This is Chapter 11 of the Ph.D. dissertation entitled CHANGING ADAPTIVE STRATEGIES AMONG THE SARAGUROS OF SOUTHERN ECUADOR, accepted in 1984 by the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
With the exception of a few minor typographical changes (including changing underlined words to italic form), the dissertation is copied here exactly as written with whatever errors of fact or interpretation it originally contained. While there are no significant changes in the original text, comments on errors, some updating of information and some explanatory information have been added. These are clearly marked with brackets and asterisks thusly [* . ...*]. Page numbers in the original dissertation have been indicated in brackets without asterisks, i.e. . Also added are links to other material on the Saraguro web site.
The specific data supporting most of the generalizations in this chapter is provided in the earlier chapters of the dissertation.
The entire dissertation has been published in Spanish, in Ecuador by Abya-Yala, and is also available in English from University Microfilms.
Those not familiar with the Saraguro area and its people should first read the Brief Overview of Saraguro and the material on the Shuar and the Saraguros. These should also be consulted for updates on current (1999) conditions faced by the Saraguros.
All places named herein are shown on one or more of four maps provided on this website. To find the locations of the places named go to the Map Index. In the index they are alphabetically listed and provided with links to the map(s) where they are shown. A key is also provided which indicates the section of the map(s) where they may be found.
Corn and Cattle: The Development of a Dual Strategy
At the beginning of this century the Saraguros of the six communities of Oñacapa, Tambopamba, Tuncarta, Ñamarin, Lagunas and Quisquinchir [* see Saraguro Region map. *] [*1*] , in the parish [* parroquia *] of Saraguro, were primarily engaged in subsistence farming. Living in an isolated area, with no regular market or retail business of significance, they were only sporadically engaged in market or exchange transactions with outsiders in order to obtain things that they could not produce themselves; a few necessities such as salt and metal tools; some supplementary foods such as rice, sugar and tropical fruits; and some occasional luxuries such as jewelry.
So that they could obtain these goods they raised some cattle and chickens, the products of which (beef-on-the-hoof, cheese and eggs) were taken to be traded or sold in the Jubones valley, Zaruma or the coast. The Saraguros were thus engaged in exchange oriented vertical circulation patterns. But many of their cattle were being raised in the high paramo areas around Saraguro; the Saraguros were thus engaged in production oriented verticality at the same time. Combining the two forms of verticality, production oriented and exchange oriented, many individual Saraguros were involved in covering a vertical range of well over 3000 meters (from paramo to coastal elevations), not to mention horizontal ranges of over 150 kilometers.
While their economic adaptation was vertically organized, the Saraguros were laterally mobile as well: they occasionally traveled to the highland cities of Loja and Cuenca for legal, political and religious purposes. It is possible, also, that some Saraguros supplemented their incomes as muleteers, transporting goods and people between Cuenca and Loja. Evidence on this point, however, is not good.
At any rate, Saraguros were responsible for official goods and personnel passing through Saraguro on the way between Loja and Cuenca and thus had forced upon them the skills of mule  handlerswhether or not they made use of these skills for their own profit. This tambo mita [*2*] service was one of the major forms of direct exploitation the Saraguros suffered as indígenas [*3*], and was not to end until the Pan American Highway was built through the Saraguro area in the 1940s.
Not only did tambo service extract goods and labor from the
Saraguros over its centuries of existence, but it had negative
impacts on the eventual development of autonomous community organization
among the Saraguros. Though the elaborate gobernador system of
indigenous organization, which managed the tambo mita service,
did have some other functions such as the defense of indigenous
interests and the coordination of indigenous religious activities
with church authorities, it was viewed primarily as a servant
of the stateas an agency that facilitated the extraction
of goods and labor from the indigenous population. And this image
of indigenous organizations as quisling systems, or as entities
that could easily be co-opted or controlled by outside interests
seriously impeded the development of community organization among
the Saraguros through the 1960s, particularly when government
agencies such as the Misión Andina tried to establish community
councils. Not until the late 1960s and early 1970s were the Saraguros
to begin to establish their own forms of autonomous community
Beginning perhaps before the turn of the century some Saraguros had begun to experiment with planted and managed pastures as an alternative to the use of paramos as rangeland. These pastures were established by carving out plots of cerro [* mountain woodland/ cloud forest *] land in the vicinity of the communities. Then a few Saraguros, principally from the communities of Gurudel, Oñacapa and Tambopamba began to enter the upper Yacuambi valley to establish pastures there. They had probably originally been drawn to that area to hunt gold or quinine bark or to help those who did. Then followed several decades of relatively slow development of the managed pasture system. By the 1920s and 1930s, then, Saraguros pursued the market aspect of their dual  strategy in a variety of ways and areas: they still raised most of their cattle, most of the time, in the paramos, but many were becoming familiar with a more intensive system of cattle and pasture management.
