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Using Stone Axes DIANA TREVIZO and ALEXANDRA NORWOOD try to scrape the bark from the roof poles for the 13th Century Pueblo they are building near Mule Creek, New Mexico. They are building a adobe pueblo at the same time they are digging one up near Cliff.

JOE HALL screens fill from a new room block using window screen for every fourth load. Lots of info can fall through the cracks, like fish bones.

JOE HALL screens fill from a new room block using window screen for every fourth load. Lots of info can fall through the cracks, like fish bones, turquoise bead.

Students in the 40-day Preservation Archaeology Field School sift through fill from a Salado Pueblo called the Dinwiddie Site

Students in the 40-day Preservation Archaeology Field School sift through fill from a prehistoric Pueblo called the Dinwiddie Site in east central New Mexico. Fourteen students, the best of the best, 4.0 students were turned away, each student chosen brought a special something to the school. Unlike the traditional Field School this curriculum highlights preservation archaeology, an experimental component has the students building an adobe pueblo like the one they are digging up. Students also compete throwing 4′ Atlatl darts.

The peopling of the South West is a story best told by pottery. Ceramic pottery can tell archaeologist what they ate, where it was made, who made it and with whom the owner traded or aligned with…in a sense what was important to that culture and how successful or influential the culture was, how long it survived, and finally where did they go. But until tree ring dates, the chronology of all the ruins of the southwest, was a mystery until one afternoon when two pieces of charcoal crystalized everything that was known about the prehistory of the South West. In the one hundred years since man began probing the earth beneath their feet looking for secrets from the past much has been learned revealing to archaeologist how little they know or understand about early residents.  So new strategies have evolved aided by the quick fresh minds of the next generation of archaeologist, new software that peels back the past, reveals pigment lost by time, using the sum knowledge from the past to build on future studies by incorporating all the data from all the earlier digs, aided by data from neighboring or regional sites. But more importantly, these new-age archaeologist, are tearing down fences that have long existed in the Cliff Valley and getting a first hand look at the prehistoric cultures that once called southwestern New Mexico home.





The 2015 Preservation Archaeology Field School staff is a combination of a lot of talent from Archaeology Southwest, Desert Archaeology, ASU and University of Arizona to structure a learning experience for a group of fourteen students who signed up for this opportunity to learn the general field and team work and the lab techniques necessary to extract science and knowledge from the soil.

Students are exposed to the principles of preservation archaeology, acquire the basic skills of excavation and survey, develop working strategies and write notes and reports that apply the logic of archaeological thinking to fieldwork, laboratory analysis, and applying the data we gather to answering anthropological questions. Finally think critically of issues about archaeological ethics.

As prehistoric man moved about he enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle of visiting old haunts places where they might have dropped some seed but most usually had luck hunting or gathering seasonal fruit. As more migrants entered the area, the nomadic Mogollon hunter found himself being crowded out and his old haunts now taken by the Anasazi fleeing their homes south east of Mesa Verde and looking for places to farm and live in safety. Local nomads soon were forced to stay at home and watch the crops.

The Mogollon and the Anasazi Material Cultures merge and disappear as the two groups diverge. Some Archaeologist believe the Kayenta Anasazi was traveling light, carrying what they could, leaving most of their culture behind. The nomadic Mogollon become seditary farmers, adopting some of the practices of their new neighbors, and soon they look pretty much alike. Except for ceramics! Archaeologist believe the Kayenta maintained contact with folks back home, perhaps opening trade connections with folks back home but meanwhile looping in the new immigrants settlements and establishing a trade network. When the bottom dropped out of the Colorado Plateau and everyone started looking for someplace wetter, the Kayenta knew where to go and who to stay with. They thought!
Rough corrugated ceramic pots are a clay signature for the Kayenta Anasazi and corrugated pottery left a trail from the Arizona Strip with some eventually reaching the Rio Grande and more was found south into Arizona Rim Country, visiting Mogollon Pueblos like Kinishba, Grasshopper Pueblo, Point-of-Pines, Cline Terrace. The Kayenta would build fortified hilltops above the floodplain along the Gila and San Pedro Rivers. Many of these sites are linked by signal towers to quickly communicate up and down the stream. The black and white pottery found at Salado sites suggests to some Archaeologist that the Kayenta continued to trade north to south until the end. But then Salado appears and everything changes. Four different archaeologist saw “Salado” arrive in different areas of the South West, but Harold Galdwin of Gila Pueblo received the credit for defining the Salado Culture but 85 years later we still disagree on much.

Agreement seems to be centering on Salado as a religion characterized by a distinct polychrome pottery and adobe compounds. The Salado message centered on fertility and cooperation, instead of honoring elite rulers, and some archaeologist have called it the first feminist movement, because in the day it was believed women did the most potting of clay and saved the South West from self destructing by intervening and preaching peace and working together. Others say shaman wheeled great power by producing the Mimbres Pottery characterized by “kill holes” which released the soul of the potter from the pot after his death.
The pottery design adapted reflected Mesoamerican imagery and changed in time but
researchers believe folks began thinking of themselves as Hohokam Salado or Kayenta Salado.

BREAKFAST can be the quiet time of the day as folks scurry around to make a lunch, finish breakfast and do the dishes and dash off for a full day in the sun.

BREAKFAST can be the quiet time of the day as folks scurry around to make a lunch, finish breakfast and do the dishes and dash off for a full day in the sun.

The Archaeology Southwest Preservation Field School in it’s 5th season is an important component of our Upper Gila research, writes Karen Schollmeyer. “The results of this work contributes to Archaeology Southwest’s research on the formation and dissolution of late prehistoric communities. Dinwiddie’s occupation in the 1300s occurred during a period of substantial changes in the Southwest. Centuries earlier, large Classic Mimbres period villages were inhabited throughout the area. Around 1130, residents left these villages, and local populations remained small and scattered for the next 150-200 years. In the 1300s, large villages again began to form in the area. While people in the Upper Gila area were aggregated in large communities in the late 1300s, much of the rest of the southern Southwest was experiencing population decline. Our research examines the effects of the 14th century influx of residents to the Upper Gila. How did migrants from diverse cultural groups form cohesive villages? How did they structure social relationships with existing communities in their new home? How were social and natural resources affected by the long-term patterns of human population aggregation, dispersal, and re-aggregation? Our research at Dinwiddie will provide insights into these questions.”

Archaeologist Will Russell from ASU works with Alexander Ballesteros and Alisha Stalley to get the knack of working with a trowel in an archaeological dig.

Archaeologist Will Russell from ASU works with Alexander Ballesteros and Alisha Stalley to get the knack of working with a trowel in an archaeological dig. The Dinwiddie site was dug

Will Russell, one of ASU’s ceramics experts, oversees the trowel work and lectures the students crawling in the dirt “to move

Negative Mimbres Pottery

Negative Mimbres Pottery

from what you know to what you don’t”.  Emphasizing the feel of the trowel and how it changes as it moves through the fill. “You can kinda feel these powdery, sugar forms on the floor, so you can see the visual clues…flecks of white (from the floor). You learn to read the vibrations he says. The trowel vibrates differently when hitting large particles and sounds differently–many different senses come in to play when excavating.  Time is tight for the group they are half way through the 40 day class and they still have digging to do.  Some of their time is filled with their preparation of displays for the community updates, reports, class trips to Silver City, the Gila Cliff Dwellings, Chaco Canyon, Acoma and the Zuni Pueblo. Screening is essential to separate the ceramics from the dirt and every fourth screen is window screen diameter to make sure nothing of importance is slipping through like the bones of fish and prairie dog which supplemented the prehistoric diet here in west central New Mexico.

A morning monsoon drizzle dampens breakfast as students prepare for a wet day in the field.

A morning monsoon drizzle dampens breakfast as students prepare for a wet day in the field.

My first morning in Mule Creek where the field school is headquartered at the Rocker Diamond X Ranch there was a morning drizzle and students scurried around before sunrise eating breakfast, brushing teeth and making lunches and preparing for their day.  Everyone has a job each day, each serves as a cog in the wheel and things happened smoothly until dinner when Mary shows up with dinner for the hungry staff, students and visitors.  Students divide up into the field crews, survey and the experiemental crew who spend the day with archaeologist Allan Denoyer who is a master flintnapper and he and his crews are putting the finishing touches on a Salado Pueblo which they have constructed during the past field seasons. Denoyer has reverse engineered the adobe pueblos the field crews are excavating at the Dinwiddie Site with hopes the students will gain a greater insight into pueblos by building one as well as digging up what remains of numerous melted room blocks.  Students learn to skin the timbers using stone axes and how to construct the roof. All knife work is from obsidian blades that slice as quick and accurately as steel.

Dinwiddie site under excavation near CLIFF New Mexico.

Dinwiddie site under excavation near CLIFF New Mexico.

Field Supervisor LESLIE ARAGON pours off buckets of fill taken from the Dinwiddie Ruin dig. Three days will be spent back-filling the excavations with the soil they pain removed.

Field Supervisor LESLIE ARAGON pours off buckets of fill taken from the Dinwiddie Ruin dig. Three days will be spent back-filling the excavations with the soil they pain removed.

Students are responsible for blog posts, and displays for community outreach projects which hold public meetings in the region giving archaeologist the opportunity to explain to residents what they are looking for, what they found and often those exchanges open doors to archaeology not presently known and the field school survey crew go out looking for sites people tell them about. One student turned up a ten-room pueblo which was previously unrecorded. The survey crew often camps, to allow more boots on the ground than drive time. The easy duty appears to be the field work until you see there is no shade, students on their hands and knees with metal trowels pushing back the dirt from a solid polished adobe floor.

Ceramic marbles ? Fired in the flame and preserved but why ? Checkers, board games, marbles ?

Ceramic marbles ? Fired in the flame and preserved but why ? Checkers, board games, marbles ?

For the past few days they have turned up almost 50 ceramic marbles of varying diameters and for whose purpose is unknown, today, they turned up a nice 3/4 groove axe head next to the unique t-shaped doorway recently unearthed.  At room one, a cry alerts us, a metate and a mano, together, intact–beautifully preserved.


A vocational archaeologist working in the 1960s and 1970s and some early work contributed important information to our knowledge of Salado archaeology. EASTERNAZSTATEThese excavations did not follow collection and reporting standards of their era, and information from these older excavations is now unavailable. Collections from these excavations were housed in private museums and everything disappeared upon their owners’ deaths, scattering collections so that they are no longer available for research. The Dinwiddie site saw several field seasons of avocational excavation, with 37 rooms in two room blocks partially excavated by Jack and Vera Mills (1972) they are thought to have taken more than a hundred pots from these rooms, some of those pots reside today in Safford, Arizona at the Museum for Eastern Arizona State.

Archaeology SouthWest’s interest in the Cliff Valley “Dinwiddie” site came as a part of the Upper Gila research, using the field school as an important component of the research, searching for the formation and dissolution of late prehistoric communities. Dinwiddie’s occupation in the 1300s came at a time of big changes in the Southwest. Centuries earlier, large Classic Mimbres period villages had inhabited throughout the area. Around 1130, those residents left these villages, and local populations remained small and scattered for the next 150-200 years. In the 1300s, large villages again began to form. People in the Upper Gila moved into large communities in the late 1300s, while much of the southern Southwest was experiencing population decline. Karen Gust Schollmeyer, believes the Dinwiddie dig will provide insights into the 14th century influx of residents to the Upper Gila. In 2008, Archaeology Southwest received a National Science Foundation grant to study the Salado phenomenon in the greater Upper Gila region of southwestern New Mexico, an area traditionally assigned to the Mogollon archaeological culture area



Marcy Pablo, a Tohono O'odham from Topawa prepares basket weaves for their

Marcy Pablo, a Tohono O’odham from Topawa prepares basket weaves for their “Community OutReach” Pablo intends to assist New Mexican residents to begin weaving their own basket using her starts. The School tries to lower barriers between locals and archaeologist by sharing their research with locals.

JOE HALL (Sierra Vista) and DEVINNE FACKELMAN (Allendale, Mich.) together dug up this Metate and Mano.

JOE HALL (Sierra Vista) and DEVINNE FACKELMAN (Allendale, Mich.) together dug up this Metate and Mano while searching for a wall.

“The Archaeology Southwest Field School was a life changing experience. I learned more about the southwest in those 6 weeks than in my two and a half years prior exploring in Southeastern Arizona. I had just graduated from Cochise College with a degree in Anthropology and immediately attended the ASW Field School with no real experience in archaeology. I am so fortunate to be given such a great opportunity to learn. From the field trips to the guest lectures, there was never a dull moment around the camp. Even in our down time we used the skills we had learned from experimental archaeology and our guests to do assorted crafts. The research the group of students accomplished was also inspiring, and attention grabbing. Post-field school I am more interested in Archaeology than ever. I plan to use my Non-Profit Leadership and Management degree at Arizona State University to get myself and others involved in the Archaeology field.”..Joe Hall

Prehistoric pueblo erected with the energy of field school students but with the same technology that the Mogollon used to build theirs.

This Pueblo erected with the energy of field school students but with the same technology that the Mogollon used.

Field school students had some unstructured time in the evenings. But most worked on their field reports, blogs and burning designs

Archaeozoology - The study of animal remains, usually bones, from the past. Alexandra Norwood (Pasadena, CA) enjoys the final product.

Archaeozoology – The study of animal remains, usually bones, from the past. Alexandra Norwood (Pasadena, CA) enjoys the final product.

into their wood Atlatl throwing sticks and practicing for the session-ending toss off, competing for prizes. On the stove that night was a pot of beeweed being reduced to a dark tar for a possible paint. Walnut was also being boiled down for the same purpose. A flat stone was being baked in the oven with glaze on the surface like a Piki Bread stone. Outside on the grill was a large pot of boiling water reducing a road-killed raccoon to bleached bones for a bone kit that allows archaeologist to compare known bones with unknown bones to aid in field identification. To that same purpose, during the last season, staff gathered a few shovels and dug up a road-killed deer that had been collected and buried so insects might clean the bones. The dug it up and everyone seemed pretty happy about how well this skeleton turned out.
Field Supervisor Will Russell (ASU) fields questions from Bill Jamison, a Duck Creek resident for the past forty years. Jamison mentioned about 10 years ago, a burial fell into the creek.

Field Supervisor Will Russell (ASU) fields questions from Bill Jamison, a Duck Creek resident for the past forty years. Jamison mentioned about 10 years ago, a burial fell into the creek.

The next morning at the Dinwiddie Dig a 40 year resident of the Duck Creek Community dropped by to visit the site and Will Russell was able to share with Bill Jamison the Field School’s focus and share with him some of what had been found. Jamison pointed out for a decade a burial eroded out of the river bank
and eventually was washed away. He did say a friend now living in San Diego had collected enough sherds to completely restore three pots and Russell asked him if photos were available or if they could be sent Another lead to another piece of the puzzle.


VICTORIA BOWLER shows ALEXANDAR BALLESTEROS how to throw ATLATL darts. Bowler works as an archaeologist and interpreter at Fort Bowie and Chiricahua National Monument and feels this field school will allow her to put these new ideas into practice.


Mixture of water and mud

Mixture of water and mud

Flintknapper Allan Denoyear made these two points at the field school for his orientation discussion.

Flintknapper Allan Denoyear made these two points at the field school for his orientation discussion.

Allan Denoyer mixes adobe mud for the walls of this 1300 era Pueblo.

Allan Denoyer mixes adobe mud for the walls of the pueblo.


JODI REEVES-FLORES (ASU) adds a layer of mud to the walls of the adobe Pueblo.

Digital Antiquity is a nonprofit grassroots effort to get all Archaeological data archived by creating a multi-institutional, non-profit organization dedicated to overseeing the use, development, and maintenance of the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR), an international repository for the digital records of archaeological investigations, organizations, projects, and research.

Students listen to a digital workshop produced by ASU's Jodi Reeves-Flores on Digital Antiquity's tdar, an archaeological online data base where data input will be preserved, as well as, reinterpreted as a piece of the whole.

Students listen to a digital workshop produced by ASU’s Jodi Reeves-Flores on Digital Antiquity’s tDAR, an archaeological online data base where data input will be preserved, and reinterpreted as a piece of the whole.

One of Digital Antiquity’s key objectives is to foster the use of tDAR and ensure its financial, technical, and professional sustainability. Use of tDAR has the potential to transform archaeological research by providing direct access to digital data from current and historic investigations along with powerful tools to analyze and reuse it.

Digital Antiquity was created through the collaboration of archaeologists, library scientists,  and administrators from the Archaeology Data Service, the University of Arkansas, Arizona State University, the Pennsylvania State University, the SRI Foundation, and Washington State University.

By enhancing preservation of and access to digital archaeological records, the mission of  Digital Antiquity to permit researchers to more effectively create and communicate knowledge of the long-term human past; enhance the management, interpretation, and preservation of archaeological resources; and provide for the long-term preservation of irreplaceable records

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Using Decorrelation Stretch to Enhance Rock Art Images
By Jon Harman, Ph.D. (dstretch@prodigy.net) Web site: http://www.DStretch.com

Decorrelation stretch, an image enhancement technique first used in remote sensing, can be usefully applied to rock art. In pictograph images from Baja California, Utah and Arizona I demonstrate its ability to bring out elements nearly invisible to the eye and to improve visualization of difficult sites. A decorrelation stretch plugin to the imaging program ImageJ is available from the author, free for personal use. It’s free but suggested contribution is $50. You can make a contribution via PayPal. My account is JonHarman “at” prodigy.net, if you want to send a check you will find his address on the email he sends back.

Lizard shaped pictograph in a cave near Mulege BAJA Sur.... This rock art is made with paints perhaps from crushed rock with iron.

Lizard shaped pictograph in a cave near Mulege BAJA Sur…. This rock art is made with paints perhaps from crushed rock with iron.

Decorrelation stretch was developed at JPL and it has been used in remote sensing to enhance multispectral images. NASA used it to enhance Mars Rover images. DStretch has become a very useful tool for archaeologists

Filtered photograph of Lizard now only shows a hand print which was made by an artist filling his mouth with paint and blowing it through a reed toward his hand on the rock.

Filtered photograph of Lizard now only shows a hand print which was made by an artist filling his mouth with paint and blowing it through a reed toward his hand on the rock.

involved in the study and documentation of rock art. Its enhancement techniques can bring out very faint pictographs almost invisible to the eye. Subtle differences in hue are enhanced to puzzle out faint elements. Use of DStretch is simple as just hitting a button, but it also contains sophisticated tools for the manipulation of false color images. Because the enhancement works by increasing differences in hue, the technique gives better results for pictographs than petroglyphs.

The technique applies a Karhunen-Loeve transform to the colors of the image. This diagonalizes the covariance (or optionally the correlation) matrix of the colors. Next the contrast for each color is stretched to equalize the color variances. At this point the colors are uncorrelated and fill the colorspace. Finally the inverse transform is used to map the colors back to an approximation of the original. DStretch supports several different colorspaces, the image is converted from RGB to the colorspace, the calculation and transformation is performed, and then the colors are converted back to RGB before writing into a digital image.

Cave in Northern Baja along Highway One

Cave in Northern Baja along Highway One

The most common color found in pictographs is red, followed by black, then white, then rarely other hues. Often the rock shelter or cave wall is reddish or blackened. There are common types in the color distributions of pictograph images and this causes a consistency in the decorrelation stretch enhancements. DStretch works well to enhance red pigment but suppresses white and blacks. By bringing out the red painting and suppressing the background shades it can help clarify image composition.

DStretch is a plugin to ImageJ which is a full-featured imaging program. It is written in Java and can run on PC’s, Mac’s and Linux computers. When the button is pressed the plugin calculates the covariance matrix of the image colors (within the chosen colorspace) and then determines the transformation. Different decorrelation results are possible by selecting different parts of the image.
Different colorspaces give different results. DStretch has implemented the algorithm in the standard RGB and LAB colorspaces and also in the colorspaces: YDS, YBR, YBK, LDS, LRE. These colorspaces are modifications of the YUV or LAB colorspaces that give good decorrelation stretch results on images of rock art. The YDS and LDS colorspaces are good for general enhancements and can bring out faint yellow pigments. YBR and espeically LRE enhance reds. YBK can help with black and blue pigments and also enhances yellows well. The user can design their own colorspaces using the YXX and LXX buttons. The enhanced image is false color, the color scan be radically different from the original. In Expert Mode DStretc has the ability to shift the hues in the enhanced image to increase contrast.



