LaRed Latina of the Intermountain Southwest.

Phoenix, Arizona: Regional History

Built amongst the ruins of the great Hohokam (Those who vanished) Indian civilization, Phoenix is today a sprawling metropolis of close to 2.5 million people. It is also a cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse city, an amalgamation of American-Western, Mex ican American, and Native American cultures.

Centuries before the first Spanish Explorers ventured into this region, the "High Plains" and deserts of the Phoenix valley were the home of the Hohokam, Tohono O'odham and Pima Indian Tribes. Archeological studies and excavations of the area confirm the fact that this territory has been occupied and inhabited for over 1,000 years.

The wide open deserts and mountains ranges stretching out from Phoenix up to Northern Utah and Nevada as well as Eastern California were a vast territory the Spanish referred to as "La Sierra Nevada" or "Snow-capped" Country. In 1687, Father Eusebio Fr ancisco Kino, a Spanish Jesuit priest is said to have been among the first Europeans to travel, and explore the Phoenix valley region. He is credited for establishing an extensive network of Missions in the Sonoran Desert area of Southern Arizona, includ ing Tucson's famous and historic San Javier Mission Del Bac.

In 1821, after two decades of political struggles, Mexico heroically won its independance from Spain. At the time, the state of Arizona as well as the whole Southwestern United States became part of the Mexican empire.

During this period, unlike the Spanish, Mexico encouraged commerce and welcomed immigrants from the United States. Hence, a large influx of American traders, businessmen, farmers, and families who came from as far as away as the East coast ventured Wes t to Arizona. While some settled down in Tucson, others continued on to Nevada, and California.

As a result of the war between the United States and Mexico in 1848, and the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, Mexico lost half its territory which included the current states of New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, California and even parts of Kansas.

There is even today great controversy and debate as to the questionable, and perhaps unethical political means, the United States used to acquire this vast territory from Mexico. This issue was best addressed by Ulysses S. Grant when he said,

"I do not think there was ever a more wicked war than that waged by the U.S. on Mexico."

A few Spanish land grants still survive today , and Hispanic land grant heirs still argue the United States should be forced to honor land rights they were promised in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican War. (See a copy of the original Treaty.)

John Smith, a farmer, is said to have been one of the first settlers in the Phoenix Valley. In 1864 he contracted to supply forage to an Army Outpost about 30 miles away. It is during this time that the Lord Bryan Philip Darrel Duppa, a British settler, bestowed the valley its name by declaring.......

As the mythical phoenix rose reborn from its ashes, so shall a great civilization rise here in the ashes of a past civilization. I name thee phoenix.

With its rich mining districts and hundreds of prospectors, Phoenix in 1879 became the main supply point for the Northern Arizona Territory and by 1889, had become Arizona's official State Capitol. In 1911, the Roosevelt Dam was completed, providing badly needed water for irrigation and power for industrial development. With the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1926, Phoenix experienced tremendous growth, and expansion which continues on to this present day.

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