The environmental diversity of western North America is astounding—from the wind-scoured tundra of the high mountains to the seemingly desolate lowland deserts. No less remarkable is the record of plant usage by the various indigenous people who have been living there for over 12 millennia. For the vast majority of this time, their livelihood—food, shelter, fuel, and medicine—depended on their knowledge and the use of the plants that surrounded them.
The most comprehensive overview in more than half a century on the interconnectedness of people and plants, this book and its previously published companion on eastern North America present the latest information on three major topics: the use of native plants, the history of crops and their uses, and the impact of humans on their environment. It not only contributes to our understanding of the lives of prehistoric people, but also serves as a guide for designing environmentally sustainable lives today.