The Yacuambi valley component of their dual strategy received
an added stimulus from the entry of the Franciscans in the 1930susing
Saraguro as their support base. With the establishment of the
Franciscans in the Yacuambi valley, trails between the Saraguro
and Yacuambi areas were expanded and maintained and Saraguros
from communities other than Gurudel, Oñacapa and Tambopamba,
many of whom served at first as auxiliaries of the Franciscans,
began to become familiar with the area. Further, Franciscans took
over effective control of the Yacuambi valley from the Shuar who
had previously directed settlement: this made it easier for more
Saraguros to search out and claim good land there.
The major external stimulus to the full flowering of the dual
strategy of the Saraguros, and its colonization option, was the
construction of the Pan American Highway between Cuenca and Loja.
Where previously the town of Saraguro had been little more than
a local administrative and religious center which also served
as a tambo on a major national mule trail, it now became a commercial
center with a proliferation of small shops and the establishment
of a weekly cattle market.
As I indicated above, the arrival of the road freed the Saraguros
from the onerous burden of tambo service. But just as important
were the new opportunities for market engagement that emerged.
Although employment in road construction crews provided market
engagement for many Saraguros for several years, the chief long
range impact of the road's arrival was to promote increased development
of the livestock production aspect of the Saraguros' dual strategy.
No longer having to travel great vertical and horizontal distances
to obtain a few necessities, supplements and luxuries, the Saraguros
threw themselves more intensively into the production of more
livestock and livestock produce. The exchange  oriented vertical
circulation taking them to the coast, Zaruma and the Jubones valley
was soon reduced to a trickle. And the establishment of local
markets led quickly to the demise of free-range paramo cattle
raising. Those Saraguros who had access to good forest land in
the cerro which could be transformed into pasture increased
their efforts to so transform it. Others entered the Oriente to
claim and work land for the same purpose: cattle raising. Those
Saraguros who did not have enough resources to get a good start
in livestock raising had to develop alternative strategies: wage
labor, specialized crafts production (weaving, basket making,
pottery manufacture), begging or stealing. All but a very few
were able to at least produce a good portion of their subsistence
needs from small plots of land they did own; many of these with
alternative strategies hoped to accumulate enough resources to
eventually be able to enter the livestock raising business.
Increased market participation promoted a decline in networks
of obligation and reciprocity. Most successful Saraguros found
it more satisfactory to depend upon more limited networks of friends
and family members than they had in the past.
As much as they became engaged in the market, however, the Saraguros did not neglect their subsistence orientation; subsistence security was a primary goal of the dual strategy, not a mere appendage to the livestock business. Though small scale livestock raising produced reasonably good long term cash yields by Third World standards, year to year variations in income were greatdue to fluctuations in herd sizes and market conditions. A strong subsistence base, then, freed the Saraguros from the worst features of market engagement.
Wolf (1968: xiv) has almost perfectly described the situation:
"the peasant most often keeps the market at arm's length,
for unlimited involvement in the market threatens his hold on
his source of livelihood . . . he favors production for sale only
within the context of an assured production for subsistence."
