Stephen Beckerman and Roberto Lizarralde: The Ecology of the Barí: Rainforest Horticulturalists of South America
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Stephen Beckerman and the late Roberto Lizarralde spent years of research with the Barí over many decades, and have collected one of the world’s best data sets on the demography and ecology of a small Native American group. The Barí (Motilón in older literature) are swidden cultivators of northern Venezuela, speaking a Chibchan language. They live in longhouses, and are “semisedentary,” moving and building new longhouses rather often, especially to protect themselves by removing from vulnerable sites.
They maintain a reasonably traditional lifestyle surprisingly close to urban centers. This was not done easily. They had to hold their own against Hispano-Venezuelan settlers and government soldiers, and for a long time in the early 20th century they were faced with outright genocide. The settlers, with government backing, planned to exterminate them. They were fighting for their lives. They not only survived; they successfully kept the core of the lands, through an absolutely implacable...