although another rationale for killing them is that it would be too much
work for the mother to raise them. There arc no rigid rules for twins;
usually one is killed, but both may be. If there is a sex split and the
mother decides to keep one infant, the probability is that the male will
be favored over the female.

-218-
The characteristic mode of infanticide among the Siona-Secoya is
live burial, just as witnessed by Padre Uriarte in 1752:
Lo más común entre ellos,
criaturas, era el matar una de
cuando nacian dos
ellas...
Eu el año de 1752, en un pueblo de Encabellados,
llamado de la Trinidad, desenterró el P. Manuel
Uriarte, que olió esta crueldad, dos criaturas asi
sepultadas, en el sitio donde caian las goteras de la
casa, por el mismo padre que Xas había engendrado...y
golpeado sus tiernos muslos. Pero quiso el Señor,
que habia por ellos derramado su sangre, que los
sacase de la hoya todavía palpitando y con señales
de vida, y administróles el santo Bautismo y volaron
al cielo con la estola de la gracia (Chantre y Herrera
1901:74).
In Siona-Secoya thought, infanticide is the culturally approved
manner for dealing with an unnatural birth, and carries no stigma or
guilt. A hole is simply dug near the house, and the newly-born infant
is placed face down in the earth and covered over. There is no rigid
infanticide rule, however. In one case which took place 16 years prior
to the field work, a shaman's wife gave birth to boy and girl twins and
subsequently buried the girl. Four hours later the 12-year-old daughter
of the shaman heard the infant still crying and dug it up. According to
one informant the shaman decided to accept the child as a castigo
("punishment") and raise it. (Such expressions of guilt appear to be
related to introduced Christian doctrines, rather than to aboriginal
beliefs.)
There are also reported instances of delayed infanticide. In one
case twin boys were born and were not buried alive. However, one was
given preferential feeding and care, and the other soon weakened and
died^J In another case that occured during 1974, and unwed girl gave
birth to an infant and raised it for two months. During this time her

-219-
father attempted to persuade the youthful father of the child to marry
his daughter, but to no avail. The events subsequent to this were de¬
scribed by a brother of the girl:
One night she woke up and tried to nurse the baby,
but it didn't want to. Then she went outside to urinate
and came back in and fell asleep. When she woke up in
the morning she tried to nurse it again, but it was
still "sleeping." Then she noticed that is was cold
and saw some bruises on its forehead where someone's
fingers had grabbed it. It was dead. Then she ran out
crying, "Who would kill my baby like that?"
Most of the people at Shushufindi believed that the mother had had too
much fermented /kono/ to drink and had gotten angry at the baby and
killed it. However, one old woman who had once attended a Catholic
mission school opined that it was "Satanas!" (Satan).
Individual Development
The Siona-Secoya view the life cycle in terms of a system of age
categories which serve to classify individuals and indicate the appro¬
priate activities and social behavior for their status. Chronological
age is a major consideration in assignation of age-grade status, but
other factors are also considered, including physiological development
and emotional and attitudinal maturation. With two or three exceptions
the boundaries between various age grades are not discrete, but depend
on individual perceptions of the reference person regarding his or her
abilities and demeanor. Because of this, informants do not always agree
on the classification of a specific individual.

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Infancy
Infancy is a period of intimate association between the child and
its mother. They are isolated together for the first three-to-five weeks
following birth (until the postpartum discharge of the mother ceases).
When the mother resumes her routine activities she carries the infant
next to her body in a /kaháka/ (shoulder sling), or places it in a
miniature hammock next to her work place. The infant is nursed on
demand and if it shows any signs of distress it may be comforted by
offering it the breast or making gurgling noises.
If an infant cries for a prolonged time, the mother may touch a coal
from the fire to a lump of beeswax and let the baby smell the fragrant
smoke to calm it. If it is startled, or trembles with fright, she may
hold its arms to its sides and blow over its face and arms, saying,
/tesi...tesi...tesi/, or she may bind it in a cloth with its arms in the
side position. All of the adult members of the household assist the
mother in caring for the infant, and may cuddle and play with it as they
lie in a hammock. The child may be held in a laying or sitting position,
but not with its head down, as it is believed that this will cause the
heart to fall and rupture. The infant is bathed every other day with
warm water, and its anus is washed following defecation.
If the mother’s milk is scanty she will drink /a?so kono/ (manioc
beverage) and massage her breasts to increase the flow. She does not
eat the meat of currasow, monkey, peccary, or tapir for it is believed
that these foods will cause the baby to have an upset stomach. If the
baby coughs while nursing the mother slaps her breast to clear the dif¬
ficulty .

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At six months the mother begins to give the baby a little fine
/noka kono/ (plantain beverage) in addition to her milk, and somewhat
later introduces the child to the meat of guan (Pipile sp. and Penelope
sp.) and small birds. Tapir and monkey meat are not given until the age
of one, because it is believed that they will cause the infant to have
worms if introduced earlier. By the age of two the child will be eating
most foods, but the mother does not allow the mixing of food with milk,
as this is said to cause diarrhea.
Most women state that they wean their babies at one year, but ob¬
servations in the village indicate that most children nurse through age
two or two-and-a-half. When the mother wishes to begin weaning she rubs
the red pigment of /bosa/' (Bixa oreilana) on her nipples and tells the
child that it is blood and that it can not nurse any longer. The juice
of hot pepper (Capsicum spp.) and other bitter substances from the forest
may also be rubbed on the breast to make them unpleasant to the child.
At weaning time small children may become enraged with their mothers and
strike them in the breast or face with all the strength they can muster.
The mother will ignore or ridicule the child, but if it persists in its
demands she may eventually resort to thrashing it with /susi/ nettles
(Urtica spp.).
Infancy is recognized as a period of vulnerability to illness and
injury, and the mother watches her child closely to protect it from
potential dangers. It is believed that, blows to the ears, ribs, or
spine can be fatal to an infant, but that resusitation may be effected
by blowing on top of the infant's head. Herbal remedies and dietary
restrictions for the mother protect against common digestive disorders
and diarrhea, but tne child will be carried to a shaman if any persistent
problem develops.

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Toilet training is not rigid. The mother teaches the child to
squat when it defecates by squatting herself and holding the child be¬
tween her legs. When it is small it is allowed to defecate on the floor
of the house or in the patio, and the feces are washed through the split
palm flooring by pouring water on the spot, or scraped up with a shovel-
like tool and deposited in the house garden. After the child is walking
well enough to climb and descend the log ladder it is instructed to go
out into the garden to excrete, and may be threatened with /susi/ nettles
if it continues to go in the house. Infant girls are trained to control
their urination by being held by their mother, having her spread their
labia majora with her forefinger and middle finger, and saying /ci...Si..
£i/.
Childhood
The transition from infancy to childhood is characterized by the
growing independence of the developing individual from its mother. The
two most important aspects of this process are the training of the child
to eat foods other than the milk of the mother (followed by weaning),
and the development of locomotion skills' which allow the child to move
out of the mother's arms and the carrying sling. Both of these stages
are normally reached be tween the ages of two and three. At three the
child is dressing itself, and by four it has started learning how to
swim and make its own /noka kono/, albeit imperfectly.
The child frequently tags along after its mother and older siblings
as they visit through the village. Supervision is not rigid at this
stage, and it is not unusual to see a child of four carrying a sharp
knife and hacking on the garden plants of neighbors. To the age of five

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or six the child spends most of its time copying adult activities such
as weeding the patio, making pots, or learning to handle a tiny canoe.
Usually the father carves a variety of toys for the child from balsa
wood (Ochroma sp.), including paddles, canoes, dolls, and more recently,
model planes and guns.
Parents are generally indulgent with their children, and if a child
misbehaves or disobeys them, they may simply ignore it or laugh at the
child. Once a four-year-old boy was observed playing with a set of
cookpots when his one year old sister crawled over to see what he was
doing, and he slapped her hard on the face. Both the father and mother
of the children were sitting on the floor in the same room, and when they
observed this they groaned, "Iuuueee! " but did not take any other
action.
If a parent wishes to enforce a command, hut the child refuses, he.
or she will cut a leaf or two of stinging nettles from the house garden
and threaten the child. In most instances this is enough to obtain com¬
pliance, but in a few cases the child may actually have its legs thrashed
with the plant. There were no observations of parents striking a child
during the field work.
By age five or six boys and girls begin forming sexually integrated
play groups which usually consist of parallel and cross-cousins from
adjacent houses. Such groups are a logical consequence of the settle¬
ment pattern since the nearest houses are likely to be those of kinsmen.
Parents do not encourage their children tc form play groups that include
members from beyond the kinship related residence cluster.
Siona-Secoya children play many games. One of the most popular is
"playing house"; a small structure is built of leaves; the girls make

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/noka kono/ and play with rocks which they call their "children"; and
the boys go out and attack the sweet potato patch with spears in an
imitation of hunting. Other popular games include combat on stilts
(attempting to trip the opponent), wrestling, tug of war, and popguns
made of hollowed-out manioc stems. (Cotton wads are inserted in the
stems and then pumped with a wooden rod until the air pressure is built
up, and one of the wads shoots out with a pop.) Fishing, making small
traps for birds and rodents, and practicing with blowguns and lances are
popular activities for boys. Girls also fish, and learn household chores
such as fetching water from the river and washing clothes. Marbles,
soccer, and volleyball have become very popular in recent years as a
result of contact with Ecuadorian society.
When girls reach the ages of nine or ten, their mothers expect them
to participate more intensively in the household chores and discourage
them from playing with boys any longer. Boys of this age may accompany
their fathers or older brothers as observers on occasional hunting trips
but still live lives of relative ease.
It is not considered proper for children to converse with adults
other than their parents and other close kin unless they are asked a
direct question. A primary principle of Siona-Secoya social behavior
is that members of a lower age grade must show deference to those of
higher age grades (whether related through kinship or not). Conversation
with adults bespeaks a degree of familiarity that is considered inappro¬
priate and disrespectful. As Celinda (a 28-year-old mother) says:
Children don't talk to grown people because they
don't have anything to talk about. They don't have any
work...they don't do anything...so what can they talk
about?

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Naming
The modern Siona-Secoya use Spanish given names in everyday dis¬
course, but traditionally they were named by a shaman during a special
yagé ceremony. In Shushufindi almost everyone of 20-25 j^ears of age and
older has an aboriginal given name, and the naming ceremony is still
performed in some of the isolated settlements. There is no set age for
this ceremony, except that it occurs sometime during the infancy or
childhood age grades. (Informants report having been given their name at
ages ranging from three months to seven years.)
The names that are given are considered to have a supernatural
origin, and the naming rite is one variant of the ubiquitous yagé cere¬
mony. The shaman drinks the Sanisteriopsis infusion as at any other
yagé ceremony, and then "flies" to the sky realms where he converses with
. 3
the /wiña bai/. As discussed in the section on cosmology, the /wiña
bai/ are composed of a variety of groups, and it is believed that one of
these offers the shaman the name of one of its members for the Siona-
Secoya child. According to Marcelo, once the shaman is advised of the
name, he placed a feather headdress on the child's head and pronounces
its name. These names are a source of pride to-the individual, as they
give him or her an identification with the spirit world. It is believed
that a person's soul goes to live with the name-giving /wiña bal/ group
following death.
Most Siona-Secoya given names consist of two morphemes, but a few
have three. The first morpheme is a substantive, usually being the name
of a plant, animal, substance, or place. The terminal morpheme is most
frequently a gender-indicating form which has no specific meaning except
to indicate the sex of the individual (however, in a few instances it may

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also be the name of an animal). Common male-indicating terminal
morphemes are /-wari/ and /-ra?sa/, for which no specific translations
were obtained. Examples of male names are /kako wari/ and /káko ra?sa/
(initial morpheme after the Ficus tree), and /ñurni wari/ and /ñumi ra?sa/
(initial morpheme after the sacred /ñumi/ plant).
Only one female-indicating terminal morpheme, /-wario/, was elicited.
The initial morphemes for female names are interchangeable with those
for males: for example, /ñumi wario/. Examples of other female names
include /nutu wario/ (after a fragrant plant), /yiyo wario/ (after the
word for "beads"), and /mi?ka wario/ (after a fruit of the genus Annona).
Given names are not used lightly. Most daily interaction takes
place among kinsmen, and in these situations individuals use kin terms
of address rather than given names. In addition, unrelated persons who
have bonds of friendship frequently address each other with kinship
terms (used ficticiously). The Siona-Secoya show considerable hesitancy
in revealing their given names to non-Indians (or even admitting that
they have them). This was also observed by Tessmarm (1930:219) who
wrote:
Offenbar besteht eine grosse Scham den Ñamen,
zu nennen, denn der Berichterstatter wollte nier
keine Rede stehen. Fr behauptete, sie batten keine
Ñamen.
Secrecy regarding names is.a widespread trait in the Amazon and is
often based on the belief that the knowledge of a person's true name can
be used by his enemies for the purpose of sorcery. Although this expla¬
nation was never elicited from Siona-Secoya informants, such a belief
would not be incongruent with their cultural emphasis on sorcery and the
association of the given name writh the /ma?t±mo bai/. According to

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Elias, however, on certain occasions a man might declare his name openly.
For example, if someone insulted him at a drinking party he might pro¬
claim, "I am called /ikó wari/!" Such a pronouncement would be intended
to emphasize the individual's link to the supernatural and to serve as
a warning that his temper was very short.
Adolescence — /bosi/ and /nomisio/
The female puberty ceremony of the Siona-Secoya is a classic rite
of passage marking the transition from childhood to womanhood and the
emergence of a "new person" in the social life of the group. In its
traditional form it is one of the most elaborate and rigid of all Siona-
Secoya ceremonials. When girls reach the age of nine or ten their mothers
discourage them from roaming about the village with the play group as in
the past, and instruct them to assist in the work of the household.
This is a preliminary phase of separation from their previous status as
children. The first flow of menstrual blood precipitates the formal
phases of the puberty ritual. A small hut is constructed away from the
house and is covered tightly with leaves so that it is impossible to see
in or out. Plantain leaves or /seva/ palm fronds (unidentified)
are cut to cover the floor of the hut where the girl will sit. Then the
initiate’s body is painted with /he?he bosa/ (a paste of Bixa orellana),
and covered with /wito pi/ (a fiber). Following this, the girl is made
to sit inside the hut with her legs out straight in front of her body.
She must look straight ahead and not turn her head to either side.
The girl is isolated in the hut for a period of several weeks and
is attended only by her mother. If others approach the hut and attempt
to speak to her she must not answer. According to Elias, "They are

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going to 'cure' the girl...make her suffer...to better her." Because
the menstrual blood is considered ritually unclean the girl must bathe
daily by scraping her skin with the leaves of several types of the /bene/
category of plants, including /u?u bene/, /kuhr bene/, /simi bene/, and
/bené repá/, which have been warmed in hot water. These leaves have a
sudsing effect, and are the ritual means of cleansing the body of the
menstrual contamination. Once used, the leaves arc not discarded, but
are placed in a pile that grows day-by-day and serve as an indication
that the initiate is performing the required activity.
Dietary restrictions are also enforced to "dry out" the girl, and
to insure that as a woman she will not be a "big eater." The first day
of the isolation the girl fasts and is given only a tea of /ma?riapi/.
Thereafter she is given toasted manioc cake /?ao/, dry smoked fish, and
thick /noka kono/ (plantain beverage). It is expected that the initiate
must emerge from her isolation in a very thin condition. In order to
test her weight loss a cotton band is tied tightly around one wrist and
then observed to see if it loosens during the period of isolation. The
loose end of the band is clipped short and marked with a dye to prevent
the girl from deceiving her family by loosening and retying it. When
the band has loosened enough for one finger to be inserted and turned
around, the weight loss is considered to be sufficient.
The Siona-Secoya consider the condition of the girl to be very
delicate during the first menses, and are concerned for her well-being.
It is forbidden that she touch the ground for it is believed that at
this time she is susceptible to worms that will enter her feet and make
them swell. The mat of leaves in the hut is changed every other day,
and when the girl steps out to urinate or defecate she must tread on

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a walkway of poles that has been laid down.
Before her coming out, the initiate receives instruction from her
grandparents and her mother:
After coming out of the hut you can't play with
children or act like a little girl. You can't run...
you have to walk slowly and without smiling. When people
visit you must serve /kono/ without smiling, and answer
(questions) politely. You are a different person now.
Finally, the father gives her similar advice:
Now you are a woman. You can't play with boys as
before, and you must, walk with much respect and greet
older persons. When you visit another house you must
sit in one place and not gossip. We are not going to
tell you (these things) any more. We speak once and
you must remember our advice.
The final phase of the puberty ceremony occurs when the young
"woman" emerges from the hut and her mother and grandmother (paternal
or maternal) pluck out her hair. First ashes are rubbed in her hair to
make it "soft." Then the older women rub /bosa/ paste (Bixa orellana)
on their fingers to make them sticky, and proceed to pull the hair first
from one side of the head, and then the other. When the girl is bald
she is given a head covering fashioned from bark /tomaho yokowi/, which
she wears until her hair grows out. The depilaticn is painful and is
followed by a swelling of the head. The girl washes her head with /toto
ha?o/ (leaves of the /toto/ tree) to make her new hair shiny. The ratio¬
nalization for the depilation is that it makes the woman have better
hair. Following the depilation the hair is never cut again.
After her exit from the hut the new woman wears a special girdle
of fibers /nose ka?ni/ for a month or so until it disintegrates, and
then resumes the usual /ñük^a ka?ni/ of Astrocaryum fibers. After her

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coming out she is expected to demonstrate appropriate behavior as pre¬
scribed during the puberty rite, and is carefully supervised by the
adult members of her household until marriage (ideal behavior).
There is no similar ceremonial debut for males; becoming /bosi/
("young man") is a process of gradual development and the acquisition
of skills related to subsistence activities. The most important physio¬
logical change indicating maturation is the deepening of the voice or
/sewi du?ehi/ ("turns husky voiced"), but muscular development is also
considered an indication of manliness. Regardless of biological matura¬
tion, the most significant criteria for manhood are demonstrated
abilities in hunting and making gardens.
From about age eight through the early teens "hunting" is a game
in which boys hunt snail birds with blowguns and catch rodents in traps.
As a boy grows older he receives instruction in the use of the shotgun,
and occasionally uses it to kill small game near the village. In order
to be considered a man, however, the youth must overcome his boyish
fears and engage in the hunting of larger game such as peccary and tapir
in the deep forest. He must also have physical stamina if he is to
carry meat from such kills back to the village, for the loads may easily
exceed 50 kg. (100 lbs.).
The felling of large trees also requires stamina, as well as good
judgement. It is a potentially dangerous activity. Furthermore, clear¬
ing forest is a test of a person's willingness to work. A youth who has
not demonstrated proficiency in hunting and making gardens will have
difficulty in procuring a wife. The fathers of /nomisio/ (young un¬
married women) are quite specific about these requirements, for they
desire the ablest son-in-law possible to perform bride service.

