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An Exploration of the Relationship between Mobility and Sedentism in the American Southwest and Mesoamerica

In Anthropology a false notion occurs in that hunters and gatherers are mobile and agriculturalists are sedentary. There are many examples of Native North American tribes and cultures that exhibit mobile agriculturalism, opposing early archaeological preconcieved notions of a unilineal settlement continuum from mobile to sedentary. The model from mobile hunting and gathering to sedentary agriculture should be thought of as a universal, variable and mutil-dimensional phenomenon. The American Southwestern culture of the Hopi and the Mesoamerican culture of the Raramuri are two fascinating examples of the incorporation of both mobility and sedentism as subsistence strategies. CONCEPTS OF MOBILITY The concept of mobility must be thought of in terms of being a property of individuals who may move in many different ways: alone or in groups, frequently or infrequently, over short or long distances, daily, seasonaly or annually (Kelly). Binford differentiated between residential mobility, movements of the entire band or local group from one camp to another, and logistical mobility, foraging movements of individuals or small task groups out from and back to the residential camp (Binford). Binford later on added another dimension to mobility, territorial or long-term mobility, either a conservation measure or a response to subsistence stress where cyclical movements of a group among a set of territories occur (Binford). Lastly, intentional or unintentional permanent migration from a former territory usually caused by population growth is another important facet of mobility. Mobility must be looked at as both behavioal and cultural, "in that cultural conceptions of the environment affect the way a locality is treated" (Kelly 45). Other factors that must be looked at are foraging strategies, age and sex division of labor, religious, kinship, trade, artistic and personal obligations. SEDENTISM Sedentism is seen by most anthropologi...

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An Exploration of the Relationship between Mobility and Sedentism in the American Southwest and Mesoamerica. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:14, September 01, 2014, from