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In Peru, there is a group of indigenous people referred to as “The Mountain People”. They have a very interesting way of living, and for many years have been forced to adapt to extreme ways of living to keep themselves and their culture alive. This group of indigenous people live about 4,700 metres above sea level which has always been a concern as it forces them to adapt and struggle against many elements. They live in the Andes Mountains in Peru, which are beautiful but consist of no trees and create many additional problems to this cultures way of life. These problems include slight amounts of rainfall, poor soils and a brief growing season. Since this village is located so high above ground level, there is a significant shortage of oxygen, so the people in this community would’ve had to go through major adaptive changes within the cells of their body so that they could survive in these extreme conditions (Denevan 2017). This micro-culture has very little contact with other cultures due to a significant language barrier, so they have no way of learning from other cultures ways of life to improve their own, thus, their way of live has not developed greatly over time.
The mountain people of Peru, live in villages typically consisting of small shelters such as stone and sod houses. Unlike most people, they do not refer to these shelters as their home, but rather a house whose sole purpose is to provide them with shelter and a place to store goods, to eat and to sleep. They typically spend their days caring for their herds of alpaca which are heavily relied on for survival in the community. These alpaca help the people with many jobs around their village such as providing fibres for weaving and dung for fuel while also providing them with a frequent source of food (Heckman 2015). Since the height these individuals live at causes them to have little rainfall, insufficient soils and a concise growing season, it is nearly impossible for them to grow crops, so as an alternative their locals keep livestock. Due to their lack of flat land to grow crops, terraced fields have also been developed on many of the mountain slopes in attempt to expand the amount of land that could be used for agriculture. Since the production of crops is additionally difficult for people living on the mountain, they typically keep their resources for themselves and do not export them elsewhere. However, some products that they can grow in large quantities such as coffee, tobacco and cotton are exported elsewhere, typically to places close to them such as Columbia. The mountain people of Peru are known for their rare breed of alpaca, called Suri alpaca, which are well known for their soft and luxurious fibre. The alpaca has become a symbol of their town to represent their pride for being the home of this rare breed. The Peru Mountain people have always had a challenging language barrier between other communities, which poses a large effect on economic and cultural expansion of their community. This barrier has both positive and negative aspects on the community as it makes it challenging for them to develop as a culture, but avoids all forms of acculturation so they are not influenced by other cultures to change their ways of living. Manufacture centres are generally far away from seaports and the structure of the mountains makes it extremely difficult and expensive to build roads and railways. Because of this, they are still using pack trails between small communities, farms and markets and they use horses, donkeys, mules and llama for transportation, making them a migratory community. Air transport has also recently become necessary because it has significantly reduced the troubles they were previously facing with overland communication (Denevan 2017). A major challenge that the Mountain people of Peru are currently facing is climate change. Although our world is consistently growing hotter, the mountain people have been facing the possibility of extinction due to the escalating cold weather in their village. This has become a significant issue to all the indigenous people in Peru who live in the mountains because their glaciers are melting increasingly fast, causing their land to flood with cold water, making it almost impossible to continue the lifestyle they are currently living (Recharte 2019). Specifically, in the Peruvian Andes, individuals have been facing severe climate change that is causing people to become concerned for the survival of their tribe. The people who live here are well adapted to the cold weather and poverty, but over the last decade, the winter has come predominantly early. In the beginning, the animals started to die, and next their children began dying. This sudden temperature change was due to glaciers melting increasingly fast. Although their houses are well built to make it through the cold weather in the winter, it became so cold that they were unable to withstand the strong winds and freezing rain. This eventually forced them to sleep on the wet and freezing ground, causing their children to become very ill, and there was not enough time in between each winter for them to fully recover before the cold weather started again. This community has always been a part of Peru’s most underprivileged regions, and the altering climate in addition to their poor healthcare, diseases from animals, increasing food prices as well as a lack of water resources is making it especially hard for them to fight for survival (Kelly 2010).
To conclude, the Peru Mountain people live in a very similar way that individuals used to live thousands of years ago. They live in small villages that consist of stone or sod, with their children, and they heavily rely on alpaca to keep them alive and help them make a living. They are also very secluded to other cultures and territories because of their significant language barrier and lack of transportation, making it difficult for them to evolve as a culture. In our world today, this way of living has become increasingly difficult due to climate change as well as the new ‘normal” way of living for people in this world. Climate change is something that will most likely continue to progress over the years, and if this group of individuals are already facing difficulties in their way of living today, it will most likely continue to progress over the next decade. If significant changes are not made to their way of living, such as the creation of more stable homes, sufficient transportation or the importation of crops from other communities, I am afraid that this way of living will become impossible for the people living in Peru’s mountains and their population may begin to die off. I believe that if the mountain people were to improve their communication with other cultures, they could benefit by learning from ways that different cultures approach certain problems such as climate change and lack of resources, while still keeping the basis of their culture the same.
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