At the Desert's Green Edge: An Ethnobotany of the Gila River Pima

Overview

The Akimel O'odham, or Pima Indians, of the northern Sonoran Desert continue to make their home along Arizona's Gila River despite the alarming degradation of their habitat that has occurred over the past century. The oldest living Pimas can recall a lush riparian ecosystem and still recite more than two hundred names for plants in their environment, but they are the last generation who grew up subsisting on cultivated native crops or wild-foraged plants. Ethnobiologist Amadeo M. Rea has written the first ...

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Overview

The Akimel O'odham, or Pima Indians, of the northern Sonoran Desert continue to make their home along Arizona's Gila River despite the alarming degradation of their habitat that has occurred over the past century. The oldest living Pimas can recall a lush riparian ecosystem and still recite more than two hundred names for plants in their environment, but they are the last generation who grew up subsisting on cultivated native crops or wild-foraged plants. Ethnobiologist Amadeo M. Rea has written the first complete ethnobotany of the Gila River Pima and has done so from the perspective of the Pimas themselves. At the Desert's Green Edge weaves the Pima view of the plants found in their environment with memories of their own history and culture, creating a monumental testament to their traditions and way of life. Rea first discusses the Piman people, environment, and language, then proceeds to share their botanical knowledge in entries for 240 plants that systematically cover information on economic botany, folk taxonomy, and linguistics. The entries are organized according to Pima life-form categories such as plants growing in water, eaten greens, and planted fruit trees. All are anecdotal, conveying the author's long personal involvement with the Pimas, whether teaching in their schools or learning from them in conversations and interviews. At the Desert's Green Edge is an archive of otherwise unavailable plant lore that will become a benchmark for botanists and anthropologists. Enhanced by more than one hundred brush paintings of plants, it is written to be equally useful to nonspecialists so that the Pimas themselves can turn to it as a resource regarding their former lifeways. More than an encyclopedia of facts, it is the Pimas' own story, a witness to a changing way of life in the Sonoran Desert.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Winner of the Society for Economic Botany’s Klinger Book Award.

"Sets a new standard for ethnobotanical research." —American Anthropologist"Phenomenal . . . every person interested in American people and plants should use this book." —Economic Botany"The finest ethnobotanical book available . . . [a] masterpiece." —Human Mosaic

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816515400
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 430
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 12.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Amadeo M. Rea is an ethnobiologist and ornithologist who has conducted research on the Gila River Indian Reservation over a period of thirty years. He is also the author of Once a River: Bird Life and Habitat Changes on the Middle Gila

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Pt. 1 The Pima and Their Country
1 The Gila Pima 5
2 Native Consultants 17
3 Historic Pima Habitats 29
4 The Pima Cultural Ecosystem 42
5 A People without a River 47
6 Modern Gila Pima Habitats 56
7 A Dietary Reconstruction 67
8 Words for Mapping the Natural World 76
Pt. 2 Gila Pima Plants
Plan of the Folk Generics (Biological Species Accounts) 93
Group A Shuudagi ch-ed Ha'ichu Vuushdag: Plants Growing in or on the Water 97
Group B Akimel ch-ed Ha'ichu Chuuchim: Plants Standing in the River, Emergents 101
Group C Vashai: Grasses, Grassy Plants, Forage Plants, Hay 110
Group D Sha'i: Bushes 121
Group E U'us Chuuchim: Trees 157
Group F Iivagi: Eaten Greens 199
Group G Covert Category: Wild Annuals 209
Group H Covert Category: Cactuslike Plants 249
Group I E'es : Crops, Planted Things 286
Group J Ha'ichu Iibdag: Planted Fruit Trees 353
Group K Category Unknown: Miscellaneous Unaffiliated Plants 364
Group L Unassigned Organisms: Not Ha'ichu Vuushdag, Things That Grow Up 370
A The Gila Pima Ethnobotanical Lexicon 379
B Unidentified Gila Pima Folk Plant Taxa 384
C Scientific Names of Animals Mentioned in Text 390
D Folk Taxonomic Adjustments in a Changing Biotic Environment 392
Bibliography 401
Index 413
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