Adulthood
The essence of adulthood in Siona-Secoya culture is the assumption
of full economic and reproductive roles. For most individuals this
coincides with marriage. The ideal career for a Siona-Secoya man is to
raise and support a family and eventually assume the headmanship of an
extended household. For those who are successful in shamanistic training
and practice, the possibility of becoming an /Inti ba?ik±/ also exists.
The role of women is supportive and essential to the establishment and
maintenance of the household. Although there is a strong male bias in
Siona-Secoya culture, individual women can and do earn respect for their
abilities and intelligence.
Senescence -
As a consequence of the principle of deferring to individuals of
higher age grades, elderly individuals are accorded a high degree of
respect in Siona-Secoya culture. The onset of old age is reckoned by
the appearance of gray hair. Older people continue all of the normal
work activities for as long as they are physically capable. As their
strength declines they may begin to limit their participation in stren¬
uous tasks, but it is not at all unusual for men well into their sixties
to continue fishing, occasional hunting, and cultivating small gardens.
Women of the same age continue to draw water from the river, and plant,
harvest, and process manioc.
The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is a special
one and is marked by indulgence and strong mutual affection. The. appel¬
lation of all elderly people by the terms /ñekW±/ and /ñeko/ ("grandfather1

-232-
and "grandmother") is indicative of the positive status they enjoy.
Older shamans are particularly respected, for it is assumed that they
have far greater experience with yagé, hence have greater knowledge and
power than younger /yahé üukukí/. Likewise, older women are valued as
midwives due to their greater experience.
Only one case of neglect of an older person was observed during the
field work. It involved a very old albino man who was blind and suffered
from a carcinoma that had eaten away most of his nose. * Although he
still fished from the riverbank. in front of his house, and could harvest
plantains and make /noka kono/, his daughter and son (both married) grew
tired of caring for him, and at times would leave him alone in the house
when they went on extended hunting and visitation trips. This conduct
was severely criticized by other villagers, and, on occasions when the
old man was left behind, unrelated people picked him up and cared for
him in their households.
Death
As a result of Siona-Secoya theories of disease etiology, death is
not viewed as a natural process, nor as a logical conclusion to life.
Essentially three categories of causation in human mortality are recog¬
nized. The most important of these categories consists of deaths from
illness or injury caused by sorcery. The vast majority of deaths are
attributed to this category. The second type of causation consists of
deaths due to "white man's" diseases such as influenza, smallpox and
measles. Deaths resulting from these illnesses are usually not attributed
to sorcery, but are recognized as resulting from the culture contact
situation. The final category consists of deaths from mishaps such as

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drowning or falling limbs, which are usually interpreted as being true
accidents. Illnesses deriving from sorcery fall into a recognized set
of syndromes, each having its own etiology, symptoms, therapy and prog¬
nosis. (Langdon [1974] has made an excellent study of the ethnomedicine
of the Siona of the Putumayo.)
If a Siona-Secoya person dies in the early morning, he or she may
be buried the afternoon of the same day, but otherwise the burial will
take place the following day. If the person has been ill, the death will
most likely take place in a hammock; if not, the corpse is placed in a
hammock until the burial. The deceased person is dressed in his or her
finest clothing, the face is painted with /bosa/ (Bixa orellana), and
cotton is placed over the eyes. In addition, the sacred plant /nuni/
(Cyperus sp.) may be grated, mixed with /b5sa/, and then rubbed on the
arms.
As the body lies in state, the kin of the deceased and visitors
from nearby households gather. The women "cry” by wailing death songs
and embracing the body. The wailing songs have a stylized tonal pattern
and recurring refrain, but portions are improvised accounts of the dead
person's life, and of the personal relationship between the mourner and
the deceased.
Men do not wail, but may make funeral orations recounting the
history of the dead person, and after burial may fire their shotguns
into the air as an expression of sorrow. If people who criticized the
dead individual in life come to the house they may be turned away with
remarks such as, "You can live in peace now...you spoke badly...you can
be content...you can laugh, " and scuffles may ensue.
The central rite of the funeral ceremony is the preparation of a

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special poison potion which serves as a mechanism for the divination
and punishment of the /dawu/ (sorcerer) who caused the dath. (The role
of the fear of outgroup sorcery as a factor in the dispersed settlement
pattern of the Siona-Secoya was discussed in Chapters VII and VIII.)
This is done by a man other than the shaman who is called /sima kWakok±/
("poison cook"). Clippings of hair, skin, and fingernails are taken
from the corpse, and carried into the forest where they are mixed with a
variety of poisonous and noxious substances, including /kaho/ (unidenti¬
fied Xanthosoma-like plant), /sima/ (blowgun poison), /eo/ (Lonchocarpus
nicou), /sok± miü/ (spines from trees), /petó miu/ (Astrocaryum spines),
and /mame miü/ (bamboo thorns).
A fire is kindled, and a pot with the poisonous mixture is put to
boil. As the pot heats, the /sima kWakok±/ listens quietly, for it is
believed that the potion will murmur the name of the sorcerer as it
begins to bubble. Once the potion has spoken, the cook takes a long
pole and strikes the pot a hard blow. As the pot shatters, the boiling
liquid is vaporized in the fire, and it is believed that the poison is
transported to the heart of the sorcerer. The Siona-Secoya say that a
/dawu/ must eventually die as a consequence of the evil he has done to
others. The kin of the sorcery victim anxiously awaits news of misfortune
befalling the suspected /dawu/ to ascertain whether or not their counter¬
magic has taken effect..
Siona-Secoya dead are buried in the ground under their houses. The
day of the funeral unrelated neighbors ask the kin of the deceased for
permission to make the excavation for the grave, for the family would be
considered callous if they performed this task. The foot of the grave
is oriented to the east, for this is the direction of the path to

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/ma?tinio/, the heavenly realm. After the hole has been dug, the bottom
is lined with slats of palm wood (Xriartea sp.) and two vertical posts
are set inside to support the hammock of the deceased. The person's
clothing, ornaments, and ordinary implements are included in the grave.
Items that are difficult to make, or that are very expensive, are not
included (e.g. a blowgun or shotgun).
After the hammock and body are hung in place with the grave, another
layer of split /ora/ (Iriartea sp.) wood or /weka/ (Guadua angustifolia)
is placed over the burial, and the grave is filled with the previously
excavated earth. As this is done, the women wail and may even fall to
the ground and thrash about in the dirt. After the burial any remaining
belongings of the deceased person are smashed, burned, or thrown into the
river. The men of the household fire their shotguns into the air, because
"They are angry at those who have talked badly (of the deceased)... it is
a demonstration of their pride and courage."
After burial it is believed that the /bal hoyo/ (personal soul)
departs the corpse and rises in an easterly direction on the path to
/ma?t±mo/. After it passes through the aperture in the /kinawi/ layer
(discussed in Chapter VII) it joins the appropriate /ma?timo bai/ group,
which is the one that provided the individual's given name in life.
There the spirit of the dead person is made to bathe with /tu nuni/
(Cyperus sp.), and as it does so the old skin, teeth, hair and nails
slough off. After a second bath in /tu nuni/ these regenerate, and the
"person" is given a fine cushma, headdress, and beads, and takes up a
new life with the /ma?timo bai/, learning their language, taking a new
wife, fathering children, and enjoying eternal existence.
Soon after the burial the shaman performs a yagé ceremony and

-236-
communicates with the /ma?timo bai/ and the /bai hoyo/ of the deceased
person. The purpose of this is to facilitate the passage of the soul
to the heavenly realms, and also to obtain word of its well-being to
pass on to the mourning kindred. According to Elias:
The /vahé ünkukl/ (shaman) says that he is sending
the /bai hoyo/ (soul) to /ma?timo/ (the heavenly realm),
and that it is now with the /kinawi bai/ (heavenly
beings), "He is well...happier than he was...here on the
earth." Each time that he (the shaman) drinks yagé he
sends news (of the deceased). He says, "He is fine...
don't cry."
The period of mourning continues over many months, however. After
the burial, the top of the grave is covered with clay, and the women of
the household polish it with stones until it shines. As they go about
their daily activities they vrail whenever they are reminded of the dead
person.
The abandonment of house sites following death is a frequent Siona-
Secoya practice. There are two explanations for this. The first, and
most important, is that the /bai hoyo/ returns from time to time to the
place vrhere it lived to "remember" its previous life in the earth realm.
Although the /bai hoyo/ usually does not have evil intentions, its
presence is disquieting to the survivors of the household. It may
rattle the cookpots in the night as it looks for something to eat, and
any food that it touches spoils and turns black. Or it may appear as
a vision to a member of the household. The /bai hoyo/ of a dead shaman
is particularly feared because of its great power. Even when this
spirit has no malignant intent its actions may have an adverse effect
on mortals, because the power of its forcefield upsets the natural
equilibrium of mundane events.

*-237-
The interval between the death and the actual movement of a house
site, as well as the distance of the move, may vary considerably depend¬
ing on the circumstances. The members of the household may move out of
the old /hai vi?e/ within a few days of the death, or they may wait a
year or longer. Likewise, they may simply move a short distance away,
or they may migrate to an entirely different river. The factors that
enter into these decisions include the relative power of the deceased,
the status of the household's gardens (if they are just coming into pro¬
duction the move may be delayed to allow some harvesting to take place),
and the presence or absence of kin at other locations who can make the
transition less difficult by providing temporary shelter and food.
Maintenance
It is evident from the data presented that the population policy
of the Siona-Secoya is more oriented to maintenance than to growth. It
is centered on the /hai wi?e/ or patrilineal, patrilocal extended house¬
hold which is the primary unit of organization in Siona-Secoya culture.
The emphasis is on the well-being of the members of this residence group
and the performance of routine work activities. Too many children are
viewed as being a hardship on the mother and as disruptive of her work
routine. Parents desire children who will eventually assist them in
subsistence activities, but the members of the /hai wi?e/ provide work
partners for immediate cooperative tasks.
The ideal number of children per woman is around four, with an
interval of four years between births. This population policy is effected
both by "rational': attempts to prevent conception and terminate pregnan¬
cies and by cultural practices that are not consciously related to

-238-
procreation per se. A salient theme of Siona-Secoya culture is that
female sexuality is potentially harmful to men, unless the appropriate
avoidances are observed. Not only does menstrual blood make women
ritually contaminated; it can cause illness and even death to men who
ingest yagé. Therefore men and shaman's apprentices forgo sexual rela¬
tions prior to the frequent yagé ceremonies. It is also believed that
habitual sexual intercourse has a deleterious effect on male hunting
ability. These precepts of Siona-Secoya thought act as constraints on
the frequency of sexual relations.
The immediate postpartum taboo on sexual relations is also related
to the concept of menstrual contamination, for the discharge of uterine
materials following the birth continues for several weeks. Subsequent
to this, continence is practiced until the woman feels she has recovered
from the hardship of giving birth, and also as a conscious means for
spacing births. However improbable it may seem to Westerners (both be¬
cause of our own practices, and our assumptions about primitive peoples)
a number of Siona-Secoya men do abstain from sexual relations with their
wives for periods of up to three or four years following the birth of a
child.
When abstention from sexual relations become too onerous, the Siona
Secoya resort to contraceptive techniques based on herbal medicines and
shamanistic intervention. If these fail to prevent conception before
the desired interval has passed, abortion may be attempted. The dis¬
crepancy between real and Ideal behavior is, of course, evident in Siona
Secoya practices as it is in all cultures. Some couples do have more
children, and at closer intervals than the expressed ideal. But this
does not mean that the ideal concept is devoid of influence on Siona-
Secoya population dynamics.

-239-
The. selective infanticide of the Siona-Secoya also serves to main¬
tain the functional integrity of the /hai w±?e/. In the case of twins,
it provides the survivor with better nutrition and chance.s of optimal
growth, and lessens the burden on the mother. The killing of deformed
and defective offspring protects the relatively small gene pool of the
population, and also mitigates against the retention of individuals who
may not be able to make a full contribution to the subsistence activities
of the group.
The system of beliefs associated with death have a tendency to
stimulate movement and migration, which, in the long run, has a positive
overall influence on the ecological equilibrium between man and the
resources of the natural environment. It is evident, however, that
movement following death is not a blind response which ignores the exi¬
gencies of subsistence. Garden resources are not usually abandoned in
an irrational posthaste manner. Rather, a simple relocation of the
house site may be made which allows harvesting from gardens already in
production, or the move may be delayed until a reasonably satisfactory
harvest is obtained.
Other beliefs and practices relating to the life cycle also serve
to maintain the equilibrium of subsistence. The emphasis on demonstrated
subsistence skills and a willing attitude toward their performance as
prerequisites for status recognition and marriage serves to institution¬
alize the motivational aspects of learning to hunt and garden. The
elevated prestige accorded to old people does not constitute a major
stress on group well-being because a relatively small percent of the
population survives to advanced ages, and those who do continue to make
some contribution to subsistence.

NOTES TO CHAPTER IX
Langdon (1974) reports that there are no longer any menstruation huts
among the Siona at Buena Vista on the Putumayo River, but that men¬
struating women still sit apart from the men. The only house that was
observed in Ecuador without these facilities was one belonging to a
Macaguaje-Siona couple now residing on the Cuyabeno River.
The relative lack of kinetic flair in Siona-Secoya dancing was always
disappointing to foreign visitors to Shushufindi, for they expected the
"savages" to have a wildly-exotic beat. Since there were no weddings
in the village during the field work, the only opportunity we had to
observe their dance-procession was on two occasions when it was performed
at the request of visitors. The fact that the chicha used in these
presentations was not fermented may have contributed to the impression
of restraint, but informants stated that their performances were
anther, t ic.
3
' ,/Wiña bai/ ("tender young people") and /ma?timo bai/ ("heavenly people")
are synonyms for the supernatural beings of the heavenly realms in the
Siona-Secoya cosmology.
^The Summer Institute of Linguistics has provided medical care for this
individual, including a series of radium treatments in Quito.

