LaRed Latina of the Intermountain Southwest.

Tucson, Arizona: Regional History

The name Tucson is derived from the Native American term "Stjukshon", which translates roughly into the "Spring at the foot of the black hill." Officially founded on August 20, 1775, "Tucson" is surrounded by mountain ranges -the Santa Catalinas, the Santa Ritas, the Rincons,and the Tucsons- that rise to heights of over 9,300 feet.

Centuries before the first Spanish Explorers ventured into this region, the "High Plains" and deserts of the Tucson 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 mountain ranges stretching out from Tucson 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 Fra ncisco Kino, a Spanish Jesuit Priest is said to have been among the first Europeans to travel, explore, and settle the Tucson valley region. He is credited for establishing an extensive network of Missions in the Sonoran Desert area of Southern Arizona, including 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, 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 West to the Tucson Valle y. 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.)

Incorporated in 1877, Tucson was once the largest city and territorial capital of Arizona. With the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1880, and the founding of the University of Arizona in 1885, Tucson experienced tremendous growth, and expansion which continues on to this present day.

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