Seri Indian adaptive strategies in a desert and sea environment: Three case studies. A navigational song map in the Sea of Cortes; the ironwood tree as habitat for medicinal plants; desert plants adapted to treat diabetes
AuthorMonti, Laura S.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractIn this research I examine the adaptive strategies and practices that an indigenous community uses to cope with stresses and threats of their local environment. I consider the premise that the continuous interactions with nature by a people who have lived in the same geographic region for great periods of time can lead to traditional ecological knowledge that benefits human well being, and can also result in practices that result in the protection and sustainable use of the natural resources of their environment. Case studies with the Seri Indians in Sonora, Mexico are provided to demonstrate how adaptive behaviors evolved in coastal-desert environment can affect health and also contribute to conservation. In each study, I examine practices that the Seri Indians use to cope with the constraints and opportunities inherent in their desert and sea environment. The case studies take place in 3 landscapes of different geographic scale and cultural contexts. The first study is of a seascape where ritual sea songs are sung to navigate through dangerous channel between two islands. The second study examines medicinal plant associations with the ironwood tree (Olneya tesota Gray) in a series of landscapes of the Central Gulf Coast of Sonora. The third study considers a group of five desert plants adapted by the Seri to treat diabetes in light of the biological and cultural factors that influenced the Seri selection of these plants. The studies demonstrate in different environments, spatial scales and cultural contexts, how dynamic human-environment interactions take place at the interface between biological and cultural adaptation; interactions that are mutually reinforced in the human experience.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Arid Lands Resource Sciences