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Piman Indians’ Exhibit Shows Effects of Environmental Devastation

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A new University of San Diego exhibit examines the Piman Indians of the American southwest, who were a prosperous group of hunters and fishers until environmental changes set in motion by European contact led to the collapse of their cultural ecosystem.

“Pimans: A Bountiful Life in a Harsh Environment” runs until the end of March 2011. Through a variety of artifacts, photos and a short video, the exhibit looks at the Northern Pimans who lived in the deserts and mountains of Arizona and the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua.

“The Pimos are large and fine looking, seem well fed, ride good horses and are variously clothed,” reported Col. Philip St. George Cook, a member of the Mormon Battalion that explored their land in 1846.

For centuries, the Pimans had subsisted on a healthy diet. Mesquite pods, a staple, were rich in fiber, complex sugars and proteins. Various wild greens, gathered almost year around, supplied vitamins and trace minerals. Animal protein came from abundant fish and wild game. “I have never seen richer soil or more beautiful fields,” reported another visitor to the Piman lands in 1858. (Full Story Inside USD)

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