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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The 'Watcher's Stage' in Lower Colorado River Indian Agriculture


In our study of aboriginal agriculture in southern California, we have recently begun examining photographs of southern California Indians taken in the late historic period, looking for evidence of agriculture. The purpose of this brief report is to suggest by example how photographic images may aid in expanding or reinforcing our knowledge of native agricultural technology in the historic period. Analysis of such images can (1) reinforce ethnographic data by serving as a check on information derived from informants; (2) expand our knowledge of native agriculture in the historic period through providing new data; (3) inform us about acculturation in native agriculture (e.g., the borrowing of Spanish or American agricultural practices); and (4) possibly shed light on aboriginal agricultural practices that have extended into the historic period.

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