Agriculture


The Arawaks were a society that relied on agriculture and fishing. The Arawaks were able to fish in local lakes, artificially made lakes, and the surrounding seas in which they could catch fish, ducks, turtles and manatees to also eat (source ).The Arawaks practiced subsistence farming. This means that they grew what they needed to survive and a small amount of excess for trading. They practiced the slash-and-burn method of agriculture, which consists of cutting down trees in an area and then setting the area on fire to burn away the brush. The Arawaks would use the ash from the burning and mix it "with fish and urine to produce fertilizer to help prolong the productiveness of the land." (soucre) The land would become exhausted in about 5 to ten years because they did not practice crop rotation. The Arawaks would then have to create new plots of land for agriculture, using the slash-and-burn technique. (soucre) The also made irrigation tunnels in parts of Cuba, along with their artificial fishing ponds. (soucre)

Food
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Cassava Plant
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They planted many types of vegetables, such as cassava, peppers, beans, yams, sweet potatoes, and gourds (source). There were not many wild animals in the Carribean, so they also harvested fruits and hunted small animals, such as snakes, iguanas, and birds (source).The Arawaks used a very unique way of raising crops, a system called "conuco" (source) . Conuco is raising crops on a large mound packed with leaves to protect the soil from erosion and to assure growth in any weather condition (source).

The cassava is the Arawaks' primary crop. It is a root crop that can be baked into a type of bread (source) . The cassava was dangerous though because it contained poisonous juices that had to be squeezed out (source)




The Cassava Plant (left) and The Cassava Root (right) (source)


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Fishing Nets
Arawak natives used fishing nets made of cotton to catch their prey (source) They would attach a long cotton line to a remora's tail. The remora is a "fish with suctions cups on the back of its head, which it uses to cling to larger fish." (source) The remora would dive for a sea turtle or fish and attach itself to the animal. The Arawaks would then gently pull them back into the canoe. The Arawaks also hunted manatees and the pedro seal, which is now extinct. (source) The Arawaks would also use cotton for use for tobacco which they enjoyed smoking, especially for religious ceremonies (source) .





The remora fish. (source)