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Human Ecology

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 423–435 | Cite as

The Anthropology of Dust: Community Responses to Wind-Blown Sediments within the Middle Gila River Valley, Arizona

  • David K. Wright
  • J. Andrew Darling
  • Barnaby V. Lewis
  • Craig M. Fertelmes
  • Chris Loendorf
  • Leroy Williams
  • M. Kyle Woodson
Article
  • 273 Downloads

Abstract

Dust in its myriad forms impacts human existence in arid environments; but dust is more than an environmental nuisance. It shapes and reshapes adaptive response and human ideology over the short and long term. In 2011, the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC), Arizona, U.S.A. sponsored a study of dust entrainment within the jurisdiction of its airshed. The study’s primary objectives were to determine the relationship between sediment sources and sinks in premodern contexts and how indigenous people have coped with eolian activity since intensive settlement of the Middle Gila River Valley began. Ethnographic and archaeological sources indicate that people respect winds and observe cultural procedures consistent with their origin and to reduce their ill effects. Geomorphic data also show stratigraphic correspondence between relic wash channels and adjacent terrace and sand sheet deposits demonstrating a long history of eolian activity derived from fluvial sources. Climatological data from PM10 “exceedance events” corroborate anthropological analyses indicating that extreme dust events are typically westerlies and occur during exceptionally dry periods. Eolian dust is part of the ambient ecosystem of the GRIC and should be viewed as such within the modern cultural and regulatory environment governing these emissions.

Keywords

Ethnoarchaeology Middle Gila River Valley, Arizona Dust entrainment Household settlement 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was undertaken in conjunction with the Gila River Indian Community, Cultural Resource Management Program (CRMP), the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project under funding from the Department of the Interior, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, under the Tribal Self-Governance Act (PL 103–413), for the design and development of a water delivery system utilizing Central Arizona Project water. A grant provided to the GRIC-DEQ from the United States Environmental Protection Agency funded portions of this project involving geochemistry, climatologic and geomorphologic analyses. We are grateful to the late Henrietta Pablo, David DeJong, Henrietta Lopez, Margaret Cook, the air quality team at GRIC-DEQ, and the GRIC administration under the leadership of Governors William Rhodes and Gregory Mendoza.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • David K. Wright
    • 1
  • J. Andrew Darling
    • 2
  • Barnaby V. Lewis
    • 3
  • Craig M. Fertelmes
    • 4
  • Chris Loendorf
    • 4
  • Leroy Williams
    • 5
  • M. Kyle Woodson
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Archaeology and Art HistorySeoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Southwest Heritage Research LLC/Department of AnthropologySouthern Methodist UniversityDallasUSA
  3. 3.Tribal Historic Preservation OfficeSacatonUSA
  4. 4.Cultural Resource Management ProgramSacatonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Environmental QualitySacatonUSA

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