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BIG GULP: Wade into the damp depths of local policy at Desert Gold: Water for Tucson's Future.

Sponsored by the Tucson Chapter of the Arizona Hydrological Society, the open house will include visual displays describing water availability, water use, ground-water recharge, land subsidence and water quality. Professional hydrologists will be on hand to answer questions, and show you the ins-and-outs of our most precious resource.

The open house runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, September 9, in the El Rio Neighborhood Center, 1390 W. Speedway Blvd. For information, call 626-4386.

SOUTHERN FOCUS: The Arizona State Museum treats Tucson to the exquisite art of Tarahumara and Mayo/Yaqui Indians with Unknown Mexico.

Importers Barney Burns and Mahina Drees-Burns have provided the craftwork for this gathering. The couple is currently involved with reforestation projects in northern Mexico's Sierra Madres, and they've brought back several rare and unique pieces, says Martin Kim, manager of the museum's Native Good's store. "For instance, true shaman baskets of the Tarahumara can only be made by a "person of good heart,' " he says. "Currently, there are just a few basket makers who are recognized in this way."

Other pieces for sale include Mayo wire and willow baskets; Tarahumara, Yaqui and Mayo masks, instruments and figurines; and Tarahumara burden baskets, drums, dolls, wood carvings and pottery.

Unknown Mexico runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, September 11, in the Arizona State Museum, on the UA campus inside the main gate east of Park Avenue. Call 621-6302 for information.

LATIN LOOK. Top Mexico scholar Guadalupe Castillo takes a hard look at Chicano traditions in Raza Holidays: The Important Ones and The Myths.

Castillo, an activist with Derechos Humanos and a teacher at PCC, leads this discussion of Chicano holidays and how they've evolved -- for better or worse -- and how they shape the lives of those who observe them. The forum is sponsored by the Tucson Xicano Mexicano Committee.

Event is free, and begins at 7 p.m. Friday, September 10, in the Armory Park Senior Center, 220 S. Fifth Ave. Call 628-9953 for information.

BAJA OR BUST: Mexico's Baja California is described in detail when the Audubon Society hosts a lecture by Merritt S. Keasey.

The former Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum curator provides a photographic and natural pilgrimage to the beautiful, often remote baja. This unique peninsula, with many miles of jagged coastline and arid central desert, is known for its variety of birds, wildlife and unusual plants. The overland portion of Keasy's presentation begins at Ensenada, Mexico's largest western seaport, and travels south to Guerrero Negro, located on the border between Baja Norte and Baja Sur. Plant life along the way includes the Giant Cardon and the Boojum Tree.

Keasey then takes his audience by boat across the Sea of Cortez, from Kino Bay, Sonora, to Bahia Los Angeles on Baja's east coast, with its abundance of birds and other wildlife.

The free slide lecture is at 7 p.m. Monday, September 13, in the UMC Duval Auditorium, 1501 N. Campbell Ave. Call 629-0510 for details.

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