The Grandes- Blog #1

Today provided a new aspect to the way I viewed the lives of the Hohokam people. It is easy to imagine these people living a very basic life, barely surviving of the land (Not to mention I only imagined Arizona as having tumbleweed and an abundance of cacti). But staring up at the complexity of Casa Grande and hearing about the effort that was put into the construction of Pueblo Grande, my mind was completely changed. I now saw these people as incredibly intelligent in the way they were able to use such little material to make elaborate villages. They were able to thrive in a desert as an agricultural community. In both villages, they had a mechanism set up that perfectly shined light through holes on the Summer and Winter Solstices. Every detail of their lives was thought out in ways that today’s society does not have to account for because our technology.

But my favorite part of today was seeing the exotic wildlife and plants of Arizona. The saguaro cactus was honestly breathtaking. It’s like Arizona’s version of a really pretty oak tree. I saw my first ever javelina. And I even got to see my first ever owl. Whooo (pun intended) would’ve thought that sighting would occur in a desert. Looking out of the window while driving down the highway made me realize how the indigenous communities had such a strong bond with the landscape.  

4 Replies to “The Grandes- Blog #1”

  1. I was also amazed at how resourceful the Hohokam were using with using their environment! Not only did they use what the desert provided them with to get by, they were able to flourish for centuries. It makes me wonder if it is to our benefit or detriment that we do not have to be so closely in contact with our environments now.

  2. Great post, Emily. I like your analogy of the saguaro to the oak. I think you’re on to something with that. Governor Nelson State Park north of Madison, Wisconsin where I used to live, is example of a type of landscape called an oak savanna. (see for a description). The similarity to the land where the saguaros grow is striking.

  3. Hello Emily. The desert animals and plants are so different from those that live and grow in the rain soaked east. The first glimpse of a saguaro takes most peoples breath away. You can see why Tohono O’odham think of them of humans or Indians. They appear so majestic yet friendly at the same time. The draw in learning about other cultures is that once one understands the basic assumptions of their cultural logics, everything begins to fall into place. While these logics are particular to their cultures, they are still human and potentially understandable by all people.

  4. The more that I’ve learned about the whole of the O’odham people, the more impressed I’ve become with their intelligence and ingenuity. This is especially true of visiting the “Grandes” as you refer to them here. The expansive irrigation canal system that we heard about at Pueblo Grande was unbelievable. Just thinking about how much time and energy that project must have taken given the technology at the time is astounding. And then seeing the superstructure that was Casa Grande! Being able to build around this idea of a “solstice tracker” is amazing. Very impressive people, I agree.

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