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Quitovac Oasis: A Sense of Home Place and the Development of Water Resources

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Agricultural development at Quitovac, a Sonoran Desert oasis that is an ancestral home of the Tohono O’odham people, was first interpreted in the literature as a typical example of an indigenous community succumbing to the economic pressures of industrial society. However, a humanistic analysis of the cultural and historical context and the results of ethnographic fieldwork leads to a radically different interpretation of recent community actions. Community-initiated institutional and economic changes can be understood as creative and resilient adaptations, and perhaps a resolution, to a complex social and religious challenge to the community's identity. Notwithstanding the economic failure of part of the development efforts, the overall effects are interpreted as strengthening the residents’ sense of their home place and ensuring the continuation of religious rites associated with this sacred place.

Keywords: Mexico; Sonoran Desert; Tohono odham; indigenous peoples; religion

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Louisiana State University, 2: California State University, Long Beach

Publication date: February 1, 2001


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