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Mayo Ethnobotany

Land, History, and Traditional Knowledge in Northwest Mexico

David Yetman (Author), Thomas R. Van Devender (Author)

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The Mayos, an indigenous people of northwestern Mexico, live in small towns spread over southern Sonora and northern Sinaloa, lands of remarkable biological diversity. Traditional Mayo knowledge is quickly being lost as this culture becomes absorbed into modern Mexico. Moreover, as big agriculture spreads into the region, the natural biodiversity of these lands is also rapidly disappearing. This engaging and accessible ethnobotany, based on hundreds of interviews with the Mayos and illustrated with the authors' strikingly beautiful photographs, helps preserve our knowledge of both an indigenous culture and an endangered environment.

This book contains a comprehensive description of northwest Mexico's tropical deciduous forests and thornscrub on the traditional Mayo lands reaching from the Sea of Cortés to the foothills of the Sierra Madre. The first half of the book is a highly readable account of the climate, geology, and vegetation of the region. The authors also provide a valuable history of the people, their language, culture, festival traditions, and plant use. The second half of the book is an annotated list of plants presenting the authors' detailed findings on plant use in Mayo culture.

Part One
1. The People and the Land
2. A Brief Ethnography of the Mayos
3. Historical and Contemporary Mayos
4. Plant and Animal Life
5. Eight Plants That Make Mayos Mayos

Part Two
6. Plant Uses
7. An Annotated List of Plants
Appendix A. Mayo Region Place Names and Their Meanings
Appendix B. Yoreme Consultants
Appendix C. Gazetteer of the Mayo Region
Appendix D. Mayo Plants Listed by Spanish Name
Appendix E. Mayo Plants Listed by Mayo Name
Appendix F. Glossary of Mayo and Spanish Terms

Works Cited
David Yetman is Associate Research Social Scientist at The Southwest Center at the University of Arizona and author of Where the Desert Meets the Sea: A Trader in the Land of the Seri Indians (1988), Sonora: An Intimate Geography (1996), and Scattered Round Stones: A Mayo Village in Sonora, Mexico (1998). He is host of the PBS series "The Desert Speaks." Thomas R. Van Devender is Senior Research Scientist at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. He has published many articles on the ecology and evolution of the Sonoran desert and has done pioneering research to determine ancient climates and vegetation change through studies of packrat middens.
"David Yetman and Tom Van Devender and their Mayo consultants vividly bring to life a great depth of indigenous information in a thoroughly enjoyable and accessible manner. Here is a detailed account of a fast receding way of life from the arid edge of the American tropics presented by the leading researchers in the field. The Mayos are an enduring people and this book does them honor."—Richard Stephen Felger, Executive Director, Drylands Institute, Tucson, AZ

"Yetman and Van Devender, with abundant help from their knowledgable ethnobotanical teachers, the Mayo Indians of southern Sonora, reveal the botanical secrets of a vanishing habitat. This book is invaluable for ethnobotanists, a treasure chest for tropical afficionados, and a delight to all those with a love of wild plants in wild habitats."—Paul S. Martin, Emeritus Professor of Geosciences, University of Arizona

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