Peoples of a Sonoran Desert Oasis: Recovering the Lost History and Culture of Quitobaquito
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
Sales Date: 2023-10-17
Published: October 2023
226 Pages, 155.00 x 234.00 x 13.00 mm, 21 b&w illus., 3 maps
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The outlines of the lost landscapes of Quitobaquito-now further threatened by the looming border wall-reemerge in Peoples of a Sonoran Desert Oasis as Jared Orsi tells the story of the land, its inhabitants ancient and recent, and the efforts of the NPS to "reclaim" Quitobaquito's pristine natural form and to reverse the damage done to the O'odham community and culture, first by colonial incursions and then by proponents of "preservation."
Quitobaquito is ecologically and culturally rich, and this book summons both the natural and human history of this unique place to describe how people have made use of the land for some five hundred generations, subject to the shifting forces of subsistence and commerce, tradition and progress, cultural and biological preservation. Throughout, Orsi details the processes by which the NPS obliterated those cultural landscapes and then subsequently, as America began to reckon with its colonial legacy, worked with O'odham peoples to restore their rightful heritage.
Tracing the building and erasing of past landscapes to make some of them more visible in the present, Peoples of a Sonoran Desert Oasis reveals how colonial legacies became embedded in national parks-and points to the possibility that such legacies might be undone and those lost landscapes remade.
"Peoples of a Sonoran Desert Oasis gets to the heart of one of the great debates in the history of conservation: whether there are any true 'wildernesses'-pristine natural areas untouched by human hands-and, when we set aside protected areas like national parks, whether we should remove evidence of human occupation. The author does a marvelous job weaving O'odham oral traditions and histories into this historical account of Quitobaquito."-Thomas E. Sheridan, author of Arizona: A History
"With engaging prose, Jared Orsi excavates the layers of Indigenous history that underlie this seemingly 'untouched' nature reserve, details the environmental and cultural devastation of an increasingly hardened border, challenges the National Park Service-and us-to reckon with its colonial past, and points the way toward reconciliation with the O'odham peoples. The result is a fascinating study of a little-known place in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands."-Marsha Weisiger, author of Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country
"Peoples of a Sonoran Desert Oasis provides a trenchant analysis of how cultural heritage, modern management policies challenging that heritage, and local to international forces combined to shape a small, contested desert oasis. Quitobaquito is a tiny and unfamiliar space with lessons for the world."-Lary M. Dilsaver, author of Preserving the Desert: A History of Joshua Tree National Park