CHAPTER X
CULTURE AND ADAPTATION
In the present study the particular adaptation of the Siona-Secoya
Indians of Eastern' Ecuador has been discussed and related to the broader
rubric of .Tropical Forest Culture. The pattern referred to as Tropical
Forest Culture consists of a list of traits which are descriptive of an
adaptive system which evolved in a particular region of the world within
the framework of a technology based on hunting, fishing, gathering, and
slash-and-burn horticulture. The concept is primarily synchronic in that
it attempts to describe cultures as they existed at the time of European
contact, and it developed as scholars endeavored to categorize the
aboriginal societies of the South American lowlands.
Generally speaking, the traditional Tropical Forest Culture approach
has treated the Amazon and other tropical forest lowlands as a broad
habitat type, and has emphasized shared characteristics rather than
variations. More recently, scholars such as Lathrap (1970,1973), Meggers
(1971), and Denevan (19b6) have given increasing attention to variations
in habitat within the Amazon., particularly wTith regard to the várzea and
terra firme distinctions. In a recent paper Gross addresses the varia¬
tion of habitat types within the vast Amazon:
The Amazon basin is not a homogeneous habitat from
the point of view of human utilization. Soils, fauna,
flora, rainfall, and seasons vary considerably. At least
three broad types of habitat may be distinguished: (a)
Riverine habitats, characterized by relatively fertile
soils, replenished by alluvial deposits during river
-241-

-242
flooding. They are also relatively rich in animals,
particularly aquatic ones. Areas drained by black-
water rivers will conform to this generalization to a
lesser extent, depending on the concentration of the
life-inhibiting compounds in the soils and waters.
(b) Interfluvial or upland habitats in forested areas
away from major streams, characterized by relatively
impoverished soils, easily leached, and relatively
limited in animals sought by humans, especially aquatic
ones. (c) Non-forested or "savanna" habitats, charac¬
terized by low dry-season rainfall, poor soils, scrub or
grassy vegetation, interrupted by sinuous bands of
"gallery forests" along watercourses (1975:536-537).
Wagley observes that there is considerable variation of settlement
pattern among the list of peoples classified as "Tropical Forest," and
that these correspond rather closely to habitat types (personal com¬
munication). These range from concentrated riverine settlements on the
vat zea (e.g. the aboriginal Tapa j ós and Oetagua) , scattered riverine
settlements characteristic of many groups in the Upper Amazon (often
consisting of a single maloca, or extended household), inter-riverine
settlements (usually located on the smaller streams, as among the
aboriginal Siona-Secoya), and forest nomads such as the Guaja, Siriono,
and Guayaki.
As more detailed ethnological and archeological studies of lowland
peoples and sites have been completed, there has been an increasing
awareness among scholars that there have been a number of adaptations to
the various sub-regions of the vast tropical lowlands of South America.
Even so, the Tropical Forest Culture concept has retained much of its
currency as a descriptive model because the distinctive features of small
settlement size, periodic movement of habitation sites, local political
autonomy, and warfare-witchcraft complexes have a rather general distri¬
bution among the lowland peoples. Scholars seeking to account for the
dynamics of Tropical Forest cultures have tended to focus their attention

-243-
on one, or, at best, a few "limiting factors." For example, Gross
writes:
1 examine the evidence that dietary protein was
limiting on aboriginal settlements throughout most
of Amazonia. I further suggest that small and fre¬
quently shifting villages, warfare, and population
control were adaptations to this limitation...amino
acids, more than calories or social dynamics, are
limiting on the size and permanence of native settle¬
ments in Amazonia (1975:527,536).
The approach of Gross, as well as those of Meggers, Lathrap,
Carueiro, and many other lowland scholars represent an ecological
orientation to cultural analysis and interpretation. Many of the funda¬
mental principles, and much of the terminology of ecology have derived
from studies of relatively simple systems (e.g. the ecosystem of a pond).
Obviously, it is important to exercise care when attempting to apply
ecological principles derived from observations on relatively small and
closed systems to more complex cultural-ecological systems. Rappaport,
however, makes a case for this kind of attempt in his analysis (1968) of
the Tsercbaga-Maring ritual cycle as a homeostatic mechanism in their
subsistence adaptation:
The Tsembaga, designated a "local population," have been
regarded as a population in the animal ecologist's sense:
a unit composed of an aggregate of organisms having in
common certain distinctive means whereby they maintain a
set of shared trophic relations with other living and non¬
living components of the biotic community in which they
exist together.
Tsembaga territory, moreover, has been regarded as
an ecosystem, a demarcated portion of the biosphere that
includes living organisms and nonliving substances inter¬
acting to produce a systemic exchange of materials among
the living components and between the living components
and the nonliving substances (p. 224-225).
I accept the premise that human communities can be studied in

-244-
ecological terms, and believe that the explanatory power of this approach
is potentially great. The primary difficulty to date, however, has not
been the acceptance of the ecosystem concept, but rather the manner .in
which it has been employed (i.e., as an explanatory device without basis
in empirical investigation).
The many scholars (cf. Chapter I) who postulate unifactorial
limiting conditions on cultural development in the. Amazon utilize an
ecological approach, for in effect they are employing Liebig's "law of
the minimum" as an explanatory principle:
The idea that an organism is no stronger than the
weakest link in its ecological chain of requirements
was first clearly expressed by Justus Leibig in 1840...
His statement that "growth of a plant is dependent on
the amount of foodstuff which is presented to it in
minimum quantity" has come to be known as Liebig's
"law" of the minimum (Odum 1971:106).
However, Odum goes on to state:
Extensive work since the time of Liebig has shown
that two subsidiary principles must be added to the
concept if it is to be useful in practice. The first
is a constraint that Liebig's law is strictly applicable
only under steady state conditions...There is no
theoretical basis for any "one factor" hypothesis
under... transient state conditions...
The second important consideration is factor inter¬
action. Thus, high concentration or availability of
some substance, or the action of some factor other than
the minimum one, may modify the rate of utilization of the
latter (p. 106).
Odun explains the "steady state" condition in the following terms:
In a "steady state" inflows balance outflows of
materials and energy. The rate of production is in
equilibrium with the supply or the rate of inflow of
the minimum limiting constituent... While the rate is
changing there is no steady state and no minimum
constituent; instead the reaction depends on the

-¿¿o
concentration of all constituents present* which in
this transitional period differs from the rate at
which the least plentiful is being added...In most
natural systems the production rate passes from one
temporary steady-state equilibrium to another...
(p. 57).
I suggest that the characteristic pattern of interaction between
man and environment in the Amazon is not analogous to a system in an
ongoing steady-state condition as described by Odum; inflows and out¬
flows are not balanced at all times because the components of the system
are subject to temporal and spatial variation. Therefore there is little
likelihood that one factor will at all times serve as the limiting
condition on the rate of production within the system; as the system
passes from one temporary steady-state equilibrium to another, dif¬
ferent components of the system may be expected to serve as limiting
factors. Observations on the subsistence activities of the Siona-Secoya
at Guyabeno and Shushufindi are consistent with this interpretation.
In addressing the problem of human adaptation in the Amazon, it is
perhaps useful to ask the question, "What cultural features may be
expected to have positive adaptive value, given the broad parameters of
habitat and technology faced by the lowland peoples?" Both low popula¬
tion density and periodic movement would appear to be adaptive, for the
longer a group practicing shifting cultivation and hunting, fishing* and
collecting as the primary means of subsistence remains in a specific
locale, the greater the tendency towards resource depletion. That is to
say, the efficiency of subsistence (the ratio of energy captured to
energy expended) decreases over time. Movement to new areas, or to
ones that have lain fallow, tends to increase the overall efficiency
of subsistence. Cultural practices or events that stimulate movement,

-246-
even though they may not appear to be directly related to ecological
considerations, have the effect of increasing the efficiency of sub¬
sistence in most cases. In response to this adaptive advantage, the
material culture, social organization, and ideology of the Tropical
Forest peoples have tended to adapt in a manner that is consonant with
movement. Therefore movement and migration occur with relative ease,
and become means for dealing with a variety of sociocultural situations,
but always retain their ecological consequences.
The ecological functions of migration and movement are not tied
rigidly to periods when resource limits are approached or exceeded.
Social organization and ideology are subsystems of culture and have
certain dynamics at their own levels of organization. Hence specific
movements may have "social causes" is the face of no apparent precipi¬
tating ecological factor. For these reasons it is an error to attempt
to understand a specific movement or migration solely in terms of the
factor or event that precipitates it.
Siona-Seeoya culture is characterized by movement; títere is an
almost constant flow of comings and goings, relocations of house sites,
extended hunting trips, and visitation. Most of this activity occurs
within a territory that has shown consistency over time, dating from
\
the first missionary accounts of the 17th Century. The precipitating
stimulus for movement may be any factor that causes a perceived change
in the quality of life of the individual or the group. It does not have
to be an overt stimulus, for it may even be "boredom. " It may be
"ecological," such as a shortage of land for gardens, or it may be
"sociological," such as internal dissention, sorcery, warfare, or a
search for marriage partners. Or it may be illness or the death of

an individual. But the fact remains that, whatever the manifest
"explanation" may be, the pattern of movement is consonant with the
dynamics of an existence based on hunting and gathering and slash-and-
burn horticultur-e. *
In response to the positive adaptive advantage afforded by movement,
Siona-Secoya material culture is either transportable or easily re¬
constructed at new habitation sites. In terms of social organization,
the propensity for movement is manifested in the emphasis on small
social groups, with the mail, residence unit consisting of the patrilineal,
patr.ilocal extended household or /hai wl?e/. This pattern of patri-
iocality and patrilineality reflects the male bias in the important
subsistence activities of clearing land and hunting, as well as in
defense. The sib is the major unit of social organization beyond the
extended household, but is not a residence unit per se. The sib serves
an important function in the dynamics of movement, however, because it
provides a network of "brothers" and "sisters" who provide assistance
whenever movement takes place.
Although it is impossible to observe the population dynamics of the
Siona-Secoya in a truly aboriginal state, their beliefs and practices
pertaining to population policy survive. The most significant aspect of
the population policy is the concept of limiting the number of offspring
per woman. The ideology of the Siona-Secoya does not provide for rapid
growth, but rather emphasizes the well-being of the existing household
unit. The desire for children is moderated by a wish to incorporate them
into the life of the household gradually, and with a minimum of stress on
the mother, thereby minimizing the interruption of her manioc harvesting
and processing and other work activities which are essential components

I
-248-
of the everyday household routine. Fathers desire sons who will eventu¬
ally join them in their work activities, but there is no pressing need
for the men of the /hai wi?e/ to cooperate whenever the requirements of
the task at hand demand it. Furthermore, Siona-Secoya youths do not do
very much work until well into adolescence; felling trees and hunting are
considered adult activities.
The ideational order of the Siona-Secoya is mediated through the
headman-shaman, who character ires the ideaLs of behavior: restraint,
control, accticiSTD, and generosity. The shaman gains his knowledge and
maintains his contacts with the supernatural order through the medium
of yagé (Banisterlopsis spp.). He validates his position by the per¬
formance of yagé ceremonies associated with rites of intensification.,
passage, curing and provision. His major concerns are the welfare of
his group, its success in hunting, fishing, and horticulture, and pro¬
tection from disease and death (whose origins are to be found in the
sorcery practiced by the malicious shamans of neighboring groups). The
well-being of the local group is the measure of the effectiveness of
the headman-shaman.
Harmony in interpersonal relations within the /hai wi?e/ and village
is stressed, and hostility and ritual aggression are directed outward to
other settlements. (Overt confrontations over difficulties are avoided,
but find expression in backbiting and during the secular drinking
parties.) The shamans of distant settlements are viewed as the practi¬
tioners of sorcery which causes illness and death within the /hai w±?é/
and local village. This belief is given overt expression in yagé
ceremonies when the local shaman enters a drug-induced state and contracts
with the spirit helpers of the sorcerer to stop their harmful activities.

-249-
The preparation of the funerary poison to divine the sorcerer's name
is another technique in the projection of ritual aggression beyond the
limits of the local group.
The practice of ritual aggression receives far greater emphasis in
Siona-Secoya culture than does physical warfare. The Siona-Secoya and
their Western Tucanoan ancestors were not entirely passive in terms of
armed conflict, however. Chantre y Herrera (1901:400-407) provides a
graphic account of a raid on an Awishira village on the south bank of
the Napo, and the fighting of the Encaballado with the Teixeira expedi¬
tion of 1639 is well documented (Reis 1931:37). More recently, Siona-
Secoya oral history provides accounts of the conflict which drove the
Tetetes off the main course of the Cuyabe.no.
There is no separation of sacred arid secular power in warfare. In
ritual aggression (counter-sorcery) it is the /inti ba?ik±/ (neadman-
shaman) who marshalls the supernatural forces to his side. In cases of
actual raiding he is also the one to organize the party, and to take
yagé prior to the battle to augur its outcome.
As a result of the belief that illness and death result from the
practice of sorcery in other villages, the relations between the various
local groups are characterized by suspicion and fear. This mentality
constantly militates against the formation of local groups into larger
villages (as attempted by the Jesuits in the 17th and 18th Centuries),
and serves to maintain the spatial distribution of the settlements. The
scattered, hidden habitation sites of the Siona-Secoya in aboriginal
times minimized contact with neighboring /dawu/ (sorcerers) and their
followers, who constituted the major perceived threat to the well-being
of the local group, and also afforded protection from overt attacks when

-250-
hostilities escalated. Since the dispersion of settlements is a sig¬
nificant factor in the preservation of the resources of the natural
habitat, it can be said that the yagé complex (of which sorcery is one
component) functions to maintain the viability of the subsistence
ecology.
The low population density, scattered settlement pattern, and
characteristic movement of habitation sites of the Siona-Secoya serve
to regulate human demands on environmental resources; the land and its
associated flora and fauna are utilized for a period of time, and then
allowed to recover as the small residence groups relocate. At Cuyabeno
the primary limiting factor was land availability, as most of the ground
there is periodically flooded and is therefore unsuited for cultivation.
Hunting was poor in the area, and necessarily focussed on the smaller
and noctural game animals, but it was supplemented by a reliable year-
round catch of medium to small sized fish in the Cuyabeno River. The
ultimate outmigration from Cuyabeno in 1973 came as the result of de¬
clining horticultural yields (a consequence of the short fallow periods
practiced there) and the scarcity of new lands suitable for cultivation.
At Shushufindi, on the Aguarico River, there is much more land
suitable for cultivation. During 1973-5 the hunting was excellent, but
gave evidence of declining through time. Partial adjustment can be made
by shifting to the hunting of smaller and nocturnal animals, but the
overall efficiency of hunting may be expected to continue to drop. The
Aguarico supplies large fish during the dry season, but the yields are
poor during the rest of the year. It seems likely, therefore, that the
availability of protein resources is more likely to play the role of a
limiting factor than the availability of land at Shushufindi. The

-251-
adaptation of the Siona-Secoya is marked by a high degree of flexibility
indeed, this is perhaps its most salient characteristic. The people are
able to adapt to a variety of conditions, and they make their decisions
by selecting from a range of options. Their pattern of subsistence is
not a rigid one, and various factors may intervene and produce changes
of emphasis at given points in time and space. The findings of the
present study, therefore, indicate that there are significant variations
in environmental resources not only within the várzea, terra firme, and
savanna habitats, but also at specific locations within these types.
Unifactoriai explanations of Tropical Forest Culture are elegant in
their simplicity, but we should not allow ourselves to be too easily
seduced by them. This does not mean that a nomothetic approach must be
abandoned, but insofar as theory is based on inadequate primary data,
we should not be surprised when its assumptions are challenged by empiri
cal investigation. As this study has indicated, the resources of the
tropical forest vary both spatially and temporally. There are many
habitats within the Amazon Basin, and considerable variations in flora,
fauna, terrain, soils, and microclimate exist. At given times, and in
given places, scarcity of any one of a number of environmental resources
may act as a limiting factor. Or, as is more likely, a combination of
factors may exert limiting influences on demographic growth and cultural
development. In order to be viable, an adaptive system must be flexible
enough to deal with ranges in resource availabilities, and not simply
average availabilities. Thus, when we utilize the concept of Tropical
Forest Culture we refer to an integrated complex of cultural traits that
has a broad distribution and is adapted to the range of conditions
occuring within the tropical forest environment.

252-
The position of the present study is that the search for a single
limiting factor to account for the complex of behavior which constitutes
the Tropical Forest pattern is misdirected. While it is not possible to
measure and evaluate every single factor in an adaptive system, an
attempt should be made to study a wider range of factors than has been
the case in the past. If our understanding of the Tropical Forest
peoples is to increase, scholars must improve their -methodological
sophistication in the gathering of basic data on ecological variations
within the Amazon, including the distribution and seasonality of floral
and faunal resources, soils, topography, and cognitive factors in human
utilization of these resources.

