History Is in the Land
336 pages, 7 x 10
Release Date:27 Apr 2006
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History Is in the Land

Multivocal Tribal Traditions in Arizona's San Pedro Valley

The University of Arizona Press
Arizona’s San Pedro Valley is a natural corridor through which generations of native peoples have traveled for more than 12,000 years, and today many tribes consider it to be part of their ancestral homeland. This book explores the multiple cultural meanings, historical interpretations, and cosmological values of this extraordinary region by combining archaeological and historical sources with the ethnographic perspectives of four contemporary tribes: Tohono O’odham, Hopi, Zuni, and San Carlos Apache.

Previous research in the San Pedro Valley has focused on scientific archaeology and documentary history, with a conspicuous absence of indigenous voices, yet Native Americans maintain oral traditions that provide an anthropological context for interpreting the history and archaeology of the valley. The San Pedro Ethnohistory Project was designed to redress this situation by visiting archaeological sites, studying museum collections, and interviewing tribal members to collect traditional histories. The information it gathered is arrayed in this book along with archaeological and documentary data to interpret the histories of Native American occupation of the San Pedro Valley.

This work provides an example of the kind of interdisciplinary and politically conscious work made possible when Native Americans and archaeologists collaborate to study the past. As a methodological case study, it clearly articulates how scholars can work with Native American stakeholders to move beyond confrontations over who “owns” the past, yielding a more nuanced, multilayered, and relevant archaeology.
Ferguson and Colwell-Chanthaphonh present a powerful example of what a decolonized indigenous archaeology looks like. . . . [This is] an elegant, brilliantly written account of the many histories of the San Pedro Valley. It is a model for a new kind of archaeological writing.’—American Antiquity
‘Together these scholars cogently lay out a coherent theory, method, and model for conducting collaborative archaeological ethnohistory in Native American communities, which will stand for many years to come as the archetype of interdisciplinary and politically conscious work.’—Journal of Anthropological Research
‘This book embodies tribal sensibilities that have long been overlooked by the scientific community. The researchers have listened to tribal members and respect their esoteric knowledge. Much has been written about collaborative endeavors between scientists and tribes: this book has delivered a study that should be used by researchers who wish to embark on projects involving indigenous people. But more significantly, this book incorporates living, native people who can articulate their history and traditions in a language that scientists can understand and respect.’—Wicazo Sa Review
‘The authors do a masterful job of tacking back and forth between the documentary record, contemporary native knowledge, archaeological data, and oral traditions. . . . The outcome of this innovative, collaborative endeavor is an enriched understanding of the prehistory of the region and the scholarly legitimization of the voices of indigenous descendant populations.’—Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
History Is in the Land is about (re)making connections and there are precious threads to weave most readers into the people-history-land-scape. Employing their native collaborators’ tribal affiliations and individual perspectives as driving forces, the authors step back, allowing the San Pedro Valley to prompt O’odham, Hopi, Zuni, and Apache voices. . . . This path-clearing book is a recommended acquisition for all those who work on or think on or about the ample common ground at the interface of heritage, community, land, and policy.’—Journal of Arizona History
‘[The book] gives a glimpse of different ways that the same landscape holds meaning for different cultures and proves that people do not own history but rather that history is in the land.’—Kiva
T. J. Ferguson owns Anthropological Research, LLC, in Tucson, Arizona, where he is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh received his PhD from Indiana University and his BA from the University of Arizona. Before coming to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, he held fellowships with the Center for Desert Archaeology and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
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