Angelo Joaquin Jr. is a Coyote Clan member of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Located thirty miles west of Tucson, Arizona, the O’odham reservation is the second largest in the United States. The Creation Story instructs the O’odham (People) to consider themselves as a part of the Tohono (Desert) and to act as stewards of the land. Their Himdag, or “Way of Life,” teaches that no hierarchy exists for plants, animals, and humans. All are respected as members of the community.
Over the years, Angelo has consistently combined his tribe’s traditional knowledge with the Dominant Society’s scientific concepts in his work with The Nature Conservancy, the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Water Resources Department, Save the Children Federation, and Native Seeds/SEARCH.
Serving as a volunteer preserve manager several weekends annually for almost twenty years—and for one summer in an American Indian internship—he assisted in the study and care of the endangered Gila Chub and the Lady Truss Orchid on a southern Arizona cienega.
In April 2003, he participated in an Anchorage conference for 50 tribes sponsored by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Alaska Native Science Commission on the growing contamination threats to traditional foods and the resultant negative effects on cultures.
“In the past, reservation boundary lines provided some protection that other areas in the U.S. didn’t have. The tribe was able to deal with the threats to species. Recently, however, with the vast amount of foot and vehicle traffic along our shared sixty-mile boundary with the Republic of Mexico, the desert landscape is being devastated by smugglers and law enforcement agents alike.”
“The teachings of the Himdag are vital in preventing the endangerment of species. If all people accepted the equality of plants, animals, and humans—and realized that humans are potentially an endangered species—the crucial actions to maintain the balance would fervently begin.”