Aridoamerica

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Aridoamerica region of North America Aridoamerica (orthographic projection).svg
Aridoamerica region of North America

Aridoamerica denotes an ecological region spanning Mexico and the Southwest United States, defined by the presence of the culturally significant staple foodstuff Phaseolus acutifolius , a drought-resistant bean. [1] Its dry, arid climate and geography stand in contrast to the verdant Mesoamerica of present-day central Mexico into Central America [2] to the south and east, and the higher, milder "island" of Oasisamerica to the north. Aridoamerica overlaps with both. [1]

Mexico country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

Staple food food that is eaten routinely and considered a dominant portion of a standard diet

A staple food, food staple, or simply a staple, is a food that is eaten routinely and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a standard diet for a given people, supplying a large fraction of energy needs and generally forming a significant proportion of the intake of other nutrients as well. A staple food of a specific society may be eaten as often as every day or every meal, and most people live on a diet based on just a small number of food staples. Specific staples vary from place to place, but typically are inexpensive or readily available foods that supply one or more of the macronutrients needed for survival and health: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Typical examples include tubers and roots, grains, legumes, and seeds.

<i>Phaseolus acutifolius</i> Species of plant

Phaseolus acutifolius, or the Tepary bean, is native to the southwestern United States and Mexico and has been grown there by the native peoples since pre-Columbian times. It is more drought-resistant than the common bean and is grown in desert and semi-desert conditions from Arizona through Mexico to Costa Rica. The water requirements are low and the crop will grow in areas where annual rainfall is less than 400 mm (16 in).

Contents

Because of the relatively hard conditions, the pre-Columbian people in this region developed distinct cultures and subsistence farming patterns. The region has only 120 mm (4.7 in) to 160 mm (6.3 in) of annual precipitation. The sparse rainfall feeds seasonal creeks and waterholes. [3]

The term was introduced by Gary Paul Nabhan in 1985, [4] building on prior work by anthropologists A.L. Kroeber and Paul Kirchhoff to identify a "true cultural entity" for the desert region.

Gary Paul Nabhan is an Agricultural Ecologist, Ethnobotanist, Ecumenical Franciscan Brother, and author whose work has focused primarily on the plants and cultures of the desert Southwest. He is considered a pioneer in the local food movement and the heirloom seed saving movement.

Paul Kirchhoff was a German-Mexican anthropologist, most noted for his seminal work in defining and elaborating the culture area of Mesoamerica, a term he coined.

Subsistence

Distribution of tribes called Chichimeca, ca. 1550 ChichimecNations.png
Distribution of tribes called Chichimeca, ca. 1550

The Chichimeca, an umbrella term for several tribes used by the Nahua people, were hunter-gatherers in Aridoamerica grasslands. They gathered magueys, yucca flowers, mesquite beans, chia seeds, and cacti, including the paddles of fruits of nopal cactus. The century plant ( Agave americana ) is a particularly important resource in the region. [5]

Chichimeca ethnic group

Chichimeca was the name that the Nahua peoples of Mexico generically applied to nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples who were established in present-day Bajio region of Mexico. Chichimeca carried the same sense as the Roman term "barbarian" to describe Germanic tribes. The name, with its pejorative sense, was adopted by the Spanish Empire. For the Spanish, in the words of scholar Charlotte M. Gradie, "the Chichimecas were a wild, nomadic people who lived north of the Valley of Mexico. They had no fixed dwelling places, lived by hunting, wore little clothes and fiercely resisted foreign intrusion into their territory, which happened to contain silver mines the Spanish wished to exploit."

A hunter-gatherer is a human living in a society in which most or all food is obtained by foraging. Hunter-gatherer societies stand in contrast to agricultural societies, which rely mainly on domesticated species.

Maguey may refer to various American plants:

Despite dry conditions, Aridoamerica boasts the greatest diversity of wild and domesticated tepary beans ( Phaseolus acutifolius ) and is a possible site of their domestication. [1] Maize cultivation reached Aridoamerica by about 2100 BCE. [6] Archaeologists disagree whether the plant was introduced by Uto-Aztecan migrants from Mesoamerica or spread either northward or southward from other groups by cultural borrowing. [6]

Maize Cereal grain

Maize, also known as corn, is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago. The leafy stalk of the plant produces pollen inflorescences and separate ovuliferous inflorescences called ears that yield kernels or seeds, which are fruits.

