Native American Influence
for thousands of years, Indians were the exclusive inhabitants of
Arizona. Archaeological evidence points to the prehistoric existence
of three major tribal groups - the Anasazai of the northern plateau
highlands, the Mogollon people of the northeastern and eastern mountain
belt, and the Hohokam of the southern desert. The earliest inhabitants
of Southern Arizona were the Hohokam Indians, who irrigated and
farmed the area for more than 700 years, until about AD 1400. There
is no record of the Hohokam after that time, although it is believed
they may have been the ancestors of the Pima Indians. The name Hohokam
in the Pima Indian language means "those who have vanished." The
Pima and Sobaipuri Indians witnessed Spanish Jesuit missionary Father
Eusebio Francisco Kino's visit to the Tucson area in 1687. In 1700,
Father Kino established the San Xavier Mission at the nearby village
of Bac. He founded approximately 24 missions in the region and introduced
Christianity and the Spanish culture to the Indians.
The Beginnings of a City
Spain was the first country to fly its flag over historic Tucson.
The Indian name for the settlement here was Stjukshon, pronounced
like Tucson, which roughly translates as "spring at the foot of
the black hill." Spanish settlers built the walled San Augustin
del Tucson presidio in 1776 to protect themselves from marauding
Apaches. The walls of the presidio gave Tucson its nickname "Old
Pueblo." The Spanish introduced cattle and horse raising and a variety
of new agricultural crops and techniques to the Native Americans.
They left a dominant imprint on the architecture and culture of
the area. Tucson became part of Mexico in 1821 when Mexico gained
its independence from Spain. The American flag was raised over Tucson
in 1846 by the commander of the Mormon Battalion during the Mexican
War, and the ensuing Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848 ceded most
of Arizona and New Mexico to the United States. In 1853 the Gadsden
Purchase added another 30,000 acres to the United States and drew
the US-Mexico border at its present location. Except for two brief
periods during the Civil War when Confederate soldiers raised their
standard, the Stars and Stripes has continued to fly over the city.
Early Tucson was an Overland Stage stop and major outpost against
the Apaches. From 1867 to 1877, Tucson was the capital of the territory.
The founding of the University of Arizona paved the way for the
modern city of today.
Nearly 860,000 people now live in metropolitan Tucson. Today's Tucson
is a unique blend of Western atmosphere and cosmopolitan style.
The architecture, the Native American and Spanish heritage, and
the cultural activities have created a special ambiance. Listen
carefully, because if the language you hear is not Spanish, it may
be Yaqui or Papago, the languages of earlier settlers. Or it could
well be German, Grench or Dutch. Foreigners sojourn to Tucson for
reasons of culture, climate, commerce and medical care. While its
roots go back to the beginning of recorded history, Tucson has a
young, dynamic population. The average age here is 30.6, compared
with 33 for the United States as a whole. And Tucson is just large
enough to offer the perks of a big city and small enough that natives
express outrage if there is a ten-minute delay in traffic.
It is a big city by virture of its land mass -- at 1632 square miles
it is three times larger than San Francisco. But it is small enough
that when hometowner Linda Ronstadt returns to perform -- usually
singing in both English and Spanish -- Tucsonans respectfully leave
her be as she walks with her family from a concert. The city of
Tucson's neighborhoods are now divided equally between newcomers
and native Mexican-American families. Several of these neighborhoods
-- referred to as barrios -- are governed by strict historical status:
Not a board comes down or goes up without scrupulous analysis by
a neighborhood association.
Because of its casual, welcoming atmosphere, Tucson was included
in the book, 50 Fabulous Places to Raise Your Family, by Lee and
Saralee Rosenberg (Career Press, 1993). In addition to rating Tucson
schools as "excellent" and describing its employment outlook as
"one of the fastest growing job markets in the U.S.," the author
has offered this ultimate high praise: "If you were to go to a drawing
board to create the ideal urban environment of the '90s, you'd be
wise to use Tucson as a model." Historically, agriculture and copper
mining were the basis of Southern Arizona's economies. Today, tourism
is a leading industry. The city's museums, festivals, specialty
shops, and recreation activities attract visitors from around the