Foto: Thomas Gregor, 1983

Mehinako

  • Other names
    Meinaco, Meinacu, Meinaku
  • Where they are How many

    MT286 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family
    Aruak

System of commercial trade

The trade of specialized commercial items is an important basis of the upper Xinguan system. The commercial system is valued as much for the merchandise it supplies as for the system of interdependence that it establishes. The traditional specialty of the Mehinako in commercial trade is salt obtained in the dry season, in August. In this period, all the inhabitants of the village available for making the trip go to a traditional village site, where each family works to produce salt (which is not sodium chloride but rather potassium chloride). This ingredient is a central element in Mehinako cooking, and is also highly valued by other Xinguan peoples, who come during the year to the Mehinako villages to trade wooden dishes, ceramic bowls, collars and shell belts for large quantities of salt. Members of other ethnic groups also go to the Mehinako for cotton, which the inhabitants of the village produce in quantities that exceed their needs.