GEOGRAPHIC FOCAL AREAS OF THE SOUTHWEST


Two features of the region most clearly exemplify the Southwest's geologic-climatic-demographic circumstances. These features constatute two "natural geographic corridors" or focal areas concerning the relationship between people and the Southweses physical environment: Arizona's Mogollon Rim Corridor and New Mexico's Rio Grande Rift Corridor (see map 11).

The Mogollon Rim Corridar

Arizona's magnificent Grand Canyon may be the number-one geological wonder of the world, but the Mogollon Rim, an escarpment running in a northwest-to-southeast diagonal line fifty to one hundred and fifty miles south of the canyon, serves, by far, as the most purposeful Arizona geologic feature. The Pacific Plate and the North American Continental Plate tectonics have wrinkled and stretched Arizona's geologic crust, forming the states mountain ranges and valleys, ridges and depressions, and mineral outcroppings. The Mogollon Rim is an extended and uniform geologic monocline or fold consequent to the region's plate tectonics, which formed it about thirty million years ago. The fold has eroded in such a way as to create a three hundred-mile-long escarpment that has retreated north-northeastward in an impressive uniformity at a pace of about six hundred feet every million years. Along this rim, evidence of geologically recent volcanic activity is plentiful and dominates the landscape for hundreds of miles. The San Francisco Mountains, including Humphrey's Peak, Arizona's highest (12,633 feet), are among these volcanic creations.
The rim's influences dramatically illustrate the causal relationships between Southwest landforms and the region's climate and human activity. The rim's existence explains many local weather events, and its drainage system accounts, in a direct way, for the state's most significant runoff patterns and other hydrologic drainage characteristics, including erosion, alluvial soil types and deposits, hydroelectric energy, aquatic recreation, biotic qualities, floods, and irrigation. These hydrologic conditions made possible the settlement of and today serve the needs of the sprawling and rapidly growing megalopolis of Phoenix, with its proximate Maricopa County satellite cities. The Mogollon Rim's influence also accounts for the climatic features of the Colorado Plateau and the highland regions of Arizona and New Mexico.
In the summertime, moisture-laden warm air masses originate over the Gulf of Mexico, move westward between the 20th and 30th Parallels, and curve toward the northwest above the Mexican Sierra Madre Oriental and Sierra Madre Occidental. Some of these air masses follow the Rio Grande and Pecos River valleys of New Mexico northward upstream, where they eventually meet with colder air. This convergence combines with convection dynamics to create precipitation on the east side of the two valleys' western flanks. Other much greater moist air masses at first go farther westward and then, due to the Coriolis effect and air-mass convergence pressure, deflect northeastward over south-eastern and east-central Arizona and southwestern and west-central New Mexico. When these moist air masses reach the Mogollon Rim, they rise and meet the rim's higher and drier but also colder air masses. Here the Gulf of Mexico-bom moist air condenses, releasing most of its burden on the southwestern, windward side of the rim.
In this orographic process, the Mogollon Rim also casts a rain shadow on thousands of square miles of northern Arizona and western New Mexico, thereby producing an effect which helps explain the aridity of the Colorado Plateau in northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico. Moreover, in the summertime, this continuous infusion of oceanic moist air contributes to daily convection patterns. In the warm mornings of July and August, precipitation from the previous day evaporates and ascends by convection, thereby also pushing up the moist air masses moving in from the south. By mid-afternoon, upon reaching the dry cold air above the rim, the warm moist air condenses and falls. The now-colder air cools off the ground, by late afternoon or early evening the skies clear, and the diurnal pattern starts all over again. In the higher elevations this diurnal process may start earlier and last longer and generate a greater amount of precipitation. Eventually the evaporation and air pressure involved in this process move moist air eastward, passing over northeastern Arizona and western New Mexico in masses that do not intensely condense again until they reach the higher elevations of central New Mexico. In the meantime, however, the substantial Mogollon Rim drainage toward the west and southwest has been established.
