Ancient Southwest farming cultures faced extreme drought. Now it’s back.

Centuries ago, the Zuni people in the arid Southwest region of the United States developed a sophisticated farming culture, channeling water towards crops and breeding climate resilient seeds, reports Tim Folger, in FERN’s latest story, produced with The Weather Channel. But that culture was also likely wiped out by a rare 50-year megadrought that may now be underway again.

The only remnants of that culture are the sandstone petroglyphs, water canals, and mesa cliff dwellings in the area. As for the farming, the most recent attempt was a modern industrial agricultural model that succumbed to a lack of water. One multimillion-dollar project, the Black Rock Dam, has not seen water in its reservoir for decades.

Zuni, though, are attempting to keep touch with their ancient culture, saving and growing seeds that were central to its culture, and trying to recapture at least some of the tribe’s ability to grow food and feed itself. One key figure in this work is Jim Enote, a 63-year-old Zuni farmer and tribal historian. “The big question for me,” says Enote, “depending on how extreme climate change will be, is can we adapt?”

You can also read the story at The Weather Channel.