Land, Sky, and People:
The Southwest Defined
JAMES W. BYRKIT
The fact remains that, while we have some conception of the
Southwest as a whole, we are not at all happy with the names by
which the region is usually designated. A region ought to have a
name, simple and suggestive of its distinctive qualities, because to
lack a name is to invite fuzziness of treatment for any entity which
one singles out for systematic study.
-Edward Spicer & Raymond H. Thompson
This composition is not intended to be a scholarly monograph, but, rather, an essay-
empirical yet speculative, documented but irreverent. Most of the "facts" here are self-
evident and well known. I have broken no new scholarly ground, I have used virtually no
primary sources, and I have taken much from such tertiary sources as college textbooks,
maps, encyclopedias and other reference books. Like several other recent contributors to
Journal of the Southwest, I am deeply grateful to Joseph Wilder for his patience, encouragement,
tolerance, and general cerebral stimulation. However, the words in this are all mine.
Dr. Wilder's gentle and cautionary hand has not always prevailed, so any imprudence
appears here despite his advice and because of his tolerance. In these ways, as well as many
others, he is the ideal editor.
JAMES BYRKIT is professor of interdisciplinary Studies in the
Environmental Science at Northern Arizona University. He is the author
Forging the Copper Collar (1982), editor of Charles Lummis's
the Southwest (1989), and has published more than thirty articles,
and reviews, most of them on Southwest topics.