chapter  6
Landscape and Livelihood: The Ethos of Settled Village Life
Pages 32

For Xinguanos, the good life is a settled life in a beautiful village (ete) with a large, open plaza and wide, straight roads extending to the horizon in one or two directions. The local landscape of the village expands into a broad countryside of manioc (kuigi) gardens; groves of piquí fruit (imbe) trees; wide open fields of sapé (inhe), an invasive grass that is critical as house thatch; diverse areas of secondary forest growth, which is graded from low (tahuga) to medium-sized (tahugape). These diverse features are tied together through a complex network of paths, roadways, ports, canoe thoroughfares and canals, and other constructions, such as bridges, weirs, fenced gardens, reservoirs, and other markers of human presence. As one passes through this complex, constructed countyside of manioc gardens (kuigi-anda), piquí groves (inka or imbepe), sapé fields (inhepe) and scrub forest (tahugape), one ultimately reaches the deep forest (itsuni), itself often in an advanced stage of regrowth, having once been within the direct sustaining area of the large ancient villages. Some constructions or

features are quite obvious, but many others only noticeable to the trained observer, marked by subtle changes in vegetation or the history of ancestral and spirit places. A small notch in a tree or the tell-tale machete cut of leaves and saplings, or a broken branch, are all unequivocal marks that someone has passed this way.