Fourth posting on mesquite, this from some research at 3 am reading People of the Desert and Sea by Richard Felger and Mary Beck Moser. Abe Sanchez and I visited Seri basketweavers three summers ago in Desemboque, a village located on what environmental and political activist Winona LaDuke appropriately terms the “insultingly named Sea of Cortez,” and more aptly named the Comcáac Sea.
Traditional turtle harpoons used for sea turtle hunting were made of several pieces of a strong and flexible wood, often mesquite root. The pieces were joined with mesquite root cord.
Turtles have been a sacred and central part of Seri culture for centuries, but sea turtle populations are now endangered. Many young Seri such as Gabriel Hofer work with the non-profit organization Grupo Tortuguero Comcáac created by their elders to help save traditional knowledge about the turtles and to use that knowledge, along with technology and science, to help monitor and restore their sacred animals.
Armando Torres is a renowned ironwood carver. His beautiful swimming turtle bowls and sculptures are some of the most elegant, and they help celebrate the important relationship between Seris and their now endangered turtles. Ironwood, Olneya tesota, is one of the hardest of all woods to carve, and the ironwood trees themselves are now protected. The Ironwood Alliance was established to protect ironwood habitat and associated wildlife, and to protect the intellectual property rights of Seri artisans as well.