APPENDIX 1
CLIMATOLOGICAL DATA FOR LIMONCOCHA AND SHUSHUFINDI

TABLE 12. RAINFALL AT LIMONCOCHA
Mon t!i
Lowest
Monthly
RF mm
1971-4
Highest
Monthly
RF mm
1971-4
Mean
Monthly
RF mm
1971-4
Mean No.
Rainless
Days
1971-4
Monthly
Rainfall
mm
1974
Rainless
Days
1974
January
195.4
371.5
284.0
10.4
210.7
16
Fcbruary
157.4
309.6
231.4
9.0
214.2
13
March
345.8
539.4
411,2
9.5
347.8
15
April
162.3
282.1
228.3
8.2
206.6
6
Ma y
244.9
310.6
284.3
4.5
280.6
5
June
246.3
368.2
310.8
4.8
340.4
7
July
219.8
349.8
301.7
6.8
326.3
11
August
192.2
351.4
253.8
7.5
351.4
9
September
234.4
388.9
308.7
8.0
388.9
4
0 c tober
184.2
429.2
307.4
8.8
264.6
9
November
142.3
387.8
280.9
11.0
142.3
16
December
120.8
265.3
172.5
14.7
120.S
15
Lowest
Yearly
Total
Highest
Yearly
Total
Mean
Annual
Total
Mean
Annual
Total
Annual
Total
Annual
Total
3,194.5
3,718.4
3,375.0
103.0
3,194.5
126
Source:
Records kept
approximately
by Summer Institute of Linguistics personnel
30 km southwest of the Siona-Secoya village
(Limoncocha is
of Shushufindi)
-*sz-

TABLE 13. RAINFALL AND TEMPERATURE FOR SHUSHUFINDI (OCTOBER 1973-SEPTEMBER 1974)
Month
Rainfall
mm
Rainless
Days
Mean
Max
Temp
°C (°F)
Mean
Min
Temp
°C (°F)
Mean
Temp
°C (°F)
October
121.9
11
33.3 (92.0)
21.7 (71.1)
27.5 (81.5)
November
265.2
3
31.6 (88.9)
21.4 (70.6)
26.6 (79.8)
December
167.1
16
31.9 (89.5)
20.9 (69.7)
26.5 (79.6)
January
265.2
12
32.9 (90.8)
20.7 (69.3)
26.7 (80.1)
February
171.2
6
30.6 (87.0)
20.7 (69.3)
25.6 (78.1)
March
332.2
4
31.8 (89.2)
20.8 (69.5)
26.4 (79.5)
April
332.5
8
31.7 (89.0)
21.1 (69.9)
26.3 (79.3)
May
413.8
5
30.2 (86.3)
20.4 (68.8)
25.3 (77.5)
June
411.5
5
29.7 (85.5)
20.8 (69.5)
25.3 (77.5)
July
487.4
10
29.2 (84.6)
20.0 (63.0)
24.7 (76.4)
August
274.8
7
29.6 (85.2)
20.2 (68.4)
24.9 (76.9)
September
422.1
9
30.8 (87.4)
20.1 (68.2)
25.4 (77.8)
Totals
3,665.0
96
31.1 (88.0)
20.8 (59.4)
25.9 (78.7)
Source: Records kept by author.

• APPENDIX 2
SOIL ANALYSIS
Table 14 presents the analytical data on soil samples collected at
Cuyabeno and Shushufindi. The initial determination of pH (Hellige-
Truog), and color were conducted by the author in the field. The labo¬
ratory analysis was arranged by Drs. Kamal Dow and R.G. Pouitney of the
University of Florida technical mission to the Instituto Nacional de
Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIAP) of Ecuador, and conducted under
the direction of Ing. Jorge H. Cáceres, Head of the Soil Laboratory.
The information on laboratory methodology (presented below) was provided
by Dr. Arvel H. Hunter, Director of the Control Laboratory, Interna¬
tional Soil Fertility Evaluation and Improvement Project of North
Carolina State University.
Soil Analysis for pH, NH^, Ca, and Mg
PROCEDURE FOR pH
Soil pH Measured in Water
1. Add 10 ml of soil sample to extraction bottle.
2. Add 25 ml distilled F^O and stir for 5 minutes.
3. Allow to stand for about 20 minutes and stir again for 2 minutes.
4. Measure pH while stirring the sample.
Soil pH Measured in .01 M CaCI0 Solution
1. Add 10 ml of soil sample to extraction bottle.
2. Add 25 ml of .01 M CaClg and stir for 5 minutes.
3. Allow to stand for about 30 minutes and stir 2 minutes.
4. Allow to stand for about 30 minutes.
-256-

-257-
5. Measure pH without stirring the mixture.
Note: Prepare .01 M CaCl2 by dissolving 14.7 gm CaCl2‘2H20 in
1 liter of distilled water. Then make the volume up to
10 liters. The pH of this solution should be between 5 and
6.5. If it is not, then adjust by adding a little Ca(011)2
or HC1.
The glass electrode should be immersed well into the partly
settled suspension but not deep enough to strike the settled
soil particles. The Calomel electrode should be immersed
just deep enough to establish good contact.
Determination of Extractable NH^ - Nitrogen
1. Take 2 ml aliquot of the filtrate II-3 and add 8 ml of basic phenol
(This can be done by using the diluter side of a combination dilu-
ter-dispenser). Allow to stand for about 3 minutes.
2. Add 10 ml of NaCIO reagent. (This can be done using the dispenser
side of a combination diluter-dispenser.)
3. Allow to stand for 1 hr in a place where the solutions will not be
exposed to direct light. In subdued light the color is stable for
about 2 hours.
4. Read the % transmission or O.D. with spectrophotometer at 630 A.
5. An NH^ standard can be prepared using NH^Cl. The final standards
should be prepared in 1 N KC1 solution and the high standard should
be 40 ug N per ml.
Reagents for NH, Nitrogen Determination
1. Basic phenol - dissolve 100 gm NaOH in 1 liter of distilled water.
Allow to cool and add 150 ml of 92% liquid phenol or 138 gm crystal
phenol.
2. NaCIO solution - Dilute 1 volume of 5.25% NaCIO (clorox) with 11
volumes of distilled water.
Determination of Extractable Ca and Mg
1. Using a combination diluter-dispenser take a 1 ml aliquot of fil¬
trate II-3, and add 9 ml dist. H2O and 15 ml of 1% lanthanum
solution.
2. Determine the Ca and Mg by atomic absorption procedure.
3. Standard solutions made up in 1 N KC1 and containing both elements
can be used. The concentration of the high standard should be 200
ug Ca per ml and. 40 ug Mg per ml.
Note: Depending on the soils being analyzed there may be large
differences in the amounts of Ca and Mg extracted. Our
primary interest usually is to be able to measure the lower
levels of these elements with the greatest accuracy. The
higher levels may also be determined from this same dilution
with a small sacrifice of accuracy, by turning the burner
head to an angle with the light beam. The high standard can

-258-
then be set at 25 on the AA taut band scale and the curve
will still be about linear up to full scale.
In all of the above measurements the standards must receive the same
dilution as the sample.
Preparation of 1% Lanthanum Solution
Wet 58.64 grams of Lanthanum oxide, La2C>3, with about 50 ml distilled
water. Slowly and cautiously add 250 ml of concentrated KC1 to dissolve
the LajO-jj. Make to 5 liters with distilled water.
Soil Analytical Procedure Using the Modified
NaHCO^ Extracting Solution
Modified NaHCO^ Extracting Solution
0.5 N NaHCO^, 0.01 M EDTA w’ith 1 gm superfloe 127 per 10 liters
Preparation:
(a) Dissolve 420 gm NaHCO^ in distilled water.
(b) Dissolve 37.2 gm disodium EDTA in distilled water.
(c) Dissolve 1 gm superfloe 127 in 200 to 400 ml distilled water.
Mix the three above solutions in distilled water and bring volume
to 10 liters. Adjust the pH to 8.5 with NaOH. Store in polyethy¬
lene bottle.
Extracting Procedure
1. Add 2.5 ml of soil and 25 ml of extracting solution to bottle or
beaker.
2. Stir at slow speed (i.e., approximately 400 rpm) for ten minutes.
3. Filter the solution using a porous filter paper (S&S No. 0860 or
Whatman No. 1 or comparable paper).
Analytical Procedures
1. Determination of P - Using a combination diluter-dispenser take 2 ml
aliquot of filtrate (II-3), add 8 ml of distilled water and 10 ml of
ammonium molybdate color reagent. B. After 40 minutes read % trans¬
mission or optical density with spectrophotometer at 680 or 882 X.
Note: The modified NaHCO^ solution frequently extracts more color
from soils than even the Olsen solution, therefore, some
filtrates may be very dark brown in color. Comparisons be¬
tween amount of P measured using charcoal to remove the color
and not using charcoal indicate that there is generally less

-259-
than 1 ug P/ml soil difference when the amount of P extracted
is less than 20 ug P/ml soil. The difference may be some¬
what greater when more than 20 ug P/m.l soil are extracted.
2. Determination of K - Using the same combination diluter-dispenser
as for P take a 2 ml aliquot of filtrate (II-3) and add 18 ml dis¬
tilled- H2O. The K should preferably be analyzed by atomic absorption
to avoid interferences but flame emission can also be used.
Reagents for P Determination
Solution A - Concentrated Reagent:
1. Place 1 gm antimony potassium tartrate in a 1 liter pyrex volumetric
flask. Add about 400 ml distilled water. Add slowly, while mixing,
165 ml of concentrated H2SO4. Allox? to cool.
2. Dissolve 7.5 gm ammonium molybdate in about 300 ml distilled water.
3. When the acid antimony solution is cool, add the ammonium molybdate
solution to it and bring the volume to 1 liter with distilled water.
Note: This solution is heat and light sensitive but when stored in
a dark bottle in a refrigerator it has been kept for several
months without deterioration.
Solution B - P Color Reagent:
1. On the day it is to be used, dilute 150 ml of solution A to 1 liter
with a solution containing 1 gm gelatin per liter. Then add and mix
about 1 gm ascorbic acid.
Note: We have found a rather high contamination of P in some
gelatin USP grade reagent but Baker USP grade reagent has
not been found to contain phosphorus.
The gelatin solution and solution B should be prepared fresh
each day since they do not keep for more than about 24 hours.
Standards for Soil Analysis
1. The standard solutions should be prepared in modified NaHCO^ extract¬
ing solution. Separate standards for P and K should be prepared.
The following concentrations are suggested for the high standard:
12 ug P per ml, 30 ug K per ml. Where dilutions are made for the
determination of the elements, the standards should be diluted in
the same manner as the sample.

TABLE 14
SOIL SAMPLES FROM SIONA-SECOYA SETTLEMENTS AT CUYABENO AND SHUSHUFINDI
INIAP Analysis13
Sample Site Depth3 pH pH ug/ml Color Díita (wet)
No.
Description
cm
INIAPb
Field0'
N
P
K
Ca
Mg
Hue
Value/Chroma
n ^ e
Color
1
House yard-Cu
0-20
5.7
7.0
9
5
50
1325
135
10YR
3/4
dark brown
1
¡7 mo ¡'/i rden-Cu
0-20
5.8
7.0
6
13
55
1575
115
10YR
2/3
brownish
b 1 ack
4
Prl. forest-Cu
h
9 mo garden-Cu
0-20S
4.9
7.0
20
4
55
300
40
10YR
3/2
brownish
black.
5
0-20
5.8
7.0
9
5
140
1075
70
10YR
2.5/3
brownish
bl ack
6
24 mo secondary
growth-Cu
0-20
5.8
7.0
8
6
120
1200
105
10YR
3.2
brownish
black
7
9 mo garden-Shu1
0-15
6.3
7.0
12
6
220
1675
110
10YR
2/2
brownish
black
3
Pri. forest-Shu
0-15g
6-2
7.0
20
5
65
1725
120
10YR
3/2
brownish
black
9
36 mo secondary
growth-Shui
0-15
6.1
7.0
12
6
65
1650
110
10YR
2/3
brownish
black
Vive
to six scattered
sub samp .1
es collected and
mixed acco
rd.ing
to p
rocedure recommended
by INIAP.
Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias experiment station at Sta. Catalina, using methods of
the International Soil Fertility Evaluation and Improvement Project of North Carolina State University,
c
Hellige-Truog method.
^Revised Standard Soil Color Charts (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry [japan] 1967).
0
Siona-Secoya informants place all of these samples in the /nea yihá/ ("black soil") category,
f
Made in secondary growth; planted in manioc (harvested) and plantains.
fr
’Litter swept from surface before sample taken.
Made in primary growth; burned; planted in maize (harvested); replanted in maize, manioc, and plantains.
"Made in primary growth; burned; planted in maize (harvested), plantains, manioc, papaya, peach palm, etc.
~J Cecropia spp. predominant vegetation; peach palm from previous settlement also present.
-260-

•APPENDIX 3
FLORA
Table 15 presents a list of floral resources exploited by the
Siona-Secoya according to their primary use (food, psychotropic,
medicinal, poison, toilet and ornament, and miscellaneous utilitarian).
The data are presented in this manner rather than being organized
according to botanical classification or habitat because the work of
identifying the plant specimens collected in the field is still going
on. Dr. Homer V. Pinkley of the Herbarium of the New York Botanical
Garden has assisted in the identification of many specimens, and is
continuing to work with the Siona-Secoya collection as it undergoes
the process of being accessioned into the New York Herbarium. Those
specimens which are still unidentified at the present time are denoted
by their collection number (e.g. H.S. 60) in the "Remarks" column of
Table 15. A partial set of replicate specimens has been placed in the
herbarium of the University of Florida in Gainesville.
-261-

TABLE 15. FLORA
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Food
?airo toa
"forest caimitos"
H.S. 223, primary forest tree,
edible fruit
? a i r o V7a 1.1 hiko
"forest papaya"
Carica mic.rocarpa ssp.
Primary forest tree, edible
heterophylla
fruit
apasi (class of trees):
Matisia spp.
See Appendix 5 for cultivated
varieties
pe?su apasi
sapote
Matisia sp.
This variety has small fruit
tanke apasi.
"monkey" sapote
Matisia sp.
Edible fruit
bai su?u
H.S. 229, primary forest tree,
edible fruit
bene (class of trees):
Inga spp.
See Appendix 5 for cultivated
varieties
do?ki bene
guaba
Inga sp.
H.S. 206, primary forest tree,
edible fruit
?emu béné
"howler monkey" guaba
Inga sp.
Fruit pod "reddish and hairy"
goí béné
"turtle" guaba
Inga sp.
H.S. 142, edible fruit
k iña béné
Inga sp.
H.S. 121, sisi bene is a synonym

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification
Remarks
Food
noka bene
"plantain" guaba
Inga sp.
Fruit pod 45 cm long
pa?pa bene
Inga sp.
May be synonym for another type
sése bene
"white-lipped peccary" guaba
Inga sp.
siri bene
Inga sp.
H.S. 80
tira béné
"corrugated" ¿uaba
Inga sp.
Not present at Shushufindi, but
said to have been at Cuyabeno
gahé
Inga sp.?
Pod-like fruit with sticky brown
substance around seeds
bo?ho
pokeweed
Phytolacca
sp.
Secondary growth herb, edible
leaves
dei
Tree, edible nut during the dry
season
gosa (class of palms)
:
gosa
Oenocarpus
batawa
Chicha made from fruit of this
palm
bo gosa
"white" gosa
Oenocarpus
sp.
Said to have "whitish" sap
ñaho gosa
Oenocarpus
sp. ?
Said to produce oil and reddish
fruit

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification Remarks
Food
gosa (Cent.)
wi gosa mi (peso
imi pu?e
Euterpe sp.
Jessenia sp. ?
kasi cocora, cannonball tree
kWi ya?i (class of fruits):
?airo kWi ya?i uvas Pourouma aspera
w w
k iña k i ya?i Pourouma sp.?
hu?hu s±?ka Pourouma sp.?
mi?ka (class of fruits):
aña mi?ka "snake cherimoya"
ka mi?ka
Fruit eaten
Occurs along the banks of the
Cuyabeno R., heart of palm eaten
H.S, 84, primary forest tree,
edible fruit, also used as emetic
Primary forest tree, grape-like
fruit
w
Said to be a type of k i ya?i,
very small fruit
Fruit eaten
Vine, edible fruit and flowers
chicle
miu wito
Seed sucked
V 9Z