Each image enhances differently, depending on its own unique distribution of colors. Another useful enhancement technique, not related to decorrelation stretch, is the manipulation of the hue and saturation of the image. DStretch (in expert mode) can do hue histogram equalization and saturation stretching. DStretch also contains a tool that allows a region of the enhanced image to be isolated by hue and then added back to the original image. This can be used to isolate an enhanced element then return it to the original image.


3D Scanning: Cultural Heritage and the Arts

Using 3D or “White Light” Scanners can uncover details from the past and today there is no better way to record a complex object than with a high resolution 3D white light scanner. The fringe projection method used in 3D white light scanning make non-contact digitization of art and sculpture and historical artifacts possible. Direct comparisons can be made of dimension and shape. Structured light Scanning allows revisitation of any object over time, creation of databases, redrawings of cross sections and 3D volume calculations. Today 3D scan data has a growing value in archaeology, paleontology and cultural heritage, collection of 3D scan data provides a digital archival record allowing access in remote locations, and the ability to produce replicas useful for exhibits.

One strategy under consideration at the Preservation Field School is the possibility of being able to actually see the “fingerprints” of the potter in ceramics. If that study moves forward there is a hope that not only will archaeologists know where the “Ancient Ones” went, they may be able to follow the fingerprints of a single women walking across an prehistoric landscape to her final resting place.

Kristin Safi in this month’s Kiva Journal outlines his “least cost” migration routes from the San Juan region to the Rio Grande Pueblo area. In this study 1200 possible routes are identified but many overlap and others had more costly terrain boiling the study down to 30 routes but when known archaeological sites were factored in, five routes were identified as the probable exodus path taken by the Kayenta Anasazi as they left the Northeast Arizona. Three of the routes probably were used by the later migrations because closer Pueblos were filled up earlier by early migrations. As for the question, “Where did the Ancient Ones go!” Not only do we know where the Kayenta went, we know why. FEAR!

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The White Mountain Apache celebrates the Tribe’s Youth, it’s language and traditions through song and dance each year at the Great Fort Apache Heritage Celebration.  It is a time of competition, Crown Dancers turn out to out dance other Mountain Spirit groups. Singers show up to entertain and to flaunt the Apache Spirit and Apache life ways. Participants may come from different districts, but they are all Apache. This Celebration each years serves as a reunion for former students of the Theodore Roosevelt BIA School, as well as, Apache from all directions. Holding onto the Apache customs, once taught from birth like language now competes with English and TV, and the Heritage Celebration highlight their traditions and celebrates the Apache Language. There is a flashing of colors as all participants of the Grand Processional join together on the dance floor. Earlier Apache children took a seven mile walk called the Seven Miles for Seven Generation Walk. “Youth keeping the future alive with traditions and culture” is the theme of the day meanwhile that night at the school they held a oldies dance for High School Alums that  featured an Elvis look-a-like dance. The War Drum rang out from Fort Apache in the Arizona’s White Mountains as dancers took to the war path at the bidding of President Obama’s White House. The White Mountain Apache Tribe, (WMAT) accepted Obama’s Gen I initiative, the challenge is a Indigenous Youth Project designed to support cultural strategies to improve the college-and-career readiness of Native children or to preserve a culture”s traditions.WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-6495 A young WMA, Jared Ivins-Massey took that challenge, and brought the WAR dance to the iconic Fort this year. During the traditional building of furious resolve Warriors danced and thrust with traditional spears, others drew their bows with arrow, still another flaunted a hunting rifle, another still drew his large butcher knife leaving no doubt he stood ready to use it. These fierce warriors ranged from retirement to elementary school age and all welcomed the President’s initiative to focus on the lives of Native American youth and to restore the cultural rituals lost to Indian community in the early 1900s when the United States government banned Native American ceremonial dances. President Obama announced the Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) Initiative. Through this initiative Native youth are encouraged to conduct a positive event in their community that focuses on health and wellness, cultural preservation, and youth well being. Massey’s Gen-I event focused on the cultural preservation of the Apache language and traditions. For 75 years, many Native American ceremonial dances ceased and those that did manage to continue did so in secrecy. In 1978, when the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed, many ceremonies and healing rituals were re-established amongst the Tribes. Some think these rituals have  lost meaning for the younger Indian generation and, they will never again be quite the same, but others are working to restore the rituals of the past. WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-0568The Great Fort Apache Heritage Celebration today provides an important opportunity for the White Mountain Apache community to come together to share the beauty and vitality of their Ndee heritage, and to shape a uniquely Apache present and future” writes Karl A. Hoerig, Ph.D. Director of Nohwike’ Bagowa Museum and Apache Cultural Center. Fort Apache for more than a century served as a military post and then as a boarding school for the White Mountain Apache Tribe. “The Theodore Roosevelt School National Historic Landmark campus was dedicated to the control of Apache people and the destruction of much of their heritage. Starting with the establishment of the first Apache Cultural Center at Fort Apache in 1969, and continuing with ever-expanding initiatives to re-establish the community’s sovereignty over the site–including this annual event–Fort Apache is becoming first and foremost an Apache place: a place for education, for the perpetuation of heritage, for economic development, for the community.”



“This celebration is now truly by, for and of the White Mountain Apache Tribes citizenry” writes JoWMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-0447hn Welch, who produced the original 2001 event which has grown for the past 16 years into the event that now hosts Apache dance and singing each May when the tribe celebrates its annual gathering of the Apache People which now has grown into an “authentic expression of the communities interests and value.”

“Keeping the rituals of our ancestors alive”,  say members of the Indian Club at Alchesay High School in Whiteriver. Their members who dance in the White Mountain Apache crown dance groups, find their roles “as Mountain Spirits who banish evil and bring good fortune”, culturally important. Some dancers come from Christian homes, go to church, and learn those traditions, and do not learn the Apache traditions. This is our heritage, and we have to keep it going.” teaches Rosalind Armstrong-Garcia, a group sponsor who believes the club fills a gap”. During this year’s Apache Heritage Celebration three school dance performed in the Gaan dance off which featured seven Apache Crown Dancers groups who delighted the crowd and competed among all the community dance groups.


Manuel Cooley delights the crowd singing in Apache about the antics of a naughty little boy.

Manuel Cooley delights the crowd singing in Apache about the antics of a naughty little boy.


Second District Iola James

The Apache religion has been a fundamental part of the Apache lifestyle. Their worship for their God, Ussen, the Giver of Life and the Gaan or Mountain Spirits, who are represented in religious rites such as healing and puberty ceremonies. While the Crown Dancers who dress elaborately to impersonate the Mountain Spirits, wearing kilts, black masks, tall wooden-slat headdresses, and body paint and carrying wood swords have no supernatural powers they serve as a conduit for the Apache spinning their words into the heavens and assuring their prayers reach their God. “The mountain spirits have taught the Apaches to perform the Apache Crown Dance as a means of curing. The crown headdress is be-decked with eagle feathers; the teacher that flew the highest in the Heavens. The signs of lightning are sacred symbols of the Apaches which are placed on the bodies of the Apache Crown Dancers who are instructed by the mysterious mountain spirits to perform healing rituals for the Apaches. The crown dance is authentically performed today,” reported long-time Apache Tribal Chairman Ronnie Lupe in the Fort Apache Scout newspaper. WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-6521       MOUNTAIN SPIRIT DANCERS COMPETITION



Apache Royalty prepares to spread fruit out around on the dance floor for one of four fruit free-for-all-with all the thrills and excitement of an Easter egg hunt.

WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-6406 Kaiden and Hayle DeClay torment their father, Chico, a Crown Dancer from the East Port Dance Group.  Chico makes of point of WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-6418speaking Apache to his girls and they have learned to understand the language.  Like many members of the White Mountain Apache People Chico and his wife Jenane believe their language and traditions is the key to holding onto the important rituals that make up the Apache traditions and ancient lifeways.  In spite of the Batman, Superman and Star Wars t-shirts scattered throughout the crowd when the Cooley Mountain Singers Drum group begin beating out their songs. Apache youth began to sway to the Apache songs and the masked men they adore are Crown Dancers, whose color and sounds of bells bring them onto the dance floor as they try to copy their elders.  White Mountain Apache Miss Indian Arizona Shasta Dazen tells the crowd “it’s a great day to experience

Linton Ethelbah Sr. with Shannon Hoppe

Linton Ethelbah Sr and Shannon



all the love that comes from our traditions and congratulations to everyone here for clinging to your culture.” Eleven month old Shannon Hope squirms from her daddy’s lap and begins dancing with the drum.  Barely able to walk but she wants to dance.  Her father Linton Ethelbah Sr. explains he speaks Apache to the toddler whenever he can and has noticed she appears to understand Apache and looks confused when his wife or other six kids speak English to her.  Traditions are important to Linton whose medicine man grandfather, Thomas and his wife, Cecilia taught him the importance of the Apache way of life, I want her to understand Apache. His middle son is a  graduate from McNary elementary school and just graduated from the Sherman B.I.A. Indian School in California. “He wanted to go elsewhere and learn to be independent.  There’s nothing here right now, Ethelbah says, jobs are hard to find.” “Drugs and alcohol are problems here and in California he can learn to make a living…there are more opportunities there.”


Mylyle Ethelbah 3rd place

Mylyle Ethelbah 3rd place

WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-0658“WHEN THEY GET THE CALLING…”  Siting mesmerized the crowd just allows the music and dance take over.  The Rock Creek Dancers, The Cooley Mountain Dancers, Diamond Creek Dancers were part of the dance off.


Monty Stover Sr.

Monty Stover Sr.  comes to the Heritage Celebration every year because he wants Apache to know what “their ancestors looked like”.

Monty Stover Sr. comes to the Heritage Celebration every year because he wants the White Mountain Apache new generation to know what their ancestors looked like.  “Apache kids come up to me and ask if I’m an Indian. I am,” I say and “so are you”.  No we’re not! they say to me! ” Their parents speak English too much,” Stover says.  “When a young Apache child comes up to me and speaks Apache to me! That’s beautiful”, he said. “Those parents are teaching that child our traditions. So each year we have this Celebration so people can see where we came from and how our ancestors lived.”  “We dance and sing, enjoy the prayers” says Kicker Z. “To keep our traditions strong to show our children who they are…” “When the drums begin the kids  try to dance like the Crown Dancers says Jenane DeClay who is part Sioux and married to an Apache Crown Dancer. “They reach a certain age and get the calling, then they try to copy their father.”

WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-6469Today there are many different nations of Apache people, the present-day Apache people include the Jicarilla, Mescalero, Chiricahua, Western Apache, Lipan-Apache, and Plains-Apache. The White Mountain Apache Tribe now consists of approximately 15,000 members. Many live on Tribal lands, but others live and work all over the country and the world. The majority of the population lives in and around Whiteriver, the seat of Tribal government. In 2000 U.S. census about 57,000 people identified themselves as Apache only; another 40,000 people reported being part Apache. Many Apache live on reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. The complexity in the cultural division of Apache tribes can be can be seen by breaking down just one of these subgroups, the Western-Apache, the Apache people residing in east central Arizona are known as Western Apache. Most of these Native Americans live within reservations called the White Mountain, Fort Apache, San Carlos, Yavapai, Tonto, and Fort McDowell Mohave reservations. WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-6394 WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-0411“The War Dance Generation Indigenous Event is focused on Cultural Preservation, to protect my Apache language and to see my culture continue. This event brings comfort knowing that this dance will continue for generations to come. Apache Warriors will dance into the next Seven Generations.”



WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-0401In the old days, the two day War Dance was divided into discrete parts and began shortly after dark. In the first phase, called “going to war” the warriors of each clan were called to dance and demonstrate how they will fight the enemy. Those with spears would pretend to lance; those with bows would draw them back to show how far they can draw; those with shields used them also. The second phase was termed “cowhide, picked up” and involved the singing of chants that described the stealing of enemy property.  In the third phase labelled “invite by touching” women of all ages were encouraged to choose a male partner and engage in social dancing. The final phase was performed at dawn the following day. Twelve of the bravest and most experienced warriors stood in a line and, one after the other, sang a song about personal success in war.  After the last song, the warriors staged mock attacks on several camps, showing how they intended to surprise and defeat the enemy. This ended the war dance, and shortly later the war party made ready to depart writes Glenville Goodwin in his notes edited into the book, “Western Apache Raiding and Warfare” by Keith Basso. WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-0431

THIS YEAR’S SPECIAL WARPATH EVENT was a special White House Initiative to empower Native American Youth. The white house is launching Generation Indigenous or (Gen I), a Native youth initiative focused on removing the barriers that stand between Native youth and their opportunity to succeed. Jared Ivins-Massey, an ASU law student who produced a video of his community project showing the Heritage Celebration, the community initiative to restore past practices and traditions.  Massey and  others will share their stories online using #GenI …

13 year old Vernon Anderson says he loved the “War Dance” he got pretty excited thinking about things back in the day–“it was pretty cool” he said.

The Fort Apache Cultural Center called Nohwike’ Bágowa hosts exhibits, exhibitions, regularly scheduled Apache arts demonstrations. The museum houses the Tribe’s archival collection, including manuscripts, publications, and a large collection of historic photographs.

The Fort Apache Cultural Center called Nohwike’ Bágowa hosts exhibits, exhibitions, regularly scheduled Apache arts demonstrations. The museum houses the Tribe’s archival collection, including manuscripts, publications, and a large collection of historic photographs.

OFFICER TREE ROWlrFA Visitors to Post Office_Fort Apache is an icon of the Apache Wars and the American West and is now a monument to celebrate Apache Heritage. Fort Apache Historic Park

sits on the confluence of the north and east forks of the White River in the White Mountains, homeland of the White Mountain Apache people. The presence of the U.S. Cavalry was initially to help the Apache live peacefully on their lands and to stifle conflict among the Apache clans and then arriving white settlers. Today Fort Apache recalls both a period of conflict and a time of cooperation between the U.S. Cavalry and several tribes from the Western Apache. The U.S. military left in 1922 after many years of declining use. The Apache Scouts that had been employed by General Crook were transferred to Fort Huachuca on the U.S,-Mexican Border, where they continued to serve. The last three Scouts retired in 1947. The Fort was transferred to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to house the Theodore Roosevelt Indian Boarding School. First intended to serve Diné (Navajo) children, by the 1930s, a majority of students at the school were Apache. Theodore Roosevelt School continues today on the very spot to serve as a middle school with a school board selected by the Tribal Council. From the founding of Fort Apache in 1870 until the capture of Geronimo in 1886, this fort was involved in the Indian Wars and was first called Camp Ord, in honor of General O.C. Ord, Commander of Arizona when it was built in the spring; however, just a few months later, the name was changed to Camp Mogollon in August, then Camp Thomas in September. The post was finally designated as Camp Apache on February 2, 1871 as a token of friendship to the Indians, the fort soldiers would spend many years fighting and trying to exterminate. The fort’s initial purpose was to guard the nearby White Mountain Reservation. Situated at the end of a military road on the White Mountain Reservation, which adjoined the San Carlos Reservation, the fort guarded the White Mountain Indian Agency, while Fort Thomas watched over the San Carlos Agency. However, both reservations became the focus of Apache unrest, especially after troops moved the Chiricahua Apache in 1876 from Fort Bowie to the White Mountain Reservation. On April 5, 1879, Camp Apache was renamed Fort Apache.



Today, twenty-seven historic buildings make up the 288 acre National Register Historic District. Following maps available at the Museum, visitors can explore the district at their own pace. Interpretive signs located throughout the district explain the construction and use of the historic buildings andFt Apache Post Office_ spaces, and allow visitors to immerse themselves in the history of what many consider the best surviving example of an Apache Wars-era military post. The Fort Apache Cemetery is 1/4 mile east of the main fort grounds and is accessible

The grave of an Apache Scout, one of many who served with the U.S. Cavalry during the Indian Wars .

The grave of an Apache Scout, one of many who served with the U.S. Cavalry during the Indian Wars .

by walking trail or road. Visitors interested in more adventure can hike the Historic Park ’s recreational trails, including a 1.4 mile loop through the East Fork canyon that passes the site of a historic Apache Scout camp. General Crook’s Cabin, built in 1871 and the oldest structure left on the fort today provides visitors with maps, historic photographs and murals allowing an historic overview of the fort and its impact on the Apache people.  One room offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of army officers and their families living on a remote outpost in the wilds of the western frontier. The Fort Apache post office occupies the adobe adjutant’s building. The stone officers’ quarters, are today the residences of teachers and other Bureau of Indian Affairs employees. The sutler’s store and commissary building, cavalry barns, and guard house have not been significantly altered. One of the original four barracks, an adobe building in bad disrepair, houses the farm shop for the school. The parade ground provides a recreational area. The cemetery no longer contains dead soldiers, but does contain the bodies of Indian scouts. The fort is located five miles south of Whiteriver, Az, from Globe, take US 60 northeast 66 miles; turn east on State 73 and drive about 27 miles to Fort Apache.



The White Mountain Apache Tribe is located in the east central region of Arizona, 194 miles northeast of Phoenix. This Tribe manages the popular Sunrise Park Ski Resort, Fort Apache Timber Company and the popular Hondah Casino near Show Low.

Located in the Fort Apache Historic Park, Nohwike’ Bágowa (House of Our Footprints) is the place to experience Apache history and culture.

Located in the Fort Apache Historic Park, Nohwike’ Bágowa (House of Our Footprints) is the place to experience Apache history and culture.

BASKETS_Nohwike’ Bágowa, the White Mountain Apache Cultural Center and Museum, is housed in a modern facility constructed to reflect a gowa, the Apache traditional holy home, the cultural center and museum is committed to the celebration and perpetuation of the Apache heritage. Nohwike’ Bágowa hosts long term exhibits, temporary exhibitions, regularly scheduled Apache arts demonstrations, and other special events. The museum also houses the Tribe’s growing archival collection, including manuscripts, publications, and a large collection of historic photographs. The museum shop offers a wide selection of the best Apache basketry, beadwork, and other arts, in addition to books, music, and Fort Apache and Tribal mementos.MARY HUME BASKETWEAVER_
Being held next to the Casino at HONDAH, AZ ON June 5th featuring Social Dances on Friday
and Pow Wow competition will be held Saturday and Sunday
 Mountain Spirit Dance Off will be held in Canyon Day on August 1st




The Fort Apache Historic Park, including Kinishba Ruins, is open daily from 7:00am to sunset. Nohwike’ Bágowa is open Monday-Saturday 8am to 5pmduring the summer, and Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm during the winter. Admission to the museum and park is $5.00 per adult, and $3.00 for seniors (64+) and students. Children under 7 are admitted free. Admission to the Park after-hours and on holidays is $5.00 per vehicle per day. Apache tour guides are available with advance reservation, and special accommodations and activities can be arranged for tour groups.
24 Hour information line: (928) 338-4525
Museum: (928) 338-4625    White Mountain Apache Office of Tourism: (928) 338-1230

FA Crooks Cabin The death of Nochaydelklinne,”The Dreamer” at Cibecue Creek and the Apache attack on Fort Apache two days later is often considered the final battle between the Apache and the U.S. Cavalry at the fort. The Apache repeatedly attacked the fort at long range, firing vollleys and scoring.  The U.S. cavalry and native allies fought back but the Apache remained at the end of their rifle range during the entire fight. Two days later, reinforcements arrived but by this time the Apaches had already retreated into hiding. Only three American soldiers were wounded and Apache casualties are unknown.  The two separate engagements at Cibecue Creek and Fort Apache helped ignite another Apache war that would end with the surrender of Geronimo in 1886. But the last Apache attack on the U.S. at Fort Apache was led by Apache Lawyers who took the United States all the way to the Supreme Court and won $12 million. In 2003 the Supreme Court of the United States held in a 5-4 decision that when the federal government used land or property held in trust for an Indian tribe, it had the duty to maintain that land or property and was liable for any damages for a breach of that duty.



The case involved Fort Apache, the collection of buildings on the reservation which were transferred to the tribe by the U.S. Congress in 1960. Although the tribe owned the Fort Apache buildings, they were held in trust and used exclusively by the federal government for an Indian school. This was a continuation of the building’s use from when the federal government retained title. As more schools were built at other Indian reservations, attendance dropped at the Fort Apache school. The tribe began to plan for use of the buildings and sought designation as a historic site. When the federal government wanted to turn the property over to the tribe for use, the tribe found that the property had deteriorated and sued for damages to the property.  The Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court, holding that the federal government used the property it held in trust, and that it therefore had a duty to maintain the property.  The loss led the government to settle with the tribe for $12 million. The buildings are managed by the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation and the case, helps to define the Indian Trust Doctrine. The case has been widely discussed in legal literature and books.


