Sustaining the Environment
A shallow water fish trap can also be used as a basket.
The Kingfisher and indigenous people methods of fishing have one commonality - they are sustainable. No fish is wasted and there is always fish for tomorrow.
Traditional lowland indigenous peoples of South America most often fish daily and tend to fish only for the family and maybe other vulnerable members of the community e.g. the elderly. Sometimes fish is preserved for future use, but fresh fish is always preferred. An advantage of daily fishing is that the catch is at its freshest. One important sustainable way to fish is to use a cell-type fish trap.
Fish Traps have been used for many, many moons now and are still used today. A trap is usually set in nearby water within walking or paddling distance from the home and is normally checked for fish on a daily basis.
Depending on the area, traps can be of different designs. One type of trap used in shallow water is made of cane and the lure to the trap is termite or wood-ants. Where there is a rise and fall of the tide, a water pen made of palm, with roasted corn as the lure can be used.
A flooded plain trap in use
This trap is set in shallow water and is woven like a basket (see above) with openings, big enough for small fish to escape. The bait which is the live termite nest is placed in the basket. A weight is also put in to prevent the trap from floating away and to keep the opening below the water. The mouth of the trap is wide, so fish can swim in. A thick covering of water weeds is placed on top so as to disguise the trap and to encourage fish to enter.
The wait begins until it is time to check the trap for fish.
Preserving Amazonian Trees of Life
It is very vital to learn the importance of forests such as Moraro. This page describes some everyday useful plants that have origins in forests like Moraro. We have many uses of plants now growing in the forest. Many of these uses are little known to the outside world.
Preserve Rain-forest Fruit Trees and Preserve The Forest
It is time that Forest Fruit Trees are given Recognition and Value for their Contribution to Rainforest Preservation
If we preserve rainforest fruit trees then we would be preserving our forests as well.
It appears to be due to lack of awareness that forests are depleted of their trees. With proper management techniques, we can use these bio resources and still have our forests for the future. Indigenous peoples use their knowledge, expertise and skills to manage forest fruit trees which is one reason why forests are still intact.
How do forest fruits contribute to life in the rainforest? The answer is to look closely at how the fruits are used. Most obvious contributors would be trees that are used by local people as well as birds and animals. One such example are trees belonging to the Inga family as well as palms.
The Ité (Ita) Palm (Mauritia flexuosa)
One admirable and remarkable prominence of Amazon indigenous peoples is their development of values around the natural working cycle of the natural environment
There are many useful trees and plants that provide sustenance. These are considered very important to everyday living among indigenous peoples and even among non-indigenous people. In 1912, an English bio-explorer, named Charles Waterton went from Georgetown the capital of Guyana to explore the rain-forest and saw the importance of curare. He introduced curare to Western medicine and today it is still used. The palm is one type of tree that is widely used by many indigenous peoples including our Warrau, Lokono and Carib peoples. Some palms bear edible fruits and even though these palms are favoured for their fruit, they are also favoured for other parts that provide for other needs that are just as important.
The palm is one type of tree that is widely used by many indigenous peoples including our Warrau, Lokono and Carib peoples. Some palms bear edible fruits and even though these palms are favoured for their fruit, they are also favoured for other parts that provide for other needs that are just as important.
The Ita palm is found in many parts of the Amazon. It is so wide spread that it is called by different names in different places. It is called Ité or Ita in the Guyanas. Among its many other names, it is called Aguaje in Peru and Bolivia, Buriti in Brazil and Moriche in Colombia and Venezuela.
It has so many uses that it is often called the ‘tree of life’ by many indigenous peoples. Ité oil which is obtained from the fruit is a very rich source of beta-carotene (more than carrots) The oil protects the skin from the damaging effects of the sun and promotes scar tissues.
The fruit is a good source of essential fatty acids which protects against degenerative diseases. The oil is an excellent skin moisturizer and helps to promote youthful skin. It strengthens the immune system. The palm frequently grows in swampland bordering highland. Harvesting the straw from the palm is a technique that has to be learnt by much practising. Ité straw lends itself to stitching and so makes beautiful coiled straw baskets.