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification Remarks
Food
ne?e (class of palms):
neVe
canangucho,' morete
Mauritia vinifera
Fruit eaten, made into chi cha
káti ne?e
canangucho, morete
Mauritia sp.
Palm said to be smaller, spines
on trunk
ma ne?e
"red" morete
Mauritia sp.
soto ne?e.
"ashy" morete
Mauritia sp.
Fruit said to be whitish
ñükWa
chambira
Astrocaryum tucuma
Produces edible /petó/ nut
ñukWe
chontilla
Pvrenoglyphis sp.?
Palm, edible fruit
rohi
H.S. Ill, tree, yellow marble¬
sized fruit that is eaten
sayaro
Fleshy yellow fruit that is eats
s ewa
yarina
Phytelephas sp.?
Palm, edible fruit
si?ra
chuchana
Fam. Palmae
H.S. 61, sprouting nut eaten
siri bia
groundcherry
Fhysalis angulata
Secondary growth herb, small
fruit
suni
inchi, mani del monte
Caryodendron orinocense
Primary forest tree, edible nut

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Food
sunori
cacao
Herrania sp.
Tree, edible fruit
tito (class of trees):
ankawes-i
Large tree of high ground, red
fruit
du? i
Large tree of high ground, red
fruit
s±s4ri
H.S. 235, large tree of high
ground, red fruit
tito ropa
tito"proper"
Large tree of high ground, red
fruit
wiri saka
Large tree of high ground, edible
fruit
wasomo
wekineo
Bark of this tree chewed, said
to be "sweet"
wito
Generic name
yahi(class of trees):
yahi
H.S. 56, primary forest tree,
edible red berries
-266-

TABLE 15, (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification
Remarks
Food
yahi (Cont.)
toto yahi
Tree, red berries
yoko:
See Medicinal section also
?okd yoko
H.S. 67, plant with edible
berries
okWe yoko
H.S. 119, membrane of berry
sucked
suhe yoko
Berry, edible membrane
Psychotropic
?airo yahé "forest” yagé Banisteriopsis sp. Hallucinogenic vine. As nearly
all varieties of yagé are culti¬
vated or propagated as semido-
mesticates, they are listed in
Appendix 5
yahé ?okó yagé "water" Banisteriopsis rusbyana Admixture to yagé infusion, also
see Appendix 5
uhahai
Brunfelsia sp.
Plant with psychotropic proper¬
ties, also see Appendix 5
-267

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Sionn-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification
Medici nal
Remarle»
aña iko "snake remedy"
beta
de?a iko
go± pipi "turtle cane"
hotu h i si
hu?hu
huku iko
ka?ko
lca?mi iko "cold sore remedy"
karií:o (Cofán)
kóSasi (Cofán)
Used to treat snake and lizard
hi tes
H.S. 110, emetic
H.S. 180, secondary growth shrub,
remedy for mal de pinto, or
carate
H.S. 257, shrub occuring on river
banks, remedy for fever, emetic
H.S. .107, vine, emetic
H.S. 81, remedy for upset stomach
H.S. 256, remedy for toothache
and headache
H.S. 90, primary forest tree,
remedy for diarrhea and intes¬
tinal parasites
H.S. 87, remedy for cold sores
Herbal remedy for headache
H.S. 219, herbal remedy for tooth¬
ache
-268-

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Idencification
Remarks
Medicinal
kosi bene
Inga sp.?
Treatment for earache, leaf
heated and held to ear
kügi kl?s* (Cofan)
H.S. 161, remedy for toothache
kuhi sir!
H.S. 183, herbal remedy for tooth¬
ache, bud fi*om plant placed in
tooth cavity
me^eiosi (Cofan)
H.S. 120, woody vine, remedy for
mouth ulcers and toothache
minakoro (Cofan)
H.S. 118, primary forest tree,
liniment
miü urko
Liniment for pain in joints
ñata hu?hu
H.S. 96, vine, treatment for
bite of conga ant
rtñta kaho
"conga ant itch"
H.S. 112, herb, sap used as treat¬
ment for bite of conga ant
ofa kihi (Cofan)
H.S. 143, herbaceous vine, remedy
for diarrhea
oyo
H.S. 232, shrub, remedy for
crybaby
269-

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or
"Gloss" Identification
Remarks
Medicinal
pakuhi (Cofán)
Remedy for diarrhea â– 
pi?hesal
Water plant found at Cuyabeno
lakes, remedy for toothache
plheri
Small tree, used in curing rites
sése bikimoa
ajo de monte
Woody vine with garlic-like
smell, treatment for common cold
Shushufindi kari
(Co fan)
H.S. 254, remedy for headache
soma mu Lb
"boil tobacco"
Ü.S. 72, substitute1 for tobacco,
smoked and used in curing rites
soso ±kó
H.S. 251, grows on tree trunks
in the forest, treatment for
"boils under fingernails"
susi (class of nettles):
See Appendix 5 for cultivated
varieties
be?su susi
ortiga, nettles
Urtica sp.
H.S. 162, treatment for pain of
muscles and joints
ñánami susi
"stingray" nettles
Urtica sp.
H.S. 164, treatment of muscular
pain
270

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Medicinal
turu
tuwi yasi (Cofán)
wito sa?wi taya
yaku ri
H.S. 253, primary forest herb,
liniment for swollen knee,
intestinal parasite, remedy for
infants (ingested)
H.S. 179, secondary growth herb,
remedy for granos (pimples),
external application
!
I-o
l-J
1
H.S. 33, treatment for fungus
infections on feet
Plant used in curing rites
yavurua
H.S. 255, primary forest shrub,
treatment for burns
yoko (class of vines):
yoko
yoco
bo yoko
"white" yoco
Paullinia yoco Woody vine of primary forest,
stimulant with high caffeine
content, used in curing rites
Paullinia sp.? Same as above
ma yoko
"red” yoco
Paullinia sp.?
Same qs above

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Poisons
?emü sima
"howler monkey
poison"
Primary forest tree, ingredient
in blowyun poison
ma sib sn?ni
Primary forest tree or shrub,
ingredient in blowgun poison
naso sima
"woolly monkey
poison"
Woody vine, ingredient in blow-
gun poison
niase sa?ra
Shrub, ingredient in blowgun
poison
to towe
Woody vine, said to be "reddish,"
ingredient in blowgun poison
Toilet
and Ornament
bene(class of trees):
kühi béne
"tooth" guaba
Inga sp.?
Leaves used in ritual washing
during female puberty rites, and
following menstruation and birth
simi béné
"catfish" guaba
Inga sp.?
Same as above
u?u bene
"sloth" guaba
Inga sp.?
Same as above
bupi weoko
1
H.S. 37, leaves of this plant
chewed to give mouth purplish tin
-272

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Seiona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or
=.!
1 !
-c 1
1
Identification
Remarks
Toilet
and Ornament
karéwaío (Cofan)
H.S. 252, primary forest herb or
shrub used as arm ornaments
ka?wi (class of farns)
kn ? wi
"fern"
H.S. 75, a primary forest fern,
used to make temporary headbands
si?si ka?wi
"washing fern"
H.S. 76, a primary forest fern,
used to clean hands•
kdno kaho
"chicha itch"
A vine said to occur on the Santa
Maria River, used as a perfume
kühebo
A tree whose seeds are used to
make rattling chest beads
masika ma?ña
(arari ma?ña - syn.)
"gnat perfume"
A plant whose leaves are used
as a perfume
muho
H.S. 95, mixed with Genipa to
make black body paint
santa maria ha?o
"Saint Mary's leaf"
Fam. Piperaceae?
Common herbaceous plant of
secondary growth, leaf used as
toilet tissue for cleaning in¬
fants

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English,
or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Toilet
and Ornament
sara wak-t
II.S. 92, a tree whose wood is
used in the making of headbands
sewe
H.S. 268, a vine whose seeds are
used to make rattling chest beads
soleé sewe
"tree" sewe
H.S. 269, a tree whose seeds are
used to make rattling chest beads
tuku
Ormosia coccinea?
H.S. 270, a plant whose red seeds
are used as beads
wako
vainilla
H.S, 97, used as a perfume
we a yape
Perfume
weok o
H.S. 69, fruit chewed to give
moiith blueish tint
we?e
Genipa americana
Used to make black dye for body
painting
ya?pu
Pam. Palmae
H.S. 267, nuts used to make
black beads
274-

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification Remarks
Miscellaneous Utilitarian
?aó ne'/e aü H.S. 207, tree, house poles
apo
piasawa Leopoldinia piassaba? Palm, fibers used for arm
ornamentation
bo?c
H.S. 54, tree, firewood
bü?su bara
H.S. 82, tree, firewood
dayawi uo
H.S. 221, tree, house rafters
hio v±i
volador Laghetta lintearia? H.S. 60, large buttressed tree,
fibers used on blowgun darts
huku
H.S. 116, said to be a vine, nut
has high oil content, burned
like a candle
ika ñi
caucho, "rubber tree" Latex used to make waterproof
cartridge and canoe bags
káhe to?o
Plant with large pod, used as
children's rattle
ka ? ko
carapacho Ficus sp. Tree, used to make bark cloth
ko?p±
H.S. 98, 196, forest shrub,
juice used to paint pottery
-275-

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Miscellaneous Utilitarian
kurú
mame (class of bamboos):
mame
ko?si mame
suo mame
mamekoko
ma yii
guama
"smooth" guama
"hairy" guama
mía (class of trees)
bo mía
ma mía
mlu wito
"white cedar"
"red cedar"
chicle
H.S. 89, forest tree, wood used
to make canoes, fruit as fishbait
Barobus sp.? Type of bamboo, spearpoints
Variety without "hairs"
Variety with "hairs"
H.S. 64, 262, leaves used to make
shaman's rattle
Primary forest tree, bark used
to make manioc press
Tree, used for canoes
Same as above
Primary forest tree, sap used to
patch canoes
Cedrela sp.
Cedrela sp.
nuiiu
A type of cane, used as a straw
to drink liquids
-276-

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish,
English,
or "Gloss" Identification
Remarks
Miscellaneous Utilitarian
ñama so?o
Primary forest tree with reddish
wood, a substitute for cedar in
the construction of canoes
ne?e horo
"Mauritia
flower"
Fam. Palmae
A low palm whose fronds are used
as thatch and as umbrellas
H.S. 159
w
nuk
chambira
Astrocaryum tucuma
Palm, fiber for hammocks and
netted bags
ora (class of palms)
bo ora
"white” chonta
Iriartea sp.
Palm, house pillars and flooring
ñíko
Iriartea sp.?
Same as above
ovo siwi
canalete
Primary forest tree, canoe pad¬
dles carved from buttresses
pahaku
H.S. 233, forest tree, black dye
from leaves
paku yahi
H.S. 160, tree, fruit used as
fishbait
pa?pa
canambo
Fam. Palmae
H.S. 263, thatch
penoka
Fam. Musaceae
Secondary growth plant, leaf used
as a wrapper for meat, honey, etc

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Seeoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification Remarks
Miscellaneous Utilitarian
pesi heka
H.S. 566, plant and sand used to
smooth wooden art:ifacts
pisi muá "long vine" Forest vine, seed pod used as
toy "canoe"
pipi
Generic term for a class of canes,
children use as pea-shooters
p±ha?ti
H.S. 222, tree, house rafters
pc-reka
H.S. 74, forest plant, stems
used in the weaving of sieves
püi (class of palms):
ma püi
Fam. Palmae H.S. 63, thatching
miü püi
Lepidocaryum tessmanii Palm, used for thatching
ni?ni püi
H.S. 62, used for thatching
sasa (class of hardwoods)
oko wewe
Primary forest tree, hardwood
house pillars
sése bi?ku
Same as above
yahi siu
Same as above
-278-

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Miscellaneous Utilitarian
su?u
sui siyi beraquillo
tuáuo
ul gat*
c¿ma brava
üku (class of vines):
nea üku "black" Oku
yari üku "soft" üku
Oku raea
wa?i sa?a
Primary forest tree, used to make
axe handles, and as firewood
H.S. 117, secondary growth tree,
bark used as cordage in con¬
struction
H.S. 114, tree, bark used to
scarify arms to insure success
in hunting and fishing
Gynerium sagittaturn Cane found along riverbanks,
used to make harpoon shafts and
pole canoes
Vine, used to string fish and
bind game for transport
Same as above
Same as above
Primary forest tree, used to
make fishing poles
279

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification Remarks
Miscellaneous Utilitarian
waki (class of soft-
wooded trees):
kuViri wukl
Cecropla sp.V
Secondary growth tree, used as
rollers to transport, new canoe to
river, slippery
ko?iyo
yarumo
Cecropia sp.
Secondary growth tree, used to
make temporary rafts
wá? sio
H.S. 83, primary forest tree,
firewood
wa?we
H.S. 214, primary forest tree,
seed pod used as pottery shaping
tool
weka
guadua, bamboo
Guadua angustifolia
Split bamboo walls and flooring
wekineo (class of
yellow-wooded trees):
aiküti wekineo
Primary forest tree of high
ground, excellent for canoes
dayawi wekineo
'
Primary forest tree of low ground,
used for canoes, but not durable
wio si wekineo
H.S. 225, primary forest tree, used
for house posts and shotgun stocks

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification
Remarks
Miscellaneous Utilitarian
w.i (class of smal 1
palms):
nea wi
"black" wi
Fam.
Palmae
bail ine wi
(mawaso wi syn.)
"people peach palm" wi
Fam.
Palmae
witoro
Fam.
Palmae
Fiber used for
gun shells
wadding in shot-
wis±
Primary forest
to make hunting
tree, bark used
whistle
wito sa?wi
pelacara
Hardwood, used
to make grinding
trough
wiwi H.S. 77, forest vine, used to
weave sieve
ya?i (class of vines):
ñama ya?i "deer” ya?i H.S. 78, vine used in baskets and
house construction
tanche
ya? i
Carludovica trígona
Vine used in construction
-281-

TABLE 15. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification
Remarks
Miscellaneous Utilitarian
yá?so
Primary forest tree, bark used
as pottery temper
ya?ya
H.S. 215, forest vine, sap used
as glue
ylwi
balsa
Ocbroma sp.
H.S. 358, light wood used to
make toys such as dolls and
stilts
N3
CO
M
I

APPENDIX 4
FAUNA
The faunal resources exploited by the Siona-Secoya are presented
in Table 16 following the order of Gilmore (1950). The identifications
were made using the following keys and published lists: Acosta-Solis
(1965), Delacour and Amadon (1973), Gilmore (1950), Hill (1960,1962),
Meyer de Schauensee (1970), Meyers (1972), Napier and Napier (1967),
Ovchynnyk (1967), and Pearson (1972). In addition, brief visits were
made to the Museo del Colegio Bolivar in Ambato, Ecuador (accompanied
by Reinaldo Lucitande and Maruja Payaguaje of Shushufindi), the Museo
Departmental de Historia Natural in Cali, Colombia, and the Museu
de Fauna, Jardim Zoológico, and Museu Nacional of PJLo de Janeiro, Brazil,
to check their collections for specimens observed in the field. The
data listed in Table 16 do not give a complete account of Siona-Secoya
ethnozoology, but are presented as an outline to the more important
faunal resources utilized by them.
-283-

TABLE 16. FAUNA
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identifica tion
Remarks
Ungulates:
weki
danta, tapir
Tapirus americanos
Eaten
sese
huangana, white-lipped
peccary
Tayassu pécari
Eaten
ya?wi
salino, collared peccary
Tayas su ta.jacu
Eaten
— . uanKi
venado rojo, deer
Mazama americana
Considered a demon, rarely eaten
a?so fiama
"manioc deer"
Mazama simplieicornis
Same as above
Primates:
yuwi naso
chorongo, woolly monkey
Lagothrix lagothricha
ssp. lagothricha
Eaten, habitat is N. bank of
Aguarico R.
ma naso
chorongo colorado,
"red" woolly monkey
Lagothrix cana ssp.
poeppigi
Eaten, habitat is S. bank of
Aguarico R.
?emu
coto, howler monkey
Alouatta seniculus ssp.
seniculus
Eaten
pai take
mono arana, spider monkey
Ateles belzebuth ssp.
belzebuth
Eaten, found on S. bank of
Ñapo R.
bo take
machín, capuchin
Cebus albifrons ssp.
yuracus
Used as bait in ocelot traps
wa?o su?tu
mono volador, hairy saki
Pithecia monachus ssp..
mona c~.h us
Eaten
-m-

