Distribution of tribes called
, ca. 1550
Chichimeca, an umbrella term for several tribes used by the
Nahua people, were
hunter-gatherers in Aridoamerica grasslands. They gathered
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.
Baja California, fishing and hunting provided food, as did harvesting acorns, nopal,
pine nuts, and other native plants.
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. Fire-heated rocks were plunged into a gruel in the baskets to cook.