Effects of Contact with Non-Indian Cultures on Patterns of Water Use: A Case Study of the Quechan Indians of California

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Quechan Indian Reservation, Yuma Indians, Water Use, Colorado River


Indigenous Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology | United States History | Water Resource Management


Water is a basic necessity for survival, so how a culture chooses to use the water resources available to it is a fundamental and integral part of the culture. The Quechan Indians have lived by the Colorado River near the present-day town of Yuma, Arizona for at least 350 years. They have witnessed the coming of the Hispanic and Anglo cultures, and experienced the pervasive changes brought about by these cultures. This paper deals with the effects of interactions with non-Indian cultures on the Quechan Indians' patterns of water use. Interaction implies a give and take between cultures, and is the process through which information is exchanged and can then be accepted or rejected. Patterns of water use are here defines as those ways in which the Quechan have used the available water sources to live. The four types of water use I look at in discussing change are, the quantity of water used, methods of obtaining water, purposes for which water is used, and attitudes about water.


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