When thinking of the litany of issues facing people of the desert today, “heat” usually isn’t one of the primary topics brought up. But when we visited the Water Resources Office on the reservation, increasing heat in the form of global warming was one of the more prevalent issues. Upon deeper than cursory consideration, the issue makes sense; desert agriculture is already somewhat of a precarious, fickle business, and more changes will just make it that much more difficult to carry out. Temperature increases have been found to greatly through off agriculture worldwide; why should it be any different in the already scorching desert?
Now, Selso, the man we were speaking with, did make a point to mention that even among the O’odham (primarily the elderly population) a similar disbelief about rising temperatures harming O’odham practices exists. He reported that, in the style of walking to school “uphill both ways,” the older O’odham retorted that of course the desert was hot, and that doesn’t mean anything because of who the O’odham are and that the kids these days are just getting soft. More recently however, as Selso reported, even these people have begun to realize that this is new heat, with new problems.
Selso also shared insight outside the scope of water resources. One of the more compelling topics he spoke on was his own return to the nation and the return of outside educated O’odham in general. Selso had gottent about as far away from Sells, Arizona as he could by the time he attended Yale for his masters. But even he, like many of his generation, couldn’t sit idle and act like he had the capacity to forget about the place that made him and the O’odham. So he came back…and his coworker, who’d been making a lot of money in the oil industry, also came back… and others, far flung by a desire to leave the reservation behind all came back to try to help. The land and the people, even in this modern day, still hold on to each other as best they can.