As we move into the final days of the course, it can become challenging to reflect on all that we found over these last four weeks. Spring Term course by nature are meant to be intense and immersive, and these very qualities that make them so unique can also allow some of the smaller, day-to-day details we’ve seen and discussed to be lost in the shuffle. But despite the wealth of information we were exposed to in both the classroom and the field, several key moments did stick out in this course.
One of the most clear memories I have of the trip, though not necessarily the first chronological event, is seeing Baboquivari for the first time while on the road. Immediately, I understood why much of the Tohono O’odham religion centered around this site. The small mountain range containing Baboquivari is impressive in itself, slashing a stark barrier across the desert flatland that gives it a baseline mystical quality. But rising above even that impressive site is the almost monolithic peak of Baboquivari. It stands sentry over the desert surrounding it, which includes the Tohono O’odham reservation at its feet. This view typifies the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert, present during almost every facet of the trip and truly one of the most memorable aspects of it. Though we never got the opportunity to climb or stand a the foot of Baboquivari peak, it’s impact wasn’t lost on me.
Several trends I noticed among the people we met also stuck out to me. The first was how they spoke. I believe it was Peter the Anthropologist (Eric’s inspiration) who told us after the meetings that the older O’odham people (the group that most of our speakers came from) would say their peace, regardless of whatever “time constraints” or “prior appointments” those listening might have. Admittedly, this didn’t end up a negative for us, at least from my perspective. With every speaker, we got the complete picture of their specific topic (even if it took a little extra work to keep it all in line). Something else that stuck out was the prevalence of obesity among the people. Of course, we’d read about diabetes and the litany of health problems stemming from diverging from traditional foods. But it was still shock to find out that nearly every Tohono O’odham person we met over the age of 30 appeared to be obese. That put the problem we’d studied academically into a much more human context.
Well, that looks like everything. Here’s to hoping this wasn’t the last time I make it out to the Southwest.