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1 March 2015 Learning to Hunt by Tending the Fire: Xavante Youth, Ethnoecology, and Ceremony in Central Brazil
James R. Welch
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Xavante (A'uwe˜) hunting with fire in the cerrado landscape of Central Brazil has garnered considerable attention by the public for its purported threat to the environment and by the scientific community as an example of responsible Indigenous landscape management. The practice and transmission of associated traditional knowledge now face acute challenges due to territorial circumscription, increased sedentarization, and economic change. In this article, I draw on my observations during a ceremonial hunting trek to discuss the process by which boys and young men acquire knowledge and skills required to autonomously participate in group hunting with fire in ways their elders consider proper, effective, and sustainable. I focus on a particular didactic strategy whereby young mentors assume primary responsibility for encouraging restrained participation by their even younger protégés while elders create opportunities for youth to gradually participate in increasingly direct capacities. This cultural configuration encourages active learning and entrusts younger people to assume responsibility for their own acquisition and production of knowledge pertaining to the ecology of anthropogenic fire, the burning calendar, group hunting strategies, and ceremonial aspects of the hunt.

Society of Ethnobiology
James R. Welch "Learning to Hunt by Tending the Fire: Xavante Youth, Ethnoecology, and Ceremony in Central Brazil," Journal of Ethnobiology 35(1), 183-208, (1 March 2015).
Published: 1 March 2015
Anthropogenic fire
ceremonial hunting
cerrado ecology
Indigenous landscape management
Indigenous youth
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