Wharton (1971), Johnson (1971), Mayer (1974) and Scott (1976)
also provide excellent discussions of  subsistence security
strategies among peasants. Saraguros have been quite conscious
of this aspect of their dual strategy. As two Saraguros put it
in comparing their group with the Otavalos of northern Ecuador,
"We are richer than they are . . . We have cattle, land,
real wealth. The Otavalos have factories and money but they have
to keep working all the time to get money, while we have our land
whether we work or not" (cited in Belote 1978:3).
Unlike peasants living on the margins of survival there is
enough play in Saraguro subsistence activities, particularly in
the raising of food crops, that Saraguros have been able to follow
a pragmatic and sometimes experimental approach. That is, they
have been willing to try innovations introduced by outsiders or
thought up by themselvesthey have not been resistant to
all change. But all this has been done in the context of maintaining
crop production as a subsistence activity. Among the Saraguros,
then, increased crop production, surpluses, are generally quite
deliberately kept out of the market and instead, are stored against
lean years or redistributed through the ceremonial structure.
Thus, by the 1960s the Saraguros had emerged as a group whose
dual adaptive strategy had given them a degree of subsistence
autonomy and strength, combined with a livestock based market
involvement, that was remarkable in Ecuadorian rural terms.
But the dual strategy of the Saraguros was reaching its limits in the 1960s. Population growth had caught up with the availability of good land. Well before the 1960s land for general expansion was limited in the highlands, but the resources of the Yacuambi valley had provided an option for those engaged in the dual strategy. However, in the late 1960s good, accessible land either to buy or to claim was running out in that area also. Some Saraguros entered the Chicaña valley, others went further down the Yacuambi, but they found themselves hemmed in by settlers entering the area along the newly constructed Zamora valley roads. And even  when they could find good, unworked land in other parts of the Oriente they were beginning to encounter the reassertion of Shuar claims to their (Shuar) traditional territory.
Saraguro Since 1971: Oil, Ethnogenesis, Professionalization and Proletarianization
When the adaptive strategy of an internally colonized agricultural group such as the Saraguros reaches its culmination in terms of population pressure on the land and other developed resources, there are a number of strategic directions that can be taken by individuals or the group. Among these are involution, intensification, transculturation/assimilation and niche diversification.
Drawing from Goldenweiser (1936) Geertz has defined involution,
in reference to agricultural systems as:
. . . those cultural patterns which, after having reached what would seem to be
a definitive form, nonetheless fail either to stabilize or transform themselves into
a new pattern but rather continue to develop by becoming internally more
complicated . . . [involution(is)] the overdriving of an established form in such
a way that it becomes rigid through an inward overelaboration of detail (Geertz
1963: 81, 82).
The manifestation of involution includes such elements as more intricate tenure systems, more complicated tenancy relationships, more complex cooperative labor arrangements, "all in an effort to provide everyone with some niche, however small, in the overall system" (Geertz 1963: 82). Scott (1976: 13) has equated Geertz's agricultural involution with Chayanov's (1966: ) "self-exploitation"another apt term.
Involution has not become a significant pattern in the Saraguro area. Although some elements that may be linked to involution, such as an elaboration of complex obligation/cooperation networks, are pursued by some poorer Saraguros, most Saraguros have been attempting to simplify such arrangements over the last generation (as pointed out above and in Belote and Belote 1977a) .
Boserup's (1965) intensification involves a differentalthough
in some ways, overlappingresponse to population growth vis-à
vis resources. Intensification is perhaps more likely to be a
generally earlier response than involution and, when its possibilities
are exhausted, may lead to an involuted pattern. Essentially,
intensification occurs "when land efficiency becomes a primary
goal of procurement, that is, when productivity per unit land
must be raised, even at the expense of more work and potentially
lowered productivity per unit time or labor" (Jochim 1981:
In a rather unsatisfactory sense the Saraguro shift from free
range paramo to the staking/managed pasture system of cattle raising
was a kind of intensification: per unit productivity of land was
raised at a cost in terms of labor inputs required. But while
the shift was due in part to increased desires for market engagement
and desires to impart security and control into the cattle raising
process (desires that can accompany intensification) this shift
involved the abandonment of one kind of land (paramo) rather than
the intensification of its use. Abandonment was brought about
by the development of more satisfactory techniques for exploiting
forest land for pastures (albeit with more labor inputs) and not
through pressure by Saraguros on the land nor, as happened in
the case of the Canelos Quichua (Macdonald 1979: 290), through
pressure on their land resources exerted by outsiders with the
backing of the state.
