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Jivero [archive]

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Location: The Jívero live in the jungles of Ecuador.

History: The Jíveros are the only tribe known to have successfully revolted against the Spanish Empire and to have been able to outwit all attempts by the Spaniards to conquer them. The Jívero Indians are known to be an intensely warlike group, tremendously protective of their freedom and unwilling to subordinate themselves to other authorities. The Jívero's fierce fighting reputation and head-shrinking practice continued to discourage outsiders from entering their territories.

Daily Life: Jívero men hunt, fish, clear forest and cut fire wood for their families, while their wives practice agriculture, cook, make beer and care for children and animals. Jívero households eat sweet manioc, sweet potato, white maize, squash, bananas, peanuts and sugar cane from their gardens. They also eat meat from hunting and fishing. Anaconda, toucan, monkeys and armadillo are common hunted foods obtained with blow-guns or rifles. They fish bare-handed, with a hook and line, and with a system of river poisoning. Their last form of subsistence is gathering plants, fruits and insects. Domestic animals are saved for special occasions when there is no success hunting. There is no true political system or social order.

Best Known Features: Although there were many headhunting cultures throughout the world, only the Jívero were known for ancient practice of shrinking human heads (tsantsa). Head shrinking is no longer practiced by most Jívero groups.

Additional Reading

 Ecuador Indigenous People

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