Native Irrigation in Owens Valley: The 2000 Year Back-story

Author(s): Wendy Pierce; Gary Scholze

Year: 2015


Owens Valley is unique in that the Native Paiute were recorded as using irrigation to promote growth of certain crops such as taboose, Cyperus esculentus. This paper looks at the archaeological occurrence of the taboose tuber and other archaeobotanical remains in Owens Valley to explore the issue of whether Native irrigation would have made sense for this hunter-gatherer group. For roughly the last 2000 years of prehistory the Owens Valley archaeological record shows a cycle of alternating successful subsistence adaptations and population growth with each shift in subsistence denoting more labor input resulting in higher yields or outputs. It is argued based on well documented patterns from the archaeobotanical record, that irrigation would have been a logical step in the intensification cycle prior to disruption by Euroamerican contact.

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Cite this Record

Native Irrigation in Owens Valley: The 2000 Year Back-story. Wendy Pierce, Gary Scholze. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395527)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;