Though Saraguros may have experienced a kind of semi-intensification
in the past, the question before us is in the present; that is,
what are they doing now to handle the land scarcity they are beginning
to experience? The answer in part, but only in part, is intensification.
Some Saraguros are working their land harder with both old and
new techniques. They are clearing land that should better be left
in forest or brush covermarginal land that otherwise would
provide wood resources for the future and general protection for
the local environment. Some few are extending their search for
new land  further into the Zamora valley, in the process
competing with other colonists and Shuar for a rapidly diminishing
resource. The construction of two-story houses in the highlandsa
phenomena entirely of the 1970s and 1980sis a reflection
of the intensified pressure on the land. This pressure is a far
more frequent topic of conversation among the Saraguros in the
1980s than it was in the 1960s and early 1970s.
For those who continue to follow the dual strategy of subsistence
security combined with cattle-based market engagement, intensification
is likely to grow as an emergent pattern. But intensification
for these people may be diminished or indefinitely delayed if
a large enough number of Saraguros should opt for alternatives,
or partial alternatives, to the dual strategy. These alternatives,
to the investigation of which we will now turn, would take them
out of competition for the land resources available in the area.
The major alternative, which would reduce the push to intensification,
is occupational diversification oriented towards the exploitation
of resources not traditionally under the control of the Saraguros.
There were several factors impeding occupational diversification
among the Saraguros prior to the 1970s. In the first place, Ecuador
was a poor country with very low wage levels for most occupations
not requiring much education. Most Saraguros could make a better
living following their dual strategy (especially before that strategy
approached its resource limits) than they could if they were to
be engaged in any of the low-level laboring jobs available to
indígenas as indígenas in Ecuador. Higher
level, better paying occupations, on the other hand, were not
open to indígenas. As Casagrande put it as late
as 1974, "To my knowledge no Indian has risen to public or
professional prominence in Ecuador and retained his Indian identity.
There are no Indian doctors, lawyers, engineers, authors or elected
public officials" (1974: 17). Van den Berghe and Primov (1977)
made similar observations about the neighboring Andean nation
of Peru at about the same time. 
One way out of this limitation is individual transculturation
or group assimilation; that is, individuals or groups may change
their ethnic identities, join the ranks of the dominant society,
and no longer be excluded from the opportunities available in
that society on the basis of their colonial identity. Ethnic mobility
is quite common in Latin America since the boundaries between
groups (particularly between groups of European and Native American
origins) are not strongly marked by "racial" or biological
characteristics (cf. Bourricaud 1976; Escobar 1970; Crespi 1975;
Whitten 1976; van den Berghe and Primov 1977). Various intellectuals
and government officials at times have attempted to eliminate
the category indígena in their countries by promoting
an integrationist/assimilationist program of mestizaje
or blanqueamiento, that is, mestizoization or whitening
(see Rubio Orbe 1956; Erasmus 1968; Gonzalez Navarro 1970; Stutzman
1981). Whitten (1976) and van den Berghe and Primov (1977) have
called this approach to ethnic diversity, "ethnocidal."
In fact, most individuals or groups that change their identities
are assimilated into the lower levels of the dominant society
and do not automatically raise their status in any other than
the shedding of a stigma of indigenous identity. They are likely
to have accomplished little more than to have exchanged their
position at the bottom of a system of ethnic stratification for
one at one of the lower levels of a system of economic/class stratification.
At any rate, overt transculturation (individual ethnic identity
change in which geographic mobility or other hiding of one's past
identity is not required; see Belote, L., and Belote forthcoming
[* published in 1984 *]) was an option taken by more than sixty
Saraguros in the 1950s and 1960s. Most transculturates changed
their identities so that they could obtain non-farming occupations;
they became shopkeepers, bakers, carpenters, carpenter's assistants,
public employees, cooks, unskilled laborers, etc. (Belote 1978).
