While walking the ruins of Casa Grande, Professor Guse at one point mentioned how this site is one of the most significant pre-European Native American structures in the United States. This statement struck me, not because I didn’t agree with it or didn’t expect it, but because I remembered I’d never heard of Casa Grande, Pueblo Grande, the Hohokam, or even the O’odham people before enrolling in this course. The site represents not only significant architecture among the ancient peoples of the Southwest, but it also demonstrates a complex alignment of architecture, everyday life, and astronomy.
As noted on one of the displays around Casa Grande, several of holes in the structure aligned with astrological events such as the summer solstice, winter solstice, and an event (which name escapes me) that occurred only once every eighteen years. The connection of architecture and astronomy is clear in the design of the building, which shows the Hohokam had a thorough understand of complex astrological patterns. The purpose of this connection, however, brings the importance of agriculture (and by extension, everyday life) into the same realm as both architecture and astronomy. Once again on one of the displays, it was noted that the theorized purpose of these astronomical measurement was in part to mark seasons as they passed, that the Hohokam might know when it was best to begin planting. Agricultural activity was a fundamental obligation of the average Hohokam citizen, thus the function and existence of Casa Grande blends complex architecture, agriculture, everyday life, and astronomy together to give a picture of an advanced culture existing in the ruthless desert.
As noted earlier, teaching about Casa Grande as an example of Native American culture in the Southwest hasn’t extended at least to the East Coast. By increasing awareness of Casa Grande’s existence, people nationwide could begin to shed misguided notions about the societies in what became the US prior to colonization.