As promised, day 2 in Arizona offered more cacti, animals, and Mexican food. The day started on the Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation at San Xavier. This mission site displayed the influences of Catholicism in O’odham religion, as well as emphasized the interconnectedness of nature and sacred entities. These aspects strongly exemplified the cosmological principle of place-centeredness, both in the church itself and on top the neighboring peak. Most notable about this mission site is the Papago and traditional native beliefs that remained prominent after the missionary work done by the Spanish. The first example of this that comes to mind is the shrine nestled in the side of the neighboring peak – the use of a natural structure to feel closer to the supernatural. Other examples could be found inside the church, like the exclusion of the four stations of the cross – leaving out parts of traditional western religion to maintain room for their own cultural beliefs. My question posed for San Xavier, then, is where in their religious assimilation did the O’odham draw a line to determine what they accepted from the new western influence and determine what would undermine their ancestral beliefs.
Before even making it to the Desert Museum (what I call a dry zoo), I met a strangely friendly roadrunner on the peak next to San Xavier. Then, at the museum itself I met a “teenage” mountain lion named Cruz who was enjoying an afternoon siesta in the shade. I must admit, zoos are a weak spot, and I try my hardest to visit a zoo wherever I visit. Admittedly, I probably talk to the animals too much and think way too many of them are cute.