An Ethnoecological and Ethnobotanical Study of the Maijuna Indians of the Peruvian Amazon

by Gilmore, Michael Patrick

Abstract (Summary)
The Amazon basin is one of, if not the most, botanically diverse regions of the world. Unfortunately, Amazonian floristic and habitat diversity is relatively poorly known and understood. Indigenous peoples have highly detailed and extensive biological and ecological knowledge of the rain forest and studying these knowledge systems can provide insights into the heterogeneity and diversity of Amazonian forests. The research reported here investigates several aspects of the traditional culturally-based biological and ecological knowledge of the Maijuna Indians of the Peruvian Amazon. An ethnoecological framework is utilized to examine the classification, significance, and use of habitat types recognized by the Maijuna. The objectives of this portion of the dissertation are to: (1) document the habitat classification system of the Maijuna; (2) understand how they use the culturally-based habitat types, and their associated resources, seasonally and temporally; and (3) document the ecological knowledge and management strategies associated with each habitat type. The Maijuna have a complex and extensive habitat classification system identifying more than 70 forest and non-forest habitat types within the Sucusari River basin. The results of this portion of the research provide valuable insights into how indigenous peoples perceive, use, and manage resources and habitat types in Amazonia. An in-depth analysis of the significance of a habitat that the Maijuna call mañaco taco is also made. Mañaco taco are dominated by the small myrmecophytic tree or shrub Durioa hirsuta (Rubiaceae) and have a very open understory. The Maijuna have well-defined and constructed supernatural beliefs associated with these forests, believing that they are the home of malevolent supernatural beings. Understanding the significance and importance of habitat types to indigenous peoples is critical in discerning how they perceive and interact with these areas. A case study of resource use of a culturally important and necessary activity, canoe construction, was also undertaken and is discussed in detail. Canoes are amongst the most important and integral parts of the life and subsistence strategies of the Maijuna and other residents of the Peruvian Amazon. An ethnobotanical framework is utilized to: 1) examine the use and importance of canoes to the Maijuna; 2) understand the cultural and historical context of canoe construction; and 3) document the steps and plants used in constructing canoes.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Miami University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:maijuna indians ethnoecology ethnobotany ethnobiology peru amazon


Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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