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Primates (Cont..)
nea wa?o
cotonsillo negro
Callicebus sp.?
Eaten on rare occasions
béné wa?o
Callicebus sp.?
Same as above
nea sisi
chichico, ashy titi
Callicebus cinerascens
Pet
bo sisi
bariza, squirrel monkey
Saimiri sciurea ssp.
sciurea
Pet
dunk a sisi
leoncito
Callicebus sp.?
i? ti
(ñami naso syn.)
Rodents:
mono nocturno
Aotes trivirgatus ssp.
trivirgatus
Not eaten
be?e
rata, bristle rat?
Fam. Echimyidae
Eaten
turi
rata, domestic mouse
Fam. Muridae
wa?so
tin-tin
Myoprocta exilis
Eaten
w±
wara, guatusa, agouti
Dasyprocta sp.
Eaten
seme
guanta, paca
Cuniculus paca
Eaten
k eso
capybara
Hydrochoerus
hydrochaeris
Eaten, some consider the meat
"smelly"
süsikó
ardilla, squirrel
Sciurus sp.
Eaten
-285-

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Rodents (Cont.)
, w. . . .
k insist
ardilla, squirrel
Sciurus sp.
Eaten
kui
conejo, rabbit
Sylvilagus brasiliensis
Eaten
so? to
puerco espi.ii, porcupine
Fam. Erethizontidae
Not eaten
Marsupials:
' s ± ? s +
raposa, opossum
Fam. Didelphidae
Not eaten
Edenta tes:
?u?t1 ropa
proñoso, sloth "proper"
Choloepus sp.
Not eaten.
said to be
"gray”
nea ?u?ii
perezoso, "black" sloth
Fam. Bradypodidae
Not eaten
bo ?u?u
perezoso, "white" sloth
Fam. Bradypodidae
Not eaten
-
siáya ?u?ú
perezoso, "river" sloth
Bradypus sp.?
Not eaten,
said to be
"striped”
?u?ú to?kiri
perezoso, var. sloth
Bradypus sp.?
Not eaten,
est of the
in color
said to be
sloths and
the small-
reddish
oero
armadillo, giant armadillo
Priodontes sp.
Largest of
eaten
the nrmadi11 os, not
?okó hamü
"water" armadillo
Fam. Dasypodidae
Eaten
wea hamü
"maize" armadillo
Dasypus novemcinctus
Eaten
i
N3
co
OA

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Carnivores:
yai kWehi
cusumbe, coatimundi
Nasua sp.
we.a kWebi
cusumbe, coatimundi
Nasua sp.
he wai
nutria, otter
Lutra sp.
Hunted for pelt
kWahe ya?o
lobo marino, giant river
Pteroneura brasiliensis?
Hunted for pelt
otter
?airo yai
(hai yai syn.)
tigre, jaguar
Felis onca
Trapped for pelt
ina yai
puma
Felis concolor
Sometimes killed because it
preys on peccaries
nea yai
pantera, panther
Felis sp.
bi?a yai
tigrillo, ocelot
Felis pardalis
Trapped for pelt
buñu yai
mariposa, margay?
Felis wiedii?
Trapped for pelt
nea bi?;1 yai
Felis sp.
Said to be all black
waha yai
Felis sp.
Aquatic mamma1s:
W±?W £
river dolfin
Inia sp.
Not eaten
*
siáya wek-i
vaca marina, manatee
Trichechus inunguis
Eaten by some
287-

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Birds:
Fam. Cracidae:
ki?hebi
paufil, Salvin's Curassow
Mitu salvini
Eaten
uhé
pava, Blue-throated
Piping-guan
Pipile pipile
Eaten
ta?mo
pava colorada, Spix's Guan
Penelope jacquacu
Eaten,
kept as pet
wea karabo
pacharaco, Speckled
Chachalaca
Ortalis guttata
Eater.
Fam. Phasianidae:
yoé
Wood-quail
Odontophorus sp.?
Eaten
Fam. Tinamidae:
?airo kurá
"forest hen," Great Tinamou?
Tinamus major?
yotó
perdiz, Undulated Tinamou?
Crypturellus undulatus?
Eaten
Fam. Columbidae:
su? te
paloma, Pale-vented Pigeon?
Columba cayennensis?
Eaten
wirihokowa
Blue Ground-dove?
Claravis pretiosa?
Fam. Psophiidae
Eaten
tití
trumpetero, Gray-winged
trumpeter
Psophia crepitans
Eaten,
kept as pet
Fam. Psittacidae:
toa má
guacamayo colorado,
Scarlet Macaw
Ara rnacao
Eaten, kept as pet, feathers
used for ornamentation
-288-

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Fam. Psittacidae (Cont.)
:
sühe
guacamayo, Blue-and-yellow
Macaw
Ara ararauna
Same as above
lianu k+y-t
(sui kiyi syn.)
Dusky-billed Parrot let V
Forpus sclateri?
Pet
kiyi
perico, Cobalt-winged
Parakeet
Brotogeris cyanoptera
Pet
k lye
chiriki, Black-headed Parrot
Pionites melanocephala
Pet
wani weko
Blue-headed Parrot
Pionus menstruus
Pet
pi?e wekó
YellowT-headed Parrot
Amazona ochrocephala
Pet
we?e
loro, Orange-winged Parrot?
Amazona amazónica?
Eaten,
pet
pore weko
(naso weko syn,)
Mealy Parrot
Amazona farinosa
Eaten,
pet
Fam. Ramphastidae:
gáti piñu
Many-banded Aracari
Pteroglossus pluri-
cinctus
Eaten,
pet
piñu
Lettered Aracari?
Pteroglossus in-
scriptus?
Eaten,
pet
gahe ñase
picón, Cuviers Toucan?
Ramphastos cuvieri?
Eaten
289-

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification Remarks
Fam. Icteridae:
£
umu
mango, muchilero, cacique?
Cacicus sp.?
Eaten
seo
curillo, chiro, cacique:
Cacic.us sp.?
Eaten
w .. r
nuk a umu
Olive oropéndola?
Gymnostinops cassini?
Fam. Anhingidae:
Eaten
?oko kaka
Anhinga
Anhinga anhinga
Rarely eaten
Fam. Ardeidae:
bo wakara
Snowy Egret
Egretta thula
Feathers used as ornaments
?okó gal
(imi sak.ii syn.)
Striated Heron
Butorides striatus
ma wakara
garza, "red" egret
Egretta sp.?
Fam. Threskiornithidae:
tuyuyu
ibis
Mesembrinibis or
Eudocimus sp.
Fam. Cathartidae:
pi?piri
gallinazo, King Vulture
Sarcoramphus papa
Featured in some myths
wiwe?
gavilan, hawk
Fam. Accipitridae
Fam. Scolopacidae:
mahu saku
Spotted Sandpiper?
Actitis macularia?
290

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Jdentification
Remarks
Fam. Cuculidae:
bayo
Smooth-billed Ani
Crotophaga ani
Eaten
hiepiro
humming bird
Fam. Trochilidae
Fam. Alcedinidae:
sa?sa
Martin Pescador Real,
Ceryle torquata
Not eaten
Ringed Kingfisher
Fam. Capitoividae:
tiuoto
Scarlet-crowned Barbet
Capito aurovirens
kone
pajaro carpintero, woodpecker
Fam. Picidae
Fam. Cotingidae:
hi?e saipi
azulejo, Plum-throated
Cotinga mayana
Feathers used in headdress
Cotinga
Fam. Thraupidae
inabeka
(toabeka syn.)
Masked Crimson Tanager
Ramphocelus nigroularis
Feathers used in headdress
bobeka
Magpie Tanager
Cissopis leveriana
Feathers used ;is ornamentation
Fam. Nyctibiidae:
bayo ti?kWe
Nyctibius sp.?
Long tail feathers used as
ornamentation

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Fam. Phalacrocoracidae:
pete
pato, Neotropic Cormorant
Phalaerocorax olivaceus
Eaten
Fam. Rupicolidae:
ma bi?a
Cock-of-the-rock
Rupicola sp.
Feathers used as ornamentation
Reptiles:
tari
charapa, river turtle
Podocnemis unifilis
Turtle and eggs eaten
go*
river turtle
Podocnemis expansa
Same as above
kutigoi
morrocoy, tortoise
Testudo tabulata
Eaten
bai bi?i
cayman
Caiman niger
Killed occasionally for hide
bayo bi?±
cayman
Caiman scherops
Eaten
wáki wekó
(naso ?áñá
syn.)
Bushmaster?
Lachesis muta?
Large poisonous snake
kuisa?wiri
?áñá
var. snake
kühisi
var. snake
Nocturnal, poisonous
seme nawi
Fer-de-lance?
Bothrops atrax?
Poisonous snake
wahi ha?o ?
aña
var. snake
Bothrops schlegalii?
Poisonous snake
mikaka
var. snake
Poisonous snake, yellow
-29

TABLE 1ft. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Closs"
identification
Remarks
weko ?áñá
"parrot snake"
Poisonous snake, arboreal
?okorop±
var. snake
Poisonous, aquatic
nütiyó
var. snake
Chelia chelia
Nonpoisonous
yai mañumi
boa
Constrictor sp.
Terrestrial
nea mañumi
anaconda
Eunectes sp.
Aquatic
Amphibians:
yai hohó
var. frog
Eaten, said to be large
ñaüro
var. frog
Same as above
toa?±
var. frog
Eaten, said to have spines on
dorsal surface
oma
var. frog
Eaten, arboreal
>• w
béné unk isi
var. frog
Not eaten, small
Fish:
Fam. Potamotrygonidae:
ñanami
raya, sting ray
Potamotrygon hystrix
Eaten, skin used as sandpaper
Fan. Characidae,
Erythrininae:
ñase
pescado de perro
Hoplias malabaricus?
Eaten rarely, said to be bony
-293-

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Rema rks
Characcinae:
mawaso
sábalo
Brycon sp.
Eaten
gosa katai
sábalo
Brycon sp.
Eaten
Serrasalminae:
ma buñu
"red" piraña
Serrasalmus nattereri
Eaten
hchó buñu
"frog" piraña
Serrasalmus sp.
Eaten
tuku buñu
var. piraña named after
Serrasalmus sp.
Eaten, eye is red like tuku bead
tuku seed used for beads
a?ri buñu
"small" piraña
Serrasalmus sp.
Eaten
(ñase buñu syn.)
tika buñu
Eaten
bai buñu
"people piraña." gamitana
Eaten, est. 20 kg
pacu
?okó betoi
gamitana
Eaten, est. 10 kg
y±i baku
"cotton" paku
Colossoma sp.?
Eaten, white with red gills
ka baku
Colossoma sp.?
Eaten, white with orange spots
(kayo baku,
and "bib”
ko ? eyo,
tika baku syn.)

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Serrasaiminae (Cont
?ine baku
"peach palm" jarropa
Colossoma sp.?
Eaten, white with orange spots
?ao ya?yu baku
Eaten, said to have red "stripes
?airo baku
garrapa
Earn. Anostomidae,
Eaten, said to have black
"stripes"
Anostominae:
putiya
punta, cheo
Leporinus sp.?
Eaten, long slender body
tikai
lisa
Leporinus sp.?
Same as above
Prochilodinae:
suara
boca chico
Procbilodus nigricans
Eaten, taken with harpoon
Fam. Electrophoridae:
meko
pez eléctrico, electric eel
Electrophorus electri-
Eaten
cus
Fam. Pimelodidae:
?aña pika
Said to be a giant man-eating
catfish (alternately, a giant
man-eating reptile similar to
an anaconda)
bo simi
(hai simi syn.)
"white catfish"
"big catfish"
Platynematichthys
punctulatus?
Eaten, said to be one of the
largest of the catfish family,
est. 40 kg
295-

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks 1
Fam. Pimelodidae (Cont.
):
nea simi
"black catfish"
Eaten
ma
"macaw fish," guacamayo
Phracfocephalus
Eaten, a var. of large catfish
(ma wa?i syn.)
bagre
hemiliopterus?
yosioni
puma bagre
Pseudoplatystoma
fasciatum?
Eaten
i^a?i piki
(kuibi syn.)
pintadillo, pintarillo
Platystoma sp.?
Eaten, large catfish with black
stripes that appear to be
"painted"
£ai simi
saltón
Eaten, a variety of "jumping"
catfish, est. 20 kg
noka simi
"plantain catfish"
Pimelodus maculatus
Eaten, 2-3 kg
gati simi
boca largo
Eaten, name derives from the fact
that the mouth is placed farther
back than most catfish, est.
2-3 kg
ti-ka simi
Eaten, mouth similar to gati simi
weka sirai
"bamboo catfish"
Eaten, said to be white and
yellow, est. 2 kg
goi simi
"turtle catfish"
Eaten, est. 1 kg
96-

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Fam. Pimelodidae (Cont.):
tarai
Eaten,
var. small catfish
si?riyo
babilla
Same as above
ora hó
babilla
Same a
s above
kusi
Same as above, said to be blue-
green
ñe?ñepí
Fam. Scionidae:
Eaten,
var. small catfish
kina wa?i
"rock fish," corvina
Plagioscion
squamosissimus
Eaten
Fam. Cichlidae:
ká wani
(wani repa syn.)
mojarra
Eaten,
white
hato wani
raoj arra
Eaten,
black and white
yahi wani
mojarra
Eaten
tubi wani
mojarra
Eaten,
largest of the wani
soero
mojarra
Eaten,
smallest of the wani
we?e
Eaten,
mouth
said to have a protruding
297-

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
riako seVre
singo
Fam. unidentified:
Eaten
naso korob-t
(siVkupi syn.)
Eaten, said to be of singo cías;
yaupa
tucunaré
Chicla ocellaris?
Eaten
doye
dormilón
Eaten, est. 2 kg
bua
botello
Eaten, long slender body, est.
.2 kg
müka
Eaten, taken with poison in ox¬
bow lakes
y ah u
Eat en
miii sikiri
turn chico
Eaten, but not preferred, said
to have "spines" on body,
harpooned
gühi
warnj á
Eaten, slimy scales, est. .2 kg
a Vina
Eaten, large mouth and head,
est. 1.3 kg
biVkoyo
sardina
Eaten
aif e
(ai ühé syn.)
sardina
Eaten
-298-

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss”
Identification
Remarks
Fam. unidentified (Cont,
):
gati iihe
sardina
Eaten
Crus taceans:
na?so
camarón, creyfish?
Eaten
ka?mi
cangrejo, freshwater crab
Eaten
bene ka.?mi
terrestrial crab
Not eaten
Insects:
Order Orthoptera:
tota pu?su
grillo, var. cricket
Fishbait
gohi siepi
grillo, var. cricket
Fishbait
Order Anopleura:
Sliti
dog louse
uhé ku?u
"guan louse"
nía ku?ü
"macaw louse"
kiyi ku?u
"parakeet louse"
Order Coleóptera:
ko ? s i r i
Buprestides euchroma
Beetle used in necklaces, has
ssp. gigantea
metallic green color
kako
chicharán, cicada
Fam. Cicadidae
Appears during month of August
-299-

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or '’Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Order Lepidoptera:
mawaho mumu
var. butterfly
Large blue butterfly
gat± mumu
var. butterfly
Order Diptera:
mu? te
zancudo, var. mosquito
Fam. Culicidae
Pest
nía si?ka
var. blood-sucking gnat
Fam. Simulidae?
Pest
mint a
tabano, var. horse fly
Fam. Tabanidae
Pest
wea kü?iyo
var. sweat fly
Nuisance
nu?ni pi
var. sweat fly
Order Hymenoptera:
Nuisance, blue color
o?a
abeja, var. bee
Produces honey, stinging
wekó o?a
"parrot" bee
Honey
yihá o?a
"ground" bee
A ground-dwelling bee, eggs rub¬
bed in mouth of dogs to improve
their hunting ability
sio meha
"hairy" bee
Honey, hive inside tree trunks,
stingless
ui me'na
"lance" bee
Said to "bite," beeswax used in
manufactures
300-

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Order Hymenoptera (Cont.
):
mi?a
var. bee
Said to be small, get in eyes
piyo ?uti
aspa, var. wasp
Build house under leaves
yai bütí
avispa, var. wasp
ñata
conga
Paraponera or
Grandiponera
Var. large ant with painful bite
formerly used in rituals to•
instill courage
po?re tika
var. ant
Said to be large, but with bite
less painful than nátá
tika
var. ant
Said to be small
meka
var. ant
Eaten, ground-dwTelling
o ~
: emu
"howler monkey" ant
Stinging,small and reddish
sá?kari
var. ant
Same as above
u?ku
var. ant
Said to bite
Arachnids:
naso huhu
bird spider ("tarantula")
Avicularia sp.
Large black, spider with toxic
hairs on body
huhu wa?o
var. spider
Large red ground-dwelling spider
-301

TABLE 16. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Arachnids (Cont.):
ko?re
garrapata, tick
Fans. Ixodidae or
Argasidae
Ko?re is generic name
buni
alacrán, scorpion

