Desert Fan Palms Native plants in Nevada?
bajaboy at geocities.com
bajaboy at geocities.com
Mon Dec 9 11:31:22 EST 1996
This message is simply to get the word out that recent research has shown
that the Washingtonia filifera Desert Fan Palm is almost certainly native
and historically extant in the southern part of the State of Nevada in
certain locales along the Rivers of the Colorado drainage. Specifically,
the Muddy and the Virgin Rivers.
Queries to the eldest of the Moapa Paiute bands of Native Americans near
Moapa Nevada have revealed that they still have memories of their
grandparents and elders using parts of the plant for food, building and
basket materials among other things. The springs at Warm Springs are
considered sacred and are the home of over 2600 Washingtonia filifera
(mature). Previously faulty or cursory research has credited these palms
existence in this area to an early settler from Phoenix in 1893 named
Mendis Cooper. However extensive research from four respected fellows at
the UNIV AZ Tucson, as well as other research has shown that no W filifera
existed in Phoenix until after Coopers' move to Overton, NV and his demise
in 1903. There were of course palms in Castle Creek but due to other
circumstances it is highly unreasonable to suggest that Cooper obtained
any seeds there.
A full group of research articles may be located on the world wide web
which is too exhaustive to repost here. For those who would like to visit
that completely NON-COMMERCIAL INFORMATION ONLY SITE THE address or url
research only: ) http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/5111/index.html
For those of you who are concerned with this information but do not want
to visit that site I can only give you the basics of this research.
Simple math extrapolating using the age of the eldest Paiute (76 years)
and the earliest possible date for the possibility of seed production from
Mendis' original nine seeds planted in a straight line over 38 miles from
the oasis at Warm Springs (given the conditions were optimum) (15 years
...see research) ...would bring the earliest date for the possibility to
have second generation seedling plants in Warm Springs to 1908. In order
for Evelyn Samalar and others (Paiute) to have watched their grandparents
grinding seed from those second generation plants the extended date would
have to be no earlier than: 1923.
If we establish that Evelyn was no more than 5 years of age at the time
she recalls her grandparents grinding this seed and building houses etc.
(Since she said she was a very small child at the time) The second
generation "seedlings" could only have been producing third generation
seed... (The only seed the Paiutes could have been using if the Mendis
Cooper story were correct)...for two years under the most optimum
conditions. I can positively verify through photographs that the area
around the springs although abundant in water is NOT optimum with respects
to quickly maturing or 15 year maturity time frames. The ground is
extremely compacted and there are hundreds of palms in the area which have
literally remained identical in height for over twenty years never
Even had they reached maturity, the reservation was (and is) about 7 miles
distant from the Palm groves and at the early part of this century were
completely on White ranch property.
There is ample evidence showing how quickly the Moapa adapted to new white
settler food at the mission in Las Vegas. The Mormons at Warm Springs and
Overton never saw any use for this palm and in fact referred to it as a
Meanwhile, just downstream on the river toward Baja, the regular trading
partners of the Moapa around the lower Colorado ...both the Papago Tahono
O'otam and the Agua Caliente bands of Cahuilla, had used the palm
extensively for centuries. This is also the center of distribution for
Petroglyphs in the Overton area near the groves link the aborignal peoples
with groups in Northern Mexico which also used the palm. In fact this
palm was so central to their culture that their legends say that their
first ansectors were palm trees.
Even more striking: the Cahuilla are Shoshoni speaking peoples as are the
Moapa Paiutes. Another similarity is that the Moapa did not share the
hunting traditions of the Paiute groups to the north and east but rather
appeared to more follow the farming traditions of the pueblo just as the
Cahuilla. The Cahuilla are the main Palm Culture around Palm Springs CA.
Since the Moapa were in the area for a minimum of 900 years it is highly
unreasonable to speculate that they only learned to use palms and palm
products within two years (being liberal) of their alledged first
introduction to this plant from whites who so no value in it.
Especially while on the other hand the same researchers are trying to
suggest that the Moapa traded and dealt with the Cahuilla and lower
Colorado people for at least 900 years...a people who not only spoke their
language and shared similar customs...but also a people who used the palm
in every aspect of their lives...and yet never thought to use this palm?
The idea is ludicrous and the conclusion is that this palm is either a
native plant in Southern Nevada Colorado drainage springs, or it is very
anciently adventive in the least.
Thank you for listening!
William A Spencer III
bajaboy at geocities.com http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/5111
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