January 22, 2016
Last weekend we had a wonderful visit with friends from Cleveland, Kristin & Mark, who came to Arizona to see the sights, visit family, and visit with us. We had a fabulous time talking about family, playing Pinochle, and teaching them the Settlers of Catan game.
As volunteers at Casa Grande Ruins, we have been immersed in study of the culture of those who built this monumental structure — the Ancestral People of the Sonoran Desert. We decided to further investigate this culture by visiting a couple of the other museums dedicated to these people and their culture.
Our first stop was the Huhugam Cultural Center. This museum gem is part of the Gila River Indian Community and remembers and celebrates the accomplishments of and commemorates their ancestors – the Huhugam (literally, “our ancestors” or “those who have gone before”). The center is on the southern outskirts of Phoenix and an easy drive from Coolidge.
The museum houses a select number of “knock your socks off” artifacts from Snaketown and other archaeological sites. This included beautiful pottery, excellent stone tools, a great display of projectile points, and exquisite etched shell pieces. In keeping with their request, we did not take pictures within the museum … but, boy was I tempted!
The building itself was also a star on its own. The architecture reflected the native culture, but was also contemporary at the same time. This was surrounded by the most interesting rock wall, and included a contemporary meeting place in the center of the site that recalled the ancient “ball courts”.
From there we continued our cultural heritage tour with a visit to Phoenix’s Pueblo Grande museum. This is the site of a large Mound Village that is located in the heart of the city, right next to the Sky Harbor Airport. It is very weird to be looking at ancient structures while jumbo jets are flying close overhead!
The site features an ancient platform mound that was larger than a football field and included the remains of many rooms, a ballcourt, replicas of both caliche houses and pit houses, a recreated garden and cooking area, and a small museum. The mound itself is interesting, but we found the replica areas to be the most fascinating for us.
Pueblo Grande Mound:
Caliche House Group (Replica)
Pit House group (replica):
We wrapped up the day with a visit to some old/new friends! Judith has reconnected with a lady that she had gone to elementary school with, and we joined her and her husband, Ruth & Bill, (and their two cute dogs) for a delightful evening.