Monday, April 10, 2017

On Tepary Bean Production

I found myself quite impressed by Pepe's presentation on Tepary Beans. So much of what we have discussed in this class values more traditional approaches above all else. In fact, nearly every class mentioned the advantages for the Tohono O'odham people in utilizing traditional practices. Our class trip even hit many of the highlights and nearly every individual associated with the tribe (and some individuals not associated with the tribe) emphasized the necessity to move toward more traditional techniques in many sections of Tohono O'odham culture. But Pepe's presentation highlight a specific advantage of modern techniques, a relatively new dialogue regarding Tohono O'odham Nation.

Albiet, increased Tepary Bean production, no matter how the tepary beans are farmed, allows for a greater traditional presence among the Tohono O'odham. But, as Pepe showed, modern techniques could be more advantageous for the Tohono O'odham regarding scaled up production of Tepary Beans. As Pepe showed, initially the cultural benefits of traditional Tepary Bean production outweigh the additional profit gained from more modern farming techniques. But as bean production scales up (and it would need to scale up significantly to make a profound difference to the O'odham people) the efficiency of modern farming practices becomes the most advantageous route. It is unclear where this intersection point occurs, and if Tohono O'odham Nation could support a sufficiently large Tepary Bean yield to justify modern practices. But my intuition is that the intersection point would be reached within the scope of Tepary Bean production in Tohono O'odham Nation. Here a modern technique, able to more efficiently offer the health and cultural benefits of Tepary Beans to the Tohono O'odham population, appears to be the best best route to take. Instead of simply valuing everything traditional over everything modern, the tribe members of Tohono O'odham Nation can see powerful, positive effects on their culture through a path between traditional and modern practices.


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  2. I agree. I thought Pepe presented a good way to think about the trade-offs between using traditional methods and allowing a more modern approach. Its a framework that might be extended beyond beans.

    Indigenous peoples everywhere face these trade-offs and make decisions based at least implicitly on how they value the cost and benefits of allowing outside influences into their communities. Thinking about the trade-offs explicitly as Pepe suggests can put things into focus for tribal policy makers.