The Little Colorado River-which drains the rim's leeside and flows in a southeast-to-northwest direction into the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River-possesses a catchment system which draws and conducts very little water from its very large watershed area. Due to the rain shadow effect on the Mogollon Rim lee side, the Little Colorado usually is no more than a trickle, and often is even dry. Because there is not enough moisture to penetrate the ground and leach out the high salt content in this watershed's soil, a strong alkaline concentration characterizes the Little Colorado's runoff water.
In the White Mountains, an area with the highest elevations in the Mogollon Rim monsoon pattern, can be found Arizona's wettest precipitation rates-more than forty inches annually, as opposed to Phoenix with about eight inches or Yuma with less than four. The windward and high precipitation side of the Mogollon Rim accounts for most of the runoff in the Lower Colorado River's drainage basin. Heavy rainfall on the Rim's windward escarpment, particularly in July and August, drains into the Black River, the White River, and the Verde River.
These three streams are the primary perennial tributaries of the Salt River, Arizona's most bountiful water source, which provides water for the highly populated Phoenix metropolitan and agrarian areas. In even greater quantity, considerable winter precipitation that originates over the Pacific Ocean falls on the rim in the form of snow. In February, March, and April the snow's melt-off occasionally creates serious flood conditions, particularly along the Salt River in and around Phoenix.
Hydrologically, the Salt is a tributary of the Gila River, Which empties into the Colorado River near Yuma. But only during infrequent-but unpredictable and occasionally devastating-flood periods does runoff water advance downstream past the dams built on the Salt's system. In addition, the Gila system rises in that part of the Mogollon Rim located in western New Mexico, and it includes another and smaller Mogollon Rim tributary, the San Francisco River, which also originates in westen New Mexico. Almost all of Arizona lies within the Colorado River watershed.
The natural geographic corridor created by the Colorado Uplift and its Mogollon Rim escarpment has made possible Arizona's mining industry, its irrigation projects, and most of the state's hydroelectric power including that from Hoover Dam, Glen Canyon Dam, and Roosevelt Dam. Altogether, eleven dams located on the Verde (Bartlett and Horseshoe), Salt (Roosevelt, Horse Mesa, Mormon Flat, Stewart Mountain, Granite Reef, and Gila (Coolidge, Hayden-Ashurst, Gillespie, Painted Rock) rivers, not counting those on the Colorado River, control the rim's runoff, impounding and diverting the water to provide flood control and lakes for water storage and recreation. This hydrologic pattern has been a source of much twentieth-century political and legal trouble for Arizona, including years of litigation with the state of California over rights for the water which falls in Arizona as a consequence of the hydrologic activity associated with the Mogollon Rim.
Because the Mogollon Rim monoclinal corridor is such an integrated feature of the obvious heartland of this region, its intrinsic nature as well as its geographic influence should, logically, be considered a "core feature" of the "Southwest." Prehistoric cultures flourished and endured due to the soil and water made possible by the Mogollon Rim. Historically, the rim comprises part of the intimidating tierra incógnitay despoblado (unknown and unpopulated land) that sixteenth-century Spanish explorers such as Fr. Marcos de Niza and Francisco Vásquez de Coronado had to penetrate in order to reach the Southwest's heartland.
For late nineteenth-century American mineral seekers, the rim's erosion exposed gold, silver, and copper ores, the primary explanation for settlement in the region from 1870 to 1900. More than 90 percent of Arizona's highly profitable mining activity has taken place within the Walker-Texas lineament, which runs from Reno, Nevada, to Silver City, New Mexico, and of which the Mogollon Rim is a part. The rim's eroded soil, spread broadly along the Salt and Gila rivers' floodplains, and the rim's precipitation runoff makes possible south-,central Arizona's agriculture and its domestic water supply, thus enabling industrial and urban development. The high-altitude and comparatively well-watered Colorado uplift, at least close to the rim, makes possible a prosperous lumber industry that takes advantage of the largest stand of Ponderosa pine trees in the world, and the rim provides cool summer retreats for refugees from the torrid summers of the low desert areas. Boating, tubing, fishing, water-skiing, and numerous other aquatic activities are all made possible by the influence of the Mogollon Rim on the region's hydrologic system. The Mogollon Rim and its associated features constitute a true fundamental and unique regional component, central to any definition of the "Southwest."