APPENDIX 5
CULTIGENS
Table 17 presents the cultivated plants of the Siona-Secoya in
terms of their use (food, psychotropic, medicinal, poison, toilet,
ornamental, and miscellaneous utilitarian). As with the floral re¬
sources (cf. Appendix 3), the process of identification is continuing
with the assistance of Dr. Homer V. Pinkley of the Herbarium of the
New York Botanical Garden. For this reason the collection number
(e.g. H.S. 155) is included in the "Remarks" column for a number of the
plants. (A partial set of replicate specimens is i.n the herbarium of
the University of Florida.) Although the list provided here contains
a majority of the important cultigens utilized by the Siona-Secoya, it
is be no means exhaustive, for the village of Shushufindi was compara¬
tively new in 1973-5 and the gardens there had not developed to their
normal diversity. (The people carry selected plants along with them
when they migrate, but are not able to transport their entire inventory
of cultigens.)
-303-

TABLE 17. CULTIGENS OF THE SIONA-SECOYA
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Manioc:
bo a?so
meha a?so
nea a?so
si?re a?s6
siri a?so
wc’ki a?so
yara a?so
maki.i a?so
tnakoro a?s6
bikori a?sc5
matíka á?só
gosa a?so
Food
"white manioc," yuca Manihot esculenta
"sand manioc," yuca de arena "
"black manioc"
"fine-leafed manioc" " "
"cloud manioc" " "
"tapir manioc" " "
! I Tt
"red-stemmed manioc" "
"red sprout manioc," " "
bdcamayo
"smoke manioc" " "
II II
"Oenocarpus palm manioc" "
Said to have high moisture content
Fast growing, matures in six
months
Said to have "black" leaf stems
Leaves are sharply pointed
i
Foamy when made into chicha,
requires careful weeding
Variety witii Lall and robust
stems
May be synonym for weki a?so
Plant has red stems
Young leaves are red, tuber said
to be yellowish
Tuber said to be "brownish"
May be synonym for another
variety
Said to be an aboriginal Secoya
type
304

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Food
Manioc (Conf.):
anno a?so
"yellow manioc"
Manihot esculenta
Center oí stem is yellowish,
lasts long time in-}:,round with¬
out spoiling
sima a?so
"poison manioc," yuca de
veneno
fi n
Poisonous variety, used to make
/?ao/ (manioc cakes), "red and
black" stems
?airo bai á?só
"forest people manioc"
ii ii
Poisonous variety with white stem
Other root crops:
bo yahi
"white sweet potato," camote
Ipomoea batatas
sara yahi
(sü'íüo yahi syn.)
"yellow sweet potato,"
camote amarillo
11 II
All sweet potatoes grated into
chicha to make it "sweet"
nea yahi
"black sweet potato,"
camote negro
11 11
raa yahi
"red sweet potato,"
camote roJ[o
II If
nea ñaho
"black yam"
Dioscorea trifida
bo ñaho
"white yam"
II II
pisi ñaho
Dioscorea sp.
-305-

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English,
or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Food
Other root crops
(Cont.):
se?u
(sewi syn.)
Calathea sp.
Strawberry-sized tuber , crisp
p i ? re
papa del campo
Xanthosoma sp.
Tuber is yellow inside
weki kalio
"tapir itch"
If IT
Fed to clog's to improve hunting
ability
a?so kalio
"manioc itch"
I» »?
Leaves and tuber eaten
wea kaho
"maize itch"
1» 1»
Peeled tuber has golden color
maoki
papa china
Colocasia esculenta?
White tuber
Plantains:
noka repa
"plantain proper,
" plátano
Musa paradisiaca?
For general cooking purposes,
believed to be aboriginal
sai noka
hartón
Musa sp.
Said to have three stalks per
plant
hai noka
"large plantain"
II IT
Very large variety
hai moa noka
"thick plantain"
11 II
ma noka
"red plantain," cortajeta
II M
Peel has reddish-brown cast
siri noka
"cloud plantain,"
bijillas
IT II
Foams when cooked
306-

TABLE 17.
(Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Food
Plantains (Cunt.):
saparo noka
"Zaparo Indian plantain"
Musa
sp.
Foams when cooked, eaten raw,
may be synonym for siri. noka
sera noka
soda, banana
Musa
sapientum
Little eaten because is said to
be bland, believed to have been
introduced by whites
tu noka
(turu noka syn.)
"blunt-ended plantain"
Musa
sp.
Relatively small variety with
blunt ends
wati noka
(ánku noka syn.)
"demon plantain," orito,
guineo, dwarf banana
Musa
nana?
Grows along river banks, general
from flood-borne clones, planted
in gardens but little preferred
neaka noka
"black-winged plantains"
Musa
sp.
Dark trunk and leaves
yihá noka
"earth plantain"
M
M
Var. large banana, eaten un¬
cooked, stalk hangs low to
ground
wahi noka
(wiña noka syn.)
"living plantain"
"green plantain"
»t
tl
Fruit is soft and ripe when peel
is still green
hiko sara noka
(soho peo noka syn.
"tail-less plantain"
)
ft
r»
Var. large plantain without
"tail" on stalk
manzana
Variety recently introduced by
whites, eaten uncooked
307-

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss”
Identification
Remarks
Food
Maize:
ma weá
"red maize," maíz
Zea mays
Red kernels, native var.
nea weá
"black maize"
Black, kernels, native var.
kínapo weá
"white-rock maize"
I» ft
White, soft, used for /weá kono/
beverage and /?ao/ flatcake,
native
po?re weá
"ash maize"
1» IT
Said to have "ashy" color, eaten
cooked and in /weá kono/ bever¬
age, native var.
haha weá
canquil, popcorn
Zea mays var. everta
Eaten popped
kina weá
"rock maize," morocho
Zea mays var. endurata
Very hard kernels, introduced
by whites, grown for sale as
chicken feed
ábi won
"soft maize”
Zea mays
Introduced by missionaries,
used for /weá ?ao/ flatcake
Other grains:
kura weá
(to?ta weá syn.)
"hen maize," _trig£
Coix lacryma jobi?
Fed to chickens, used to make
beads
arusu
arroz, rice
Oryza sativa
Recently introduced by whites,
little grown
-308-

'ARLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Food
Palms:
? á-ne repa
"peach palm proper,"
chonta duro
Bactris gasipaes
Harvested during Feb.-Mar. and
August, fruit eaten boiled or
made into beverage
bayo ?±nl
"oily peach palm"
Bactris sp
A var. said to have a high oil
content
ma ?±ne
"red peach palm"
Bactris sp.
Var. with red fruit
maVñoko ine
"star peach palm"
Bactris sp.
Var. with yellow fruit
ho?ya wi
Palma africana
Elaeis guineensis
Recently introduced by whites,
said to produce edible fruit
and oil
Mise, vegetables:
"habas"
Unidentified•• plant that produces
pods and large white edible
tuber, introduced by whites
purutu
poroto, green bean
Phaseolus sp.
—
largatilla
Momorica charantia
mani, peanuts
Arachris hypogaea
Introduced by Quichuas
sapayopi
zapallo, squash
Curcurbita sp.
Introduced by Quichuas
tomate, tomato
Lycopersicon esculentum
Introduced by whites
309-

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Food
Mise, vegetables
(C'ont.) :
—
cebolla, onion
Allium sp.
Introduced by whites
Condiments:
áhi bia
ají, pepper
Capsicum sp.
Used to season meats and stews
hai horo bia
"big flower pepper"
Capsicum annuum
var. grossum?
Large red pepper, relatively
"sweet"
hio bia
"blowgun pepper"
Capsicum sp.
kurá bia
"hen pepper"
If ! 1
na pi?pi bia
"red cane pepper"
»l tl
nea bia
"black pepper," aji negro
ft It
suara bia
"Prochilodus fish pepper"
ft ft
Yellow pepper, syn. for su?ño
bia?
su?ño bia
"yellow pepper"
ft It
Long yellow pepper
suru bia
II ft
Small round red pepper, syn.
for weá bia?
weá bia
"maize pepper"
Capsicum annuum
var. corasiforme?
Small round red pepper

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remark s
Food
Condiments (Cont.)
yari bia
"yari fish pepper"
Capsicum sp.
Small round yellow pepper
- , w. .
ma link us i
"red" silwango
RencaImia sp.
Fibrous matter from seed pod
used ¿is flavoring on manioc cake
.. . W . .
nea unk rsr
"black" silwango
II II
Same as above
wekiho
H.S. 209, propagated herb
sikapa
culantro, coriander
Coriandrum sativum
Introduced by whites
Fruits:
toa
caimito
Chrysophillum cainito
uah± toa
"living" caimito
II II
Said to be ripe when fruit still
"green"
mi?ka
"cherimoya"
Annona sp.
hai bia mi?ka
guanaba
Annona ligularis?
kima
guayabo
Psidium gua.iava
apasi
zapote
arari
aguacate, avocado
Persea americana
Introduced by whites
-lie-

'ABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Food
Fruits (Cont.):
inaha ro
madroña
Rheedia madruno
Semi-domes ticate
mango
Mangifera indica
Introduced by whites
aire
fruta de pan, breadfruit
Artocarpus altilis
ho?ya si?e
"household" cacao
Theobroma cacao
io
patas
Theobroma bicolor
Seeds eaten roasted
sunori
cacao
Herrania sp.
Semi-domesticate
hai isi
"big" pineapple
Ananas sp.
kato isi
"smooth (leaf)" pineapple
! Í II
~ >
miü isi
"spiny (leaf)" pineapple
II II
tasiri
badea, tumbo
Passiflora quadrangularis?
watihiko
papaya
Carica papaya
White leaf stem
nea watihiko
"black" papaya
II II
Dark leaf stem
bo watihiko
"white" papaya
II II
Said to be bland
soa watihiko
"long" papaya
II II
Large elongated fruit, introduced
by whites
312-

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Food
Fruits (Cont.):
kukuna
"naran.i ilia"
Solanum sp.
This variety is not the common
naran.i ilia (Solatium quitoense)
miu toaw ¡ ?! (min kukuna syn.)
Solarium tequflense
Said to be an aboriginal variety
toa wl?kn
Solanum liximitante
Same as above
—
naranja, orange
Citrus sinensis
Introduced by whites
—
mandarina
Citrus sp.
Same as above
pairi bia
"Padre pepper," limón, lemon
Citrus limón
Introduced by Catholic priests
lima, lime
Citrus sp.
—
toronja, "grapefruit"
Citrus grandis?
ota bene
(ho?yn ben6 syn.)
guaba, "domesticated" Inga
Inga edulis
See Appendix 3 for feral varieties
of Inga
wa?ña béne
"machete" Inga
Inga sp.
Large curved pod, similar to
machete in shape
wa?so béné
Inga sp.
Miscellaneous:
wasi gati
(nea gati syn.)
"worm" sugarcane, caña de
azúcar
Saccharum officinarum
Snack and refresher, dark leaves
-313

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Food
Miscellaneous (Cont.):
hi.?e ghti
sugarcane
Saccharum officinarum Striped leaves
sie gut±
sugarcane
Reddish color
susu gati
gat-i nia?ña
"sucking" sugarcane
sandia, watermelon
Smaller variety, "for babies"
Citrullus vulgaris Introduced by whites
hierba Luisa, ginger
Zingiber officinalis Mixed with sugar and water to
make refreshing beverage, in¬
troduced by whites
Psychotropic
tge:
?a i ro yahe
"forest" yago
Bnnisteriops
> 1 s s p .
Hallucinogen, a feral variety,
but also propagated in gardens
yahé repa
yagé "proper"
If
If
Hallucinogen
naso yahé
"woolly monkey"
yagé
If
11
If
naso aña yahé
"woolly monkey
snake" yagé
11
If
, said to have
"striped leaf"
bi?á yahé
"bird" yagé
If
fl
, said to be a "tall
variety

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification Remarks
Psychotropic
yagé (Cont.) :
sise yahé
sia sow! yahé
sése yahé
"white-lipped peccary" yagé
Banisteriopsis
1!
II
sp •
II
11
Hallucinogen,
11
3
II
reported on
Cuyabeno R.
"yellowish"
wekí vahé
yai yahé
"tapir" yagé
"jaguar" yagé
II
II
II
II
II
3
11
"largest" var.
nea yahé
"black" yagé
lí
II
17
»
vine said to be
"dark"
tara yahé
"bone" yagé
II
II
II
3
vine has "knots"
wa?i yahé
"meat" yagé
II
II
M
3
low-growing var.,
thick
ya?wi yahé
horo yahé
"collared peccary" yagé
"flower" yagé
II
II
II
II
II
3
II
low-growing var.
yahé ?okó
yagé "water
Banisteriopsis
rusbyana
Propagated in
an admixture
drink
gardens, used as
to Banisteriopsis
-315-

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification Remarks
Psychotropic
Datura:
muhü pehi
"thunder" Datura
Datura sp.
Hallucinogen
seme pehi
"paca" Datura
If M
I?
sesé pehi
"white-lipped peccary" Datu
ra
»?
takiyai pehi
If M
It
uhahai:
yai uhahai
"jaguar" chiricaspi
Brunfelsia sp.
Psychotropic plant that produces
a cold sensation
umu uhahai
"c.acique-bird" cniricaspi
If I»
Same as above
bi?a uhahai
"bird" chiricaspi
U 1!
Same as above
Medicinal
aha ñe?ñe
H.S. 155, herb with seed pod
similar to okra, remedy for
snakebite
kekenna
H.S. 242, vine, remedy for upset
stomach
koto ±kó
(soma *ko syn.)
"boil remedy"
H.S. 249, herb, treatment for
boils
316-

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification Remarks
Medicinal
na?ñame ikd "rainbow remedy"
noha bia ñoño (Cofán)
s+sL 4-lvO
soma -ik<5 "boil remedy"
tahua
H.S. 238, herb, for sore throat
and upset stomach
H.S. 182, herb, remedy for
"black" diarrhea
H.S. 188, shrub, remedy for pain
of joints (ingested)
H.S. 184, propagated herb, remedy
for boils, leaf heated and ap¬
plied directly
H.S. 248, herb, remedy for fever,
emetic
turu ikó
(wihape syn.)
nuni:
(duri syn.)
pia nuni ajijilia Fam.
(pia tu?udi syn.)
huhu nuni "
(huhu dudi syn.)
H.S. 193, propagated herb, for
stomach ache, emetic
Class of sacred plants with
medicinal properties
Cyperaceae? H.S. 28, treatment of diarrhea,
stomach ache
" H.S. 186, taken as a "vitamin"
to restore strength, bulb ground
in water and then ingested
-317-

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
nuni (Cont.):
na?ñarne nuni
(saida ñame düdi
syn.)
Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
"rainbow" nuni
Medicinal
Fam. Cyperaceae?
H.S. 187, emetic, taken by
mother and father following
birth of child
nuni
(düdi syn.)
ñ umi:
ñumi
piripiri
Cyperus sp.
H.S. 17, 171, remedy for mal
viento
H.S. 18, sacred herb, remedy for
"body" pain and "heart" pain
ki?hebi ñumi
currasow numi
Used as condiment to counteract
the ill effects of currasow and
monkey meat, leaf is larger than
Other variety of numi
m-ttó:
mito
tobaco, tobacco
Nicptiana sp.
Used in curing rites to "venti¬
late" patient (blowing smoke),
and applied directly to kill
skin parasites
sira mitd
"swallow (bird) tobacco"
de?ko
Variety with finer leaf
Used to treat dogs to improve
their hunting ability
318-

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification Remarks
Medicinal
wa ? ro:
wa?ro
yai wa?ro
wasi ikó
kühi ma?ña
(gohi ma?na)
"dog" wa?ro
"worm remedy," paico
H.S. 22, remedy for intestinal
parasites
H.S. 24, treatment to improve
scenting ability of hunting dogs
Chenopodiurn ambrosioides Emetic, treatment for intestinal
parasites
Nursing mother takes this after
eating slimy gohi fish, so that
baby won’t drool
susi:
ma susi
"red nettles," ortiga
bái susi
"people nettles"
turi ma?ña
"mouse perfume"
gatí ma?ña "cane perfume" hierba
Luisa ginger
sa?i bia
(ca?i bia syn.)
See Appendix 3 for feral varieties
Urtica sp. Treatment for muscular pain,
brushed against afflicted part
" " H.S. 204, for muscular pain
H.S. 237, propagated herb,
remedy for stomach ache
Zingiber officinalis Used to make a tea for stomach
ache, introduced by whites
H.S. 137, propagated shrub,
remedy for diarrhea and stomach
ache

