From mountain shrines to lowland oases, ethnobiologist Gary Nabhan takes us on a series of journeys with contemporary Papago Indians, the Tohono O'odham, or "Desert People." From these journeys we discover how much the Desert People know about the dynamics of their arid homeland in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. The Desert Smells Like Rain offers insights into the natural history of desert plants and animals as it documents a dying agricultural tradition that has enriched the biological diversity of the Papago's seemingly harsh environment. Drawing on his extensive scientific research and study of Papago folklore, as well as his years of work among the Desert People in village gardening and nutrition programs, Nabhan portrays a desert-adapted way of life that has persisted despite the pressures of modern civilization.
"Gary Nabhan's compassionate observation of Papago land ethics is important work, capable of broad application. He is a naturalist in the full sense of the word, because he has not forgotten the people."--Barry Lopez
"He manages, in a series of spare and sometimes tantalizing selections, to convey a real sense of people and their environment."--The Village Voice
"His eyes are those of a scientist, his prose and vision a poet's: spare, evocative, respectful of both facts and mysteries."--Orion Nature Quarterly
"His sensitive and compassionate portrayal of the Papagos is a real contribution."--Rep. Morris K. Udal