This book offers an artistic depiction of O’odham lifeways through the paintings of internationally acclaimed O’odham artist Michael Chiago Sr. Ethnobiologist Amadeo M. Rea collaborated with the artist to describe the paintings in accompanying text, making this unique book a vital resource for cultural understanding and preservation. A joint effort in seeing, this work explores how the artist sees and interprets his culture through his art.
A wide array of Chiago’s paintings are represented in this book, illustrating past and present Akimel O’odham and Tohono O’odham culture. The paintings show the lives and traditions of O’odham people from both the artist’s parents’ and grandparents’ generations and today. The paintings demonstrate the colonial Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo-American influences on O’odham culture throughout the decades, and the text explains how wells and windmills, schools, border walls, and nonnative crops have brought about significant change in O’odham life. The paintings and text in this book beautifully depict a variety of O’odham lifeways, including the striking Sonoran Desert environment of O’odham country, gathering local foods and cooking meals, shrines, ceremonies, dances, and more.
By combining Chiago’s paintings of his lived experiences with Rea’s ethnographic work, this book offers a full, colorful, and powerful picture of O’odham heritage, culture, and language, creating a teaching reference for future generations.