Jared Ivins-Massey gives Kicker-Z first place in War Dance

WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-0464WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-0426 President Obama launched the Gen-I Initiative at the White House Tribal Nations Conference  to ensure all young Native people can reach their full potential. The Gen-I Initiative calls for Native Youth Community Projects, like the first White House Tribal Youth Gathering this summer that will engage hundreds of Native youth in a day-long convention. The Native Youth Report acknowledges past failures of federal policy, explores the challenges facing Native children, and creates a path forward. WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATIONwinner-6446 copyWMA HERITAGE CELEBRATIONwinner The Gen-I Native Youth Challenge is part of the process of establishing the National Native Youth Network. Native youth are invited to take part in the Gen-I Challenge. This call to action creates a network of people interested in the issues facing Native youth and creating an information platform about opportunities and highlight their voices and positive contributions. Jared Ivins-Massey, is an enrolled member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe of Arizona. He was born and raised on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Northeastern Arizona. Massey is one of seventeen Native Youth selected to create a steering committee for the upcoming White House Tribal Youth Gathering this summer that will engage hundreds of Native youth in a day-long convention. Jared is the son of Leo and Rolinda Massey of Fort Apache, Arizona and hails from the community of Seven Mile and Cibecue, Arizona. Jared is a proud graduate of Alchesay High School where he was elected student body president and elected the White Mountain Apache Youth Council Male Co-President. Currently Jared is a double major studying political science and justice studies. Jared currently resides at the Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus in Chandler, Arizona. Jared states,  “With no Vision youth cannot prosper but with the guidance of our elders, a Vision is in our sight.” Jared is a traditional dancer and hopes to one day return to the White Mountain Apache Reservation and serve as a tribal attorney. I’m excited to share my Gen-I Native Youth Challenge! he shares on Facebook. My Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) Challenge Event focuses on Cultural Preservation. “In conjunction with the 2015 Fort Apache Heritage Celebration & Festivities, my family and I will be holding the “Jared Ivins-Massey Apache War Dance Special” This dance was done in times of victory and through the event I hope Apache youth will learn this powerful dance. In addition, I ask that all participants submit a half page essay on “What it means to be an Apache Warrior.” The reason for my Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) Event, is to ensure that my Apache language and culture continues. This event brings comfort knowing that this dance will continue for generations to come. These Apache Warriors will dance into the next Seven Generations. I see you Apache Youth!  he writes. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)  in Sacramento, CA. elected White Mountain Apache tribal member Jared Massey National NCAI Youth Commission Co-President. During his term Massey will work closely with tribal leaders in Indian country on BIA funding, healthcare, Indian Health Services, Indian Reservation Roads funding and gaming. NCAI is a national organization that advocates, lobbies and addresses issues throughout Indian country.  “We are extremely proud of Jared. He is an excellent role model and ambassador of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. The National Congress of American Indians is a great organization that works for the betterment and well-being of Indian people. NCAI will be a great experience for Jared to further develop his leadership skills and solidify his future’s foundation with education, culture and experience,” stated Harrisen DeClay, WMAT Education Director.

WMA HERITAGE CELEBRATION-0340Jerad Massey hopes by providing insight and assistance to White House staff in planning the 2015 Tribal Youth Summit, he hopes challenges that youth face today on reservations will be addressed. Coming from the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, Massey has seen first-hand the struggles of reservation life and tribal youth.  “I personally have experienced so many social issues that plague our youth and challenge our youth from breaking so many cycles with suicide, drugs, alcohol, poverty, sexual abuse and domestic violence. I am excited to work with the White House, because this personal testimony and experience is not just part of my past and my roots as a young Apache man, but they are the real-life and day-to-day things that face our youth. We need to use these issues to deliver messages to our youth empowering them to overcome these social issues and that we will survive to create an even better and more promising futures for our children.”

Deandra Antonio, 17, of Whiteriver, Arizona, of the White Mountain Apache Nation and who serves on the White Mountain Apache Youth Council, is greeted by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House Tribal Youth Gathering







FORT APACHE          

WESTERN APACHE                 


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A MT GOODFRIDAY-CROSS CARRY-6248 A MT GOODFRIDAY-CROSS CARRY-6269 A MT GOODFRIDAY-CROSS CARRY-6208  Tucson’s west side is built on tradition. A-Mountain the volcanic hillside with a whitewashed “A” is where this desert city began and today you can drive through Sentinel Peak  park and enjoy the sun rising or setting upon the  always growing desert landscape turned cityscape nicknamed the “Old Pueblo”.  Tonight is Good Friday and the Easter/Pass Over period has filled the grocery stores with masses of shoppers. But for 46 years “The Faithful” have taken time out, put on their walking shoes, and headed for A Mountain to carry David Herreras’s cross to the top of the desert mountain where Easter mass will celebrate Jesus Christ.

   Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
               and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

More than 300 faithful turned out to walk the stations of the Church, each time a new group would step forward to pick up the cross and in turn carry it to the next station. Where others would lift it up and carry it forward. A MT GOODFRIDAY-CROSS CARRY-6194A MT GOODFRIDAY--6160“A sense of peace” is their reward says Rosa Trujillo who has returned year after year to recite the stations and follow the cross to the summit. She came for 15 years nonstop and then moved to Sahuarita but this year she is back with her sister who never used to participate but still lives on the west side. Today everyone has come together. T-Shirts tell much of the story, “Is God, in the house”, “Save Our Streets”, “Mighty Men of Valor”, all christian based programs to help youth stay on the right track. David Herrera, who started the “Los Dorados” group in 1969 when the first “Procession of Followers of The Lord Jesus Christ” was held. Today at 94 he is still directing the first steps taken up the peak. Herrera began his quest to create a path for A MT GOODFRIDAY-CROSS CARRY -6291children to find the Church and Jesus Christ. The procession has become an annual event.  Having seen procession photos taken on Good Friday over the years I was anxious to find some colorful craggy faces contrasting against the stark white cross.  But this year I noted a generational change in the procession, young people stepping up to run the event, young people stepping up to carry the cross !  For Antonio Chavarria, the annual procession, is a touch of the old country and it puts him in a relaxed and pensive mood when he reflects back forty years after arriving in Tucson from Nicaragua where rebels had made his country a war-torn state.  He worked 20 years as a Mexican food cook and another 20 years



with TUSD, in time, bringing his mother and three brothers and three sisters to the United States. Antonio remembers one year fondly when he and his wife walked from River and 1st Ave to the Sunrise Ceremony leaving home walking at 3:30am and arrived ten minutes before the mass. Tonight the “Faithful” settle the old cross on to its resting place, the spot it will greet the Sun, Sunday Easter Morning!

As I prepare to leave I noted the young faces that filled the crowd and wondered about Herrera’s focus and goal for the past forty years of creating a path for Tucson’s youth to find religion through Jesus Christ.  I couldn’t help but believe that one man can make a difference ! David Herrera did. A MT GOODFRIDAY-CROSS CARRY-6199


GOOD FRIDAY is the Friday before Easter. Also known as Holy Friday, Easter Friday and Black Friday.

What it means: Represents the day Jesus Christ of Nazareth, condemned by Pontius Pilate, was nailed on a wooden cross, where he died.

Last Supper: Christ was believed to have had his last meal with his disciples the night before Good Friday.

Easter: One of the two most important days in the Christian faith. The other is the day Christ was born. Easter is the day Christians believe Christ rose from the dead, two days after he was crucified.

Cross: The cross, a symbol of death and resurrection for most Christians, usually is associated with Jesus Christ.

Catholic and Protestant crosses: Catholic crosses often contain an image of Christ nailed upon them, while Protestant crosses do not. One reflects Christ’s death and suffering, the other reflects his resurrection.


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InterTribal Dance includes everyone who wants to dance...

The San Xavier or Wa:K Pow Wow intertribal Dance includes everyone who wants to dance…



Today’s POW WOW has evolved from a large homecoming celebration to categories, styles and competition. Dancers on the Pow Wow highway find themselves crisscrossing states and regions picking up rodeos as they go.  For many it has become a lifestyle like a rodeo cowboy, with prize money helping to pay the way and always headed somewhere. For others, Pow Wow is family time when old friends get together, but Pow Wow also honors First Americans traditions, creating a spiritual link to their ancestors.


The Cayaditto brothers, Garrott and Logan from Albuquerque, NM both dance Northern Traditional and each has roots in the Navajo, Zia and Ute Tribes. Demonstrating the diversity of cultures and traditions now being absorbed by the present-day pow-wow…

One Dancer at the San Xavier Pow Wow shared with me a horsehair braid he wears with his dance regalia. “My father was a wrangler and I often hope I will have a horse again like I did in my youth!  This braid links me with all those hopes, feelings and connections to family and ancestors. The Poncas of Nebraska created the first powwow in the early 1800s, the modern day powwow developed among the Plains tribes during the 1920’s. The idea quickly spread and today members from tribes coast to coast participate in pow wows. Over the years, powwow have added contests or dancing competitively for prize money and today there are more than 300 pow wows each year, and the size and popularity of contests-some fill sports arenas! But the small, non-competitive and family-oriented events remain popular as well.

A powwow is a gathering of American Indians who come to dance, celebrate, pray, laugh and socialize. But for each person the meaning of the powwow, and their place in that ceremony, can only be defined by themselves.




For the hardcore powwow folks, the arena is a sacred but fun place, its heartbeat resides in the music. The songs are divided into two main styles, northern and southern. Northern singers have a higher pitch than the deep tones of the southern singers. Some songs have words while others are pure chanting. An honor song, for example, might be composed for someone who has recently returned from the military, or for someone who recently passed away. Other songs provide ladies the chance to ask that special man to dance. Yes, at powwows, songs for sweethearts are strictly ladies choice! It’s safe for anyone to join the dancing when the announcer calls for an “inter-tribal dance. There are some old favorites songs passed down from earlier generation. “Some songs are owned by one family”, other songs, “are older than dirt”! but today many drum groups are formed that use their own languages to create new dance songs. At San Xavier, Wild Band, Black Mountain Singers, Southern Comfort, Preying Eagles, Sage Point and Blue Thunder Singers fill out the dance card throughout the pow wow.


FANCY JINGLE DANCER STRAIGHTENS OUT HER EAGLE FEATHERS. This dance is a spiritual healing dance and the steps are fast-paced. Jingle regalia has the 365 jingles or tin cones that adorn each dress. Each cone represents a prayer and the total equals a prayer for each day of the year.


Native American Hoop Dance is all about storytelling, the dance, incorporates one to 30 or more hoops as props, which are used to create both static and dynamic shapes, or formations, representing various animals, symbols, and storytelling elements. It is generally performed by a solo dancer with many hoops.

The  popular Hoop dance, creates shapes in storytelling rituals forming the butterfly, the eagle, the snake, and the coyote, the hoop symbolizing the never-ending circle of life.  Native American Hoop dance focuses on very rapid moves, and the construction of hoop formations around and about the body. The hoops used are typically of very small diameter 1-2.5 feet. In elaborate sequences of moves, the hoops are made to interlock, in such a way they can be extended from the body of the dancer to form appendages such as wings and tails. The hoops are often handmade by the dancers out of plastic piping though some are made of wood and wrapped in colorful tapes.

Six Hoop Dance Video’s you have to See….



Native American Hoop Dance has been recognized as a cultural heritage, embodied in both documentary films and as a living tradition in formal competition. The most popular competition occurs annually at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. Up to 80 dancers have participated in some years, and the competitions have drawn as many as 10,000 spectators.

The first World Hoop Dance Competition was held at the New Mexico State Fair in 1991. The first World Champion Hoop Dancer was Eddie Swimmer, a Cherokee from Cherokee, NC.  The venue was moved to the Heard Museum’s early February event in Arizona for the second event and the first adult winner of the permanent venue was Quentin Pipestem of the Tsuu T’ina Nation in Alberta, Canada. The hoop dance has evolved over the years by becoming faster and has incorporated many influences from outside traditional cultures such as the use of hip hop moves as well as the wide use of industrial piping to construct hoops that were once were made from reeds or willow branches. Hoop dance has gained a strong following as an increasing number of dancers tour the world.


SANXAVIER POW WOW-0110Pow-wow, from the Algonquian word for a gathering of people, began to be used in Oklahoma around 1900. Soon the dance on the Southern Plains took the form of the traditional Straight Dance: traditional dancers move proudly and sedately. On the Northern Plains each tribe developed its own unique styles, such as the Northern Traditional. Over the decades other styles of both male and female dance movements and songs have developed: the modern Grass, Fancy and Traditional dances for men; the Shawl, Cloth, Buckskin and Jingle Dances for women. The Shawl Dance is the women’s fancy dance, with elaborately beaded or sequined tops and leggings.SACATON POW WOW-9880 The dances continue to develop as more and more tribes outside the Plains tradition have begun to join in pow wows in order to make social connections with other tribes for friendship, trade and to be part of the Indian pow wow movement. Pow-wows follow a traditional form: they begin with a grand entry, flag ceremony, invocation; followed by a sequence of dances, dance contests, singing, drumming, prayers, speeches, and honoring ceremonies such as giveaways of presents. There are usually four dance contest categories: tiny tots; boys and girls; young men and women; elder men and women. They compete in Straight or Traditional, Fancy, Grass, Jingle and Shawl Dancing. The contests are judged by people knowledgeable in pow-wow style dancing, who are dancers themselves. Early pow-wows usually held dance contests, but without the cash awards of today. Pow-wows vary from place to place. In some areas a pow-wow is primarily a spiritual and traditional celebration, while in other areas it is a more social, secular and commercial event. Many pow-wows in Indian Country are not announced in the non-Indian media, and outsiders are rarely invited to some very traditional ceremonies. Indian people from many tribes gather from every direction to participate in the activities, to meet old friends and to be part of the culture.

Meanwhile in southern Arizona, the Wa:k Pow Wow held at San  Xavier second weekend in Februrary is advertised as the largest gathering of Native Americans and I presume Pow Wow dancers because it does get a lot of dancers and lots of winter visitors turn out and watch. But better pow wows are held in Sells and Sacaton, both on the reservation, with fewer fences and more access to the dancers. The biggest is the Window Rock Pow Wow but pow wows trickle from two-year colleges like Pima College in Tucson, or the University of Arizona, Arizona State and Northern Arizona University all have their pow wows. The Casa Grande Odham Tash once challenged the bigger events but it has fallen on hard times, but other pow wows now flourish.

Quapaw Tribe Oklahoma is celebrating its 143rd Annual Pow Wow, July 2-5th, 2015 the oldest and longest running powwow. Today’s pow-wows are integral to today’s resurgence of Indian pride, and a primary way that Native people develop inter-tribal culture in a modern context without each tribe giving up its own unique identity. For urban Indians in particular, where Native culture is often very low profile, pow-wows are a way  to develop a contemporary context in which each tribal culture can continue, and have helped to create the great movement that is shaping the indigenous revival of today. Understanding the modern pow-wow is central to recognizing the revitalization of indigenous culture with its values of respect for the earth, living in traditional balance  and respect for the multiple of cultures.




Sacaton Pow Wow

Sacaton Pow Wow

Competitions are the main focus of the powwow for some participants, but other types of activities occur at various points during the event. Giveaways are common, and inter-tribal and special dances are interspersed throughout the affair, giving noncompetition dancers a chance to participate. Raffles are frequently held to raise money in support of the event or to help sponsor the next powwow. After the formal portion of the powwow, young dancers often get together in the late evening for a round of  dances. TSACATON POW WOW-9896he informal nature of these dances contrasts with the relatively rigid structure of other powwow dances. This is a time for celebration for young adults who dance into the early hours of the morning. Contemporary powwows play an important role in the social and cultural life of Native Americans. They are a celebration of heritage and tradition that has survived in a unique form apart from the daily lives of the participants. Powwows engender a sense of community and belonging among the people who participate. The music and dance are naturally dissemination because they are so visible, and recordings of powwow songs disperse  Native American culture not only among Native American communities but also among people from other communities. All through the day, dancers perform demonstrations of various cultural dance styles in their native regalia. Women Dance Styles – Women and girls wear long-skirted fringed buckskin dresses decorated with intricate beading designs of beads, shells, and bone beads, carrying their feather fans and a folded fringed shawl for the traditional Women’s Buckskin Dance. The Women’s Cloth Dance is another traditional dance style. Regalia is made of cloth and styles vary greatly among the tribe. The feather fan and fringed shawl are also part of this regalia.


POW WOW-9995


SACATON POWWOW-8390Young girls wear colorful cloth dresses with beautifully decorated colorful shawls worn over the shoulders for the Fancy Shawl Dance. The dance steps are intricate and spirited but always in harmony with the drum. The Jingle Dance is a colorful dance style originally from Canada, the regalia is colorful with beaded moccasins and leggings. The most unique feature of the regalia is the 365 jingles or tin cones that adorn each dress. Each cone represents a prayer and the total equals a prayer for each day of the year. This dance is a very spiritual dance for healing while the steps are quite fast-paced. Men’s Dance Styles – The dance styles for men are equally colorful and energetic. The first of these is the Men’s Traditional, a northern dance style. The regalia typically includes natural feathers, bustles and bone breast plates over leather. The dance steps are proud and they tell the story of the warriors deeds in battle. Another traditional dance is the Men’s Straight or Southern Straight Dance. This dance’s regalia includes the porcupine headdress with a single feather, ribbon work on the apron, vests, leggings, otter skin trailers and sashes. It is a story dance about the warrior’s hunt.


The Men’s Grass is an old dance style from the northern tall grass prairie regions. Regalia is brightly colored fringed yarn or ribbons that mimic the prairie grass swaying in the wind. These dancers created the dance circle by dancing the grass flat.

Men’s Fancy is a modern dance style, got jump-startered in the Wild West Shows popular at the turn of the century. Its regalia is colorful top and bottom, bustles adorned with feathers and bead work on the back and a smaller bustle on each arm. The dance pace is fast, steps are intricate and athletic. Whatever the pace, the dancer must stop with the last beat of the song.


In the past 32 years the Gathering of Nations has grown from an early, simple dream to one of the world’s most recognized annual festivals. From the beginning the concept has always been to produce an event where Native people can come together each year to celebrate and share culture, and a place where singers and dancers can feel confident that competition is fair to all. The last weekend in April the Annual Gathering of Nations Powwow is held at the University of New Mexico Arena (“The Pit”), in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at Avenida Cesar Chavez Blvd. SE (Hwy. 25, exit #223), earlier in the week the Miss Indian World selection is held as is the annual Trader’s Market. Everyone is welcome ! The Gathering of Nations is an experience for all 80,000 visitors, Indian and non-Indian alike and a huge contest for dancers and singers who compete for the $150,000.00 to be awarded! Over 3,000 indigenous Native American, Indian dancers and singers, representing more than 500 tribes from Canada and the United States come to Albuquerque annually to participate socially and competitively. Over 800 artists, crafters, and traders  place their wares on display and for sale during the four day competition.

Hours:Thursday: 10:00am – 3:00pm: 7:00pm: Miss Indian World Traditional Talent Presentations.
Doors open at 6:30pm Friday & Saturday: 10:00am and never closes on the Pow Wow
Pow Wow Grand Entry: Friday Noon and 7:00; Saturday Noon and 6:00

The Gathering of Nations is the largest Pow Wow each year! But the NAU Pow Wow brings together many diverse cultures all living nearby and the mixture from the schools rich and diverse native American enrollment.

2015 Northern Arizona University Pow Wow
1701 S San Francisco St. Flagstaff, AZ 86011 USA
Contact: Sean Begay 928-699-1003 sbb42@nau.edu
Fees: Adults $10 both days, $7 per day NAU Students with ID Free Kids under 5 Free
Camping: Quality Inn 2500 E. Lucky Ln Flagstaff, Arizona (928)-226-7111
April 10 – 11, 2015 NAU J.L. Walkup Skydome Bldg. 73 1701 S San Francisco St Flagstaff Arizona

Friday April 10, 2015 Gourd Dancing: 6:00 PM Grand Entry: 7:00 PM Saturday April 11, 2015 Gourd Dancing: 11:00 AM & 5:00 PM Grand Entry: 1:00 PM & 7:00 PM  All Categories Tiny Tots Juniors Teens Women Men Golden Age Drum Contest Grass Dance Special In Loving Memory of Jonathan Yazzie Sponsored by: WarDance Etc., Yazzie Family, Friends, and Relatives Men’s Fancy Special Honoring our NAU President Sean Begay Sponsor: The Club HOST NORTHERN DRUM: War Scout, Sweetgrass Saskatchewan, Canada HOST SOUTHERN DRUM: Dark Horse Admission Adults—-$10 both days, $7 per day NAU Students with ID–Free Kids under 5

WINDOWROCK POW WOW-3Every year, thousands of American Indian dancers, singers and musicians hit the powwow circuit in family-friendly festivals. Some of the biggest are held in Calgary, Denver and Oklahoma City. “These are full-out cultural events — dancing, music, food, fellowship and tradition, all combined in one,” says Paul Gowder of PowWows.com, which lists more than 1,500 events. “You come face to face with a living, evolving culture.” He shares these popular powwows with USA TODAY.