A few have achieved some success; most have had to struggle just
to survive. Almost all  of them had had few opportunities
to achieve success within the indigenous world; they were therefore
a part of what we have called "drain from the bottom"
(Belote, L., and Belote forthcoming ). In other words, poorer
Saraguros were more likely to transculturate than Saraguros of
ordinary or above average wealth.
In the mid 1960s however, a few wealthier Saraguro parents were beginning to
consider transculturation for their children. If their children were to become
blancos [*4*] they could attend school through
the higher grades and even through university levels, and then they could seen
good-paying, non-farming occupations. One or two of these families began the
process by transculturating one or more of their children and enrolling them
as blancos in local schools.
However, the transculturation [*5*] route to the
pursuit of alternative occupational niches was stalled, if not completely stopped,
by the emergence of new conditions in Saraguro and in Ecuador. By 1970 the educational
system in Ecuador was opening up for indígenas as indígenas
both locally and nationally, at least at token levels. By the early 1970s
a number of Saraguros, females and males, left Saraguro to seek higher educations,
going to such places as Quito, Cuenca, Loja and Guaitacama. Others began to
enter the developing high school system in Saraguro. Many of these young people
were quite successful in their efforts. Some, for example, achieved top honors
in middle-class schools in Quito as well as in Saraguro.
In the meantime, in 1972 a major event took place: Ecuador
became an oil exporting nation. With the oil came a flood of money,
money that came not only in payment for oil but also in the form
of large international loans which Ecuador could now obtain against
its oil resources. Much of the money was spent to support the
military which had instituted a coup shortly before the oil money
started to come in. Much money was wasted with poor planning,
inefficiency and corruption. And inflation, particularly in the
non-agricultural sector, grew rapidly. Nevertheless, this new
money was put to some useful purposes;  in particular there
was an explosion in infrastructural development which was not
limited to only a few major cities, but was spread widely throughout
Ecuador. Dams, roads, electrical systems, schools, hospitals,
and clinics, and irrigation systems were constructed or under
construction by the early 1980s. In the canton [* "county"
*] of Saraguro in the decade following the beginning of the oil
boom many new schools were built, a major irrigation system was
under construction, a public hospital was built and staffed and
the Pan American Highway was undergoing radical reconstruction
(with plans for eventual paving [* it is now a wide, two-lane,
paved road although in the last few years the government has not
had funds to maintain it properly *]). Not all of these things
were necessarily done well (some were); the point is that in Saraguro
as elsewhere in the country there was a great expansion of money
and occupational opportunities.
At the same time as schools and universities were beginning
to permit or even encourage the entry of indígenas,
there was some opening of occupational opportunity as well, and
as indígenas began to complete courses of study
at higher levels many of them sought occupations commensurate
with their qualifications. Needless to say, indígenas
qua indígenas were not always successful in attaining
their desires; not everyone with power in public or private life
was willing to allow that. But the barriers to indigenous participation
in the life of the country did make it possible for some indígenas
to seek alternative occupational niches without having to
transculturate. (See Whitten 1981, for the best review of transformations
in Ecuadorian society as they affected indigenous groups in recent
Since inflation in wages and non-agricultural prices generally
rose more rapidly than the prices for agricultural products many
Saraguros (and other rural peoples) for the first time found that
they could make what seemed to be a better living at fairly low-level
jobs than they would by raising fifteen or twenty head of cattle.
Thus as Saraguros had earlier begun to enter higher level schools,
they also began to engage in occupations other than subsistence
farming combined with  commercial cattle raisingand
these occupations were not necessarily particularly high ones.
That they did so as indígenas, rather than transculturates,
requires at least brief comment.
For a variety of reasons, both internal and external, the Saraguros
along with many other Ecuadorian indigenous groups have become
engaged in an emergent process of "ethnogenesis" (Singer
1962; Whitten 1976: 281). They are redefining and refining what
it means to be Saraguros in the modern world, holding on to their
ethnicity while they change it. Involved with ethnogenesis are
a certain amount of pride and aggressiveness. This pride and aggressiveness
can now be turned against those who transculturate and is done
so with a strength that was not evident through the 1960s. As
a result of group resistance, combined with new opportunities
for indígenas in the Saraguro area, the rate of
transculturation has declined: compared to the more than 60 people
who had transculturated from indigenous to non-indigenous identities
in the 1950s and 1960s, we found only six people who had transculturated
from indígena to blanco between 1971 and
1981 (Belote, L., and Belote forthcoming ).