The Rio Grande Rift Corridor

In many ways, in terms of human occupation, the role of the Rio Grande Rift has been even more significant for New Mexico than the Mogollon Rim has been for Arizona. Unlike the Mogollon Rim, however, the Rio Grande Rift is a depression in the earth's crust rather than an uplift. Geologically, a rift takes place when the earth's crust is extended or stretched so that, eventually, it separates or sags. In either case, a geologic depression is formed. The Rio Grande Rift is a "spreading center," and like the Rocky Mountains and the Mogollon Rim, was formed as as natural result of the Southwest's tectonic activity. The Rift developed five to ten million years ago.
The Southern Rocky Mountains reach southward from central Colorado into north-central New Mexico. Between several ranges of these mountains lie the basins of the northern Rio Grande Rift. One of these basins, the San Luis Valley, includes a substantial part of south-central Colorado and extends southward to New Mexico's Espafiola Valley. At its southern boundary, the Españiola Basin connects with the Albuquerque Basin. Continuing southward and extending in an almost exact north-south direction, the Rift lies within the Mexican Highland Section and the Sacramento Landform Section, and extends down into Texas and Chihuahua. Surrounded by such dry and rugged land forms as the Colorado Plateau and the Basin and Range Province, the Rio Grande Rift provides a course for the Rio Grande that serves as a long, narrow oasis and travelway for this part of the Southwest. It has provided a transportation, development, and survival corridor for thousands of years.
New Mexico ranks as one of the most and of the nation's fifty states. Ninety percent of the state averages less than twenty inches of precipitation per year, and most of this precipitation takes place in the state's extreme high elevation areas. More remote than Arizona from the sources of warm, moist air masses-the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico- New Mexico depends more than does Arizona on precipitation resulting from local convection patterns and less on moist air-mass intrusion. In order to reach the state, moist air masses must travel great distances during which they give up much moisture through both air-mass convergence and orographic-convergence processes. This situation constitutes a precipitation pattern less generous and less dependable than the one found in Arizona. Most West Coast winter storms pass to the north of New Mexico. In addition, high-pressure conditions in the wintertime dominate the state and inhibit storm development. New Mexico's wettest season, the monsoons, lasts from July through September; it receives most of its moisture from air masses created in the Gulf of Mexico.
New Mexico has fewer demographically useful perennial streams than does Arizona. Both the San Juan River basin, in New Mexico's extreme northwest corner, and the Arkansas River basin with its two main New Mexico-born feeder streams, the Cimarron and Canadian rivers in the extreme northeast corner of the state, drain runoff from the Southern Rockies away from and out of the state. In a like manner, the Gila River, which rises in New Mexico's far west-central drainage area-the Mogollon Mountains and the Pinos Altos Range-supplies Arizona with more New Mexico runoff water. So, ironically, New Mexico, extremely arid and runoff-poor to begin with, loses much of its internally generated precipitation to states such as Arizona, Oklahoma, and Texas . However, an agreement exists that allows New Mexico to draw off some Colorado River drainage-basin water into the Chama River in order to compensate for water the state loses to the Colorado River watershed elsewhere. There are then, for all practical purposes, only two importantly useful rivers in New Mexico: the Rio Grande and its major sub-stream, the Pecos River, both of which can be very puny at times.
In most places the Rio Grande's course does not possess the rapid descent or "head" of water flow that enables the water impoundment and gravity-induced pressure to enable large-scale corporate hydroelectric developments, such as those that characterize the Colorado River system. Only one hydroelectric station, that at Elephant Butte Dam, generates power for New Mexico, and only one percent of New Mexico's electrical energy comes from this generating operation. One site on the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico, where it appears the topography might be favorable to dam-building-the Rio Grande Gorge a few miles west of Taos-lacks bedrock formations suitable to found and buttress the dam. What is more, the heavy deposit of silt carried down from the river's upper reaches would accumulate rapidly in the dam's lake. These negative factors have thus far precluded construction at this location.
