University of Arizona

Gary Nabhan Papers

Gary Paul Nabhan received a PhD in Arid Lands Resources from the University of Arizona in 1983.He devoted his career to advocating the preservation of desert plants, native seeds, and the lifestyles of native desert people, including the Native American tribes of the southwestern United States. He has lived and worked with Native American tribes including the Tohono O'odham Indians during the time of gathering data for his doctoral dissertation, Papago Fields: Arid lands ethnobotany and agricultural ecology (University of Arizona, 1983).

He began his professional career as a research associate with the Office of Arid Land Studies at the University of Arizona. He was a co-founder in 1983 of Native Seeds/SEARCH, a grassroots conservation organization dedicated to collecting and preserving the native seeds of the desert southwest. He was assistant director at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, and later writer-in-residence and director of science at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Nabhan is a member of the Scientific and Project Committee of The Ethnobiology and Conservation Team (ECT), an international group of biologists, activists, anthropologists, conservationists, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and artists committed to carrying out conservation at the grass roots level.

He is widely published in both scientific journals and the American trade press. Awards include a McArthur Fellowship, a Pew Scholarship for conservation research, and a John Burroughs Medal in 1987 for outstanding nature writing in Gathering the Desert.

This collection includes Nabhan's archives of his fieldwork studies and written works. It includes personal journals, class notebooks, and fieldwork journals created during his educational and professional career. The published materials include most of the scholarly books and articles written or co-authored by Nabhan. The production materials demonstrate the research and collaboration in the scientific process, and relate to his work on Counting sheep : twenty ways of seeing desert bighorn and Why some like it hot : food, genes, and cultural diversity. The photographic materials are mostly transparencies of landscapes, agriculture, and animals in Southern Arizona and the Sonoran desert region.