Crow Fair
Crow Agency, Mont.
Now in its 96th year, this gathering is like a state fair for the Crow people. “It’s a complete cultural experience,” Gowder says. The August event includes a parade with participants riding horses elaborately decorated with beads and blankets. Perhaps most notable is the tepee encampment with up to 1,000 of the shelters. “It’s quite a sight. They call themselves the tepee capital of the world.” www.crow-nsn.gov/crow-fair-2014.html

Morongo Thunder and Lightning PowWow
Cabazon, Calif.
This event (Sept. 26-28) kicks off California’s fall powwow season, attracting dancers from around the country. Based at the AAA four-diamond Morongo Casino Resort & Spa near Palm Springs, it offers a luxury setting. “You’re right there in a plush resort area. It’s well-run, and spectators love it,” Gowder says. It’s also one of the few places to see California bird singing and dancing, a distinctive regional style. 888-667-6646; morongocasinoresort.com/wp-content/powwow/pow2.php

4th of July Powwow
Cherokee, N.C.
While most major powwows are in the West, this one on the Cherokee reservation is among a handful of top-ranked events east of the Mississippi. It attracts a wide following and offers a different experience. “The dance area is gorgeous, with mountain backdrops. It’s green and lush and a beautiful location — usually nice and cool with a mountain breeze,” Gowder says. 800-438-1601; visitcherokeenc.com

Hunting Moon Pow Wow
While a relative newcomer on the powwow circuit, this fall event (Oct. 17-19) has grown tremendously over the past several years and now is ranked among the top five in an annual poll on Gowder’s website. “That says a lot. It’s growing really fast,” he says. 414-847-7320; huntingmoonpowwow.com

United Tribes International PowWow
Bismark, N.D.
This 45-year-old September festival draws more than 1,500 dancers and representatives from 70 tribes, which makes it one of the biggest gatherings in the North Central states. “It’s one of the must-dos on the circuit. It wraps up a long summer of powwowing,” Gowder says. This year, it’s Sept. 4-7. unitedtribespowwow.com

Denver March PowWow
The powwow season kicks off every March with this event, which attracts a huge number of Native American drum groups. These organizations usually have 12 to 15 people with male drummers and female singers. “Some of them have big followings,” Gowder says. denvermarchpowwow.org

Julyamsh Powwow
Post Falls, Idaho
The largest outdoor powwow in the Pacific Northwest attracts more than 600 dancers and an eager crowd. “It’s more of a traditional powwow,” Gowder says. “It’s the middle of summer and the middle of the season. The dancers dance on grass.” julyamsh.com

Marvin “Joe” Curry Veterans Pow Wow
Salamanca, N.Y.
Formerly called the Seneca powwow, this annual mid-July event recently changed its name to honor a tribal member who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars. “It’s one of the biggest in the Northeast,” Gowder says. senecapowwow.org

Coushatta Pow Wow
Kindler, La.
Located near Lake Charles, La., Coushatta is one of the biggest American Indian events in the country. And while most powwows feature similar dance styles, this June event also offers a chance to see stomp dancing, a style popular among tribes in the Southeast. 800-584-7263; coushattapowwow.com

Gathering of Nations
The nation’s biggest powwow attracts more than 3,500 dancers and 150,000 spectators during the last week of April. “This is the Super Bowl of powwows. Everybody saves up to come to this one,” says Gowder, whose site offers live webcasts of the events. Activities include a Miss Indian World cultural (not beauty) pageant and even a long-hair contest. gatheringofnations.com


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Sacaton is a unique place few other Arizona small town can match! Many small towns in the South West are made up of transplants all of which hail from somewhere else and come together to make a community. Most everyone in Sacaton was born there, their fathers and mothers were born there and their grandparents likewise lived in



the small but vibrant Indian community, the Capitol and ancient homeland of the Gila River Indian Tribes. American Indians living today in the Gila River Indian Community history shows their ancestors were the first people to set foot in the Americas 30,000 years ago. They have lived in the Sonoron Desert near the Gila River in southern Arizona for at least 2,000 years. Called the Pima Indians by exploring Spaniards who first encountered them in the 1600s, these early Americans called themselves “O’Odham,” the River people, and those with whom they intermarried, “Tohono O’Odham,” the Desert people. Archaeologist say the Pima Indians descended from the Hohokam.



They are said to be a generous people, they gave the homeless Maricopa Indians (Pee Posh) a home and they became part of the Gila River community. Anyone who followed the Gila river, the southern route to the Pacific, encountered these peaceful traders who gave hospitality to travelers for hundreds of years. “Bread is to eat, not to sell. Take what you want,” they told Kit Carson in 1846. Today, it is not bread, it’s popovers-a glob of flour boiled in lard which is a huge hit during the 53rd Mul-Cha-Tha each March, when everyone comes out to see family and friends and to enjoy the day together. The “Community Day” celebration begins with a two hour parade Saturday morning,



followed by a mad dash and total gridlock to the Fairgrounds. Brown Amusements Carnivals was setup on the south end of the enormous fairground. Nearby were food carts, informational displays on health and teeth care, the Pow Wow arena, the Rodeo grounds, Horseshoe competition, and the Traditional Dancing Groups have their own stage while Chicken Scratch Musicians in a “Battle of the Bands” play to the full Waila tent and plenty of folks who can’t resist getting up and stepping out. The first band kicked off the competition with a spirited version of “Ghost Riders”, dozens, young and old danced on to the dirt dance floor. Waila is a combination of European polka and waltzes with a little Mexican influence mixed-in. Waila music is performed throughout southern Arizona by Tohono O’odham, Pima and Maricopa musicians.





I asked several people about their favorite Mul-Cha-Tha activity and surprisingly “Eating” was high on the list and an easy first! Some said they would grab the first food that grabbed them, others focused; one lady said “Popovers” without any of the toppings like red chili and cheese, or a combo with beans added, nor honey and powdered sugar toppings. A nice guy in the ticket line, escorting one year old Sophia, said he loves a large bowl of chips covered in hot salsa. Stopping by the food booths on the midway, I asked what was selling the most and it was a close race between popovers and hamburgers said the lady who was nonstop flattening out popover paddies to drop into the hot oil.



This year she brought her lunch trying to eat better she said, she brought a turkey wrap, but her son ate it. Up to



then she had only a corn-on-a-stick which is real popular every year. Next door, at the Kieto’s Navajo Taco Stand, everyone was busy filling the Navajo Taco orders



for the fry bread popover, covered with chili meat, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. The sales team and cooks all looked frazzled and worn out but they were working furiously. Tortillas were gently laid upon the hot griddle and burnt fingers gingerly flip the tortillas, tenderly plucking the warm bread off the hot dome. One co-worker took a moment from the furious pace when I asked what the money from all these tacos will buy. The single mother said, her daughter Cherish, was graduating from high school and today’s profits would pay for her graduation cap and gown, plus pay for the announcements and give her cash to enroll at the University of Arizona in the School of Veterinary Science. Tears of happiness welled up in her eyes as she spoke about Cherish and how she had excelled in school and how she knew she would be a great animal doctor. Then she went back to filling orders for the huge crowd lined up in front of the booth.



I have always enjoyed the variety of events at the Mul-Cha-Tha, but the All Indian Rodeo can often be the most exciting, when local cowboys get beat up by the rough stock. I ask one Cowboy what his favorite part of “Community Day” and he looked taken back and asked “Really”! “I come for the Team roping, the Bull riding and the Wild horse Stampede! “I’m a team roper he proclaims proudly”, and the hundreds of people in the grandstands were all rodeo fans.


Lots of family come out to cheer on uncles, brothers, dad’s and wives, sisters and aunts. One rodeo fan was anxious to see the four reservation team roping event, which would give someone crowing rights, about who were the best ropers in Southern Arizona.



There was two Pima teams, one San Carlos Apache team and the Tohono Oodham stacked the desk with three teams and won. No one seemed to mind, they like good roping, and Indian rodeos in Arizona feature a lot of team roping, calf roping and steer wrestling. But the favorite hands down is the Wild Horse Stampede. Eleven three-man teams competed to saddle a wild horse and ride it! This year-the horses won, so did the bulls, they resisted anyone getting a eight second ride on Saturday. One bull fighter was launched more than ten feet from the ground but that was the only ride of the day. Earlier, in the week, on Thursday the Master’s Rodeo took place, featuring contestants over fifty and Friday was the Junior Rodeo featuring all the cowboys and girls under seventeen but older than six years of age. On Sunday, Pima women compete in the Thoka Tournaments, a lacrosse-style stick game, played in a large open field.

The Traditional Singers and Dancers, featured some favorites-two local Pima singing and basket dance groups, the Tohono O’odham Santa Rosa dance group performed, as did the Tohono O’odham dancers from Mexico, finished up with the Alex Gomez old time fiddlers. Keep in mind all of this is going on at the same time so folks either stick to their favorites or they go around catching a little bit of all of the performances.



Either way, when the sun goes down another group came out to hear their favorite performers after dark and late into the night. Thousands of people turn out for “Community Day”, at a time in Sacaton when the weather is perfect so they empty the nursing home, the “Caring House” and push residents about the grounds in wheelchairs. Everyone joins in the fun, earlier, as the rodeo announcer begins to warm up his crowd, he asks how many in the crowd are “visitors” and a small applause rises, then he asks how many are “Sacaton residents”, the applause is louder-but when he asks “How many are proud Native Americans” the grandstands explode with applause…



Today, the Pima Indians of the Gila River Indian Community are still an agricultural people, nurturing



eleven thousand strong members of the Gila River Indian Reservation who have participated in 30 years of research to help people avoid diabetes, have healthier eyes, hearts, and kidneys, and to understand how and why people gain weight and what can be done to prevent it. When researchers find a family with one parent who is diabetic and one who is not, they study the genes of both parents and their children to find the genes shared by those who have diabetes. After finding these genes, scientists hope to break the codes that cause insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes and kidney disease. Researchers are working on this complex genetic puzzle by studying blood drawn from every member of the Pima community who comes into Hu Hu Kam Memorial Hospital for exams. Their blood is checked for healthy levels of blood sugar, cholesterol and other nutrients. Then blood and serum are typed and some is reduced to a very small pellet of DNA. This genetic material instructs cells to function one way or another. So researchers study these families in an effort to find the genes that lead to diabetes.



“The Pima Indians are giving a great gift to the world by continuing to volunteer for research studies. Their generosity contributes to better health for all people, and we are all in their debt,” says Dr. Peter Bennett, Chief of the Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch of the National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The Pima Indians’ help is so important to the ability of doctors to understand and treat diabetes, obesity, and kidney disease because of the uniqueness of the community. There are few like it in the world.


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It’s wildflower time in the Desert Southwest, that special time of the year, when desert dwellers watch the Sonoran Desert reveal its golden lining. It can vary from year to year depending on winter rains, but driving north on I-10 toward Picacho Peak, motorists can’t miss the riot of color lining that concrete strip between Tucson and Phoenix. Over the years I have seen bumper blooms at Picacho Peak State Park which have coated the sides of that picturesque peak which yell out to motorist on the freeway, hey you are missing the big show, and in those years many more visitors drive through to see the over whelming bloom. This year, the California Poppy crop, fell short.



Not a bad showing says the ranger at the front desk, “there are many good carpets which are thick and rich with their golden coverings, but this isn’t one of those every nine year blooms that cover the entire mountain”, just taking your breath away as you stand in their midst. This is the year of the Brittle Bush, which always line the region’s roadways and hillsides, but this year they define the mountain ridges in the Tucson Mountains and line I-10 center median


for a hundred miles up the road. One Arizona seasonal visitor carefully making his way across the state park’s hiking trail, finds the poppies and lupine “very delightful” but he had hoped for more variety for his camera lens. It’s early in the day, and many of the flowers don’t open their petals until 10-11 am but early hikers are still out in force, an entire boy scout troop lines up in single file to begin their ascent to the top of the peak. Many long lenses grace cameras on tripods, and photographers are working the low light angles trying for intimate compositions of this color blast from the desert. The rangers believe this year’s crop may have started its downside but the Civil War in the Southwest weekend (March 21-22) will probably eclipse all the weekends so far this spring, there a hundred re-enactors will battle out the New Mexico Civil War engagements of the Battle of Valverde and the Battle of Glorietta Pass plus the very quick but decisive fight between Union Troops who ran head-on in to a Confederate Patrol at the pass. As one might expect, shots were fired, a man died but the two groups ran off.


and went their separate ways. Thousands of spectators turn out for the battles and the poppies, and often four-five thousand people attend. To find the best blooms in the Sonoran Desert, locals have come to expect certain places to have the best spring coats. The Pinal Parkway (State Highway 79 or it’s sister highway SR77), splitting off at the Oracle Junction north of Tucson, have long been accepted as a great place to see early blooms of Poppies, Lupine and Brittle bush. Further south but north of Tucson in Oro Valley, Catalina State Park, is a long-time favorite and usually pretty reliable. This year, Catalina State Park and Saguaro National Monument West, both are having a good year and are offering up the variety missed by many visiting Picacho State Park. Both spots require a little hiking and getting off the main road and searching out the color for your camera lens.




One lesson learned can be gained by watching the winter rainfalls, and places where record rains fall may also have record blooms. Last December Tucson’s east side had a record four inches in one downpour, filling the washes, streams and rivers running east. Close by this spring, poppies filled the hillsides along the San Pedro River, between San Manuel and Benson, but one spot just south of the Redington Pass, behind Tucson’s Rincon Mountains, took this year’s award for Best of Show. There I found a fine carpet of reddish-yellow poppies and they flowed from one hilltop down the gully and onto the next hillside. It was very beautiful and camera compositions filled my Nikon from every direction….


In town, flower lovers and photographers can find good blooms at Sabino Canyon, Saguaro National Monument East,


Tohono Ochul Park and the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Recently I drove out Tucson’s Ina Road west through the Tucson Mountains and through the pass toward the community of Picture Rocks. Breaking the summit one immediately recognizes the distinctive Brittle Bush lacing the roadway but at the bottom of the hill, the carpets of poppies, lupine and numerous other varieties bring you to a halt, for my hunt of wildflowers, this one spot perhaps had more variety and flourish than many of the other desert spots I surveyed. March is a time for blooming, running noses, sneezing and anti-allergic medications can be part of the search but it is also Arizona’s windy time. It can really blow passing around


the pollen, hoping to spread those seeds, further and wider, to build on future Springs and greater wildflower displays. Soon your nose will really be stuffed up by the Palo Verde blooms which coat the Tucson foothills and back roads, in two separate phases, first comes the brilliant Blue Palo Verde bloom which has a striking yellow coat followed by the second phase of Palo Verde blooms which are duller but last longer. Following this comes the second blast of color from the sunny Southwest, in my travels I found the Hedgehog Cactus was beginning to build it’s bloom and soon that purple blossom will be joined by red, yellow or orange Cholla blooms, massive displays from the yellow Prickly pear flowers and finally the white blossom of the giant Saguaro Cactus which is the distinct symbol of the American South West. Once that bloom has sprung, the desert quiets down until the summer monsoons kicked out those beautiful red Barrel cactus blossoms in August.








For photos of the Sonoran Desert Wildflowers and Cactus blooms, visit South West Photo Bank Galleries and Blogs….click here



For VIDEO of photos from the Civil War in the Southwest, Picacho Peak’s annual celebration and re-enactments of these historic battles….click here


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The Tucson Rugby community scrums and drinks together – “when the beer flows, what happens on the field, stays on the field”! After a day of combat on the pitch, ruggers reconvene to No Anchovies and The Frog and Firken, both UA Main gate Bars with outdoor patios right next to each other, there players from each team votes for the “Player of the Match” recognizing those who “really made a difference and played above himself”, those guys get the extra drinks” says Magpie coach John Rouff. The Tucson Rugby adult Community is made of the Magpies, Blackbirds, the Barbarians, Old Pueblo Lyons, and their Women’s Lightning league, and include both the University of Arizona Men and Women clubs and they all carry a grudge on the field but bond together as members of the Arizona Rugby Union off the field.



Rugby has not always been so peaceful, its history goes back centuries and can be traced back to ancient England. In the 10th Century, great mobs would get involved in games that involved kicking and throwing an inflated pig bladder through town streets and squares. Villages would compete against each other and any means short of murder could be used to get the ball across the goal. In 1823, during a game of school football (soccer) in the town of Rugby, England, a young man named William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran towards the opposition’s goal line. In 1871, the Rugby Football Union formed and led to a split in 1895 which resulted in the sport being named the rugby union by some while the others took the name of the rugby league.


Rugby students took the game, carrying the ball with them
when they graduated and soon rugby clubs were TUCSON RUGBY -8961forming throughout England. The first known club started at Cambridge University in 1839. Matches were played under fairly informal rules. In 1845, three Rugby School students established the first set of written rules. Not all clubs knew these rules or chose to abide by them. It became clear that if they game were to thrive, a central organization was needed, in December 1870-22 rugby clubs met so those rules could be agreed upon and form the Rugby Football Union.

Some believe American football is more dangerous because in football, you hit full-force. In Rugby, contact rules don’t allow tacklers to slam into the ball carriers. Instead, Rugby players use the wrap tackling technique — wrapping their arms around the ball carrier to bring him down. Some folks still believe Rugby is too rough, but ruggers believe if you play smart, you’ll be OK. What makes Rugby really rough is the fact you’re running the entire match. It’s a demanding sport and new players are often surprised because if lack conditioning, you really feel it. Today many prefer rugby over football. They like it without pads because it’s a faster pace with less stopping, rugby has a lot more sportsmanship.

TUCSON RUGBY -8828Macho members of the Tucson blackbirds point out a Rugby half, “is the longest 40 minutes of your life, you want out, but you are afraid someone will laugh at you if you head to the sidelines.” As a game of stamina, rugby developed into a fast-paced physical game that requires tremendous endurance and teamwork, much of the practice is built around strength-building. In Rugby, two teams of 15 players compete in two, 40-minute halves, on a 120 meter field. Play is continuous, unless the referee stops the clock for an injury.

A team can score in four ways: Try-5 points: A try is scored when the ball is carried across the goal line and grounded in view of the referee. Conversion-2 points: A conversion kick follows a try. The kicker attempts to kick the ball between the goalposts. Penalty is 3 points: When a penalty is called, the other team may elect to attempt a penalty kick from the spot of the foul. Drop Goal-3 points: At anytime during a match a player may attempt a drop from anywhere on the field. If the ball goes through the goal posts, the team is awarded three points. Many games have been won by last-second drop goals but often the ball is positioned further from the opponents goal.

TUCSON RUGBY -8957Rugby became a popular sport in the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s. James Naismith, who created basketball, was a rugby player. Actor Boris Karloff was an exceptional rugby player in Hungary and founded a rugby league in Southern California after he moved to Hollywood. The United States owns two of the four Olympic gold medals ever awarded in Rugby won in 1920 and 1924. When rugby was tossed from the Olympics after 1924, interest in the game diminished. Since the 1960s, interest in the sport has grown and the USA Rugby Football Union was established in 1975. Today, more than 50,000 rugby players belong to the union. The men’s U.S, national team has qualified for four Rugby World Cups. The women’s national team won the first-ever awarded women’s Rugby World Cup in 1991. Today, 97 nations have rugby unions and more than 3.8 million people watched the last Rugby World Cup on television. That’s a lot of people who understand and appreciate the nuances of a scrum and the strategy of a lineout.

Rugby has grown into a global sport played by tens of thousands of players in over 100 countries. The game features national teams that play each other regularly including the Rugby World Cup played every 4 years between the top 20 eligible countries. Rugby is the No 1 winter sport in New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Wales and is a top 3 sport in Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy and Argentina these 10 teams consist of the tier one countries. Rugby has become popular in dozens of countries and particularly in the United States which is now one of eight countries in the second tier of competition.