New Mexico agriculture suffers from these limitations of the Rio Grande, too. Even though in many places the fertile soil of the Rio Grande's floodplain makes possible irrigated agriculture, the descending elevations needed for large-scale, gravity-flow irrigation such as is found in Arizona do not exist. The number of acres in irrigated cultivation in the two states are not significantly different. But, due to its high elevation, the Rio Grande Valley lacks the necessary growing season and prolonged high temperatures needed for crop variety, the high-volume and biseasonal or long-season productivity that would match the agricultural productivity found in Arizona's Salt River Valley. Yet, for all of these limitations, the Rio Grande Valley produces a substantial variety of crops suited to the vauey's conditions-and to New Mexican dietary preferences.
Down through the ages and in its own ways the Rio Grande Rift has served its human occupants faithfully and well. For many thousands of years trade and travel routes have always, we can be sure, followed this river's course. New Mexico's past and present are closely related to the Rio Grande Valley. Small-scale and local irrigation made possible by this geologic trough has always been important to New Mexico's inhabitants. Prehistoric people in the upper Rio Grandes basins and in the valleys of the river's tributaries used stream diversion and field channeling for centuries to grow their crops. During their centuries in the Rio Grande Valley, Hispanics have utilized the river's water to cultivate vineyards; orchards; certain vegetables like chilis, corn, beans (staples for the Hispanic diet); pecans; and livestock food. Due to a longer and warmer growing season, crop yields are greater in the southern than in the northen part of the Rio Grande Valley. Except for locations on the Llano Estacado, the majority of New Mexico's feedlots and bonded beef packers are found in the Rio Grande Valley. More than half the citizens of New Mexico live within twenty miles east or west of the Rio Grande. The close proximity of El Paso, Texas, intensifies the demographic significance of the Rio Grande.
Topographical elevations decrease and annual precipitation rapidly increases from the Llano Estacado escarpment toward the east; in fact, so much so that, unlike within the climatic Southwest, growers dry-farm on the Llano Estacado near the Texas border, the only large area in New Mexico enjoying the necessary seasonal precipitation and minimum-duration growing season to allow this type of agriculture on large scale. Here, as in the rest of the Great Plains with which the Llano is properly classified, farmers depend on direct precipitation to grow sorghum, cotton, corn, wheat, and alfalfa. This dry-farming area differs greatly from the "typical Southwest" agriculture areas. It seems fair to say that the eastern New Mexico precipitation line which marks an increase in rainfall as elevation declines-as opposed to the conventional South-western precipitation pattern-also marks the eastern boundary of the Southwest.
By comparison with Arizona, New Mexico is an economically poor state. New Mexico lacks the physical resources and other attractions that make Arizona much more prosperous. Arizona's mineral wealth, due again to its geologic past, has brought that state great income in the past hundred years, despite the fact that most of the profits from Arizona's mines have wound up in the hands of eastern corporate stockowners. Arizona's low desert offers a warm winter climate that tourists, retirees, and "high-tech" industry find so attractive, giving the state a more extravagant and luxurious image than New Mexico possesses. Arizona's superior irrigation water sources and broad, fertile, warm, low-altitude river valleys-the Salt, the Gila, the Santa Cruz, and the Colorado-enable year-round and abundant commercial crops.
However, physiographically and climatically the two regions possess more similarities than differences and in many ways appear to be complementary. The Walker-Texas geological lineament extends into New Mexico, and here this geology, as it does in Arizona, exposes mineral-bearing ore, primarily copper. This feature makes possible New Mexico's richest mining area, the Silver City-Santa Rita region, in the state's southwest corner. In sum, both states strongly evidence those geologic-climatic patterns which identify them as being a solid part of the unique geographic region called the "Southwest."

