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Transhumance in the Central Andes

Norman R. Stewart, Jim Belote and Linda Belote
Annals of the Association of American Geographers
Vol. 66, No. 3 (Sep., 1976), pp. 377-397
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2562114
Page Count: 21
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Transhumance in the Central Andes
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Abstract

Transhumant systems are seldom noted in the populous central Andes, yet for more than half a century the Saraguro Indians of Southern Ecuador have regularly moved livestock between highland farmsteads and pastures developed from tropical forest on the Cordillera's eastern slope. The shift from sedentary to migratory patterns is postulated as a response to perception of economic opportunity rather than to demographic or other pressures. Social and ecological adjustments to a prolonged sojourn in a conspicuously different environment were facilitated by specific elements of native culture, including individual self-reliance, tolerance for isolation, importance attached to continuous increase in personal wealth, and adaptability of traditional husbandry to the tropical environment. Resultant increases in standards of living have reinforced Saraguro cultural identity and economic independence, but successful application of this strategy to similar populations is considered unlikely.

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