For many centuries, the Hohokam lived and flourished around the area that is now Phoenix. With complicated irrigation canals, ball courts, and in general maximizing the elements given to them by their environment, they made the best of their hot but dry environment with its prickly pear cacti and all. However, growing in in New Orleans and going to a college in Virginia, I have never experienced the arid, cloudless landscape that defines southern Arizona.
As I walked around the ruins of Casa Grande and Pueblo Grande, I tried to picture myself cooking and socializing under a ramada and collecting saguaro fruit in the blazing sun. However, the whole environment felt so unfamiliar that I struggled to connect with the landscape at all. Let alone trying to imagine sharing only one room with my whole family, I was astonished to hear from our tour guide, Lary, that the Hohokam would have slept outside unless they were experiencing severe weather. They did not try to separate themselves from their surroundings at all. In line with their belief in the close kinship of all animals and all of nature, they seemed to exhibit this even in their sleeping habits, differing greatly from most modern peoples’ relationships with their environment.
As I get more used to the heat and the muted colors of this desert, I hopefully will be able to empathize with the way of life of the Hohokam as we spend more time exploring southern Arizona and learning about the Hohokam and Tohono O’odham.