Environmental Determinism

The concept of "environmental determinism," sometimes called "environmentalist" which is oftentimes confused with another and more recent use of that word1, originated in classical Greece. Hippocrates presented an argument that human character was "determined" by environmental influences. Down through the Middle Ages philosophers and scholars argued similarly. Age of Reason intellectuals such as Montesquieu believed political behavior to be the consequence of climate. In more modem times, the nineteenth-century writer Victor Cousins asserted that if you gave him a map of a country that "I pledge myself to tell you, a priori, . . . what part that country win play in history, not by accident, but of necessity; not one epoch, but in all epochs." The Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset wrote: "Show me the place in which you live, and I will tell you who you are."
Ellsworth Huntington's early twentieth-century works earned him the reputation as the modern spokesman for environmental determinism. Huntington argued that people who lived in the tropics, with their monotonous and enervating heat, would be doomed forever to relative poverty, and he argued that "the geographical distribution of health depends on climate and weather more than on any other single factor." In the 1950s Thomas G. Taylor stated that the role of humans is to study "the character of the environment ... so that [they] can best follow the plan 'determined' by nature."
In the 1930s and 1940s such scholars as Richard Hartshorne and Robert Platt strongly challenged this kind of deterministic thought. The environmentalism debate continues, with the skeptics apparently holding the higher ground. Genes, physical skills, religious values, education, technology, cultural traditions, outside influences, political ideologies, conquest, and many other factors not directly influenced by the immediate physical environment, these men say, shape the human condition. Somewhere in the middle, the truth, no doubt, can be found.
Obviously one's environment does dictate ones behavior and beliefs in at least a few ways. It is clear that certain physical regional determinants-in particular, the geologic and climatic ones-have strongly influenced human activity and habitation in the Southwest. The region's unique and complementary geological, climatic and hydrologic factors have, over thousands of years, affected travel and transportation, mining, agriculture and other economic features of the Southwest. These influences appear to fall into two categories: inclusive factors (those traits that have enabled enduring human habitation) and exclusive factors (those traits that have discouraged or prevented human habitation).

Inclusive Factors

The Southwest's environmental inclusive factors, ironically enough, are the most demanding in terms of human survival. Situations in which there are limited useful survival resources necesssary to support people- water, fertile soil, warm temperatures-actually demand and stimulate "sedentary" (as ethnologists term norunigrant cultural groups) societies. Just as sophisticated "cradles of civilization" such as early Egypt and Mesopotamia developed in arid but riparian circumstances, so in a similar way and for the same reasons did the pueblo and other stationary and communitarian cultures of the Southwest rise and maintain relative permanence.
Because the region's aridity makes dry-farming in the Southwest so difficult, up until the middle of the twentieth century irrigation played a dominant role in determining whether or not humans could survive here. An irrigation economy requires-or allows, whichever way one wishes to perceive it-people to develop permanent abodes and plan their economic and other survival styles on a predictable and year-round schedule of cyclical activities. At times, probably aided by "sun calendars" such as those found at Chaco Canyon and other sites, prehistoric peoples learned to chart, anticipate, and prepare for the changing seasons. The persistent irrigation economies established during the region's prehistoric period continued to survive only if the indigenous peoples implemented, over a long period of trial and error, certain organized, disciplined, and stable patterns of life. To understand further this region's way of life, one needs to remember that the key requirements for irrigated crop cultivation-suitable water, soil, and temperature-were limited to only a tiny portion of the entire land surface of the Southwest (see map 12).
These same survival traits have characterized more recent and currently extant Pueblo cultures as well as the region's older Hispanic settlements. And so, for example, the early Spanish settlers of the high-elevation Rio Arriba area of north-central New Mexico and south-central Colorado discovered and accommodated the same geographical conditions that characterized the region's older cultures: irrigation and permanence. While the Rio Arriba may at times seem harsh and forbidding, particularly in the winter, the larger streams and small creeks in this area, including the Pecos River, the Rio Chama, and the Rio Grande, do provide both small and large riverine areas which have supplied acequias to irrigated Hispanic plazas and placitas for many generations now.

