Originally published in 1991, this book is made available again as part of The University of Arizona Press Century Collection. People of the Desert and Sea is an ethnobotanical study that explores plant use by the hunting-and-gathering Seri Indians of Sonora, Mexico.
Richard S. Felger has published extensively on desert plants, their uses, and new food crops around the world. His field of expertise is the flora and economic botany of the Sonoran Desert region. He has studied the relationship between the Seri Indians and the plants and animals in their region of northwestern Mexico for more than two decades. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Arizona and in 1980 was appointed a research scientist at the Office of Arid Lands Studies, University of Arizona.
Mary Beck Moser began studying the Seri language in the early 1950s when she and her husband, the late Edward W. Moser, made their home in the Seri village of El Desemboque. Working with the Summer Institute of Linguistics, she wrote a number of linguistic and anthropological papers and completed her husband's translation of the New Testament into Seri. In the early 1980s Mrs. Moser continued her work with the Seri in various areas of study, including an extensive dictionary of the language. She is a graduate of the University of North Dakota.
"People of the Desert and Sea is one of those books that should not have to wait a generation or two to be considered a classic. A feast for the eye as well as the mind, this ethnobotany of the Seri Indians of Sonora represents the most detailed exploration of plant use by a hunting-and-gathering people to date [...] Scholarship in the best sense of the term – precise without being pedantic, exhaustive without exhausting its readers."
– Journal of Arizona History
"To read and gaze through this elegantly illustrated book is to be exposed, as if through a work of science fiction, to an astonishing and unknown cultural world."
– North Dakota Quarterly
"This long-awaited, excellent, definitive volume about the Seri Indians of Sonora, Mexico, offers a valuable resource and guide to anthropologists and biologists researching life in the North American deserts. The book gives a total cultural-ecological picture of how the little-known Seri tribe exists in a marginal environment."
– Quarterly Review of Biology
"A key reference for ethnobiologists, economic botanists, arid lands ecologists, and ethnologists concerned with hunter-gatherers generally or indigenous peoples of western North America specifically."
– American Anthropologist
"This qualitative ethnobotanical study is an excellent example of interdisciplinary research on traditional plant knowledge of a hunting, gathering, and seafaring people."
– Economic Botany