Aridoamerica is term coined in 1988 to denote a cultural region spanning the northern and central regions of Mexico and small parts of the Southwest United States. Mesoamerica lies to the south and east, and Oasisamerica to the north. These cultural regions overlap each other.
Unlike Mesoamerica, Aridoamerica has a dry, arid climate and geography. Because of the hard conditions, the precolumbian people in this region had cultures and subsistence patterns distinct from their Mesoamerican neighbors. The region has only 120 cm (47 in) to 160 cm (63 in) of annual precipitation. The sparse rainfall feeds seasonal creeks and waterholes.
The Chichimeca, an umbrella term for several tribes used by the Nahua people, were hunter-gatherers in Aridoamerica grasslands. They gathered magueys, yucca flowers, mesquite beans, chia seeds, and cacti, including the paddles of fruits of nopal cactus. The century plant (Agave americana) is a particularly important resource in the region.
Despite dry conditions, Aridoamerica boasts the greatest diversity of wild and domesticated tepary beans (Phaseolus acutifolius) and is a possible site of their domestication. Maize cultivation reached Aridoamerica by about 2100 BCE. Archaeologists disagree whether the plant was introduced by Uto-Aztecan migrants from Mesoamerica or spread either northward or southward from other groups by cultural borrowing.
Historically, people of Aridoamerica coppiced willows, that is, tree trunks were cut to a stump to encourage the growth of slender shoots. These willow shoots were woven tightly to produce waterproof, cooking baskets. Fired-heated rocks were plunged into a gruel in the baskets to cook.
The current Mexican states that lie in Aridoamerica are:
The northern parts of:
- Cochimí, Baja California
- Cocopá (Cocopah), Baja California
- Guaycura, Baja California
- Kiliwa, Baja California
- Kumiai (Kumeyaay), Baja California
- Mogollon culture, ca. 200–1500 CE, also Oasisamerica
- Pai Pai, Baja California
- Pericúe (Pericú), Baja California
- Pima Bajo
- Teuchitlan tradition
- Western Mexico shaft tomb tradition
- Classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas
- Great Mural Rock Art, Baja California
- Pratt and Nabhan 419
- Cordell and Fowler 85
- Bye and Linares 273
- Bye and Linares 256
- Herr, Sara A. "The Latest Research on the Earliest Farmers." Archaeology Southwest Vol. 23, No. 1, Winter 2009, p.1
- Schmal, John P. "Indigenous Baja". History of Mexico. Houston Institute for Culture. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
- "Mexico: Map". Ethnologue. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
- Robery A. Bye; Edelmira Linares (2007). "9". In Carrasco, David. Cave, City, and Eagle's Nest: An Interpretive Journey through the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico. pp. 255–280. ISBN 978-0-8263-4283-6. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
- Cordell, Linda S. and Don D. Fowler, eds. Southwest Archaeology in the Twentieth Century. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-87480-825-4.
- Richard C. Pratt; Gary Paul Nabhan (1988). Gepts, Paul, ed. Genetic Resources of Phaseolus Beans: Their maintenance, domestication, evolution and utilization. Springer. p. 419. ISBN 978-94-009-2786-5. Retrieved 16 November 2015.