Exclusive Factors

Exclusive physical determinants have characterized the Southwest, too. Factors that discouraged human habitation within the region are conspicuous-and, in some cases, identical to inclusive factors. The rugged topography and hot, dry climate made new settlement and development within the region difficult. Isolated and entrenched pueblos, both pre- and post-Columbian, could not only protect themselves well from plundering marauders, but could also hold out against long-term siege, drought, and deprivation. Actually, archaeologists have found little evidence that such warfare ever took place. In fact, peaceful trade and commerce appear to be the dominant traits of the Pueblo peoples. The climate and geology and consequent carrying capacity were simply on the side of the long-established permanent inhabitants.
These ensconced residents of the land did not escape territorial threats from challengers, the new would-be occupants of the limited areas of subsistence. If the entrenched residents became too complacent in the defense of their territory, they would lose out to the more desperate invaders. Despite recurrent feast and famine surges, the population would increase very little because, for the most part, the region possessed such a predictable, demanding and inelastic carrying capacity. The magnificent "Chaco Phenomenon" began to collapse after a century of serious droughts that began in 1030. By the middle of the twelfth century few of the Chaco pueblos remained in use. Eventually, for reasons not yet altogether clear to archaeologists, by the year 1400 most of the South- west Indian settlements today designated as "prehistoric" had been abandoned. But not all of them. Such Pueblo cultures as Hopi, Zuñi, Acoma, and several groups in the Upper Rio Grande Valley have persisted to the present day.
The sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century explorers and conquerors met considerable resistance from the unsuspecting-and technologically overmatched-remaining Pueblo Indians during the original Spanish entradas into the Pueblo region of the northern Rio Grande Valley. Eventually, however, the Spaniards prevailed. Using their superior tactics and weaponry, they were able to occupy much Indian territory. But these colonials discovered the reality of the indigenes' defensive strength when in 1680 the Pueblo Indians rose up and drove the Spanish southward to El Paso del Norte. VVhile it is true that twelve years later the New Mexico pueblos capitulated to Diego de Vargas and his re-occupation forces, the Hopi of northern Arizona, a collection of clans normally noted for their peaceful behavior, closed the door on De Vargas, and he had to retreat shamefaced back to Santa Fe. Later, in 1700, after two priests had reopened the Catholic church at the Hopi's most eastward village, Awatobi, warriors from the other Hopi villages to the west sacked Awatobi, killed them, leveled the church, and took the Awatobi Hopi into captivity. The Spanish showed their respect for such exclusivity, and did not again attempt to colonize Northern Arizona. In 1837, sixteen years after Mexico had won its freedom from Spain, the northern Rio Grande Pueblo Indians again arose in revolt and seized control of the New Mexican government at Santa Fe. But six months later the Mexicans regained their rule. Anglo-Americans, too, had to overcome exclusivity. In 1846, during the United States' war with Mexico, American troops occupied northern New Mexico. Sensing a degree of Anglo situational vulnerability, local Indians allied with some remaining Mexican loyalists and in January 1847 rose up and, exploiting the advantages of the area's topography, took control of strategic positions. Quickly, the numerically inferior but militarily superior American forces quelled the rebellion.
Earlier, native groups other than the Pueblos resisted conquest, too. Several different tribes of Apache Indians in what is today southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, as well as Comanche Indians in east-central New Mexico, made Hispanic penetration and settlement of the Southwest ever more hazardous and difficult. Eventually, of course, the Spanish did endure if not prevail, but only in small, isolated, and very defensible pockets of their own, primarily in the Rio Arriba section of northern New Mexico. The Pueblo Indians and the Hispanics, except for the initial conquests by the Spanish and a few short-lived uprisings by the Indians, have lived in peaceful coexistence for three hundred years.
Throughout the eighteenth and most of the nineteenth centuries, the Southwest's canyons and mountains, its deserts and volcanic malpais, together with the region's remoteness, scorching sun, and barren, waterless "wasteland" offered little encouragement for settlement by Anglos and other Europeans. With no usefully navigable rivers other than the quite peripheral Colorado and only a very few wagon trails suitable for transportation, the region discouraged travel and settlement. In New Mexico, Spanish and Mexican enclaves existed more or less unmolested, except by occasional Indian raids and the snooping of a few curious americanos such as Zebulon Pike and the Patties. Arizona, on the other hand, due to its still more formidable geography, experienced even less Hispanic and Anglo-European intrusion prior to the late nineteenth century.
Not until the railroads became a part of the region were Anglo-European immigrants able to feel comfortable and secure enough to settle the inhospitable region. The small and isolated Indian and Hispanic riparian pockets continued their economic and social traditions relatively unmolested, even though by the 1860s Anglo immigrants recognized the region's commercial potential for irrigated agriculture. The Southweses few colonial mining outposts constituted the only substantial magnets for Anglo newcomers, although by the turn of the century numerous "lungers" (respiratory victims such as tuberculars) and other health seekers discovered the region's salubrious dry air and warm days. Commercial agrarian activities in the region grew rapidly after the development of the Salt River Project in the early 1900s, but not until the post-World War II years, thanks to the advent of refrigeration and an affluent national economy, could the region's hitherto forbidding traits be overcome in a way to make the area an attractive one in which to live. In other words, both inclusive and exclusive factors simultaneously played a role in shaping the Southwest's demographics down until the late nineteenth century. By the 1890s the impact of the Industrial Revolution and a rapidly growing United States altered or made more bearable the environmental circumstances. So great was this technological influence that many of the older selective traits of physical geography no longer played such an important role in shaping the economic and cultural characteristics of the Southwest. In addition, these changes dramatically increased the Southwest's attractiveness and carrying capacity.
As the roads and railroads developed, concurrent with the exploration and occupation by the Americans, the United States' political hegemony in the nation's developing physiographic Southwest, increasingly reinforced by a growing military, commercial, and industrial presence, created a new kind of economic, political, and cultural exclusiveness. Such national policies as the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny, together with imperially large railroad and mining corporations, sealed off the region to free and open occupancy by non-American people. As a consequence of this exclusive colonial attitude on the part of the United States "government" (i.e., Wall Street), Arizona-New Mexico became the last region within the contiguous United States to acquire statehood. With these diverse yet integrated qualities exclusivity isolated the Southwest from the rest of the world and gave it a special identity and a special reputation, a reputation at times more mythical than observable.

