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Do people own their homes? or are they renters? What is their responsibility to the owner? and the owner’s responsibility to them? How is the rent paid (by a portion of the crop harvested, or by a monetary payment)? Where is the residence located in relation to the fields?

What crops are planted? Draw up a calendar showing the events in the yearly agricultural cycle, noting time of field preparation, planting, weeding, and harvest for the various crops. How are crops stored? Which are grown for family consumption? which for cash crops?

Observe, participate (as possible) in and record how field work is done, tools used, labor patterns, etc. Take pictures if appropriate.

What kind of buildings are constructed in the fields? Do members of the family stay in their fields for part of the year? Who stays and for how long and why? How often are crops planted on the same piece of ground? Is there a rotation of crops? How do people decide where they will make their fields? How are boundary lines marked?

How valuable is land ownership? Is land passed from one generation to another? How can more land be acquired? Who holds the records of land ownership for the area? Who holds the title to land, and what do the title “papers” look like? How are infringements challenged and decided?

Can land be rented or leased? What portion of any produce must be given to the owner? Can land be purchased? Can the purchaser obtain a clear and permanent deed?


Why do people hunt? What proportion of the food supply is obtained through hunting? How is the meat or bones divided? What is done with the hide?

What weapons and what methods (e.g., tracking, lying in ambush) are used in hunting? Are baits or decoys used? Traps? Is hunting an individual or group activity? Who participates in the hunt? Are there any restrictions (e.g., abstinence from sex or certain foods) on individuals before a hunt? Is there a particular territory within which a person or village may hunt?

Which animals are hunted? Is hunting a regular or intermittent activity? Is any type of game conservation practiced? Is this locally monitored or regulated by an outside agency?

Which birds are considered edible? How are they hunted? Are the eggs of any birds collected and eaten?

Do some make their livelihood by fishing? Are fish caught for home consumption alone or are some sold or bartered?

Describe all methods of fishing and sketch or photograph nets, traps, and other fishing equipment. Is fishing done from a boat or from the shoreline? What bait is used?

Is fishing done by both men and women? Are some methods used more by one than the other?

If possible, go fishing with some of your new friends. Have someone tell you about their fishing experience. Do they tell tall tales about the “one that got away?”


What wild animals are found in the country? In your immediate neighborhood? Do people fear them? Are there stories about them? What traits are attributed to various animals? Do certain animals have special significance for the clan or ethnic group?

Do animals have souls? What happens to their souls at death?

What birds are found in your area? Are any harmful to crops? How are they frightened away? Are some birds bad or good omens? Are people aware of birds that are not detrimental? Do they know where nesting sites are? Are there organizations to protect birds and preserve their habitat?

Is fish available for eating? Is it river fish or ocean fish? Is it caught locally, or is it bought in the market place? How is it transported to local markets? Would it be safe to eat?

Find out the names of various fish found locally. Are there different names for the live fish and the same fish prepared for market or for eating? Which fish are especially valued for food?

Are various types of fish prepared in different ways? Are they eaten at different times of the year or times of day?

What insects bite or sting? Which are poisonous? What remedies are used for bites or stings? Which insects are ruinous to crops or possessions? How are they controlled or eliminated?

What insects are edible? How are they obtained and prepared for consumption?

Make a list of the local names of these creatures. Supplement your descriptions with sketches or photographs wherever possible.


What animals do you see in your neighborhood? Are they free-roaming or tied to a hitching post in front of the owner’s home? Are they confined to a fenced-in pasture or a front yard? How do the people treat these animals (if they appear to own them, if they see them on the street, if they feel threatened by them?)

Are any animals kept as pets? Is this a wide-spread practice? What kind of animals are kept and for what purpose? How are they cared for? Are they shown warmth or affection? Are they given names? How are pet animals obtained? Are wild animals or birds ever tamed for pets?

If animals are kept as pets, are there any codes which owners should observe, as picking up after the pet, keeping them quiet, keeping them confined to certain locations, etc.?

Are dogs kept as pets or for some other purpose? Would every household have at least one dog?

Are certain animals or fowl status symbols? Are any of the animals involved in any kind of religious, local or national ceremonies? Are any of them used as icons for tribes, sports, or institutions?

What domestic animals are raised and for what purpose? How much do people pay for them? sell them for? Are any animals put out for hire? For what purpose? At what price? Whose job is it to care for the domestic animals? At what time of the day?


Do people plant gardens (or herbs in pots near their houses) in addition to their field crops? Are the gardens near home, near the fields (or in both places), or in a different location altogether? Are there public gardens near apartment buildings where people may plant? How are the gardens or herb pots protected from animals or people?

What types of things are planted in gardens? Note the relative amount of each. Is the garden produce grown only for family consumption and enjoyment or is some sold or traded? Are the same things planted each year, or does the mix vary from year to year?

What types of plants are gathered to supplement the diet? Where do people go to gather these plants? Note the time of year each can be gathered. Are there special tools used in the gathering process? How is the harvest prepared for consumption? Do the people find the gathered plants tasty or do they eat them from necessity?

What non-edible plants are gathered? What are they used for? How are they gathered and processed?

How much time is taken in gardening? in gathering?

What other substances are used as dietary supplements? Vitamin pills? Herbs? How often are these taken? Where are they available?

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