Andrew Bishop—Paraguay #1: This is field work!

“Now you are getting a real field work experience,” IHO research scientist and project leader Kim Hill said, as we stepped out of the Land Cruiser and saw a huge puddle of oil on ground. The leaking oil filter was just one of a long list of problems that we had to solve to make it to our field site. Since leaving Tempe, Arizona, my seat on a flight had been given to someone else leaving me stranded in Panama, our truck had broken down for two days in Curuguaty, and now we had a vehicle with no oil. This is normal. This is field work.

Ache boy standing by truck

A new Ache friend standing by the puddle of oil under the truck.

Although the trip was very long, we have finally arrived in the Ache communities of Arroyo Bandera and Kuetuy where I will be spending the next three months interviewing people from the Northern Ache about hunting. The goal of our project is to find out whether or not the Ache use hunting as a means to signal information about themselves and what that information might be. We are really interested to find out whether Ache men make hunting decisions with the goal of provisioning their families, showing off, or (most likely) a mixture of the two.

Just to introduce myself, my name is Andrew and I am a doctoral student in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at ASU working on a field project for ASU’s Institute of Human Origins. I use a human behavioral ecology approach to study the role of hunting and food sharing in small scale societies. With a better understanding of why men hunt, I hope we can unravel the mystery of how hunter gatherers maintain the extensive food sharing that was so important to human evolution. The population that I work with, the Northern Ache, were full time nomadic hunter gatherers until the 1970s, and many of them still hunt actively with bows and arrows today.

Ache children on a tractor

Making new friends with the Ache children.

The Ache are amazingly friendly, and I look forward to sharing some of my experiences with them on this blog. I have already had to get used to a few new things such as eating grub worms and having a dozen or so children holding my hands and following me at every waking hour.  Check back later, as I am sure I will have a lot of new experiences to report from the field!

More soon!

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