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  1. Unknown island : Seri Indians, Europeans, and San Esteban Island in the Gulf of California

    Bowen, Thomas, 1942-
    1st ed. - Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, c2000.

    This ethnohistory asks how and why a reclusive band of Seri Indians inhabiting San Esteban Island remained unknown to Europeans, Americans, and Mexicans plying the Gulf of California for nearly four centuries. To solve the puzzle, Thomas Bowen explores the history of the Midriff Islands and Gulf of California, the Seri Indians, and Euro-American explorers, settlers, merchants, and scientists of the region. Placing the Gulf of California in regional and international context, he considers what kinds of people were drawn to the gulf, why they went there, and why so few Euro-Americans visited San Esteban. His own archaeological investigations try to determine whether San Esteban was inhabited permanently by a distinct Seri population or was visited intermittently by Seris from neighbouring islands. Bowen richly illustrates his narrative with historical and contemporary photographs and detailed maps of the Gulf of California and San Esteban Island.

  2. On desert shores : archaeology and history of the Western Midriff Islands in the Gulf of California

    Bowen, Thomas, 1942-
    Salt Lake City : The University of Utah Press, [2022]

    "This project represents the first archaeological research ever conducted on the Western Midriff Islands, located midway in the Gulf of California, Mexico. It is also the first attempted compilation of the historic record for the islands, including information on the Seri people of Sonora and the now extinct Cochimís people of Baja California. There is also a strong natural history component to the project since much of the historic exploration of the islands, both Euroamerican and Mexican, was biological in nature. This results in a current evaluation of the environmental impacts on the islands and the conservation approaches that have been undertaken"--Hot, arid, and uninhabited, the western Midriff Islands lie in the Gulf of California, surrounded by an often treacherous sea. Given these conditions, why would ancient people go there, and why would anybody go there today? Thomas Bowen addresses these questions in the first comprehensive history of these islands. Bowen draws on a wide range of sources, including the first archaeological field work ever conducted on the islands, written accounts dating back to the sixteenth century, oral histories of native people, contemporary interviews, and his own firsthand experiences. Among those cast in the islands' historical drama are the Seri (Comcaac) people of Sonora, the extinct CochimIs of Baja California, Spanish explorers, Jesuit missionaries, pearl fishers, egg collectors, guano miners, hydrographers, cartographers, small-scale Mexican fishermen, recreational anglers, writers, photographers, ecotourists, shipwreck victims, and, most importantly, scientists. The final chapter documents the impact of this human activity on the islands' ecosystems and examines conservation efforts now underway. Compelling and richly illustrated, this broadly based work provides a unique picture of these extraordinary islands.

  3. The record of native people on Gulf of California islands

    Bowen, Thomas, 1942-
    Tucson, Ariz. : Arizona State Museum, The University of Arizona ; Distributed by the University of Arizona Press, c2009.

    In the last century historians and anthropologists interested in northwestern Mexico knew that Indians had inhabited four large islands in the Gulf of California. Since 1900 ethnohistorical and archaeological research has expanded knowledge of Indians on both sides of the Gulf. Much of that information pertains to the people living on the peninsula and mainland, and touches only incidentally on the islands. In this volume, Thomas Bowen presents historical and archaeological evidence for human use of 32 major Gulf islands. Native people may have played a significant role in shaping island ecosystems. Chronological data from the southern Gulf establishes a time depth for native people of ten millennia. New information from Seri oral history indicates Seri voyages far beyond Isla Tiburon, and Bowen shows the traditional assumption -- that most islands were beyond the range of native people - is wrong. Indians knew and exploited nearly every significant island in the Gulf. Bowen's work touches on the question of initial human entry into the Americas. The Gulf may occupy a pivotal position in human dispersal in the Americas, and it is possible that evidence of this process has been preserved on some Gulf islands.


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