April 19, 2003 - Personal Web Page: Jim Belote worked in the Peace Corps with the Saraguros, a native people of south highland Ecuador

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ecuador: Peace Corps Ecuador : The Peace Corps in Ecuador: April 19, 2003 - Personal Web Page: Jim Belote worked in the Peace Corps with the Saraguros, a native people of south highland Ecuador

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Jim Belote worked in the Peace Corps with the Saraguros, a native people of south highland Ecuador

Jim Belote worked in the Peace Corps with the Saraguros, a native people of south highland Ecuador

Jim Belote
Cultural Anthropologist


Teaches for the Sociology-Anthropology Department at the University of Minnesota Duluth
and lives in Duluth, Minnesota

STARTED OUT: Born a long-forgotten time ago in the first half of the twentieth century in the southern Appalachian Mountains to missionary parents, James and Martha Belote (and thus of French, British, Scots-Irish, German and Austrian heritage, in addition to about 1/4000th or 1/2000th Powhatan heritage, depending upon, among other things, an uncertain first-cousin marriage [MBD=FZS, of course] a couple of hundred years ago).

RAISED: Mississippi and Alabama--various times in the forties and fifties; Wahiawa (at the time, Territory of Hawaii)--first half of the forties; Canton (Guangzhou) (in what was not then the People's Republic of China)--later forties (click here for a true story); Baguio, PI--briefly at the end of the forties; Hong Kong (when it was still a Brit Crown Colony)--end of the forties to the late-middle fifties.

EARLY EDUCATION: Studied under a variety of educational regimes starting with the Wahiawa Community Kindergarten and moving through others such as home schooling (Calvert), the Ling Nam School, Brent School, and West Tallahatchie High School, and finishing off with (or being finished off one year by) King George V School in Hong Kong (headmaster/principal "peg-leg" Potter, school tie, GCE, god-save-the-queen, field hockey, the world's worst high school basketball team, prefects and all).

LATER EDUCATION: Attended Mars Hill College (then Mars Hill Junior College) and North Carolina State University (then North Carolina State College) in the first two years of a sometimes not particularly illustrious academic career. Then survived another half-decade or more of a lot of trees, a few good trout streams, too much snow, and too many mountains, in the vicinity of the University of Montana (then Montana State University), where a B.A. in History was finally obtained.

STILL LATER EDUCATION: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Too many cornfields this time, and an awful lot of books in the library, and a great faculty. But none of this had anything to do with the record-setting pace which I set on my way to a Ph.D. in anthropology (18 years).

BLOOD, SWEAT AND MONEY: Hunted down and destroyed wild currant and gooseberry bushes (this activity was called "Blister Rust Control") and fought forest fires for what was then, but is no longer (not again!), the St. Joe National Forest in Idaho for three seasons in the late fifties; spent six fantastic months checking fire indexes, not ordering garlic and onions, kicking rocks out of trails so horses wouldn't stub their toes, riding side-saddle (I didn't grow up to be a cowboy) with a short string of mules behind me with supplies for trail camps and fire lookouts, repairing fallen ground-line telephone systems, running a rock drill, and clearing trails, as a headquarters guard on the entirely wilderness district of Big Prairie (yep ... the district no longer exists) in the Bob Marshall Wilderness of the Flathead National Forest at the end of the fifties (click here for an account of that experience); and in the first year of the sixties survived the excitement of blazing forests and lots of money (well . . . ) in a short time by joining a "hotshot" firefighting crew working out of the Bitterroot National Forest.

SAVING THE WORLD: Later in the first year of the sixties (it was about this time that someone at the University of Montana insisted that I pick a major, graduate, and get out of there) I applied to join the Peace Corps. In spite of the general shortage of snow in most of Southeast Asia, I had put that area down as my choice for where to go should I be accepted. I was accepted . . . for Ecuador, wherever that was. Checked out encyclopedias and atlases. South America, Andes mountains, snow on the equator, good enough. After three months training in Puerto Rico and a month in Ecuador, assignments were given out. I was to work with the Saraguros, a native people of south highland Ecuador, who lived far from the snowy peaks of central and northern Ecuador, and do "rural community development." Did some of that, learned a lot but didn't save the world, sometimes was "forced" to drink a little too much (click here for more about that), planted too many exotic trees, helped the Peace Corps decide that volunteers probably should not be provided with jeeps (click here to find out why), and fell in love with the place and its people. And with another Peace Corps volunteer who came down a few months later--Linda. And in less that a year we were married. And wondering how we would get back to Saraguro once our two years there were over. And that was the first time either of us ever considered the field of anthropology as having professional possibilities for us (Linda had graduated with a degree in German and a desire to do her Peace Corps stint in north Africa).

