Seri Indian Projects in
Conservation and Health
Blending time-honored indigenous knowledge with
for a sustainable future.
nearly a decade, the Seri Indians have been involved in a
CSE-sponsored para-ecologist training program to connect conservation
with human health.
Seri (Comcáac) Indians are among the earliest inhabitants of the
coastal desert and islands of the Sea of Cortés (Gulf of California)
in Sonora, Mexico. The Seri homeland hosts a spectacular diversity of
life, from tropical mangrove forests, to ancient forests of mesquite
and ironwood and giant cacti.
Seri subsistence economy culture has traditionally revolved around
harvesting food and other natural products from the desert and sea.
Two featured "fair trade" products being distributed for them by CSE
are wild oregano and mesquite flour.
The Seri Indians are recognized for their skills in surviving and
thriving in the harsh conditions of the desert. Their persistence is
partly due to their sustainable use of the natural resources of their
Traditional Ecology Training Project
tribal members have received training in conservation ecology and
sustainable harvesting that integrates Seri traditional ecological
knowledge and practices. They have become leaders in conserving,
restoring, and managing the biodiversity of their marine and coastal
environment. (more info on this
Native Foods and Herbs of the Seri
following products are sustainably harvested and produced by the Seri
Indians in ways that protect the health of their land and marine
The harvests of products from Seri
communities are being monitored to ensure their sustainability by
teams of Seri para-ecologists and NAU scientists.
ecosystem approach to human health cuts across disciplinary boundaries
to integrate environmental and life sciences with a holistic
understanding of human health. Eco-health takes into account the
cultural, ecological, and economic factors inherent in a given
For further reading, see G.P. Nabhan's Singing the Turtles to Sea
(University of California Press, 2003) or L.S. Monti PhD dissertation
(University of Arizona, 2002).