This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

The Pima Indians - living in the desert for centuries with the thrifty gene


If you know your history of Arizona, you know that the Pima people have been living in the Sonoran Desert for centuries. And if you've ever taken a serious look at the desert, which stretches from Mexico to north of the Gila River, you may have wondered, like I have, how in the world did they survive?

And the key word is survive. Because if you know about genetics, you know that a group of people will either adapt to their environment, or die. The Pimas adapted. For century after century, they lived in an area that just seems absolutely impossible to support human life.

The most basic fact about genetics is that a person has to survive long enough to have children. That's how genetics works. Only the people who live long enough to reproduce can pass along their genes. And the Pima people had, and have, what has been come to be described as "the thrifty gene".

If all you've read about is diabetes, and being overweight, take a step back. Time travel back to the Sonoran Desert of centuries ago. Food was scarce. Many people survived on mesquite beans, and other things that they could find, and grow. This was no place for someone with a fast metabolism! No one talks about this, but I will. People starved. And the ones who survived under such harsh circumstances became some of the toughest human beings on planet earth. The Pimas.

Above: Pima and Maricopa Indians in 1899.


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