Traditional swampland native people would allow the Ité palm to grow by their canoe landing place to shelter the canoes from the sun and to protect the soil from erosion, as well as to preserve the area for plants that encourage fish and shrimp.
Leaves: fibre for twine and crafts such as baskets, mosquito brushes, clothing, brooms, thatching, mobile shelters
Fruits: eating, beverage, flour, skin moisturiser
Stem: stoppers for bottles or gourds, walling material, fishing floaters
Trunk: hatching bed for tukuma grub, logs
Uses of Ité to Birds and Animals
This palm is very important to many animal species. Many, fish and mammals like the golden agouti (Dasyorocta leporina) or acouri depend on the fruit. Several bird species, such as parrots (Psittacidae), the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) and other macaws use it for nesting. The Bunyah (Crested oropendola)) use the leaves to build their nests.
Awarra or Wara (Astrocaryum vulgare)
Awarra or Wara (Astrocaryum vulgare) is an Amazonian palm. People eat the fruit of the awarra. It has a high vitamin A content. Amazonian people make use of the leaf fibre as well. The fibre is very durable and can be plaited to make hats, rope, mats and other utility items. Children play with the hard and durable seed as a favourite pastime.
Mukuru (Ischnosiphon arouma, Ischnosiphon obliquus)
Mukuru (Ischnosiphon arouma, Ischnosiphon
obliquus) is a type of cane. A variety of mukuru is found in the rainforest and
like many other plants they are called by different names among different indigenous peoples.
However the mukuru as it is familiarly known among Carib, Warrau and Lokono peoples is widely used. It is primarily used to make functional items. With techniques of weaving and vegetable dyes, this cane makes very attractive utility items. The cane is 100%
Kururu (Astrocaryum aculeatum)
Kururu is also called tucuma. The fruits are delicious and are collected locally. Like the awara seeds, the seeds can also be made into rings to be worn.
Sustainable Use of Coastal Mangrove Swamps
The mangrove swamp crab season is during the hot dry August period. Rich swamplands of the coast help to preserve inland and further beyond due to the extensive growth of mangrove. The swamp is also home to some of the most delicious crabs that can be found anywhere.
Like people elsewhere, indigenous people safeguard their food source. Unlike ‘outside cultures’ they tend to share resources that belong to the extensive surrounding area and do not claim area resources to be exploited for only selected groups within the population.
It is an innate belief that resources should be for the health and benefit of all the people. These resources are usually kept free of the minor possibility of human pollution such as great amounts of human waste.
Mangrove swamps have been used by Lokono, Warrau and Carib peoples for centuries to harvest crabs when they are in season. Harvesting crabs seasonally is part of the wider custom of sustainable living
Traditionally, crabs are only
harvested when they are in season. They taste best and are easier to harvest when in season. Not in season crabs go down in their burrows in the soft mud and it is most difficult to get at them because it can be a nightmare to try to walk on soft mud. The out-of-season crab is soft and not as delicious. However in
season crabs are big, clumsy, plentiful and tasty. They are slow and so only have to be picked up sometimes.
One Lokono elder described this best, “When the crab season is truly right, the moon is in the right position, the sea foams and crabs just demand to be picked up. They are too many. They give themselves to the hunter.”
During crab season, the men folk, sometimes accompanied by women and children would leave their home and camp out near to the mangrove
swamp mud specially to catch crabs. This expedition might take from one day to a week depending on the correct reading of the moon and the distance that has to be travelled to the mangrove swamp. The position of the moon predicts when crabs would be at their best. A crabbing expedition begins some time before the actual journey. There has to be the making of crab quakes (baskets) that are used to contain the harvested crabs. This is usually done by the men.
The preparation of cassava bread is mainly done by women. The bread is to eat with the freshly caught crab while away. A crabbing expedition would most likely culminate in the catching of some crabs, so there is no fear of starving.