A significant aspect of Saraguro ethnogenesis has been manifested
in the growth of the activities of community councils and other
indigenous organizations. Most important, perhaps, is the development
of ACIS (Asociación Comunal de Indígenas de Saraguroin
1982 ACIS became FIS, Federación de Indígenas de
Saraguro). Growing out of groups of young people that toured the
country giving folklore performances and speeches in the late
1960s and early 1970s (see Belote and Belote 1981) ACIS was an
attempt to link all Saraguros (not just those of the parish) together
in a formal organization that would defend indigenous Saraguro
interests, promote Saraguro development, and form links with indigenous
groups elsewhere in Ecuador. In particular, the Saraguros formed
links with the Federación Shuar, attending meetings and
 discussions at Federación headquarters in Sucua and
receiving Shuar literature on community organization.
In the development of ACIS the Saraguros remained cognizant
of their past fears over who would benefit from Saraguro indigenous
organizations. Some members talked openly of the dangers they
faced, if they were not careful, of being bought-off or controlled
by outsiders, national or international. One effort to ensure
that Saraguro interests would be followed was the establishment
of consensus based (rather than majority-rule) models of decision
making. Not only would consensus based decision making reduce
the ease of outside control, it would also fit better with the
pre-existing Saraguro ethos of individuality, autonomy and egalitarianism
in which both the giving and taking of orders are considered undesirable
And so the Saraguros are still Saraguros in the 1980s, but
many of them no longer pursue the dual strategy of the past. More
than a dozen are now school teachers in Saraguro and other areas;
other dozens are government paid teachers in Quichua literacy
programs; some, long braids intact, serve in the military forces.
A fair number work as professionals in various levels of government
agencies. Many are auxiliary nurses. Others have given up what
had been good cattle business to work as laborers on road crews.
Yet others are carpenters, construction contractors, or weavers
for non-Saraguro markets. And finally, many are attending universities,
seeking degrees in such fields as law, medicine, veterinary medicine
and nursing. No longer restricted to one or another peasant strategy,
they are joining the ranks of professionals as well as the proletariat.
Most Saraguros engaged in pursuing non-agricultural occupations
have kept at least some of their land, using it for home sites
and to produce some subsistence crops such as maize. But by not
requiring or competing for large portions of a diminishing resource,
they are helping to prolong the viability of the dual strategy
for those who wish to continue to follow it.  Whether enough
Saraguros will engage in alternative strategies to prolong the
traditional strategy indefinitely, I cannot say.
Those who have withdrawn are taking a chance on the future
of Ecuador and on their own security and well-being. Unless new
discoveries are made, Ecuadorian oil production will significantly
decline. Already Ecuador is feeling the negative effects of lowered
world prices for oil. Should Ecuador fail to remain financially
viable, those Saraguros who have given up the old dual strategy
will probably find it extremely difficult to maintain their new
strategiesin the increased competition for diminishing resources
indígenas could be the first to lose their positions.
And they will not find it easy to re-engage themselves in the
Thus Saraguros are entering niches over which they have little
control either as individuals or as a group. Further, these niches
are embedded in the more hierarchical, authoritarian and alienating
structures of the modern world. Even if they are able to remain
in these niches, the Saraguros will not have the same kind of
control over their own labor and the products of their labor that
they did as relatively land-rich agriculturalists.
