Saturday, 15 July 2006

Ethnopedology – Stratification of the Environment in a Vernacular Concept: the Aikewara People, Para (Br).

Júlio César Lucena Araújo Jr.1, Lúcia Helena C. Anjos Sr.2, and Marcos Gervasio Pereira Sr.1. (1) UFRRJ, BR 465 km 7, Seropédica, Brazil, (2) UFRRJ Soils Depto, BR 465 km 7, Seropédica, Brazil

The primary concept of ethnopedology could be explained by its etymology: ‘pedo', from pedon, a Greek word meaning three-dimensional direction; ‘logy', from logus, Greek, meaning study or knowledge; ‘ethno', from ethos, Greek, meaning people or nation. However, the primary implication of the term - study of the soil by a nation, does not agree with the interdisciplinary involved in the ethnopedological study. Especially, when the ethnopedology is applied as the base method for projects for local and participant development. These studies must bring about cultural nuances, ambient, their interaction and the perpetuation of the acquired knowledge, about the environment where a given group is inserted, generation after generation. The Aikewara people, Akwáwa language of the Tupi trunk, Tupi-Guaraní family, are located in the indigenous land Sororó, demarcated and homologated, in the Southeast of the Pará State (Amazonian region), in the municipality of Domingos do Araguaia, Brazil. The land is located between the rivers Gameleira and Sororó, next to the mountain Serra das Andorinhas (Serra dos Martírios), distant about 100 kilometers from Marabá city, the largest urban center of the region. Their given name Aikewara means, “we”, “people”. However, the Aikewara also are known as the Suruí of the State of Pará. The first ethnopedological studies among the Aikewara initiated in the year of 1998. Information on their agricultural environment, with agricultural questions about handling, crops, vision of the producing environment, cultural interference in the production system, could be recognized in an Aikewara traditional system of soil classification. The ethnopedology Aikewara has similarities with a soil taxonomy and also with an agricultural capability of soil. The etymology of their system of classification is based on the junction of the ‘Ywy' radical (meaning land) to adjectives that indicate soil properties. This will determine two great groups, of soils that are suitable (‘Ywykatu') or not (‘Ywykatuin') for cropping. The Aikewara evaluation of the land fertility makes use, directly or indirectly, of soil properties such as: color, texture, water content, consistency, and characteristics related to production and period of time the land may be used for agricultural, with one or more crops. Thus, some soils, as a function of their attributes, are preferred for some crops. All these characteristics are evaluated using morphological and sensorial criteria, resulting from time and cultural experience with the different crops and the environment. The soils were examined and identified by the Aikewara people, in accordance with their local knowledge, and samples were taken for analyzing according to routine methods applied in soil survey. The information was compared using the nomenclature and the descriptions adopted by Soil Taxonomy and the Brazilian System of Soil Classification. To express the soil properties and to represent them in soil classes, the Aikewara summarizes also information on the Amazonian environment. The system of soil classification of the Aikewara uses the color, the more prominent morphological property, grouping soils in four distinct classes, based on Matiz and Value: red (“ypirong”), black color (“huna”), yellow (“sikiri”) and white (“ting”). In addition, for the other levels, characteristics as stoniness (“ytatewa”); water retention - dry and hard (“ató”), humid (“pumum”) and wet (“tusuga”); and soil texture, where the sandy soils are distinguished from clayey soils by the suffix ‘yting'. The results from the soil analyses in the laboratory had been concordant with the levels of fertility identified by the Aikewara soil system of classification. The best results for the distinction “ywykatu”, good for cropping, as in the “ywypirong” and “ywyhuna” soils, red and black soils, respectively; versus not adequated for cropping, “ywykatuin”, as in “ywyting yting” soil, with sandy texture.

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