Modern ideology strips water of its sociocultural and political contexts, reducing it to the scientific abstraction of H2O. This reductivist approach to water has erased longstanding ontologies and physically transformed America’s aridlands to advance modern political and economic agendas. By studying the 1947 proposal for the Orme Dam and the Yavapai Nation’s forty-year resistance to it, this paper reveals the interconnected relationship between modern ideology and the design, development, and management of the environment. I also suggest that the inclusion of alternative ontologies can inspire the design of more just and resilient environments.
Keywords: landscape, infrastructure, critical theory.