TUCSON RUGBY holding-8876

The ARIZONA RUGBY UNION consists of the Division One (National Division 2) Men’s Clubs including the Phoenix RFC, Red Mountain Warthogs, Scottsdale Blues and the Tempe Rugby Club The Men’s Division 2 (National Division 3) includes: Camelback, Northern Arizona Landsharks, Old Pueblo Lions and the Tucson Magpies. The Associate Men’s Members include: Phoenix Storm, Prescott Blacksheep, Thunderbird and the Yuma Sidewinders. The Arizona Women’s Clubs include Northern Arizona Timberdoodles, Tempe Women’s Rugby Club, and the Old Pueblo Tucson Lightning College. College Men Clubs include: Arizona State University Men Rugby and the University of Arizona Wildcats. The College Women Clubs include: Arizona State University Women Rugby Club and the University of Arizona Women’s Rugby Team. There are several “Under 19 Clubs” or High School Teams including: Scottsdale Wolves High School, Tempe Rugby Club Youth, the Old Pueblo Lyons, West Vally Misfits and the Red Mountain U-19. Youth Teams include : Scottsdale Wolves Youth – U14/U12/U10/U8, Phoenix U14 Firebirds, North Valley Scorpions and the Laveen Golden Eagles.

TUCSON RUGBY -8963The Tucson Magpies and the Old Pueblo Lyons call Estevan Rugby Pitch home. The field is one of the nicest in the state equipped with stands for fans attending games. Estevan Rugby Pitch is located on the Southwest corner of Speedway Blvd. and Main Ave, and home matches begin at 1:00 pm.

Old Pueblo Lyons RFC
is celebrating its 40 anniversary in 2015 of being an active rugby club in Tucson. Created in 1975, by a group of former University of Arizona ruggers, Old Pueblo has never looked back. Old Pueblo has a tradition of traveling to tournaments and international tours. The Lyons have played on pitches from El Paso to Pasadena, Ireland to New Zealand. Additionally, Lyons have hosted several players from France, Wales, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and England. In the mid-nineties, the Old Pueblo included a new group of ruggers. The U.S. Air Force was being deployed overseas and the rugby club at Davis-Monthan AFB was struggling for players, so the two clubs combined to make Old Pueblo a stronger club. Over the years Old Pueblo has been the club for a number of military personnel passing through Tucson. It has been a source of pride that OP can be a temporary home for the military personnel looking for a rugby team. This successful program is credited to Col. Richard “Dick” Battock. Dick was a genuine rugby enthusiast and past President of Old Pueblo. Today, Dick Battock’s spirit lives on in the club.


Old Pueblo competes at the Division III level of the Arizona Rugby Union. The OP Lyons also develops youth rugby in Tucson, it has supported the Tucson Barbarians Under-19 team. In 2006, Old Pueblo created a women’s squad now called the Old Pueblo Lightning. Old Pueblo Lyons RFC is truly a Rugby Community. The Lyons are always recruiting, and athletes of all abilities are welcome regardless of background, size or skill. Because rugby is a challenging and physically demanding sport, they train and practice twice a week to build fitness, skills, develop game plans. Practices are Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:00-10:00 pm at George Mehl Park, 4001 E. River Rd.


Old Pueblo Lightning Women’s Rugby unofficially began in 2006 and it was composed mostly of alumni from the University of Arizona Women’s Rugby Club. In 2007, Lightning joined the Southern California Rugby Football Union. In the Spring of 2008 Lightning was the Division II champion, and in 2009 and 2010 Lightning finished second in the division. In the summer of 2012 Lightning joined the Old Pueblo Rugby Club, changing its name to Old Pueblo Lightning Women’s Rugby and changed their team colors from black and yellow to navy blue, sky blue, and yellow. The merge made it the first and only rugby club in Tucson to have a men’s team, women’s team, U19 team and master/old boys’ team.


The Tucson Barbarian Rugby Football Club is U19 organization that always welcomes new members. Practice takes place Monday and Wednesday evenings from 4pm-6pm at Udall Park- 7200 E Tanque Verde Road in Tucson.


The Tucson Magpies are celebrating their 35th anniversary this year, founded in 1980 by three standouts from the University of Arizona: Dave Sitton, Rick Rendon and Rich Rectanus. In the Magpies history they have developed a strong tradition of winning, taking titles in the Warren Lee Sevens in 1983 and 1984 and the Kachina Sevens in 1984. Playing in the Arizona Rugby Union, the Magpies have won the league championship in 1989, 2003 and tied in 1988, sharing it with the Tempe Old Devils. 954804_339030259559492_1889501693_nThe Magpies also won the Western Division Michelob Rugby Classic title in 1993. TUCSON RUGBY vert-8845 Known as a hard hitting and aggressive team the Magpies are also known as gentlemen, in 1989, 1992 and 1993 they were recognized for Sportsmanship and awarded the Craig Sweeny Memorial Trophy, awarded to the club that demonstrates outstanding sportsmanship, team spirit and pride in the game of Rugby. Magpies practice at Joaquin Murrieta Park at 1400 North Silverbell in Tucson between 6-8pm Tuesday and Thursday. Their Host Pub is No Anchovies on University located at 870 E. University Blvd. The ‘Pies are always there on Thursday nights after practice.

The Tucson Black Birds
, Magpies Under 19 Team, assistant coach Jeremy Fonoimoana Assistant Coach said it best “I didn’t choose the rugby life; the rugby life chose me. ” 2011 Marks the inaugural year for The Black Birds. Led by head coach Tim Pappas, who believes the Black Birds are certain to be one of the top youth programs in Arizona. The U19 program is a great way to get kids into the game early,he says and assures them future success as a Magpie. “We believe in three ideas and all three stem from the same word, RESPECT: Respect yourself, Respect your teammates and Respect the game of rugby”, says Pappas. “Our players have positive attitudes and are challenged physically and mentally each week. Our goal as a club is to develop competent and well-prepared young rugby players in a Safe, Fun and very Competitive environment.”


Following the Blackbird’s 22-50 thrashing by Phoenix Desert Vista Club Team a few weeks back Coach Pappas after the game noted “We have huge hearts, we’re going to have games that are going to be nightmares, all we can do is play hard and concentrate on safety. It was a respectable performance, a time to learn-you are younger-but we’re right there, Desert Vista was first in the league, we came here to learn. We need to work on the art of deception and moves. They were moving moving new players in constantly, how do you defeat that! We have good kids, and its like going into combat, if you get hit, you get to learn-immature teams have lots of kids that haven’t played so next year you will be great. No real patsy’s, you are just going to get bigger and stronger.”


Coach Pappas continued his pep talk online, noting Saturday’s effort. “We lost a little momentum there at the end but the 10 or so fresh players they substituted in-may have contributed to that. I saw improvement in many areas. Our young players tackled extremely well, we took the ball hard into contact and were able to win most of our offensive rucks. Line outs continue to be a strong point! Congratulations to Freshman Zachary Roberts for winning the coaches votes for PLAYER OF THE GAME. Quite an accomplishment considering Captain John Barney turned in his usual outstanding performance. Our goal will always be to win every game and in order to do that we must begin by focusing on the one-on-one battles. Once we are able to win these situations, we can then turn our focus to the bigger picture. Our next game will be Saturday, March 7th against Basis Oro Valley. This game will be for players 8th grade through 10th. There will also be a U-14 contact game and also a youth touch game.”

TUCSON RUGBY youth-8770

Assistant Coach Hans Gregg notes online that the Blackbird’s success is measured one young man at a time, building on the lessons provided by their parents, helping make them be the best person and rugby player possible. Inorder to help thee Blackbirds grow they recently had a chance to work with UA Coach Sean Duffy. It was fun and gave the Blackbirds the opportunity to learn from a successful college coach. Duffy’s message to the under 19 team was clear-commit to learning the fundamentals and it will serve you well in your rugby career at whatever level you pursue. Coach Duffy emphasized you can only learn the fundamentals if you’re attending practice.



The University of Arizona rugby team was coached as a labor of love by Dave Sitton for 35 years, following Coach Sitton’s death in August, the UA hired new head coach Sean Duffy. Sitton was known as “Pops” to his players and he championed the sport as a coach and announcer, influencing the game on a national level. The men’s Division I MVP Award for the 2013 USA Rugby College 7s National Championship has been renamed The Dave Sitton Memorial Trophy. “We will miss his energy and enthusiasm,” USA Rugby Collegiate Director Rich Cortez said in October. “With this award, perhaps we can remember that excellence is an objective worthy of a lifelong quest.”

The University of Arizona Men’s rugby team then named Sean Duffy – assistant head coach at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, and former USA Rugby employee who helped develop the sport’s popularity both in the Eastern U.S. and internationally – as the first paid head coach in the Wildcats’ 45-year history.

Duffy, 26, replaces the late legendary coach Dave Sitton who passed away on August 12, 2013 after thirty five TUCSON RUGBY INJURYONE9171years at the helm of the University of Arizona program. The program currently has 60 players and has turned out numerous collegiate All-Americans, Eagles 15’s, and 7’s representatives. “I’m honored to be appointed to this position and to carry on the legacy of Dave Sitton who helped establish Wildcat Rugby as one of the most successful collegiate rugby programs in the U.S.,” said Duffy.

Heath Bray, former Arizona football player and assistant coach, said after Sitton’s death, “I want everyone to know how much of a loss our friend Dave Sitton is. I have had the pleasure of meeting many people in my life. I have never met a person that I liked more than Dave. I have a deep hole in my heart over his loss. He was one of the smartest, nicest, most sincere, and informed men that I will ever know. He was so supportive of me, and so many of us. We lost one of the greatest wildcats ever today. He is one of the people that I can’t wait to have a beer with in heaven. You are missed bro. Cheers. Another of Sitton’s Rugby players said about him: “He bled red and blue.” Don’t think there’s a simpler way to describe him”.


TUCSON RUGBY INJURYTWO5891The Arizona Wildcats Rugby Club continues the grudge tradition of battling with ASU Sun Devil Rugby Team earlier in the year the Wildcats took a 38-10 victory this past Fall and last Spring’s season matchup against ASU club team, the Wildcats defeated the Sun Devils 51-38 in the first ever game on William David Sitton Field. The Sun Devils took this year’s matchup winning the Dave Blank Trophy 34-15.

The UA Women’s Rugby Club finished up their regular season play with a 49-24 win over Kennesaw State University, and they will begin play-offs March 29th. This was the last home match for the senior class, and they could not be happier with the way the Ruck Tide played this season: their motto is Get Dirty, Play Rugby…President and 4-year member of the club, Caitlin Reilly stated on Facebook, “Every Sunday when I wake up the sorest that I have even been (since the last Sunday) I ask myself why I keep playing rugby. Then I show up to practice on Monday, tackle my friends and remember. Can’t wait to head to playoffs with you wonderful ladies, and I’m so proud of our team!”

Rugby Union was played in the Olympic Games in 1900, 1908, 1920 and 1924. The United States won the gold medal in rugby against France in both 1920 and 1924 making the United States the only country to hold two gold medals in rugby at this time. In 2009, the International Olympic Committee voted to re-introduce rugby to the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games but in a sevens rugby four-day tournament format instead of the rugby union 15’s rugby. The next Rugby World Cup will be held in England in 2015. In addition to the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup, other major tournaments are held every year including the Six Nations Championship, The Rugby Championship, Super Rugby, and The Heineken Cup.

Rugby Sevens at the 2016 Summer Olympics is scheduled to be held in August in Rio de Janeiro. The competition will take two days. The 2016 Summer Olympics is the first time rugby sevens will be played at the Olympics, though rugby union was last played at the 1924 Summer Olympics. Rugby sevens, also known as seven-a-side, is a variant of rugby union in which teams are made up of seven players, instead of the usual 15, with shorter matches. TUCSON RUGBY kid-9065 The game is popular at all levels, with amateur and club tournaments generally held in the summer months. Sevens is one of the most well distributed forms of rugby, and is popular in parts of Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, and especially in the South Pacific

Since its beginning, rugby has developed into one of the world’s most popular sports, with millions of people playing, watching and enjoying the game. It is enjoyed by men and women of all ages from young children in youth programs to masters (over-35) rugby leagues. Rugby is also played at a variety of levels from amateur to competitive collegiate and professional levels. At the heart of the sport is a unique ethos which it has retained over the years. Not only is rugby played to the letter of the laws established by World Rugby, but within the spirit of the laws. Among all fans, players, referees and coaches, you will find a common bond of dedication and passion for the sport that unites them all. From the school playground to the Rugby World Cup final, Rugby Union offers a truly unique and thoroughly rewarding experience for everyone that is involved in the game.


In Arizona, within the Arizona Rugby Union, there are now 16 Men’s Clubs in the State that play each season for a state championship trophy and can progress to regional then to a national club championship competition. The Devil’s Rugby Cup is one premier rugby 15’s tournament that is held the first weekend in December each year in Tempe. The event attracts some of the most competitive sr. men’s, sr. women’s, collegiate (men’s/women’s), and youth (HS boys/girls) clubs from around the nation and offers an exceptional social program for the rugby fans! FUTURE DATES: December 5–6, 2015 and December 3–4, 2016.

TUCSON RUGBY gals-5872

The Tempe Sizzling 7’s Rugby Invitational and National Qualifier is a premier rugby 7’s tournament that is held in June, annually. The Sizzling 7’s Invitational also attracts senior men, senior women, collegiate men and women, and youth (HS boys/girls) programs from around the nation. The Southern California Rugby Football Union (SCRFU) has also designated the Sizzling 7′s as one of four qualifying events and Sizzling 7’s is hosted by the Tempe Rugby Club and sponsored by the Desert Southwest Athletic Club.

The Tucson Rugby Cup is scheduled for March 28th and will feature a long-lived grudge match between the Tucson Magpies and the Old Pueblo Rugby Teams and will conclude with a Senior contest. Rugby words to live by; “that flanker will be in the World Cup in four years and if you are playing your very best and you get your ass kicked-you’re getting your ass kicked by the very best!”

Magpie Coach John Rouff is trying to gather a club team to tour Wales this year and if you are interested call him.


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Allen Denoyers is building a Hohokam village on Tucson’s northwest side. Visitors to Oro Valley’s historic
Steam Pump Ranch can crawl between two wood uprights and find themselves transported back to 900 AD. STEAM PUMP PIT HOUSE-5627The southwest archaeologist has propelled his career by taking prehistoric technology into his hands and by learning from the past and teaching his students what life was like a thousand years ago. Denoyers passion for the past has taken many different forms, since junior high school, the self-taught flintknapper has created knifes, axes, spears, atlatls and now prehistoric pit houses. Archaeology Southwest, a local archaeology research firm, where Denoyer works, has long been responsible for expanding the prehistoric record by their survey of endangered sites and filling in the holes of existing knowledge about the folks who once lived here in the Sonoran Desert. So when Denoyer built his first pilot pit house, he was working from the knowledge gained from the past century of southwest archaeology and in partnership with the Town of Oro Valley and the Oro Valley Historical Society. In truth, most of what is known about the Hohokam pit house are the holes in the ground left behind by the wood uprights stuck in the ground centuries ago. The roofing, side and interior of these homes today are modeled on historic homes of the Hohokam descendents that today, are known as the Tohono O’odham and Pima people, of Southern Arizona.HOHOKAM PIT HOUSE-1040963

When Hurricane Norbert dropped four inches of rain on Oro Valley last September, swelling washes to ten feet deep in places and requiring local fire and police to rescue motorists from swollen washes and floodedSTEAM PUMP PIT HOUSE-5589SIL roadways. Loads of mud sloughed off Denoyers pit house completely filling it with water. That’s when the learning began for Archaeology Southwest who figured 40-50 percent of the mud was lost. Mud from the upper portions of the walls washed away or slumped in. The roof actually stayed relatively intact, with losses mostly confined to the edges. “But we don’t see this as a tragedy—in fact, we’re

Smoothing the mud produces a sheen that sheds rain

Smoothing the mud produces a sheen that sheds the rain

pretty excited about what we’re learning, Denoyer points out in the Archaeology Southwest blog. “Remember that we built this as the first stage in a series of experiments, and now we have more information. If southern Arizona’s pit house dwellers had built their structures just like ours, then a rain like this would have been devastating—most dwellings in a village would have been affected. It is possible that Hohokam pit houses had more thatching, or that the relative proportions of materials in our mud mixture need to be adjusted, or both. Now we’re designing the next stage of experiments to test these possibilities.” These pit houses were pretty stuffy after the monsoons begin, maybe when rain opens them up, instead of STEAM PUMP PIT HOUSE-8234re-mudding they laid thatch mats over the new openings allowing air to circulate. Perhaps we need more thatching or interior support and possibly a different mixture of water and mud, to better combat the elements. Getting the moisture content of the earth just right is a real art, “I love the sound of the mud”, says Denoyer as he applies a rock to the wet surface smoothing it and creating a slick surface. “Floating the mud gives it a sheen and when the rain hits-it just rolls off.” “It really doesn’t take all that much work”, he says of pit house construction, “five or six people working together could finish in a couple of days”. “I love digging, screening earth, being out here all day. I’m so lucky so many people hate their work. At the end of the day, you can step back and appreciate what you accomplished.”

Archaeology Southwest has taken the next step to learn from the past, under the tutelage of Denoyer, the
research firm is offering several ongoing workshops, where participants will learn the basics of pit house STEAM PUMP PIT HOUSE-5671construction as archaeologists have learned from excavations. Denoyer will lead participants through the construction process, from excavation of the house pit to creating the superstructure, putting each student hands-on with traditional tools and materials. Through this work, Archaeology Southwest hopes to add detail to archaeological knowledge of how these structures were made by ancient people. Workshop sessions take place at Steam Pump Ranch in Oro Valley. Each session will last for three hours. Initial sessions will be dedicated to repairing rain-damages STEAM PUMP PIT HOUSE-8266to the 2014 pit house. After that pit house is restored, participants will create small test pit houses that will enable us to compare how slightly different methods and materials respond to time and weather. Class Dates: Friday 3/6/15 from 9:00am-12:00pm – $40.00, Friday 3/13/15 from 9:00am-12:00pm, Friday 4/10/15 from 9:00am-12:00pm, Thursday 4/16/15 from 9:00am-12:00pm, Friday 4/24/15 from 9:00am-12:00pm -classes are for participants 18 years and older, there is a $40.00 charge.



Allen Denoyer explains the class to Terri and Dave Wallace while Joyce Holloway listens to the plan.

Allen Denoyer explains the class to Terri and Dave Wallace while Joyce Holloway listens to the plan.

Terri Wallace re-enforces the pit house wall with Seep Willows as support.

Terri Wallace re-enforces the pit house wall with Seep Willows as support.

Denoyer has based the pit houses his classes are building on homes found in Honey Bee Village, an Oro ValleySTEAM PUMP PIT HOUSE-5613
Hohokam site, the 32 acres excavated by Henry Wallace, in 1986, his study turned up more than 2000 features, including 100’s of pit houses, a large plaza and a small ball court which established Honeybee as the economic center of several villages situated along the Canada del Oro River. The ball court Wallace believes was based on the Mesoamerican ball game, played with a rubber ball batted around with paddles perhaps resembling those used today in ping pong. The ball game, Wallace believes, was an “integrative tool” to bring folks together and exchange goods creating a “large trade fair”, around 800 AD, in the village’s center plaza. The larger excavation of the Tortolita foothills was undertaken by Desert Archaeology because of the advancing bulldozers for the development of the 5000 acre Rancho Vistoso housing project that today has covered over or bull-dozed many other sites right off the face of the earth. Honeybee’s sister site the larger “Sleeping Snake”, where “not much is left” says Wallace of the site now covered by a golf course. So when Wallace got to Honey Bee, theHOHOKAM PIT HOUSE-1040958 archaeologist trenched the village core and conducted a systemic shed collection, learning a lot about the residents of the 100’sSTEAM PUMP PIT HOUSE-1 of homes characterized by large oblong holes in the ground encircled by holes left by the pole uprights supporting the pit house village. Wallace believes the life of a pit house was 15-20 years and believed Honey Bee which was a “great place of ak-chin farming” said Wallace of the wide flood plain along Big Wash.STEAM PUMP PIT HOUSE-5629 It never supported more than a 100 people at any given time, saying the village’s population was “between 40-90 people at any given time” and that Honey Bee” was not alone but part of something larger”. Denoyer points out supplies were limited and not everyone could build a pit house whenever they wanted. “They wouldn’t pull out the plants”. which grew along side of the Canada del Oro River which provided weep willows, for the necessary wall and roof support, for the Hohokam pit house, instead “they would cut the plant and it would grow back the next year” and more homes could then be built. Carbon 14 dating has placed some of the wood found around 1050 AD, and Wallace feels the wood was carried a great distance, climbing into the Catalina Mountains and carrying it many miles home. There was a lot of competition for building supplies, Honey Bee was far from alone along the CDO, notably the Romero Ruin now protected in Catalina State Park and Rooney Ranch site was bulldozed, and now is named after a shopping center. There were fifty pit houses and the bulldozers had entire pots rolling down the hillside, along with burials from between 700AD to 1380AD. One pit house had an altar at one end, where a bighorn sheep’s lower jaw was found buried shows a large populations lived along along this stream and visited the high country to hunt and possibly worship. Henry Wallace believes the Catalina high lands brought spirituality to the Hohokam people, “so it was important to bring a piece into your home,” speaking of the large ridge poles carried from the mountain.


