Community-University Partnership Launches Project to Build on Yaqui Resiliency

Community-University Partnership Launches Project to Build on Yaqui Resiliency

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Dr. Maribel Alvarez, Associate Professor, UA School of Anthropology, and executive director for the University of Arizona (UA)-affiliated Southwest Folklife Alliance (SFA), traveled in March 2016 to launch the project funded by the Haury Program as one of the first four seed grants selected in fall 2015.

The project is a collaboration between traditional authorities of Pueblo Vicam in the Yaqui ancestral homeland, Rio Yaqui, Sonora, the Yoem Pueblo in Marana, AZ, SFA and the Southwest Center of UA are requested to design and test a Pilot Project over two years for a cross-national environmental and social development plan linking Yaqui territories in Sonora and the Tucson basin around themes of food memory, food justice, and food sovereignty. 

Building on research conducted by Dr. Maribel Alvarez in 2009-11 around the prevalence of wheat as a grain that played a major role in the formation of Sonoran economy and society and amplifying the work that Dr. Gary Nabhan and Native Seeds have done in reviving interest in and commercial viability for the 300-year old Sonora White wheat variety, the project collaborates with two Yaqui leaders, an agronomist and a traditional botanist, to craft a replicable model of Yaqui resiliency through the collection of intergenerational foodways oral histories; test planting of ancestral wheat variety in underutilized Yaqui-owned lands; establishment of Yaqui cooking artisanal workshops; and development of a market recovery strategic plan for Yaqui-owned and branded new artisanal wheat products.

The project is anchored in a vision of culture and of the traditional knowledge and skills of everyday life in marginalized communities as vital assets that can be mobilized to make possible gradual changes in historically detrimental land-use patterns and biodiversity loss.