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In modern evolutionary theory, by contrast, the players are blind, unable to see peaks and valleys. They are forced to find a route to the next higher peak by trial and error experiments with new traits and trait combinations. These occasionally send some players down into an intervening valley, often to extinction, but occasionally to the foot of a slope leading to a higher peak. The topography of the adaptive landscape largely determines the direction and pace of this evolutionary development.

The systems of maize agriculture that were entirely displaced north of the San Juan River, and substantially displaced south of it, cannot be dismissed as crude and easily susceptible to invasion. They were as sophisticated and highly developed as 4000 years of trials, innovations, and experiments could make them. Multiple strains of maize had been developed by careful selection to tolerate cold and drought, and a variety of alternative organizational solutions had evolved to mobilize labor for field improvement and irrigation.

While the ethnographic Owens Valley Paiute (along with the Washo and all other Numic speakers save the Comanche) are conventionally assigned to the Great Basin culture area, they are more closely affiliated socially, economically, ritually, and politically with California. Steward (1938: 233–234, 236, 237, 251, 255–256, 258) long ago recognized Owens Valley as exceptional within the Great Basin, being much more densely settled, on a par with most of California. In contrast to other Great Basin peoples, with their mobile, nonterritorial family bands, the Owens Valley Paiute were organized into classic California-type tribelets of the kind described in Chapters 6 and 7.

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Postulates in the History of Scienec by Miller G. A.


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