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Ecological Knowledge and Practices of Traditional Indigenous and Spanish Agriculturists presentation by Gary P. Nabhan, PhD
For decades, we have been told that southwestern agriculture evolved from a blending of precontact Indigenous crops and technologies diffused from Mesoamerica, blended in historic times with Spanish-derived crops and practices brought in by Jesuit missionaries like Kino or Franciscans like Garces. The truth is much more complex, interesting and fun! There were many food crops domesticated by Indigenous cultures in the region we now call Arid America in addition to those diffused from Mesoamerica. While corn, some beans, and squash did come north into what’s now the US from Mesoamerica beginning over 4,000 years ago, quite a few others underwent much of their domestication in Arid America. And historically, most of the crop varieties and livestock breeds brought into Mexico came from the Canaries, and ultimately from North Africa and the Middle East, not Europe. Padre Kino was not the founder of Spanish agriculture in southern Arizona and northern Sonora, for crops like Sonoran bread wheat and watermelons had arrived prior to his entry, as did Churro sheep and Criollo cattle. Water harvesting and other desert-adapted agricultural techniques still used today are a blend of Indigenous, Canarian, and Arab/Phoenician influences. Ethnobotanist and agricultural ecologist Dr. Gary Nabhan, a MacArthur Fellow, will share some of his insights about many of the Arid American domesticated species during this month’s Third Thursday Food for Thought presentation.

Jul 21, 2022 07:00 PM in Arizona

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