Leisure Recreation and the Arts

Visitors to the reservation are likely to comment that the Canela appear to be playing all the time. This is because they have a lot of leisure time and work in a playful manner, chatting and joking.

Men have more leisure time than women, because women's work is daily while men's work, like clearing fields, is more seasonal. Men hunt and fish during all months of the year, but such activities are sporadic.

Leisure time for men is spent at daily age-set gatherings or, when older, council of elders' meetings, where they talk about amusing experiences, rumors, scandals, and politics. Young men and women often dance three times a day—dawn, late afternoon, and evening. The Canela seldom work more than 5 hours in their fields (about 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.), and then, after sequential sex, the men race carrying heavy logs back from the fields to the village in the mid-afternoon. They hold track and sing-dancing events around the village circle in the late afternoon during the meetings of the elders and during the morning meetings of the elders as well.

It is hard to detect when women have leisure moments, because their family duties keep them occupied most of the time. However, during the afternoons, they may sing between naps while rocking their babies, and down by the stream they may have long enjoyable discussions with other women while washing clothes. None of their work seems hurried or pressured.

While the social singing and dancing in the plaza three times a day involves both genders, as do the personal trysts, the genders spend most leisure time apart, not because custom segregates them, but because of the nature of their activities.

Old men, but not old women, formerly gathered large groups of children and youths in the plaza during the late afternoon, while they told stories about the ancestors.

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