It is important that the canoe selected for the expedition be large. It has to carry the empty crab quakes, members of the crabbing party, their belongings, as well as the expectant loaded harvest. Some families come together as one group in order to go crabbing.
Camping can be a jolly as well as a miserable affair. Socialising is good but the mosquito and sand fly plague can be a nightmare. The mangrove swamp is also home to mosquitoes as well as sand flies.
Luckily, the crab season only lasts for a few days within the long, annual, dry season and mosquitoes and sand flies are fewer during this time.
Fortunately also, indigenous peoples tend to eat seasonally. Their taste is developed to appreciate most foods only when they are fully ripe which most likely would be when they are in season.
After the yearly harvest, crabs would be left alone until the next season. The mangrove swamplands also would be left alone to recover from their trampling until the next crab season.
With their love and appreciation for good, wholesome crab meat, indigenous people understand the importance of preserving mangrove swamps. They ensure that the
mangroves are preserved with their important population of very delicious crabs for many seasons to come.
Preserving the Forest is necessary if we are to have Forest Animals
Moraro consists of high forest and low forest. Most animals live in the these forests. Trees help to sustain the birds and animals. They get their food as well as places to dwell there. It is not uncommon to spot an animal or the tract of one. Sometimes, Jaguar tracks can be seen. Many species of birds can be spotted. They all have their season. While some find superb feeding in the rainy season, others prefer when the nearby swamp is dry and they can run along. One aim of Moraro Conservation is to preserve as many of the different kinds of trees as possible and to pass on, as well as gather information so as to educate the younger generation concerning the value of the natural environment.
Crafts made from Natural Materials
Bio-crafts are 100% bio-degradable with little or no harm done to the environment whatsoever in their making.
Traditional peoples know how and when to harvest materials without destroying the source and harming the environment beyond recovery. When bio-crafts cannot be used any longer, they are returned to the earth to be recycled. They are simply thrown away or discarded.
All traditional utility crafts were originally created from natural materials reaped from the surroundings. Materials used would most likely be wood, clay, straw, or cane. Weaving and carving to make bio-crafts demand skilled crafts men and women.
Canoe making is very much a part of the happenings in communities that use water as a means of transportation.
Though it is a specialist area of indigenous intelligence, the techniques are readily available to those interested in learning the craft. Learning by observation and practising is done by apprenticing to a known canoe maker.
Canoes come in different sizes. A traditional family canoe is made to carry an entire family.
It takes a lot of people to pull a canoe from the back-lands. Anyone can help. After the task is done there would be refreshing drink and food to look forward to.
Unsung Native Agriculturists and Forests with Plants for the Future
It is extremely important to preserve our natural places. One such place is the tropical forest. These forests have provided the world with useful food and medicinal plants, and have the capability to do so in the future.
There are still plants and trees in the forest of South America, that are lovingly cultivated and sourced by indigenous agriculturalists today.
Just to mention one plant. In fact, it is a vine and grows in the forest. A drink made from the Capadulla is not only used for its goodness but is also valued as an aphrodisiac.
Meanwhile, let us not forget those foods that our native agriculturists have put on our plates.
Peanuts were developed in South America over 700 years ago.
Pineapple is a most refreshing fruit and is related to another variety that is little known but still used by native peoples today.
Cassava is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics. It is a major staple in the developing world and provides a basic diet for around 502 million people
Chili peppers have been growing in the Americans since we can remember. They are still cultivated for their culinary, and medicinal benefits.
Cocoa, from which chocolate is made was used by native people when Europeans arrived in The Americas. Mayan and Aztecs peoples have always regarded the cocoa with high esteem and grew the crop for their own uses.
Maize or corn is a staple for a lot of families in the Americas today.Thankfully the first Americans developed a great variety many centuries ago.
Papaya can be found growing sometimes in parts of the forest where they were never planted. Today, however this valued plant gives a fruit that is appreciated all over the world.
Potato This starchy tuber's originated in South America and many types are still used today.
Paste made from the Purple potato makes a filling and cooling drink that does not need chilling.