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Eating the Landscape

American Indian Stories of Food, Identity, and Resilience

(by) Enrique Salmón

Publication Year: 2012

"Eating is not only a political act, it is also a cultural act that reaffirms one’s identity and worldview," Enrique Salmón writes in Eating the Landscape. Traversing a range of cultures, including the Tohono O’odham of the Sonoran Desert and the Rarámuri of the Sierra Tarahumara, the book is an illuminating journey through the southwest United States and northern Mexico. Salmón weaves his historical and cultural knowledge as a renowned indigenous ethnobotanist with stories American Indian farmers have shared with him to illustrate how traditional indigenous foodways—from the cultivation of crops to the preparation of meals—are rooted in a time-honored understanding of environmental stewardship.

In this fascinating personal narrative, Salmón focuses on an array of indigenous farmers who uphold traditional agricultural practices in the face of modern changes to food systems such as extensive industrialization and the genetic modification of food crops. Despite the vast cultural and geographic diversity of the region he explores, Salmón reveals common themes: the importance of participation in a reciprocal relationship with the land, the connection between each group’s cultural identity and their ecosystems, and the indispensible correlation of land consciousness and food consciousness. Salmón shows that these collective philosophies provide the foundation for indigenous resilience as the farmers contend with global climate change and other disruptions to long-established foodways. This resilience, along with the rich stores of traditional ecological knowledge maintained by indigenous agriculturalists, Salmón explains, may be the key to sustaining food sources for humans in years to come.

As many of us begin to question the origins and collateral costs of the food we consume, Salmón’s call for a return to more traditional food practices in this wide-ranging and insightful book is especially timely. Eating the Landscape is an essential resource for ethnobotanists, food sovereignty proponents, and advocates of the local food and slow food movements.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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1. In My Grandmother’s Kitchen

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pp. 1-11

Grandma. The dark creases on my grandma’s face deepened when she smiled. To my young mind, she seemed the perfect grandma. Her white hair contrasted with her dark brown skin. The brightness of the sun deepened the wrinkles and creases on her face. ...

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2. Sharing Breath: The Grass Is Not Always Greener on the Other Side

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pp. 12-30

It was a warm afternoon in the Sierra Madres of Chihuahua, Mexico. I was engaged there in some of my dissertation fieldwork as I visited the government classes at the boarding school in Nararáchi, a small mountain village of Rarámuri. The students arrived early Monday mornings from their scattered rancherías ...

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3. Pojoaque Pueblo and a Garden of the Ancients

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pp. 31-47

“They don’t know why they’re dancing anymore,” Herman Agoyo sadly said. This was in response to my question of why he remained remorseful despite just telling me and my students that more young people than ever were returning to their village of low flat-topped adobe buildings ...

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4. We Still Need Rain Spirits

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pp. 48-66

Persistence. After a click of my computer mouse, a digital Webster’s dictionary suddenly zooms onto my computer’s desktop. The dictionary defines persistence as “firm obstinate continuance in a course of actions in spite of difficulty or opposition.” ...

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5. Bounty among the Saguaro

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pp. 67-84

She was stepping in my footprints. At first, I didn’t realize what she was doing. I was trying not to stumble on the uneven, rocky Sonoran Desert soil as I wound my way around the creosote and brittle bushes, trying not to get my legs punctured by cholla cactus. ...

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6. Small Fields for Large Impacts on the Colorado Plateau

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pp. 85-105

“There’s nothing out there,” she said. One of my students from the East Coast was leaning her head against the warm window of the fifteen-passenger van as we traversed the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona. She also wondered out loud how anyone could survive in this place. ...

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7. Highways of Diversity and Querencia in Northern New Mexico

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pp. 106-121

The mosaic of green that carpets the Mad River Valley in west central Vermont peeked through the shifting layers of clouds and fog drifting below. I was slowly walking downhill toward the large red barn that is the combination meeting place, dining area, and working space for Knoll Farm, ...

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8. Singing to Turtles, Singing for Divine Fire

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pp. 122-137

Efrain was sitting alone in the shade of a medium-height cottonwood tree. He and the tree shared the space at the edge of Victor Masayesva’s farm on the Hopi reservation in northern Arizona. Except for the handful of cottonwood and peach trees, the rustcolored land here was washed in the midday sun. ...

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9. A New American Indian Cuisine

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pp. 138-154

“Does anyone know how to start a fire?” she shouted. At first I thought the question a bit bizarre, considering we were standing outside, amid the juniper woods at the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Surely people in this neck of the woods knew how to start a fire. ...

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10. The Whole Enchilada

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pp. 155-162

I am a member of a small group of fortunate scholars, writers, activists, meditation instructors, and nonprofit leaders that comprises the faculty for the Center for Whole Communities mentioned earlier in the book. For the last seven years, the faculty has been meeting separately to dialogue about the Center’s curriculum ...

Further Reading

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pp. 163-166


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pp. 167-170

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About the Author

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Enrique Salmón is head of the American Indian Studies Program at Cal State University, East Bay located in Hayward, California. He has a BS from Western New Mexico University, an MAT in Southwestern Studies from Colorado College, and a PhD in Anthropology from Arizona State University. ...

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780816599561
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816530113

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2012