The region once kwn as Pimeria Alta w southern Arizona and rthern Sora has for more than three centuries been a melting pot for the beliefs of native Toho O'odham and immigrant Yaquis and those of colonizing Spaniards and Mexicans. One need look further than the roadside crosses along desert highways or the diversity of local celebrations to sense the richness of this cultural commingling. Folklorist Jim Griffith has lived in the Pimeria Alta for more than thirty years, visiting its holy places and attending its fiestas, and has uncovered a background of belief, tradition, and history lying beneath the surface of these cultural expressions. In Beliefs and Holy Places, he reveals some of the supernaturally sanctioned relationships that tie people to places within that region, describing the cultural and religious meanings of locations and showing how bonds between people and places have in turn created relationships between places, a spiritual geography undetectable on physical maps. Throughout the book, Griffith shows how culture moves from legend to art to belief to practice, all the while serving as a dynamic link between past and future. Now as the desert gives way to newcomers, Griffith's book offers visitors and residents alike a rare opportunity to share in these rich traditions.
James Griffith is the former director of the Southwest Folklore Center at the University of Arizona Library. He is currently a research associate at the Southwest Center.