MORE SWEAT AND NOT MUCH MONEY BUT A RIVER RAN THROUGH PART OF IT: Returned to the University at Missoula, Montana, finished the degree in history (at last). Lived on chicken livers, rice, Duncan Hines cake-mixes-on-special (10 for a dollar), brown trout, venison and elk (and even had a coke once, but don't mention that extravagance to Linda). Worked on an engineering crew for the Lolo National Forest and calculated cut and fill without a calculator and didn't survey any bridges over the Blackfoot River. And our first child, David (who completed degrees at Columbia University and Montana State University and is now living in Bozeman, Montana, and worked for many years as a computer scientist for Bridger Systems), was born (in Missoula), and then we went to Pennsylvania where I worked as a fitter-welder.

In the sixth year of the sixth decade of the twentieth century we were admitted as graduate students in anthropology at what was then known (and still is!) as the University of Illinois. During our time as students there we were fortunate to spend only one summer in the cornfields (literally in my case) of Illinois. Anthropology was the right thing for us. We have been back Saraguro many times, now to do anthropological research.

Our second child, Karen (check her web page) was born in Saraguro during one of these field sessions. She completed her degree in Spanish at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. For several years she worked at the Angel Fire Resort in guest services and as a snowboard instructor. Then she worked for David English House for a couple of years as an English teacher in several institutions in the Hiroshima area of Japan. We visited her there there several times. Karen, now known as "Nthabiseng" (in the SiSotho language), is presently a Peace Corps volunteer in Motete, Mupumalanga, South Africa.

Jim, Linda, Karen and David on the Lake Superior shore

A LITTLE LESS SWEAT (EXCEPT FOR A COUPLE OF SUMMERS IN THE EARLY NINETIES WHEN I DID ARCHAEOLOGICAL WORK FOR WHAT IS NO LONGER TECHNICALLY KNOWN AS THE MEDICINE BOW NATIONAL FOREST) AND (USUALLY) A LITTLE MORE MONEY: Students have been subjected to whatever it is I subject students to (in addition to weird tests) at Grove City College (2 academic years), Michigan Technological University (15 years), Suomi College (1 year), the University of Minnesota Duluth (10 years), la Universidad San Francisco de Quito (1 term) and the College of Saint Scholastica (1 year).

Courses taught include Prehistoric Cultures; Introduction to Anthropology; Kinship and Family Systems; Peasant Societies and Cultures; Peoples and Cultures of Latin America; New World Archaeology; Technological Change in Traditional Societies; Language and Culture; Introduction to Sociology; Sociology of the Family; Women, Men and Society; Forest History; English Composition; and Beginning Spanish.

* LOS SARAGUROS: FIESTA Y RITUALIDAD (co-compiled with Linda Belote), Quito: Abya Yala, 1994;
and, with Linda S. Belote as co-author:
* The Limitation of Obligation in Saraguro Kinship in ANDEAN KINSHIP AND MARRIAGE, Bolton & Meyer, eds, Washington: American Anthropological Association, 1977 (translated into Spanish and published in Peru in 1980);
* Suffer the Little Children: Death, Autonomy and Responsibility in a Changing "Low-Technology Environment in SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & HUMAN VALUES 9(4), 1984;
* Drain From the Bottom: Ethnic Identity Change in Southern Ecuador in SOCIAL FORCES 63(1), 1984 (translated into Spanish and published in Ecuador in 2000);
* Vertical Circulation in Southern Ecuador in CIRCULATION IN THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES, Prothero & Chapman, eds, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985.

For other publications and presentations on Saraguro see the bibliography on our website.

Non-academic publications include:
* (Con)quest in LAKE SUPERIOR MAGAZINE (Sept-Oct 1988)
* Helter Shelteron Isle Royale in MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS (May 1987)
* Where Have All the Eddies Gone? in ABOVE THE BRIDGE (August 1986).

WIRED: Linda and I run a website, www.saraguro.org, for and about the Saraguro people whose "traditional" homeland has been in the southern Andes of Ecuador (South America). Check the site for an ethnographic overview; for a general bibliography including almost everything, on any topic, we could find on the Saraguro area; for a variety of maps; for information and photos about such things as Christmas fiestas, hot-air balloons at the San Pedro fiesta, cloud forest orchids, the paintings and drawings of a Saraguro artist, Saraguro beadwork necklaces, the high-altitude paramos, the colonization by Saraguros of parts of the upper Amazon basin, in the territory of the Shuar; and for statements released by Saraguro organizations (Fundación Kawsay, Bosque Natural Huashapamba, Federación Interprovincial de Indígenas Saraguros); and for a lot more... ****** And then there is Newfoundland--a new obsession, with a few web pages to match. ****** And extensive Biblical genealogical diagrams with index and discussion of family and kinship features of Biblical times. ****** And most recently there is material on Kanji (part of the Japananese writing system)

In this millennium, at the University of Minnesota Duluth I have taught Prehistoric Cultures; Peasant Societies and Cultures; Language, Culture and Society; Sociology of the Family; and (with the UMD programme in Birmingham, England), Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. In the Fall Semester of 2002 I am teaching Preshistoric Cultures, and Kinship and Family Systems, and in the Spring Semester, Prehistoric Cultures, and Peasant Cultures and Societies. Check this out! The 1949 Martian invasion of Ecuador

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Story Source: Personal Web Page

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ecuador; Anthropology; Cultural Anthropology



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