"Formalism" vs. "Functionalism"

Essential to the concept of environmental determinism is the issue of free will. This concern addresses the question of to what degree humans can willfully and predictably bring about desired effects through the use of empirical reasoning followed by enlightened and deliberate action. The country of Mexico is a good case in point. From Mexico's example one can argue that a region can effectively deny itself envirorunental influences and opportunities if other circumstances affect it so. Mexico's natural assets-its climate, location, physical resources, and proximity to international markets, particularly the United States-favor a strong agricultural and industrial base which would enable a moderately high carrying capacity. Even with consideration of today's skyrocketing population, the free-will argument would claim that Mexico possesses the natural assets to support a prosperous and affluent society, although that capability, due to increasing population, is rapidly becoming more elusive and improbable. But ever since winning its independence from Spain in 1821 Mexico has stubbornly refused to capitalize on this opportunity. Instead, despite a history of economic and political discontent, the country continues to wallow in its cultural legacy of fatalism, religious mysticism, status-quo inertia, fascination with death, illiteracy, poverty, disease, high birth rate, relatively short life expectancy, corrupt and inefficient politics at all levels, an extreme and rigidly stratified society, and economic and cultural ennui. These traits, as the Mexican writer Octavio Paz has explained to us, at once hide and make manifest the Mexican culture's "labyrinth of solitude." It could be argued that Mexico's fecund semitropical environment offers a cornucopia of edibles and wearables that discourages planning, stockpiling, scientific agriculture, and the like because there is "enough" for everyone the way it is. In reality, of course, there is not enough productivity for everyone to live above the poverty line, and millions of Mexicans live below that line, living far short of what could be their maximum life expectancy if the resources and manpower of Mexico were more carefully and intelligently understood and organized and husbanded.
Mexico's standard of living and quality of life are, then, not so much determined by climate and other environmental factors, as by the country's cultural traditions, most of which were brought to Mexico from Spain. (To be sure, many conspicuous-as well as shadowy-vestiges of prehistoric culture appear there, too.) In this regard, it would appear that Mexico never did obtain its independence from imperial Spain. This example illustrates another method with which scholars interpret regional demographics. This method draws its criteria from considerations that attempt to determine to which degree a region might be a product tied to and "determined" by its cultural traditions. If a region's cultural qualities seem to be inflexible and archaic, the region is said to be a product of "formalism"; if cultural traditions frequently yield to "pragmatic" experiment and change, the region is said to be "functional." In this respect, the United States and Mexico approach antipodal extremes.
The same contrasts, although not so dramatically pronounced, characterize the Southwest's two primary states, Arizona, the New England colony, and New Mexico, the Spanish one. In New Mexico, some powerful vestiges of early Spanish colonialism pervade much of that state's society. Certain modern cultural habits display this formalism. The Indian Pueblos of the upper Rio Grande Valley, for example, still appear much the way they did four hundred years ago when the conquistadores first entered the region. Among the Hispanic population, the riparian and agrarian plazas and placitas with their acequias and casas adobes, now increasingly moribund, have changed little in the past three hundred years. Up until the second third of the twentieth century, oxcarts, antiquated grain mills, primitive tools, and other "quaint" features of pre-Industrial Revolution technology were conspicuous in many parts of the state. Since the founding of the atomic laboratories at Los Alamos in 1942, however, the state has found a place in the vanguard of the American high-tech mainstream.
