Friday, March 10, 2017

What Do They Do Down There On The Hopi Reservation Anyway?

I always look out the window when I fly anywhere, which is why I noticed this odd pattern while flying across northeast Arizona on Valentine's Day.

Look at those parallel strips! I got excited. Might this be modern Hopi religious expression? The strips are aligned north-south, mirroring Ancestral Pueblo parallel roads at Chaco Canyon. Oooo-weee-oooh!

Things looked murkier the closer I look, though. This land is Hopi Grazing Unit 568, near the eastern boundary of the Hopi Reservation. The strips aren't quite north-south. Strips maintain integrity despite crossing fences at oblique angles. Sagebrush-light strips are 175 feet across; sagebrush-dense strips are slightly-wider, at 180 feet across. And livestock trails riddle the landscape.

Why would anyone alternate sagebrush-light strips with sagebrush-dense strips? What possible benefit for what must have been a lot of exacting work?

I doubt there's any subject as subtle as rural land use.

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