On our first full day in Arizona, we visited two historic Hohokam sites: Pueblo Grande and Casa Grande. Both sites were built over 1000 years ago, and what really stood out to me was the ability of this ancient civilization to create buildings and canals on such a large scale.
Both Pueblo Grande and Casa Grande have been preserved by archaeologists in the modern day, and it was amazing to be able to get so close to the structures. When we were in the museum at Pueblo Grande, we got a look at some of the tools that the Hohokam used to create their canals and buildings. I was stunned by the simplicity of their tools, especially the “digging sticks” used to dig the canals. I can barely imagine digging a 10 x 30 foot canal with proper shovels, let alone sticks.
I think that the lack of proper construction tools really speaks volumes about the Hohokam people’s refusal to migrate away from their sacred lands. It took extraordinary efforts from every adult in the community to build these structures and canal systems when they could have migrated to somewhere with greater rainfall. Admittedly they did do this eventually (we think); however, this still illustrates the idea of place centeredness in Native American cosmology.