In Baja California, fishing and hunting provided food, as did harvesting acorns, nopal, pine nuts, and other native plants. [7]

Baja California Federal entity in Mexico

Baja California, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Baja California, is a state in Mexico. It is the northernmost and westernmost of the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1952, the area was known as the North Territory of Baja California. It has an area of 70,113 km2 (27,071 sq mi), or 3.57% of the land mass of Mexico and comprises the northern half of the Baja California Peninsula, north of the 28th parallel, plus oceanic Guadalupe Island. The mainland portion of the state is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by Sonora, the U.S. state of Arizona, and the Gulf of California, and on the south by Baja California Sur. Its northern limit is the U.S. state of California.

Pine nut edible seeds of pines

Pine nuts, also called piñón or pinoli, are the edible seeds of pines. About 20 species of pine produce seeds large enough to be worth harvesting; in other pines the seeds are also edible, but are too small to be of notable value as a human food.

Historically, people of Aridoamerica coppiced willows, that is, tree trunks were cut to a stump to encourage the growth of slender shoots. These willow shoots were woven tightly to produce waterproof, cooking baskets. Fire-heated rocks were plunged into a gruel in the baskets to cook. [3]

Geography

The current Mexican states that lie in Aridoamerica are:

The northern parts of:

Aridoamerica cultures

Map of indigenous peoples in Baja California Cochimi map.png
Map of indigenous peoples in Baja California

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 Pratt and Nabhan 419
  2. Cordell and Fowler 85
  3. 1 2 Bye and Linares 273
  4. Nabhan, G.B. (October 1985). "Native crop diversity in Aridoamerica: Conservation of regional gene pools". Economic Botany. 39 (4): 387. doi:10.1007/bf02858746 . Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  5. Bye and Linares 256
  6. 1 2 Herr, Sara A. "The Latest Research on the Earliest Farmers." Archaeology Southwest Vol. 23, No. 1, Winter 2009, p.1
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Schmal, John P. "Indigenous Baja". History of Mexico. Houston Institute for Culture. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Mexico: Map". Ethnologue. Retrieved 16 November 2015.

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Lima bean species of plant

Phaseolus lunatus, commonly known as the lima bean, butter bean, sieva bean, or Madagascar bean, is a legume grown for its edible seeds or beans.

<i>Phaseolus vulgaris</i> species of plant

Phaseolus vulgaris, also known as the common bean, green bean and French bean, among other names, is a herbaceous annual plant grown worldwide for its edible dry seeds or unripe fruit. The main categories of common beans, on the basis of use, are dry beans, snap beans and shell (shelled) beans. Its leaf is also occasionally used as a vegetable and the straw as fodder. Its botanical classification, along with other Phaseolus species, is as a member of the legume family Fabaceae, most of whose members acquire the nitrogen they require through an association with rhizobia, a species of nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

Three Sisters (agriculture) main agricultural crops of various Native American groups in North America

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The Archaic Southwest was the culture of the southwestern United States between 6500 BC and 200 AD (approximately).

Mesoamerica Cultural area in the Americas

Mesoamerica is a historical region and cultural area in North America. It extends from approximately central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica, and within this region pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in 16th century European diseases, like small pox and measles, caused the deaths of upwards of 90% of the indigenous people. It is one of five areas in the world where ancient civilization arose independently, and the second in the Americas along with Norte Chico (Caral-Supe) in present-day Peru, in the northern coastal region.

Oasisamerica Pre-Columbian cultural region of North America

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Indigenous peoples of the North American Southwest

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La Pintada is an archaeological site located some 60 kilometers south of the city of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, within the “La Pintada” canyon, part of the “Sierra Libre”, a small mountain massif of the coastal plains that extends throughout the Sonoran Desert.

Agriculture in the prehistoric Southwest

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Guilá Naquitz Cave site of early domestication of several food crops in Oaxaca, Mexico

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References