The Indians of the Paraguayan Chaco: Identity and Economy
Some forty thousand Native people live in the vast region of the Chaco in western Paraguay. They belong to five linguistic families and thirteen ethnic groups but share a common sense of ethnic identity founded on enduring values of reciprocity and equality. At the same time the Indians of the Chaco are one of the poorest groups in Paraguay, situated on the margins of the global economic system.
Based on extensive fieldwork and ongoing contact with local indigenous organizations in Paraguay, John Renshaw presents an overview of contemporary Indian life in the Paraguayan Chaco. He describes the subsistence and market economies, household and kinship systems, political organization, and the challenges of economic development. Renshaw also examines the experiences of indigenous organizations and the impact of development projects and considers whether it is possible to envisage a program of social and economic development that would respect and strengthen the Indians' sense of identity.