Today, archaeologist study a rich rock art site, surrounding the “easiest path to high altitude” up the Catalina Sutherland Ridge. In November 1949, a hunter’s foot broke through the earth’s crust and Ray Romo peered into the past. The broken ground revealed a Hohokam pot cupped over another larger pot, inside were 25 copper bells and a 100,000 beads, Emil Haury and Carol Gifford speculated that the Romo Cache was an offering to insure the welfare of a village. The beads weighed 3.5 pounds, some are made of steatite or talc. These are black. Some are of a ferruginous aphanitic matrix containing quartz grains. These are red. Some are of chryosolla or turquoise. These are green and blue. A dozen are made from seashells. The black beads make up 40 per cent, the red beads 58 per cent, turquoise beads about 2 per cent. Some have marks, showing they were worn at one time. The bells were all made in Jalisco, more than 1200 miles south in Mexico. Someone carried them here and carefully hide them in these rocks, below you would have seen Honey Bee, the larger Sleeping Snake Village and the Romero village and many more villages laced along the running Canada del Oro stream. Who left it, we can’t say nor do we know why ? Maybe it begged God for his blessing ! After the Aspen fire, lots of pottery showed up, along the pathway up to the Catalinas. Excavations turned up one bell at the Rooney Ranch site, one more bell was found at Honeybee village–whatever the message the Romo cache begged, “in 950 AD, the Tucson villages fragmented”, people were moving away from Honey Bee’s Plaza, “they were moving out”, says Wallace. “There was a drastic and sudden change in 1150.” “Perhaps warefare or environmental change and social divisions created by a hierarchy of people with power living over people,” speculates Wallace. “Not long after this, they are all gone…”

Henry Wallace shows a tour of the Honey Bee Preserve the ballcourt.

Henry Wallace shows a tour of the Honey Bee Preserve the ballcourt.

“It’s very sad” Wallace says, “that east ridge is where all the Hohokam houses were–that’s where all those new houses are now.” A coalition of groups recognizing the prehistoric value of the Honey Bee Village proposed a preservation effort about a decade ago. In 2006, Oro Valley and Pima County, through a land donation from Steve Solomon, owner of Canada Vistas Homes, the development company that purchased the land, together created the Honey Bee Village Preserve.

The new preserve was established to protect the large Hohokam Indian community that occupied the site between 700 AD and 1200 AD, according to archeologists. Honey Bee Village is located just north of the intersection of Rancho Vistoso Boulevard and Moore Road. Archeologists have identified the locations of hundreds of pit houses, a ball court, a walled compound and a central compound on the relatively undisturbed site where developers once intended to build the town center for Oro Valley. Preservation of the 13-acre village was possible with the $8 million donation of real estate placed into public trust. “On one hand, we have 13 acres of highly valuable real estate, and on the other hand we have an invaluable prehistoric resource that would be plowed over and lost forever,” said Steve Solomon, owner of Canada Vistas Homes, the development company that had originally purchased the land and donated it.

Wallace shows off a pit house site in the Honey Bee Preserve.

Wallace shows off a pit house site in the Honey Bee Preserve.

Pima County originally intended to use $1 million in preservation bond funds to purchase the land before its real estate value skyrocketed to $8 million. In exchange for Canada Vistas Homes donation, Pima County conducted an archeological survey of the land around the Honey Bee Village Preserve to collect any artifacts or Indian remains and clear the way for the development of 145 single family homes and 124 luxury condominiums. After the 2008 depression, “the property sat neglected for years” says Loy Neff, with Pima County Sustainability and Cultural Resources.

Today the 13-acre core of Honey Bee Village is now preserved for future generations. The preserve

Honey Bee Preserve Map

Honey Bee Preserve Map

contains most of the large mounds, the ballcourt, the large plaza and the rock-walled enclosure. Access to the Preserve is controlled for preservation and management purposes. A permanent wall was placed on an easement on the adjoining property to avoid disturbance to the Preserve. Public access to Honey Bee Village Archaeological Preserve is along a public easement through the commercial development from Moore Road to the boundary wall gate within the Archaeological Display Area. Limited access to the Preserve by the neighboring residents is through the Archaeological Park, accessible from the Preserve. A public access easement through the residential development allows trail users to access the Preserve through a gate on the northern boundary of the Preserve. Honey Bee Preserve is protected by Arizona state statute, and collection of plants, artifacts, rocks, or any items is strictly prohibited and violators will be prosecuted. Honey Bee Preserve is monitored on a regular basis by Arizona Site Steward volunteers. The remarkable status of Honey Bee Village as the only large intact Hohokam village remaining in Oro Valley area makes it one of the most significant cultural resources in Pima County.

Neglected after the depression tall grass and trash became an issue

Neglected after the depression tall grass and trash became an issue


For South West archaeologist, the ubiquitous pit house, clouded the prehistoric picture of ancient man. The Hohokam is now known to be the primary prehistoric agriculturalist of the Sonoran Desert. This ancient man surrounded himself with Mother Earth to protect his family from his harsh environment, like the sun and rain, that fell from the sky or the cold that surrounded them. The pit house has roots in prehistoric times in the arctic, the desert, the mountains, the plains and in woodland areas over a large part of North America west of the Mississippi River. The earth-covered frame house changed slowly in architecture, no two pit houses were exactly alike but their features are typical of homes found in northeast Asia, across the Bering Strait, throughout North America and deep into South America. From the earliest dates, the pit house changed very little, it’s shape evolved from a square, to a rectangular, eventually taking an elliptical shape over the centuries. The Hohokam evolved their oblong pit homes with rounded ends, the front and back wall were parallel and sized approximately 6 meters wide x 3 meters depth.

Hohokam Pit House Drawing  Copyright by Rob Ciaccio

Hohokam Pit House Drawing Copyright by Rob Ciaccio

Archaeologist find pit homes of the Plains cultures as far East as the U.S. southeast in Arkansas, there historical earth lodges of the plains Indian seem identical to the type used by the prehistoric man. Typically the pit house had four central roof supports in early homes, the supports increased later with a side entrance composed of a covered passage-way, inclined from the floor. The floor of well plastered caliche, was built on native soil. The fire pit was a deep basin in the interior with a thick coating of caliche, the rim being flush with the floor. Cross beams, spaced at irregular intervals, held a thatch of twigs and grass, which was covered with caliche. The dirt covering the roof extended down onto the walls, they were plastered and renewed as the need arose.

Many were burned, perhaps as part of a funeral rite ?

Archaeologist believe most villages were economically related through exchange systems, typified by the trading of shell bracelets and jewelry from the Sea of Cortez for cotton textiles from the Salt/Gila canal systems. A larger widespread trade network is suggested by the trade of shell from the Gulf of California, parrots and macaws from Mesoamerica and turquoise from various Arizona locations.

Villages were small with houses centered around plazas. During the Colonial Period AD 775-975 homes are arranged in house clusters or courtyard groups archaeologist Dave Wilcox finds two to four houses arranged with entrances facing a common courtyard and sites generally contain one or more house clusters. Many archaeologist see this as a time of expansion-the Sedentary Period 975-1150 AD saw continued growth of existing settlements and new villages sprang up along rivers and in the open desert. Irrigation canals expanded in the Salt Gila and houses increased in size. Public architecture like ball courts occur now, public architecture including platform mounds became more elaborate, some larger sites had one or more ball courts as well as platform mounds. After 1300 AD everything starts to diminish and withdraw – platform mounds begin to be encircled by adobe walls, the Casa Grande great house was built during the late classical period. Walled terraces or cerro de trencheras, were constructed on steep hillsides, in the Tucson Basin. Extensive agricultural farms are expanded in the desert regions and agave farms are expanded. Bill Doelle and Henry Wallace have argued the Tucson Basin emerged as a regional center during the Classic period, they suggest that cerro del trencheras were defensive and indicate warfare or the threat of warfare between the Tucson Basin and the Salt-Gila Complex (Phoenix). Archaeologist find an increase in site hierarchy along the Salt-Gila and the Tucson basin during the Colonial period. Ball courts were first constructed along the Canada del Oro and served to integrate a number of associated smaller villages within the Hohokam community. By AD 1000, the Hohokam were using all parts of the Tucson Basin, they built their villages along streams and rivers and hunted and gathered in the foothills and mountains.

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Experience the ancient art of flintknapping
. Join Allen Denoyer for his Hands-On Archaeology class, “How Did People Make and Use Stone Tools?”. In each of these beginner classes, you will use ancient techniques and replica tools to create a stone projectile point. You will also learn more about how people made and used such points, and that points were just one component of a complete hunting technology. The class is for individuals 18 years of age and older and lasts approximately 3 hours. This class will meet at Steam Pump Ranch at 10901 North Oracle Road, Oro Valley, AZ 85737. If you are interested in registering a group of three or more participants, please contact Kathleen Bader by phone at (520) 882-6946 x26 or by email to reserve space for your entire group. Class is Friday 3/20/15 from 9:00am-12:00pm – $40.00

"I love to making Clovis points", says Allen Denoyer who often demonstrates prehistoric technologies at Steam Pump Ranch on Saturday mornings.

“I love to making Clovis points”, says Allen Denoyer who often demonstrates prehistoric technologies at Steam Pump Ranch on Saturday mornings.”They are my favorite thing to make.”


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Marchers on Route 6 enroute to Highway 70

Marchers on Route 6 enroute to Highway 70

Campfire smoke is thick in the morning chill on Oak Flat in the lush 5000′ Arizona high country. Western Apache from all over the state have come together to “occupy” their ancestral homeland and the smell of breakfast drifts across the Flat as members of the San Carlos Apache, White Mountain, Yavapai and Tonto Tribes leave their

High country chill makes a morning fire a good thing to have

High country chill makes a morning fire a good thing to have

warm sleeping bags and meet up around the oak wood fire. There is little said about the planned Resolution Mine that will collapse this spot into a huge hole when their robots have undermined this land. President Eisenhower set aside this treasure by Presidential decree to save America’s unique wild places. Instead talk centers on happier days! Days spent with their mothers, fathers and grandparents, aunts and uncles, the kids and babies, as everyone scurried about harvesting the rich, sweet-tasting acorns which for centuries have been a delicacy of the Apache people and a centerpiece to their ceremonies marking each chapter of their lives, like joyous weddings.

Today some of those beloved relatives are now buried in Gann Canyon, their wakes and funerals where held here in the campground, acorn stew was boiled with meat, into a pancake batter like paste, and served honoring those who have now met their Creator. Many Apache Sunrise ceremonies are held here each summer to celebrate Apache daughters reaching womanhood, accented by the Apache Crown Dancers, twirling and funneling their prayers to God.

Today, Anthony Logan, an Apache medicine man will bless this holy ground beneath them and they will all dance to the drums and pray that God will answer their prayers.

Medicine Man Anthony Logan blessed the morning meal before being the first in line

Medicine Man Anthony Logan blessed the morning meal before being the first in line

Many will pray the Creator protect Oak Flat from the destruction set in motion by politicians, like Arizona Sen. John McCain, who behind their backs put a land swap into the “must pass” defense spending bill at midnight. The new Republican Senate then passed the $585 billion National Defense Authorization Act of 2015…89 to 11. Tucson representative Raúl Grijalva has called this “a grave injustice” and calls this “unjust legislation” be repealed, a motion supported by more than 70 Indian Tribes across the United States who now join him in demanding protection for Oak Flat. The Apache protest began in San Carlos last week when tribal members started a 50 mile march to their sacred holy ground two miles east of Superior, Arizona. In spite of a few blisters, they arrived more than 250 strong supported by Tribal members from all over the U.S.. They filled the campground and Anthony Logan, aka “Rolling Fox”, conducted the “Holy Ground Blessing” ceremony held beneath the mine shafts being constructed by Resolution, a British mining company who wants to undermine the mountain and collapse the entire sacred Mountain into the country’s third largest copper mine to sell the ore to China, leaving the Apache the hole and a compromised water supply. Apache drummers and singers performed sixteen songs blessing the sacred land

The Reverend John Mendez

The Reverend John Mendez

and dancers who came to take to back their ancestral land. After the ceremony, the Reverend John Mendez, an internationally recognized civil rights activist, told the crowd that the Apache spiritual movement would move “like a prairie fire”. The fire and brimstone preacher from Emmanuel Baptist Church in North Carolina told the mostly Native American audience, “they can’t stop you, when we unit”. “A people united won’t be stopped. We will not quit, there is nothing that can stop you.” Mendez closes in pray “Father we put all things in your hands, guide us.” “We have to stand up and fight Congress, laws can be made and laws can be changed! John McCain made a big mistake doing this to us said Terry Rambler, present Chairman of the San Carlos Tribe, who gave all tribal employee an administrative day off to join the March.

Hot coffee coming off the stove for chilled campers

Hot coffee coming off the stove for chilled campers

San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler

San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler

They put this (land swap) in behind our backs-then they stabbed us in the back.” God blesses the world–he put us here to protect the land and as

Wally Davis, Chairman of the Tonto Apache Tribe

Wally Davis, Chairman of the Tonto Apache Tribe

long as we put God first–he will fight for us. Apache people were taught to pray and only through prayer will we win. The white man came to America in search of religious freedom but still they deprive the Apache of what is his religious right.” “We are still prisoners-of war” said Wally Davis, chairman of the Tonto Apache speaking of how all Apache had historically been forced marched to the San Carlos Indian Reservation. “This is a message to all Native Americans.” “San Carlos is still a prison,” Davis said.

Apache Leap Mountain hangs over the mining community of Superior.

Apache Leap Mountain hangs over the mining community of Superior.

Apache Leap Mountain gains its name from the Pinal Apache Band who lived in these hills and valley, the rocks still carry rock drawing left from their dreams of successful hunts for deer and mountain sheep, game that filled their stomachs and fueled their children’s futures, their love of the land and their freedom. Fifty of the 1870 band died leaping from the ragged mountain edge as they were surrounded by the United States Cavalry who demanded they return to the reservation in San Carlos, or die by their sabers. They chose to leap instead knowing their God knew best how they should live and die.

Speaking in one voice for Native Americans everywhere, tribal members attended from all over the world and former San Carlos Apache chairman Wensler Nosie announced Thursday February 4th, 2015, to be a historic day as

Wendsler Nosie Sr. leads his people on the march to Oak Flat.

Wendsler Nosie Sr. leads the march to Oak Flat.

the Apache once again took the field against the United States of America. “We were pushed here”, we used to roam the entire South West, but we were told to stay on the reservation and extermination was the response when we didn’t. The white man killed our ancestors, my great-grandparents, when they tried to continue their nomadic lifestyle! My mother told me, stay on the reservation-don’t bother those white people outside or they will hurt our people! That was a sickness pressed upon our people by the U.S. government, that ends today, says Nosie, “Today we pray to our God and through God we will win.” Nosie told the 250 people and media assembled outside the Tribal Administration building to begin their march to Apache Leap Mountain which towers over the Arizona community of Superior.

 Anthony Logan, an Apache medicine man will bless the holy ground (right)

Anthony Logan, an Apache medicine man will bless the holy ground (right) and leads his people to Holy Ground.

Their voices thundered with emotion Thursday as the San Carlos Apache prepared to march on Oak Flat the words spoken left no doubt that “greedy politicians”, like Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake Representatives Anne Kirkpatrick and Paul Gosar, have worn out their welcome in San Carlos, Arizona or in Indian Country anywhere else in the United States. “The rape of Indian land stops today on this historic day. Oak Flat was a gift from God to the Apache people, may we all be blessed from this day forward,” Nosie told the crowd. “We are spiritually guided today–indigenous people from all over the world are watching our fight”! If America is the World’s Policeman, and this under-handed maneuver is how they treat their native peoples, then what hope do native souls have anywhere.

Marchers leave San Carlos for Oak Flat

Marchers leave San Carlos for Oak Flat

“They think we are stupid, he said, “but our ancestors are smiling down on us and saying those our children — our educated children! “We want entitlement to our land and reservation, this is a day of healing and through prayer,

Emory Oaks, native to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico can grow up to 80 feet tall.

Emory Oaks, native to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas grow up to 80 feet tall.

we are going to win this! Today we are bringing down the barriers imposed upon us and today we breakout, our children are strong and the abuse from the people outside (the reservation) ends today.

All 2,400 acres of the land swap are part of Apache ancestral and ceremonial lands. So although Republican lawmakers have tried for years to secure the transfer of these lands, they have always run into strong opposition from the San Carlos Apache Tribe and Democratic lawmakers and conservation advocates, so they stole it. If the legislation succeeds, it will allow Resolution Copper Mining Co. to exchange more than 5,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land it owns throughout Arizona for about 2,400 acres of federal land near Superior. The company would develop a 7,000-foot-deep mine there, opening the third-largest undeveloped copper resource in the world.

Councilman Fred Ferreiria from the San Carlos Peridot district says “they gave us this land because no one wanted it — they found minerals — and they took it. If we don’t stop it now — bit by bit they will take it all away again.” We learned the laws and how things are done, we were doing that, and the government broke the rules, we continue this fight, we are here today for our children.” “We have champions in Congress and they will help us “repeal this law” said Ed Norris, chairman of the Tohono Oodham.

Crowd listens to Tribal leaders following the Blessing Ceremony

Crowd hears Tohono Oodham Chairman Ed Norris after the Blessing Ceremony

The Tonto National For­est is this country’s fifth largest for­est and has on aver­age 5.8 mil­lion vis­i­tors annu­ally.

Resolution drills into the pristine Tonto Forest.

Resolution drills into the pristine Tonto Forest.

It was set aside as a national for­est back in 1905 in order to pro­tect its water­sheds around key reser­voirs used by the peo­ple of the com­mu­ni­ties around it which include Phoenix, Flagstaff, Prescott, Snowflake, Winslow and the nearby Apache Reservations. The for­est pro­duces an aver­age of 350,000 acre-feet of water each year feed­ing into Theodore Roo­sevelt Lake and the Salt River which bisects the national for­est run­ning east to west. In 1955 Eisen­hower used Pub­lic Land Order 1229 to pro­tect parts of Tonto National For­est from the min­ing indus­try that wanted to despoil it for prof­its. Thanks to the work of con­ser­va­tion­ists over the decades, with­out a doubt, it is one of the most beau­ti­ful unspoiled areas this nation has left…

For 50 years Vonda Cassadore whose grandmother Josephine always brought them camping at Oak Flat, to the very campsite we enjoy today as they prepare breakfast for the Apache protestors. They had fun picking up the acorns and now Cassadore shares that experience with her little grand-daughter Amaee Talgo who is learning the art of baking bread. For today’s breakfast Vonda and her friend, Kris Salaloa, work together to fry bread and tortillas, Theresa Nosie is dishing out the biscuits and gravy, hash browns, bacon and sausage for the hungry, growing

For breakfast Vonda Cassadore (left) and her friend, Kris Salaloa, work together to fry bread and tortillas for the hungry, growing camp of protestors.