The children of Saraguros involved in niche expansion and differentiation
will be growing up in a world that is very different from that
in which their parents grew up. Not only will it be a more hierarchical
and authoritarian world, but it will also be one in which the
environment will be increasingly pervaded by artifacts of modern
technology that are both more dangerous (e.g. chain-saws, gasoline
stoves, electrical outlets) and more fragile (e.g. radios, tape
recorders, cameras) than they were in the past. And children will
no longer be raised in the participatory environment of the family
agricultural enterprise where they easily and gradually learned
their future occupational roles in a context that engendered strong
senses of both autonomy and responsibility (see Belote and Belote
1983 for a discussion of the changing place of children in Saraguro
Yet another problem faces the Saraguros in the world of the 1980s and beyond: the emergence of radical differentiation among Saraguros in life style, incomes, education and opportunities. This may lead eventually to the development of profound differences among Saraguros on class lines or through the growth of occupational, political and educational elites on the one hand, a group of have-nots on the other. This has not occurred as yet, in part because of the strong bonds of ethnicity the Saraguros have been creating for themselves and the strong emphasis on egalitarianism they have brought with them into the 1980s.
As they diversify their strategies, then, the Saraguros are
entering a new world of opportunities and dangers. I do not know
how, or how well, Saraguros will eventually accommodate to the
new conditions they encounter or how well they will adjust to
radical changes in the national context should, for example, the
economy fail or should anti-indigenous sentiments regain ascendancy.
Nor do I know if the trade-offs they must make (between, say,
a degree of loss of autonomy and control, and increased alienation
from the fruits of their own labor on the one hand, in return
for expanding educational, occupational/economic and political
opportunities in a wider system on the other hand) will lead to
a more satisfactory human condition in Saraguro.
Like members of small scale societies everywhere, they probably do not have much choice about becoming more engaged with the modern world. The question is not whether they will be a part of this new world, but how well they will be able to define their place in that world, and how well they will be able to prepare themselves and their children to develop and maintain a coherent and satisfactory life within it.
2 Tambos were way-stations or inns for official travelers established under the Inca empire along major travel routes and usually about a day's walk from each other. They were maintained by a form of labor tax in which individuals, on a rotating basis (usually from nearby communities), were selected for a period of time to serve in them (building and maintaining them, and guiding, feeding and providing lodging for travelers, and feeding and corraling traveling livestock). This labor tax was known at the mita. The subjection of indigenous people to tambo mita service was continued in the Saraguro through Spanish and, until the middle 1940s, Ecuadorian administrations. A government owned tambo still existed on the Saraguro-Yacuambi through the 1960s. Unlike the earlier form, however, it was available for the use of any traveler, and the people running it were paid, voluntary employees.
3 Indígena = indigenous person in Spanish, i.e. in the Andes, the Indian population. The Spanish word for Indian, indio, was generally considered insulting in the 1980s. In the late 1990s, however, a few indigenous people (including some Saraguros) began to aggressively and proudly use the term. Yet others in post-modern Ecuador don't like being lumped into any general category other than that designating their particular group (i,e, "Saraguro"). Adequate treatment of currently "civilly correct" terminology in Ecuador is too complex to deal with adequately here. Suffice it to say that in 1999 most Saraguros found both "Saraguro" and indígena acceptable terms.
4 Blanco means "white" in Spanish. In Ecuador in general, and especially in Saraguro, however, blanco, designated a cultural category rather than a "racial" or biological category. Many people called blanco could have varying degrees of indigenous Andean, European or African ancestry. Most people in the Saraguro region were considered to be biologically mixed to some degree, whatever the term used for them. When the dissertation was written, blanco was the most commonterm used for non-indigenous people both by themselves and by others (including the few in the region who would have been categorized as "black" or "African American" in the U.S). By the 1990s many indigenous people began to use the term mestizo to refer to those formerly called blanco. Mestizo means "mixed blood." Some non-indigenous persons also use the term as a self-referent. However, others are offended by the term. As in the case of the discussion in note 3, these issues of group labels are too complex to deal with adequately here.
5 We have defined "transculturation" as "a more or less rapid shift of membership from one distinct ethnic group to another by an individual who, in the process, changes the significant indicators of his or her ethnic identity and, with or without the use of deceit, is accepted as one of them by members of the receiving group. Transculturation is an action taken by an individual on the basis of conscious decisions and choices made by that individual" (L. Belote and Belote 1984:27).
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