• kjoannerixon

The Papago (Tohono O'odham) and Pima Indians of Arizona


This anthropological text from 1941 gives a very very basic overview of the lifestyle and environmental adaptations of the Tohono O'odham, a nation from the Sonoran Desert/ Gila River area. I'm somewhat suspicious of the accuracy of many particulars (like the taking of scalps--pretty sure that was introduced by Europeans, wasn't it?), and very suspicious of the idea that this information reflects the realities of Tohono O'odham life pre-colonization.


At the same time, I admire the chutzpah of a woman anthropologist in the 1930s moving to Arizona to become the acknowledged white/academic expert on the Tohono O'odham. I'm trying to get my hands on another book by Underhill, PAPAGO WOMAN, which is an (auto)biography of a woman she met, who narrated her life story while Underhill took notes. PAPAGO WOMAN is one of the best books I've been able to identify about the life of the Tohono O'odham people--it's on sale at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Visitor Center alongside natural histories of the Sonoran Desert. Sometimes the particular is more illuminating than the general.

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