For breakfast Vonda Cassadore (left) and her friend, Kris Salaloa, work together to fry bread and tortillas for the hungry, growing camp of protestors.

camp of protestors. The Apache Way makes it’s grandma’s duty to teach her grandchildren the traditions of their people. “Since I was a little girl I came here with my mother and now I bring my grandkids says Salaloa, some of these trees are as old as I am and God knew what he was doing when he gave Apache acorns. For Cassadore, today’s memory of watching her mom sitting at the base of the Emory Oak shading them today is still quite vivid. “She would check to make sure we were okay and where we were, “making sure we didn’t get more acorns picked than she did”. Since I was age 3, I started picking up acorns and filling up coffee cans”, they always arrived in July before the monsoons came, the whole family came to pick, the babies would be hung in their cradle boards from the huge Emory Oaks while we searched for acorns. The acorns would be transferred to a glass jar with old levi’s wrapped around the glass and soaked in the cool stream to keep them fresh. Mom would let us run free here around “Grandmother’s Tree” where we camped while they picked plants for the burden baskets and medicinal plants. “Go to the new trees”, she would say, “they have the biggest acorns”.

“Grandmother's Tree” where baby cradle boards once would hang while grandma enjoyed its shade and directed the acorn harvest.

“Grandmother’s Tree” where baby cradle boards once hung while grandma enjoyed its shade.

Indian kids play in the stream beneath the thick canopy from the Emory Oaks that provide the much sought after acorn

Indian kids play in the stream beneath the thick canopy from the Emory Oaks that provide the sought after acorn.

“This is Apache territory and Oak Flat belongs to the Apache–they took it away from us and we must take it back says Chairman Terry Rambler. I am very proud of my ancestor’s “Apache Pride” we were supposed to be exterminated but we are here today, let’s take over Oak Flat, this is our time to be involved! Apache were slaughtered and killed here–we will fight for the blood of our ancestors. “The chairman continues saying San Carlos Tribal council went on record voting against any copper mine being built upon their land and notes the white people came to this land in search of religious freedom, fleeing persecution, they wanted “to have the ability to pray, we want the same freedom”.”Some people have to visualize something, like a church, a structure to express their love of God, Oak Flat is our church, it is no different today, today is about religious freedom, we need to keep our connection to our God.”

Resolution plans to collapse the land beneath the Oak Flat Campground and it will be out of bounds forever

Resolution plans to collapse the land beneath the Oak Flat Campground and it will be out of bounds forever.

“Oak Flat is our high ground, our mountains are called “weather makers”, they attract snow, it melts and the water flows in the four sacred directions. It flows to the Gila River, Queen Creek, the Salt River it makes the water that flows to us–it is the giver of Life and when Resolution Mine drill a mile deep making a hole a thousand times the size of a professional football stadium, it will subside and cave in–it will change the water.” All our medicinal plants will go away… We followed all the rules for ten years, we were winning and they put in a rider which made it hard for the legislature to say no. So without public input they passed this bill…”

When thunderstorms hit in this region, the mountains are where water is deposited before it flows downward toward the streams, rivers, underground aquifers and lakes. The water from the Oak Flat area continues eastward underground and flows down from the Pinal Mountains into Gilson Wash, then into the San Carlos River onward to the Gila River before it reaches San Carlos Lake. Our water is precious and limited. Resolution Copper Company will poison our waters and drain our aquifers.

Resolution Shafts #9 and #10 stand ready to begin

Resolution Shafts #9 and #10 stand ready to begin

“We are not going to give up, it’s because of our children–our children’s children…we must fight this land deal!

White Mountain Apache Kay Lewis, a former tribal judge, wearing yellow pollen on his cheek noted Rep. Anne Kirkpatrick was raised on the WMA reservation where her father made his living from a Trading Post selling to the

Kay Lewis,former White Mountain Apache Tribal Judge (center)

Kay Lewis,former White Mountain Apache Tribal Judge (center)

Apache and “she should know better”. “I was surprised”, Lewis noted, Apache are Democratic voters and they supported Kirkpatrick in her last successful re-election.”She used the Apache! She should know the Apache values, traditions, customs and ceremonies and she did not speak up for the Tribe on this land. The Apache are really done with her !” Signs proclaims “AZ. TRIBES BEWARE OF KIRKPATRICK”, “DON’T UNDERMINE OUR SACRED LANDS”, black teeshirts say “PROTECT SACRED OAK FLAT”, “YOU CAN’T GIVE AWAY LAND THAT ISN’T YOURS TO GIVE” “SAVE,PROTECT AND OCCUPY OAK FLAT — NO LAND EXCHANGE, NO COPPER MINE !

Sandra Rambler says if bulldozers show up on Oak Flat, I will stand in front of them and “they can bulldoze me if they want…I am all in !” says the sister of Chairman Rambler.

Sandra Rambler

Sandra Rambler

“It will be a great devastation, I don’t want our ancestors graves disturbed, my daughter had her Sunrise Ceremony on Oak Flat, if these laws can be made and they can be changed! We want justice for the Apache people, we are educated not stupid, they brought us here and made promises now broken, we are too smart to let this happen again!” Rambler says. “I have ancestors who fought for the U.S. Army, who weren’t given the right to vote until 1948”, even though Native Americans were given the right to vote on June 2nd, 1924, but because of some state law, Indians were not allowed the vote until 1947 except for Arizona and New Mexico who finally dropped their prohibition in 1948 because of legal rulings. Three main arguments for Indian voting exclusion were Indian exemption from real estate taxes, maintenance of tribal affiliation and the notion that Indians were under guardianship, or lived on lands controlled by federal trusteeship.

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar’s reference to American Indians as “wards of the federal government” following a discussionREP PAUL GOSAR about the controversial Arizona land deal that opens the door for the country’s third largest copper mine. The Arizona Republican in responding to concerns from Phil Stago of the White Mountain Apache Tribe when he made the comment that stunned people at a December round-table talk in Flagstaff, as well as Indians all across the United States.”He kind of revealed the truth — the true deep feeling of the federal government: ‘Tribes, you can call yourselves sovereign nations, but when it comes down to the final test, you’re not really sovereign because we still have plenary authority over you,'” Stago told The AP.

In 1978 Indians were given the right to express our religion through the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Aug. 11, 1978 a United States federal law, enacted by Congress to protect and preserve the traditional religious rights and cultural practices of American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians. These rights include, access to sacred sites, freedom to worship through ceremonial and traditional rights, and use and possession of objects considered sacred. The Act required policies of all governmental agencies to eliminate interference with the free exercise of Native American religion, based on the First Amendment, and to accommodate access to and use of religious sites. It also acknowledges the prior violation of that right. Due to the complex nature of American Indian religious beliefs, American Indian religions have often been at odds with existing federal laws and government policies. There have been several areas of conflict. Firstly, American Indians did not have access to a number of sacred places that the tribes had traditionally used in religious ceremonies. Native American religious practices often came into conflict with the idea that American public lands exist for the use and benefit of the American people.

Dancers celebrate the beginning of the Occupying of Oak Flat

Dancers celebrate the beginning of the Occupying of Oak Flat



“You don’t get tired dancing, the drums put you into a meditative state.” The drum is like a heartbeat and it pushes you on”, says May Lenca, from western Honduras where her indigenous people live in the endangered rain forest. She is a spiritual person and came to Oak Flat to link spiritually with her Apache brothers and sisters. “John McCain has no heart, conscience or soul and he gave them up long ago for power, money and greed. You can’t do this if you have a heart ! “McCain is a lost soul.” We natives have joined together here, Lenca said. “We are all from the creator and we have to gather to protect Mother Earth.” “People can chose to be good”! The legislatures who did this – used to be people you could work with. But power corrupts and you have to learn to be humble with people.”

“We are a non-violent religious movement, said Wendsler Nosie at the conclusion of the Holy Ground Blessing.

Wendsler Nosie Sr.

Wendsler Nosie Sr.

“Today eagle feathers arrived here on foot, this is a spiritual gathering. The idea is to get here so the blessing can be given by God. We have arrived so God will have blessed us … we are all brothers and sisters here. Together we will protect our waters so we can continue to live as human beings. The Apache need to be afforded the same protection as all U.S. citizens — we Apache want the same rights afforded everyone else. This is a gift from God to help save the world may we all be blessed from this day forward,” Nosie concludes.

Carrie Curley, age 26 is dancing with her aunt Margie Curley and says she is fighting for “my identity, our religion and our ancestral land”. Curley says every time she drives into the valley she stop at Oak Flat to pray. Her fondest memories are in Gann Canyon, where she prays thanking the good spirit for their land and to grace us with

Carrie Curley dances with her aunt Margie Curley

Carrie Curley dances with her aunt Margie Curley

his blessing. “The creator gave us land so they can’t take it away.” Margie remembers Oak Flat from her high school days where she attended high school there, her fondest memories of the Easter celebration celebrated by the much of the whole town who moves to Oak Flat over the Easter weekend-but as an Apache, she loves Oak Flat as “a holy land, a land of prayer.”

On a bronze plaque in front of the San Carlos Apache Administration building is written beneath the names of all the Apache who served as chairman or leaders of the San Carlos Tribe; it reads: “We remember those who sacrifice and defended our people–we recognize our great leaders and their respect for those who know freedom. We must guide our people to, once again, hold our destiny in our own hands, so I challenge each of us to overcome the oppression and begin the process of believing in ourselves. This must be the first step…
Usen, we ask for your blessing to guide our current and future leadership so that our children and the unborn will inherit our Apache Way of Life…..Wendsler Nosie Sr.

The Oak Flat Campground was set aside in 1955 by President Eisenhower in an effort to preserve special public lands from threats like mining and development. Since that time, thousands of visitors have enjoyed the wilderness.

 Shaft # 10 Mucking Process

Shaft # 10 Mucking Process

Copper mining would shut out visitors to Oak Flat and allow international mining companies like Rio Tinto the power to disrupt the land by digging mine shafts, excavating minerals and carving roads through a once wild landscape. The tribes would be stripped of access to native and sacred lands to practice their religion, contrary to the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act.

Block cave mining is a technique that involves drilling and blasting from underneath the copper ore body, creating an underground cavern. This method causes instability within the mine and at the surface, making it collapse. At the Henderson Mine near Empire, Colorado, an entire mountainside collapsed after undergoing block cave mining. At Oak Flat, this would put sensitive ecological areas and sacred tribal lands at risk and would change the landscape forever.

Former Republican Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi reported to a federal prison in West Virginia
to begin serving a three-year sentence for corruption, money laundering and 15 other convictions
including wire fraud, extortion and racketeering.








CONGRESSMAN Raúl M. Grijalva introduced the “Save Oak Flat Act,” to repeals a congressional giveaway of sacred Native American land to a Canadian company called Resolution Copper co-owned by multinational mining conglomerate Rio Tinto .


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Playing the Tohono Oodham women’s stick game, Toka, is not for the weak at heart. The Lacrosse-style game involves teams of 5-12 members played without pads and battling it out with sticks cut from the desert mesquite tree. Getting slapped around in the heat of battle is part of the experience for contestants who range in age from early youth to late middle age.The recent tournament played during the TO’s Nation’s annual Rodeo and Fair brought out ten teams and almost 125 participants who took on various villages for the honor of being the best or toughest of the bunch. SELLS RODEO, FAIR, TOKA TOURNEY-8021 Starting at the civilized hour of noon, rivals “back-in-the-day tournaments which often began before sunrise and then moved into mid-day, stopping only as the heat of day forced folks into the shade. Today’s Toka Tournaments, since 1990 have been organized into tribal tournaments encouraging women of all ages to come out and fight for the “honor of their village” and this year celebrating the 25th anniversary of the “revival of Toka” has seen frequent tournaments pop up around the reservation and causing moreand more teams to surface particularly during the cooler months. The next tournament will be hosted by the San Xavier District and many of teams have eyed that trophy. While Toka was played differently in the 1970’s taking over large fields with no specific out of bounds, today’s tournaments are fenced in providing some barriers to those battling for the Toka puck, two pieces of wood, held together by a piece of rawhide string, to win-the victory goes to the first team to get two goals. Spectators should not get to comfortable sitting on the sidelines because like the days of old, any spot within the fence is in play and a snoozing fan would not be the first to get slapped around and chased from their chairs-if not run over and flattened. SELLS RODEO, FAIR, TOKA TOURNEY-5136I personally took a dirt bath when photographing my first tournament as the play moved toward my stance on the sidelines, expecting things to cease on the sidelines, was surprised to hide myself and camera in play. So I wasn’t surprised to find out, men are not allowed on the Toka field, probably because they aren’t tough enough to take the beating. Chatting with a former Santa Rosa player what she found the most challenging about Toka, she emphasized how much it hurt getting wacked on the ankle by a mesquite branch and further it was pointed out while the game might be about earning the honor for their village–secretly it was pointed out a few well-placed wacks on your competitors ankle–slows them down a bit and schools them on the finer points of competition. May the best team win ! SELLS RODEO, FAIR, TOKA TOURNEY-7783This year’s Tohono O’odham’s Rodeo and Fair was hammered by desert rains, beginning on Friday with the Nation’s Junior Rodeo and continuing into the weekend. Saturday the day started out with a drizzle for the annual parade and then it opened up and poured on the mid-way and fair, making the rodeo grounds a muddy mess, adding new action for the wild horse races, bareback and saddle broncs competition, presided over by rough stock, who didn’t really need the help but got it anyway. Some events didn’t register a good time all day taking all the prize money into a much drier Sunday SELLS RODEO, FAIR, TOKA TOURNEY-7700performance. Still attendance was good, fantastic for weekend of rough weather, almost 800 people turned on Saturday and braved the downpours, some wrapped their feet in plastic shopping bags, to wander around the midway to enjoy the rides and corn dog alley. Sunday the sun came out, as did the mud-graders, who pushed the “chocolate pudding” aside, to make way for die-hard participants who danced the “Chicken Scratch” to a battle of bands honoring the Tohono Oodham way of dance. On the road side graders piled up mud 18 inches deep, reminding me of the mid-west winters, when snow would be pushed off the roadways and stack up there until Spring, in Sells, the mud was all gone by noon.


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Why did the “White Dove of the Desert”, Tucson’s San Xavier Mission, survive when all it’s brother missions scattered across the South West mostly melted into the desert? Today’s Mission was built between 1783-1797 and is the oldest European structure in Arizona. Its hosts 200,000 visitors from all over the world each year, charging no admission, the Mission is widely considered to be the finest example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States. That wasn’t always the case, San Xavier began life in New Spain, then it was gathered up by Mexico and when the lines were drawn for the Gadsen Purchase, it came to the United States and became a part of the Diocese of Santa Fe and soon major repairs began. It was spared the fate of the Tumacacori Mission whose roof collapsed when locals salvaged the timbers and instead it was adored and appreciated by the nearby Tucson community unlike the Missions of the Baja, beloved by their neighbors, but too poor to build up their missions overtaken by the weight of time. The Tucson Presidio contributed to San Xavier’s success by extending its protections to the remote village, and while the Apache razed San Xavier in 1770, the soldiers from the fort allowed repairs to be made then and work today continues to restore the ancient relic to its original state.

“Father Kino, made his first visit to the Tohono O’odham village of Wa:k (Bac) in 1692, the centuries old village was called the “place where the water appears” for the natural springs fueled by the nearby Santa Cruz River.



Kino began to build a church in 1700. It apparently never got beyond its foundations. According to The South West Mission Research Center on “The Pimeria Alta” in 1751 the Jesuit Father Visitor Jacobo Sedelmayr said of the Indian community, ‘It is still very backward without a catechist, without obedience, and without any church other than a ramada and a wretched house. It is clear to see that this village has been visited very little.’ San Xavier’s first church, other than a ramada, was a flat-roofed, hall-shaped adobe building begun after the arrival of Jesuit missionary Father Alonso Espinosa in 1756, it was in service by 1763. Espinosa failed to level the site and there were no stone in the foundations, so structural problems existed from the beginning. “The adobe church built by Father Espinosa was the one inherited by Father Francisco Garcés when he arrived at San Xavier in 1768 as its first Franciscan minister.”

Bishop Antonio de los Reyes on 6 July 1772 wrote a report on the condition of the missions in the Upper and Lower Pimeria Alta. This is his report on San Xavier as translated by Father Kieran McCarty:

SAN XAVIER del BAC photographed in 1887 by Leo Goldschmidt. Carriage rides to the Mission from Tucson were popular.

SAN XAVIER del BAC photographed in 1887 by Leo Goldschmidt. Carriage rides to the Mission from Tucson were very popular at the turn of the century.

The mission at Bac is located on a long, flat lowland. To the east lies a land, little known and occupied by the wandering and warlike Apache nation. To the west lie the settlements of an infinity of pagan Indians, meek and docile, who people the land all the way to the Gulf of California, a distance a little more than a hundred leagues. To the south at distances of eighteen and twenty leagues lie the two missions at Guevavi and Suamnca and the Presidios of Tubac and Terrenate. To the north lies the little-known land stretching some forty leagues to the Gila River. The village of San Xavier at Bac is situated on open ground with an abundance of water and good land where the Indians cultivate a few small fields of wheat, Indian corn, and other crops. The church is of medium capacity, adorned with two side chapels with paintings in gilded frames. In the sacristy are four chalices, two of which are unserviceable, a pyx, a censer, dish and cruets, a baptismal shell, all of silver, four sets of vestments of various colors, with other ornaments for the altar and divine services – all very poor. According to the census Book, which I have before me, there are forty-eight married couples, seven widowers, twelve widows, twenty-six orphans, the number of souls in all – two hundred seventy.


SAN XAVIER DEL BAC -The East Tower was never completed simply because the Friars ran out of money.

“Improvements in the architectural at San Xavier had to await the 1776 arrival of Father Juan Bautista Beldarrain, a Basque friar. Building San Xavier was expensive, but Father Juan Bautista Beldarrain, was able to borrow $7,000 pesos – the equivalent of more than twenty years of a missionary’s salary – from a businessman, Don Antonio Herreros. The friar’s only collateral was wheat from crops not yet planted – almost as if he expected Don Antonio to join his vows of poverty. He hired an architect, Ignacio Gaona, and a large workforce of O’odham to create the present church. The church is roofed with masonry vaults, making it unique among Spanish Colonial buildings within U. S. borders. Gaona, is credited with building another church in Caborca, Sonora. The good Padre was never able to repay the debt; he died at San Xavier in 1790, the church still was undecorated and incomplete. Father Juan Bautista Llorens, oversaw the finish in 1797.

“In the nineteenth century, when Southern Arizona was still part of New Spain, around 1783 Father Espinosa’s old church was torn down and its adobes, wooden columns, and ceiling beams were re-used to build a convento wing extending east from the east bell tower of the Franciscan structure. Today’s church itself has interior and exterior walls of fired bricks set in lime mortar with an interior core filled with stone rubble over which lime mortar was poured as the walls went up.”

Following Mexican independence in 1821, San Xavier became part of Mexico. The last resident Franciscan of the 19th Century departed in 1837. With the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, the Mission joined the United States.



In 1859 San Xavier became part of the Diocese of Santa Fe, which began the first repairs of the Mission. In 1866 Tucson became an diocese and regular services were held at the Mission once again. Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet opened a school at the Mission in 1872. Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity now teach at the school and reside in the convent. In 1913 the Franciscans return to Bac.

An earthquake in 1887 knocked down the mortuary wall and damaged parts of the church, extensive repairs began in 1905, under Bishop Henry Granjon. The next restoration followed the years after 1939 when a lightning strike hit the West Tower. In 1953 the church facade was restored. San Xavier became a National Historic Landmark in 1963. The Mission is nine miles south of downtown Tucson, just off of Interstate 19. Take exit 92 to San Xavier Road, follow the signs.
San Xavier 1325
The Patronanto of San Xavier in 1978 arose from within the Tucson Community to promote the preservation of Mission San Xavier. The group led a comprehensive study of the church’s architectural condition and found water seeping into the west wall of the church’s sanctuary, forcing emergency repair. An international team of conservators cleaned, removed over-painting, and repaired the interior, painted and cleaned the sculptured art within San Xavier. More work remains to be done to guarantee this landmark for future generations.

A kissing cousin to San Xavier del Bac California’s Old Mission San Luis Rey de Francia was founded in 1798 by Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, the Mission was named after St. Louis IX, King of France, who lived during the 13th century. Due to its large size the mission was nicknamed “King of the Missions.” Its construction is similiar to San Xavier, more than any of the twenty-one missions, built between San Diego to the San Francisco Bay region. San Luis Rey may be the King of the California Missions but San Xavier was built first and towers over all the Spanish Mission now or historically, and today, is found on the City of Tucson Logo and Great Seal of Pima County.


