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The Rama are one of three indigenous groups of eastern Nicaragua. A total of 206 plant species, in 157 genera and 70 families, were documented as medicinals in three years of fieldwork. Most (75%) Rama medicinals are native to eastern Nicaragua, and are used to treat more than 30 human ailments. Over 70% have some bioactive principle, most are herbs (37%) or trees (36%), and leaves are the most frequently utilized plant part. Most herbal remedies are prepared as decoctions and are administered orally. Most medicinal plants are wild, but some important species are introduced domesticates native to the New World and Old World tropics. The Rama people are the most highly acculturated group of eastern Nicaragua, and accordingly, their use of the native flora has changed the most. In addition, this group occupies a small area, and has few unaltered traditional practices left. Therefore, this study is important because it provides a written record of the oral history of a group whose cultures and natural resources are disappearing very quickly.
Genetic and agronomic criteria are insufficient to explain the distinction made by farmers between a modern coconut hybrid and a natural coconut hybrid in southern India. Here we show that these modern and traditional coconut hybrids come from the same parental cultivars, and we analyze the attitude of farmers who name, characterize and treat the hybrids differently despite their biological similarity. From an anthropological perspective, this varietal assessment is not a free or isolated process. Indeed, farmer's evaluation of the new material is based on their traditional varieties, already known and used as a frame of reference. This comparison has less to do with the biological characteristics of the plant than with its qualities as a cultural entity within a human community. The large distribution scale of the modern coconut hybrids, their abundance, and the fact that their reproduction is technically assisted by scientists contrast with the rare, spontaneous appearances of the natural coconut hybrids in farmers' fields. By thus focusing our attention on human intervention, it is not only the planting materials that are being compared but also two crop creation processes and two social groups (farmers and scientists).
During the last several centuries, the high granite mesas in eastern Portugal south of the Douro river have been a major rye growing region. About half the rye produced was carried away to feed urban populations. The loss from the village agro-ecosystem of the nitrogen in the rye grain was replaced because farmers used giesta (Cytisus, Fabaceae), a nitrogen fixer, to make the compost with which they fertilized their crops. Farmers used to keep about 20 sheep for every hectare they cultivated. These sheep produced very few lambs, could be milked only briefly, produced low quality wool, and were not eaten. Farmers kept so many sheep to mix their excrement with giesta. Two experimental rye plots in the county of Trancoso, Beira Alta Portugal were grown with traditional technology except one had giesta plus sheep manure, and the other had only giesta, but enough extra to add the same amount of nitrogen. By the end of the growing season, rye in the plot with giesta plus manure was approximately twice as productive, and much of the giesta added without manure had not decomposed. The carbon/nitrogen ratio of mature giesta is near 30, which is too high for giesta alone to rot readily in the soil. Manure lowers the C/N ratio to near 20, which enables it to rot and release nutrients at the rate rye needs them.
Newars, who comprise the indigenous and highly urbanized civilization of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, have a complex medical system. This article focuses on one nearly extinct medicine: an oil infused with small bats. These bats are understood by Newars to have become rare due to the changing architecture and rapid suburbanization of the Kathmandu Valley, a process they see as regrettable and forced upon them by regional changes. The history and practice of this medicine is then used as a lens through which to consider a series of parallel tensions: between textual norms and local practices; between the expertise of doctors, priests, astrologers and other male professionals and the expertise of mothers who decide what medicines to use and which professionals to consult; between the situated Newar medical tradition and the regional South Asian tradition that is subsuming it; between local categories and traded goods; and between attempts to describe ethnobiological practices using centralized expertise and the improvised and dispersed way in which many practices are actually achieved and transmitted.
Looking at non-timber forest products is one of the ways that people are trying to find a balance between forest use and conservation. In areas designated as protected, around and in which people live, this balance is even more crucial. Such is the case in the Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve in Ecuador. Conservationists, governments, and local activists are particularly concerned. This paper looks at how three different ethnic groups, mestizo, Afro-Ecuadorian, and the indigenous group, the Chachi, use a potentially sustainable resource, mocora, Astrocaryum standleyanum¸(Arecaceae), for fiber, fruit and oil. This study explores the differences and similarities between each group's use and collection of this plant while exploring the current and potential market possibilities. The study shows that considerable differences do emerge in terms of each group's utilization of this plant resource, and at the same time, commercial opportunities can exist for all three.
This research explores continuity and change in foraging patterns over time by comparing data from ancient, historic, and contemporary time periods for the Makah Indians, a Pacific Northwest coast tribe. Zooarchaeological evidence from the late-prehistoric Ozette village middens is compared to quantitative data from a foraging harvest survey conducted with contemporary tribal members. The intervening historic-period foraging pattern is interpreted from ethnographic accounts. The data indicate both continuity and change. A comparison by resource type shows that 56% of faunal resources found in the Ozette middens continue to be used today, with the use of 87% of fish taxa and 84% of shellfish taxa continuing through the 500 year period. Resources which are no longer used and resources which appear to be newly exploited are reviewed and explained in terms of historical ecology or methodological factors. Relative contribution to the diet by resource category (fish, shellfish, terrestrial mammals, marine mammals, birds, and commercial meats) is compared between circa 1500 and 1998. The data provide a perspective of greater time depth for contextualizing contemporary subsistence issues such as whaling, and help explain changes in productive practices since colonial contact as effects of long-term processes influenced by ecological and historical factors.