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification
Remarks
Medicinal
suara Lkó
"Prochilodus fish remedy"
11.S. 144, propagated shrub,
remedy for diarrhea, toothache,
headache
Poison
?eo
barbasco Lonchocarpus nicou?
Fish poison
ho?ya ?eo
"domesticated" barbasco " "
H.S. 53, finer leaf than ?eo
go-t ?eo
"turtle" barbasco
Fish poison, said to be less
potent than ?eo
to?teo
Clibadium sp.?
H.S. 210, fish poison
, W. ,
k imoe
Tephrosia toxicarla?
H.S- 45, fish poison
kukusa
Plant with a yellow-orange
tomato-sized fruit with knobby
projections, used to make a
roach poison
Toilet
nu? tu
(tü?tu syn.)
H.S. 15, fragrant leaves
attached to arm bands
kuhi ma?ña
(g5hi ma?na syn.)
Fragrant leaves attached to
arm bands
-320-

'ABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification Remarks
Toilet
kono ma?ña
(oyo ma?ña syn.)
"chicha perfume"
H.S. 12, rubbed on arm as perfume
tui roa?ña
Used as perfume
bosa:
bayo bosa
"oily anatto," achiote
Bixa orellana
H.S. 240, face paint
raa bosa
(si?e bosa syn.)
"red anatto"
("blood anatto")
11 11
Exterior of seed pod dark red
rnuhu bosa
(su?ño bosa syn.)
"thunder anatto"
("yellow anatto")
11 II
Yellowish color
Ornamental
horo:
"flower" (generic term)
Many introduced by whites
horo
11
H.S. 20, purple and green leaves,
carried to Shushufindi by flood
waters from white settlements
upriver
H
1?
H.S. 4, yellow flowers
1!
11
H.S. 21, small purple flowers
11
H
H.S. 3, orange flowers

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya
Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification
Remarks
Ornamental
boro (Cont.):
boro
"flower"
H.S. 8, red ornamental without
flowers
tl
H
H.S. 166, shrub with pink flowers,
introduced by missionaries
sasa bi?sa boro
H.S. 228, dark red flower, in¬
troduced by missionaries
copa de oro
Ornamental with yellow flower,
introduced by whites
ho?ya saña
(bo?ya sásá syn.)
H.S. 7, ornamental with purple
tassels
kura nau
"cockscomb"
H.S. 1, ornamental with deep
violet tassels, somewhat similar
to ho?ya saña
ma gati
"red cane," marpindo
Ornamental with dark purple
lanceolate leaves
ma?iin
"perfume" (generic name)
H.S. 25, a low herb with yellow
leaves, introduced by missionaries

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss" Identification
Miscellaneous Utilitarian
Rema rks
bi?hi:
b±?hi
kina bi?hi
kond we?ka
kuri:
ma kuri
nea kuri
kuya
pipi:
kina pipi
kosi he?tu
pipi
sásá
mate, gourd
"rock gourd"
jabono, "fertilizer"
"red"kuri
"black" kuri
gourd?
"rock cane"
carrizo
calabash
Attached to blowgun dart quivers
to hold cotton or Ceiba fibers
Fam. Leguminosae Introduced by missionaries
11.S. 103, yellow dye extracted
from the bulb of this plant
H.S, 108, red dye extracted to
paint garments
H.S. 106, reddish-brown dye
Yellow flower
Arundo donax?
Crescentia sp.
H.S. 99, used to make panpipes,
nose and ear plugs
Used to make panpipes
H.S. 243, propagated, used to
make "pea shooters"
H.S. 130, fashioned into utensils
for eating and drinking
-323-

TABLE 17. (Continued)
Siona-Secoya Spanish, English, or "Gloss"
Identification
Remarks
Miscellaneous Utilitarian
sasa bi?sa
H.S. 127, used for beads
soso bu?a
"esponjas"
Fam. Cucurbitaceae
Luffa purgans?
H.S. 9, fiber used to make shot¬
gun shell wadding, and to scrub
pots
taya:
"grass" (generic name)
turu wéki ?ao
"bull tapir food,"
pasto estrella
H.S. 42, pasture grass, intro¬
duced by whites
weki ?ao taya
"tapir food grass"
pasto guineas
Panicum barbinode?
Pasture grass, introduced by whites
N>
1! I! ÍI !! 1! 1
gramalote
Setaria cernua?
t! It II II II
—
pasto elefante
Pennisetum purpureum?
n ti t * •:
—
pasto común
ii it if it it
tayi
H.S. 131, herbaceous vine, pod
used as a toy for children
tonta weá
H.S. 23, beads
yil
algodón, cotton
Gossypium sp.
H.S. 10, used to weave arm bands,
tip blowgun darts
yuasiobo
escobillas
Sida sp.?
H.S. 29, used to make brooms to
sweep the house
-nz-

APPENDIX 6
STRESSES ON HORTICULTURE
Of the major food crops, maize and plantains are the most vulnerable
to environmental stresses. Table 18 presents the loss data for maize in
five sample gardens at Shushufindi. As can be seen, the losses ranged
from a high of 98% to a low of 6% in individual gardens, with an overall
estimated loss of 76%. Garden number five was the most disastrous, and
the owner blamed the loss on two factors: (1) the seed was "damaged" by
moisture or old age; and (2) the /wea geke/ larvae ate the tips of the
plant, which kept the ears from generating.
The maize losses in garden number one were also very high (89%).
In this instance the garden was an isolated plot made prior to the owner's
actual migration to Shushufindi, and the specific causes of the failure
are not known. Such plots are especially vulnerable to the larger of
the animal pests, however, and these may have been the cause (e.g. deer,
c.apybara, and paca) .
The production in garden number three was quite good, with an esti¬
mated loss of only 6% (the location of this garden was near the main
village). In this plot about 11% of the maize ears were damaged by
small rodents, and 4% by birds. However, the percentage of grain lost
was less, since even the damaged ears have harvestable kernels. The
difference between rodent damage and bird damage is visible to the eye;
rats cut away the husk with their teeth and then eat the maize, while
birds peck at the ear from the top thus shredding the husk, but not
-325-

-326-
cutting it off. Most of the ears attacked by these pests have only
partial damage and are salvagable. Occasionally rain water enters the
ear through the holes caused by these animals, and the maize sprouts
prematurely. The overall percentage of damage caused by birds and ro¬
dents would be higher if all of the maize grew to the stage where mature
ears are produced, but this is not always the case, as in gardens one
and five.
Damage from insects and their larvae was not evident in garden
number three. This was one of the first maize crops in Shushufindi, and
it seems likely that the insect pests were not yet established in the
new gardens. However, a spot check of a few green ears from another
garden in the same general area (350 meters away) 15 months later did
show evidence of larvae damage (no systematic sample of this maize was
made since this came at the termination of the field work period).
In terms of Siona-Secoya horticulture in general, the loss rate for
maize in the sample gardens may be high. Except for the disaster in
garden five, the losses were about 43%, and this figure may be closer to
the overall rate at Shushufindi. The experience of a near total failure
in a specific plot was not unique, however.
As Tables 18-20 indicate, there is a certain amount of pilferage
in Siona-Secoya gardens. Although this represents a "loss" to the culti¬
vator, the data are not placed in the loss column in order to differenti¬
ate between the amount of food lost to human consumption due to natural
enemies and stresses. The portion of the food that is stolen is consumed
by humans. Actually-, cultivators are acutely aware of what is taken
from their gardens, and by whom, although no attempt is made to confront
the pilferer, or to claim compensation. The prevailing attitude is that

-327-
the individuals who steal do so because of genuine need. However, it is
considered bad forra to take food without first asking the owner, and
such behavior is the subject of much gossiping and covert finger point¬
ing. This is not merely a matter of etiquette, for when a person
requests permission to harvest from another’s garden, he is in effect
establishing a relationship in which he is expected to reciprocate at
some future time. The thief enters into no such relationship.
The data on plantain losses in Table 19 are presented in terms of
the number of clones planted and lost, and the yields in terms of first
generation stalks harvested. Plantains, of course, will produce beyond
the first generation by generating new trunks which eventually produce
stalks (providing that the plants are tended and the environmental con¬
ditions are satisfactory). Due to the fact that the field work extended
over 18 months and the gardens at Shushufindi were new, it was not
possible to gather data on the long term production of plantains in
Siona-Secoya gardens.
The loss rate of 50.6% was higher than normal according to informants,
who were especially concerned about the number of plantain cuttings which
turned yellow and died prior to producing (this involved about 27% of the
clones planted). This malady was attributed to two causes: (1) /noka
peko/ larvae were eating the basal portions of the plantain trunk; and
(2) problems related to the soil (specifically, that there was "gasoline"
in the ground dating from the time that, an oil company camp had been
located on one portion of the village site).
About 12% of the plantain plants were lost due to their falling
under the weight of their fruit, or due to the gusting winds associated
with rain storms. The people attempt to minimize this type of loss by

-328-
propping the plants with poles if they have a tendency to lean to one
side. The owner of the sample plots blamed some of his plantain losses
on the sandy soil in his house garden, which he said did not provide
adequate support for the plants.
A flood in July 1974 destroyed 51 of the plantains in garden two,
or 11% of the total number of clones planted in the five sample gardens.
The plants were either washed away by the six meter (20 ft.) rise in the
Aguarico River, or felled with a machete so that the flood-borne debris
would not be caught among the plantains and settle in the garden as the
water receded. Flood damage is not a significant factor in plantain
losses during most years, however.
As the figures in Table 20 show, manioc is the most reliable of the
major food crops with an overall loss rate of approximately 26% in the
sample gardens. The total loss of manioc in garden number one is atypi¬
cal; as previously mentioned, this was an isolated plot that was made
prior to the actual migration to Shushufindi. After the clones had been
planted deer ate the leaves that sprouted from them - ad they died. (The
owner drew this conclusion after viewing the remains of the plants and
seeing the footprints of the deer.) No one else in Shushufindi experi¬
enced such difficulties with manioc, so the 26% loss figure is probably
too great for the village as a wdiole. The factor of 7% moisture and
miscellaneous damage to manioc is based on observations of manioc
harvesting, and noting the amounts of tubers discarded due to discolora¬
tion and breakage.
It is worth noting that manioc damage during the 1974 flood was
minimal. The manioc had already been harvested from the garden (number
two) nearest the river, so that this crop was not exposed to the rising

-329-
waters. Others whose manioc was flooded were able to harvest the tubers
a day or two after the water receded, thus saving it from spoilage. In
terms of the overall figures for manioc harvesting, the yield rate of
74% in the sample gardens may be conservative.
Since manioc, plantains, and maize are by far the most important
subsistence crops of the Siona-Secoya, losses in most other cultigens
are not so critical in terms of calories. Miscellaneous crop losses were
not very great in the sample gardens; the worst occurred in the afore¬
mentioned flood which destroyed seven papaya trees, four peach palm
seedlings, and one Capsicum bush in garden two.
A more significant loss was that the Capsicum bushes throughout the
village of Shushufindi were dying prematurely. After growing to their
full size they produced one crop of peppers and then died. According to
informants, pepper bushes normally live for a much longer period. Since
it was possible to get a crop from each bush, however, the people were
not totally without peppers.

-330-
TABLE 18. MAIZE LOSSES IN SAMPLE GARDENS
Garden
No.
Area
Planted
ha
Potential
Grain
Yield
kg .
Loss
Cause
Est.
Loss
kg
%
Loss
Harvest
kg
%
Harvest
1
.25
350
?
313
89
38
11
2
3
.31
436
Rodents
Birds
22
6
5
1
408
94
4
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
5
.34
1,180
Bad seed or
1,158
98
23
2
/wea géke/
larvae
Totals
Losses
Wt. kg
% Potential
Harvest
Wt. kg
% Potential
?
313
15.9
Owner
446
22.6
Rodents
22
1.1
Given away
12
0.6
Birds
6
0.3
Stolen
12
0.6
Bad seed or
/wea geke/
larvae
1,158
58.9
1,499
76.2
470
23.8

-331-
TABLE 19. PLANTAIN LOSSES IN SAMPLE CARDENS
Carden
No.
No.
Clones
Planted
Loss
Cause
No.
Clones
Lost
% Loss
First
Generation
Stalks
Harvested
% Harvest
Projected
1
50 .
Fell
24.
48
26
52
2
156
Fell
11
7
Flood
51
33
15
60
3
100
Dieda
25
25
Fell
20
20
55
55
4
5
150
Dieda
100
67
33
Totals
Losses
No. Clones
% Potential
Harvest
No. Stalks ?
K Potential
Fell
55
12
Owner
74
16
Flood
51
11
Given away
12
3
Dieda
125
28
Stolen
10
2
Potential
129
28
231
51
225
49
aAtt
ributed to
/noka peko/
larvae eating
the bases of
the clones
and to ’'gasoline" in the ground.

-332-
TABLE 20. MANIOC LOSSES IN SAMPLE GARDENS
Garden
Mo.
Area
Planted
ha
Potential
Yield
kg
Loss
Cause
Est.
Loss
k °
% Loss
Harvest
kg
%
Harvest
1
.25a
4,916
Deer^
4,916
100
0
0
2
.07a
1,302
Mise.C
94
7
1,208
93
3
.3La
6,096
Mise.C
442
7
5,654
93
4
.14d
3,866
Mise.C
280
7
3,586
93
5
. 42a
8,259
Mise.C
599
7
7,660
93
Totals
Losses
Wt. kg
% Potential
Harvest
Wt. kg
% Potential
^ b
Deer
4,916
20
Owner
15,900
65
c
Mise.
1,415
6
Given away
1 ,400
6
Stolen
806
3
6,331
26
18,106
74
3Intercropped.
^Ate the leaves off the young plants,
c
Moisture damage, and bruise damage suffered during harvesting.
^Monocropped.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
William Taylor Vickers is the son of Mr. Bernard K. Vickers
(deceased) and Mary T. Vickers. He was horn in Douglas, Georgia on
March 25, 1942. When Mr. Vickers was,four years of age his family
moved to the coastal city of Savannah, where his father, a career Chief
Petty Officer in the United States Navy, was stationed following World
War II. After subsequent moves to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San
Diego, the family settled in Jacksonville, Florida in 1953.
Mr. Vickers graduated from Terry Parker High School in 1960. After
attending Jacksonville University for two years, he joined the Peace
Corps in 1963, receiving his preliminary training in Puerto Rico and at
the University of Denver. During 1964-5 he served as a rural community
development volunteer in Ecuador, working first with a community of
huasipungeros (peasant farmers on a large hacienda) in the Province of
Cotopaxi, and then with the Salasaca Indians of Tunguragua Province.
In 1966 Mr. Vickers re-entered Jacksonville University, graduating
in 1967 wTith a B.A. in psychology. As a consequence of the Vietnemese
War he was forced to postpone his plans to enroll in graduate studies,
and was inducted into the United States Army, where he served for two
years as a psychology-social work specialist in the psychiatric clinics
of several military hospitals.
In 1970 Mr. Vickers enrolled as a graduate student in the Department
of Anthropology at the University of Florida, where he pursued his
interests in cultural anthropology and Latin American ethnology under
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-348-
William E. Carter, Charles Wagley, Alexander Moore, Theron A. Nunez,
Maxine Margolis and Paul L. Doughty. In 1971 Mr. Vickers was awarded
a National Defense Education Act Title IV Fellowship, and that summer
he participated in a National Science Foundation sponsored field school
in the Mezquital Valley of Mexico where he studied a farming community
of Otomi Indians.
In the summer of 1972 he travelled to Ecuador with the purpose of
conducting a preliminary survey of potential sites for his doctoral
research. After making a canoe trip through the Aguarico River region
he selected the Siona-Secoya Indians as the focus of his investigation
and returned to Florida to develop his research proposal.
On March 31, 1973 Mr. Vickers was married to Edite Vargas de Souza
of Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil, who was pursuing undergraduate studies
in sociology at the University of Florida. In September, 1973, Mr. and
Mrs. Vickers departed for Ecuador to begin 18 months of research among
the Siona-Secoya on the Aguarico River. In April, 1975 they once again
established residence in Gainesville, Florida, where Mr. Vickers undertook
the writing of his dissertation.

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully
adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy.
/
/> /
// / /
W.E. Carter, Chairman
Professor of Anthropology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully
adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of
doctor of Philosophy.
T.A. Nunez, Jr. /
Associate Professor of Anthropology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully
adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of
doctor of Philosophy.
G.A. Moore, Jr.
Associate Professor of Anthropology

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully
adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy.
C.W. Wagley ]
Graduate Research Professor of
Anthropology
1 certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully
adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy.
of Geography
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department
of Anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate
Countil, and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for
the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
August, 1976
Dean, Graduate School

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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3 1262 08667 027 9



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