National Geographic : 1955 Mar
© National Geographic Society 340 Kodachromes by Clifford Evans Slash-and-burn Agriculture: Indian Farmers Raise Crops in a Field of Giant Jackstraws Like most Indians in South America's tropical forests, the Wai Wai follow a simple but rugged pattern of communal agriculture. Land must be torn from the forest by brute force, and even then the jungle never quite lets go. Poor soil forces villagers to clear new areas every two or three years. The timber, dense and wet even after drying several months, must be put to the torch repeatedly just to get rid of leaves and small branches. Larger branches are hacked off and the trunks allowed to lie. The meager patches left yield bitter cassava, bananas, plantains, sugar cane, and a potatolike tuber called cara.