Catholicism's strong presence can still be felt in the more highly populated northern half of New Mexico. The state did not keep pace in the area of public education and other reforms within the United States during the mid-nineteenth century. Strong extended-family ties, relatively low levels of literacy, and a lack of political concern or sensitivity have kept alive this area's traditional Hispanic culture. Paradoxically, the old authoritarian rule of Spain and church during the second quater of the ninteenth century, after the withdrawal of centralized Catholic church and Spanish colonial authoritarianism, developed local religious and political institutions that were, respectively, lay-and populist-dominated. While Catholic leaders reappeared in New Mexico, populist politics characterize New Mexico to this day.
In this regard, Arizona differs dramatically from its sister to the east. "Traditions" have meant little in this state. Instead, the "Tradition of the New" has provided the perspectives and procedures needed to control and exploit a region which for the most part appeared to be a useless wasteland prior to the 1880s. Arizona's character quite clearly reflects a practical and "functional" orientation. Anglo-Americans, representing mainly the colonial interests of San Francisco, Washington, New York and Boston, exploited Arizona's natural resources to help develop the Industrial Revolution in America. The state was industrial before it was agricultural. Arizona's economy developed out of the investment of big eastern capital, the application of advanced technology, and the extraction of great mineral wealth together with a highly industrialized and commercialized agriculture.
While it is true that Arizona, too, has Native Americans-more, by far, than any other state in the Union-these Indians live in more isolated regions than do their New Mexico cousins, and for the most part Care removed from conspicuous view. They are removed, too, from the warp and woof of the Arizona political and economic fabric.
Some of Arizona's political institutions grew out of the congregational seeds sown by New England Yankees, whose own heritage goes back to the Puritan concept and ideal of self-government. Whatever "democracy" can be found in this state was brought here by eastern colonists, not forged on the "frontier." For the most part, however, the Yankee businessman's concept of using politics ("pragmatic functionalism") to serve "special interests" has characterized the dominant nature of Arizona's politics. While it is true that the state has always been a colony of the East and of California, certain permissive New England sparks of reform-women's rights, public education, tolerance for misfits and various religious groups, including the Mormons-have flickered and even flamed from time to time. While ecclesiastic authority has characterized New Mexico from the days of Fr. Marco de Niza, Coronado, and other conquistadores, only in the latter half of the twentieth century has organized, denominational religion achieved and maintained a potent presence in Arizona. And the influence of religious values and attitudes in Arizona remains quite inconspicuous if compared with neighbors such as Utah or Texas. Only after World War II did the state manifest the religious, political, and cultural conservatism that marks it today.
Due to the ability of improving technology-such as refrigeration- to mitigate the state's more forbidding traits, Arizona has attracted high-paying high-tech industries and a large and growing population of affluent retirees. By employing "functionalism" the state has made the land not only habitable, but seductively so. And the state's climate and its mineral resources still generate significant revenue. Thus Arizona is the more "functionally altered" of the two states. Its most operant and determining factor was the Industrial Revolution, while in New Mexico, until World War II, the formalistic legacy of Hispanic conquest did the most to stamp the economics and culture of that part of the Southwest. The cultural and technological influences forced upon the natural environment compel us to limit significantly the still conspicuous and in many lesser ways the substantially valid "environmental determinism" application.


1. Over the past thirty years "environmentalism" has also popularly become a term associated with the worldwide "human ecology" issue.

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