Phillipp Segessor awoke to the understanding at age ten he was born to be a missionary on the edge of civilization in some far distant land. Within twenty years he would realize that dream, and for forty years his life in New Spain would bring many hardships far beyond the sweet promise of childhood daydreams. Segessor would bring many souls into the light and dispatch many more with the promise of salvation in eternity. TUCUMCACORI-4981Phillipp found himself far from the lush Switzerland slopes of his youth and in a land where there is only “the sky above and the ground below”. If one wishes more, he would have to either build it or grow it and then defend it.

Many letters were written between the missionary, his mother and brother who sponsored his spiritual service by shipping the needed seeds, and supplies required to kick-start a civilization just finding the wheel. Knifes, forks and spoons, plates, farm tools; hoes, books, writing paper and chocolate. Correspondence, record-keeping and journals became today’s history or the first written record which helps us understand the hardship these pilgrims endured, for their love of GOD.



SAN XAVIER FARMS-The Catholic Jesuit Order built a mission based economy on the frontier by harvesting everything of value. Missions less fortunate were re-enforced by more prosperous missions who shipped the Baja missions grain and dried beef from the mainland. For the malnourished Indians of the Baja, the missionaries changed their lives. In Mexico and southern Arizona, the Pima Indians were less taken by God’s representatives in New Spain and ignored them as long as they did not annoy. After a few dust-ups over late night dances and singing, missionaries tried cracking down on “their villages” and found the natives ready to revolt and after some unfortunate deaths on both sides the Indians saw the wisdom in the word of their father’s god and moved back to the villages, to work the fields, milk the cows, tame the horses and bring in the harvests. Death was everywhere from disease and both sides wallowed in superstitions that only made the deaths worse, breeding more fear and misunderstanding. The Indians moved closer to the Church in hopes it would protect them from the disease killing their family and friends and not affecting the men in robe, could they save them ?



As for Father Segessor, when he was young, sleeping still under his mother’s roof-he was ready to conquer the world for Jesus Christ. The further he got from his homeland, his confidence eroded, until after years of being on the frontier where the Apache made each day a lottery. He became pretty realistic about the demands on his time and how much one man could possibly accomplish under such extreme conditions.

“For ten years the Seri and recently also the unbearable Apache, who have often come to my mission, raided it four times in three months, carrying off all the livestock. Nevertheless, they have reduced my mission and the neighboring indian to such a wretched state that I have even found myself forced to beg for a coat to cloth myself, and others do not have a shirt to cover themselves.”

“So that we can eat, it is necessary that my Indians, like the mountain hunters, procure wild cattle or oxen. No such misery has been experienced for as long as the mission have existed.”

Phillipp Segesser Swiss Missionary

Phillipp Segesser
Swiss Missionary”
“It will live on” (writes Kino of the work of missionaries, like Phillip Segesser whose generation would follow Kino’s) “in the splendid construction of temples, churches, buildings and houses. It will reflect in the solemnities of the saints, in joyous fiestas, and in treats of religious banquets. It will be heard in music and the choir of opulent missions which will be a source of pride. Fortunately, it was a blessing, neither of these Jesuits Priests would live to see their Order or themselves evicted in chains under threat of death from New Spain.

PADRE KINO“It is so dangerous to travel the paths and byways that no one is safe. All travelers are in great danger of falling into the hands of the enemy or dying from poisoned arrows and lances. I wish that the soldiers would humble my neighboring enemies, the Seri. “Last night”, he reported, “they finally carried off the few cattle, mules and horses that had previously escaped their thievish hands and have robbed me of all needed support, so I know not how I shall subsist in the future. Gold help us! On top of that, this year the crops have been very meager, so I do not know how we shall maintain ourselves.”

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
I hope he will not desert us. God’s will be done.”

Later still there was less of the “His Will be Done!”, and more of a complaining tone which noted how much was accomplished and how more was impossible until such time as more money was contributed from the Crown or the Lord provided! Still the Mission system grew and grew, prospered, greened over while providing the surrounding tribes with a crop to sustain them and establishing a barter network that allowed missions to swap stuff needed elsewhere and some comforts from the Old World made the New World better.

first tourists

“The missionary in America makes his way by horse, writes Segessor, which can be ninety miles or more, while in Europe he goes on foot. The differences are in Europe he sleeps in a bed in a house at night, has a nice roast and some wine and can get some rest. In America he sleeps in the field and has to drink muddy water scooped from a pond, or has no water at all, as has happened to me more than once. The difference is that in Europe the priest can get together with his friends or other competent residents and take care of his duties in a calm manner. The American must deal with a very careless Indian and even must put his own hand to the plow if he wants to support himself and his Indians. The difference is that the European has ample income, while the American missionary Father has to live day after day in sworn poverty and pray by the light of a candle.”
ANGELXxXNew diseases from the Old World were everywhere, the plague took tens of thousands in Europe. But the chickenpox bedeviled Segessor and his missions, like San Xavier del Bac, Guevavi, Urias, his own health was up and down from the time he boarded a ship and sea-sickness wracked his system, still while he attended to his duties he had repeated bouts of malaria and at times, he gave death blessings for his fellow priests. Soon his letters spoke of a willingness to move closer to Jesus, a readiness for eternity if it pleased his Lord!

“I am in a state of distress in all things this year (1760), partly on account of enemy attacks, partly because we can’t work in the fields for fear of the enemy. Robbers attack the inhabitants and beat them horribly.

“Besides this, in the past year lightning hit my house and church three times causing great damage. I have not yet been able to repair the damaged house and church roof for a lack of nourishment, for everything in the field was lost.”

“During these dangerous uprisings when one is not safe on any road, or indeed even in his own house. My neighboring enemies, the Seri, burn and slaughter at will and kill the inhabitants. They cleverly appear first in one place, then in another, and there are too few Spanish soldiers partly because of the great expanse of the region and partly because of the great drought, the enemy has free reign to pursue his evil deeds.”

“I fear they will soon reduce my villages to ashes because they are roaming in the area and have killed or taken away all the horses, not to mention the great damage they have done to the herds of cattle.”

“I am not at all sure that they wouldn’t capture me, because I have to travel to the visitas (the outlying churches). “I am not even safe with my own Indians.” “Their fellow countrymen, the Upper Pima at San Xavier, killed two missionaries, a Spaniard and a priest in the Pima Rebellion of 1751 which took many lives, all between breakfast and dinner”, reported Father Segesser, writing from Horcasitas, April 11, 1761, rather his assigned Ures Mission which lay in ruin.

Segesser was at the Presidio of San Miguel de Horcasitas to execute the will of the new governor and friend who decided to visit and was greeted by a hail of poison arrows from Seri tribesmen. Juan Antonio de Mendoza, governor of Sonora and Sinaloa, died November 28th, 1760, he had had a promising future, but left no son.

Father Segesser died seventeen months later on September 28th 1762…


Five years after Kino’s death, Padre Luis Velarde, wrote that he died as he lived, “very humble and poor”.



His bed was two calf skins as his mattress and a saddle as his pillow. Hot-headed when reprimanding sinners in public. He would pray a hundred times a day, and after supper he would enter the church and Father Velarde never saw him leave. He had no vices, he did not smoke, use snuff, drink, nor use a bed. He took his food without salt. He gave everything he had to the Indians. He was pious with everyone and cruel to himself, lacerating (flogging) his body. Father Vellarde stated that “to discover lands and convert souls were the virtues of Padre Kino”

Father Kino died in Magdalena, Sonora on March 15, 1711, his bones lie there still. He had traveled from his mission at Nuestra Senora de los Dolores to celebrate with Padre Agustin de Campos the Mass of Dedication for the new chapel to San Francisco Xavier, Kino’s patron saint. At the time of his death, Padre Kino had established 24 missions or vistas. Padre Kino established the California peninsula was not an island, a popular theory in his time. After their discoveries in the New World by Kino and other Jesuits, in their absence, little knowledge was gained for the next 150 years.

Kino followed ancient trading routes established by the natives, these trails were later expanded into roads. His many expeditions on horseback, covered over 50,000 square miles, during which he mapped an area 200 miles long and 250 miles wide. Kino was important in the economic growth of the southwest. He introduced the indian to European seed, fruits, herbs and grains. He also taught them to raise cattle, sheep and goats. Kino’s initial mission herd of twenty cattle imported to Pimería Alta grew during his period to 70,000. One historian called Kino Arizona’s first rancher. While traveling in the Pimería Alta, Father Kino interacted with 16 different tribes.

Feast Day Procession at San Xavier...

Feast Day Procession at San Xavier…The National Historic Landmark, San Xavier, was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. Construction of the current church began in 1783 and was completed in 1797. The oldest European structure in Arizona, the interior is filled with marvelous original statuary and mural paintings. It is a place where visitors can truly step back in time and enter an authentic 18th Century space. The church retains its original purpose of ministering to the religious needs of its parishioners.

Camino del Diablo graveMacDougall’s Papagueria essay says ten or twelve centuries ago, the Tohono Oodham (Papago) Tribe was encountered by the Spanish in Coronado’s expedition in the mid-16th century. The area became known as Papagueria and was traveled in all directions by priests establishing missions.



Padre Kino, climbed the summit of Sierra Pinacate to view the Sea of Cortez, the peninsula of Baja California and the mouth of the Colorado River to determine whether Baja California was a peninsula or an island. Padre Kino believed it was a peninsula, though today, most folks feel he could not have seen that far. However, giving credit where it is due–when Kino’s caravan moved into a water spot to camp–it was dry when he left and that meant he could never return the way he came and constantly was looking for new water, a fearless approach to life. In the early days the ancient road from Sonora coming through Altar and Carboca led through the oasis of Sonoyta and across the desert to California, crossing the Colorado River in Yuma. It was traveled religiously by Spanish priests and the guards for the missions, it was the route followed by Father Kino in 1699, and became known as the “Camino Real”. During the Gold Rush, many inexperienced in desert travel, attempted the long arid stretches, it was the scene of many tragedies, as evidenced by the numerous crosses of stones spread out along the way. Particularly near Tinajas Altas, a series of holes high up on the granite, holding the only water in a three-day journey, this became known as the “Camino del Diablo” through the Tule Desert.

Pinacate Tecolete Flow Son

Pinacate Tecolete Lava Flow in northern Sonora borders Arizona and California

The Land of the Tohono Oodham Indian

The Land of the Tohono Oodham Indian

Tohonos and Hispanic worshipers today follow the age old pilgrim route cut by Padre Kino himself to the Mission at Magdelena, Son.

Tohonos and Hispanic worshipers follow the pilgrim route cut by Padre Kino himself today to the Mission at Magdelena, Sonora. Recently Tohono Oodham pilgrims were bused to Magdalena due to threats of personal injury by the drug cartel who control the border region. Below Pilgrims are blessed by the statue of St Francis in the mission which he built.

This year many Tohono Oodham were bused to Magdalena due to threats of personal injury for pilgrims by drug cartel members.

Padre Kino’s final resting place today In Magdelina Sonora under glass so all visitors can pay their respects to the man who changed the southwest forever…

The University of Arizona conducted their Spring Archaeology Field School at the Guevavi Mission in 2013 and 2014, under the direction of Dr. Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman of the University, Homer Thiel of Desert Archaeology, Inc., and Jeremy Moss of the National Park Service.

TUMCACORI NATIONAL MONUMENT The priest's first responsibility in founding a new mission was to build a church. When the Jesuits first arrived at Tumacacori, they held worship services in simple brush shelters and, eventually, replaced them with masonry, flat-roofed buildings. The largest and most elaborate of Tumacacori's churches was begun about 1800 by the Franciscan, Fray Gutierrez and the design was changed at least once before it was dedicated in 1822. Attempts were made to emulate the great cathedrals of Europe in many detail; the lime plaster of the entry was painted and grooved to resemble a stone arch: two side alters were constructed on each side of the nave and oval plaques displayed the Stations of the Cross.

TUMACACORI NATIONAL MONUMENT The priest’s first responsibility in founding a new mission was to build a church. When the Jesuits first arrived at Tumacacori, they held worship services in simple brush shelters and slowly replaced them with masonry, flat-roofed buildings. The largest and most elaborate of Tumacacori’s churches was begun 1800 by the Franciscan Fray Gutierrez and the design was changed before it was dedicated in 1822, attempts were made to emulate the cathedrals of Europe in detail; the lime plaster of the entry was painted and grooved to resemble a stone arch but money woes kept it simple.

Father Juan Domingo Arricivita, in 1792, writes “In 1768 Fray Juan Chrisostomo was assigned to the mission Los Santos Angles de Guevavi in Primeria Alta. Guevavi had three villages or visitas in its jurisdiction: Calabazas, two leagues away, Sonoitac, six and Tumacacori, seven leagues. It also had in its charge the Presidio of Tubac.

The Guevavi Mission site is owned today by the National Park Service, as part of the Tumacacori National Historical Park, and the City of Nogales, AZ. Today 21 students have participated in the field school’s mapping project that revealed features being damaged by traffic, erosion, and burrowing animals who were digging into a mission-era trash midden. The students found copper ore and slag at the top of the midden and believe it relates to Yaqui occupation of the site by miners in the 1810s. Deeper levels revealed mission-era Native American ceramics, Spanish olive jar fragments, Mexican majolica, Chinese porcelain, metal items, and large amounts of bone and plant remains, including maize cobs and peach pits. Aerial photos of a light-colored soil area revealed possible wall alignments, that proved to be trenches for animal pens, likely used to manage cattle and sheep herds. The students have on-going soil analyses in an attempt to find signs of animal manure, and chemical analyses of animal teeth, to find the origins of the cattle teeth found on site.

Papago cooks work over baskets and ollas for cooking 1930's. Today the Papago Tribe is known as the Tohono Oodham or Desert People.

Papago cooks work over baskets and ollas for cooking 1930’s. Today the Papago Tribe is known as the Tohono Oodham or a Desert People who have lived off the desert for more than a 1000 years.

Their studies suggests the cattle was free-ranged. The bones were predominantly rabbit, deer and fish but found an active tallow rendering process to make candles for their light and axle grease to keep things moving. Trincheras pottery was found from Mexico, shell beads and one glass bead. A hand made cross was found at 3.5 inches dig depth, the Chinese porcelain was probably from Hong Kong which came from the Philippines, then Mexico by ship, then overland to Arizona, Spanish Olive jars, and peach pits from the oldest known specie of Peach tree, Tohono and Subaipuri ceramics. Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman notes this small and the less prosperous of frontier missions “had material coming into Arizona from all over the world”, noting China, the Sea of Cortez, Gulf of California, Spain/Mexico also Czech and Italian influences were found in this 1700 era mission.

The Letters of the Swiss Jesuit Missionary Philipp Segesser (1689–1762): An Eyewitness to Settlement of Eighteenth-Century Sonora (Pimería Alta)

The beautiful lagoon on the road into San Ignacio is the Río San Ignacio, one of two rivers in the state of Baja California Sur.

The beautiful lagoon by the road into San Ignacio is the Río San Ignacio, one of two rivers in Baja Sur.

SAN IGNACIO BAJA SURMission San Ignacio was founded by the Jesuit missionary Juan Bautista de Luyando in 1728 at today’s San Ignacio, Baja California Sur, Mexico./>[/caption] San Ignacio brags it has more date palms trees than residents, it is an oasis that is in contrast to the cactus and rock of the Baja. The palm covered oasis of San Ignacio is a welcome sight for all Baja travelers, the Jesuits planted the date palms and citrus orchards after 1728 when they built the mission. This site proved agriculturally productive, and was the base for Jesuit central peninsula expansion. In 1706 the surviving church was constructed by the Dominican missionary Juan Gómez and eventually abandoned by 1840.

A whale skeleton on Highway 1 marks the halfway point from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas, it also marks the turnoff into the small town which serves as the gateway to Laguna San Ignacio, one of the best whale watching areas in Baja. The peaceful natural lagoon opens up to the Pacific and lies 40 miles to the west of San Ignacio. This is the only lagoon that is still completely undeveloped and a seasonal stop for the California gray whales.


When the Jesuits arrived in Baja they planted the date palms which still provide a crop today for the folks living in San Ignacio Baja.

The Jesuits planted the date palms which still provides an annual crop for people living in San Ignacio.

 Spanish Royal Crest above the doorway

Spanish Royal Crest above the doorway

A scene that resembles priests beating Indians

A scene that resembles priests with the natives


Saint Francis looks over the crowd

Saint Francis Xavier looks out over the mass crowd and keeps an eye out for sinners and slakers in the crowd.



After the Spanish conquered the Mexican mainland early in the 16th century, they began searching westward for the fabled Island of Gold. In 1532, the conquistador Hernán Cortés sent two fleets of ships to look for the island. They failed to find it, so Cortés decided to lead the search himself. In 1535, he landed north of La Paz near the southern end of the Baja California peninsula where he found black pearls but no gold. Cortés and his men returned to the mainland, only to launch another expedition in 1539 under the leadership of Captain Francisco de Ulloa. This time the Spaniards sailed the full length of the Sea of Cortés, confirming that Baja was a peninsula. Ulloa was lost at sea the next year; Cortés returned to Spain in 1541 without fully exploring or colonizing Baja California. In 1542, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo ventured into the region, but it proved to be the last exploration for 50 years.BetterCortezScamctop

La Paz was frequently the site of conflicts between the Spanish and the local Guaycura and Pericú Indians. In 1555, Cortés led a large party that attempted but failed to establish a settlement. Isidro de Atondo y Antillón and Eusebio Francisco Kino attempted to establish a mission settlement in 1683 but failed because of conflicts with Indians. When Jesuit missions finally took root in Baja California after 1697, their focus went north to Loreto.

Misión de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de La Paz

Misión de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de La Paz

The Heart of La Paz is the city’s main square, the plaza is the heart of cultural and political life. La Paz’s main square, Velasco Garden, has been rebuilt and modernized since colonial days. On one side is the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Paz, was built in 1861 by Dominican priests on the site of the city’s original Jesuit mission, built in 1720. Inside, you’ll find paintings rescued from old missions. On the plaza’s north side you will see the former Palacio de Gobierno, now housing the Biblioteca de Historia Regional de las Californias (Library of Regional History of the Californias) and a Youth Center. A meeting point for locals and visitors, the Velasco Garden or Constitution Plaza is a place to relax. Its shaded from the sun by trees with a fountain in the center and makes a stage for a wide variety of activities-from dancing to book fairs or late evenings when folks congregate in the coffee shops, bars and night clubs. The Cathedral was established by the Jesuit missionaries Juan de Ugarte and Jaime Bravo in 1720. This church was the scene of the earliest Spanish activity in Baja California, and finally abandoned in 1748, when its Indian neophytes were relocated to Todos Santos.

Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Todos Santos (Our Lady of Pilar Church) was built in 1733 perched above the town of Todos Santos and has a spectacular view of the ocean. Much of the mission’s original architecture and many of the period furnishings have survived intact. Take the guided tour, which presents the mission’s history, for a fee. The church towers protectively over the square, but it is not the 1730’s original but an adobe reconstruction. This mission site was selected by Father Jaime Bravo in 1723. He built a “visita” town able to help support the mission of Nuestra Señora del Pilar in La Paz. He explored these lands and chose this place due to the number of “Pericúe” indians he found there, as well as, its climate and good soil conditions. Under Bravo’s direction, sowing of some crops began, their most important crops, were corn and sugar cane. As time went by, Todos Santos became one of the main providers for the La Paz mission. In 1733 the “visita” town became the mission Santa Rosa de Todos Santos and when the La Paz mission was closed, the mission of Santa Rosa de Todos Santos adopted it’s name Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Todos Santos.



Unlike the mainland settlements that were designed to be self-sustaining enterprises, the remote and harsh conditions on the BAJA peninsula made it all but impossible to build and maintain these missions without help from the mainland.Baja California mission trail Supply lines from across the Sea of Cortez including from the missions and ranches of Padre Eusebio Kino on the mainland to the Port of Guaymas played a crucial role in keeping the Baja California mission system intact. Along with religion, the Europeans brought diseases to indians who had no immunity. By 1767, epidemics of measles, plague, smallpox, typhus, and venereal diseases had decimated the indian population. From an initial population of 50,000 indians, only some 5,000 are thought to have survived. In Segessor’s letters he speaks of one priest who had spent a lifetime amongst the Pima and when he appeared to be getting soft on his Indians, they removed him, fearing he had become unstable and not more humane. This story reminds us in the wake of the Spanish wave across the New World that “they could be very cruel”…

Indians were housed often by gender, forced to convert to Catholicism and trained in the ways of the Spanish Empire within the confines of the mission. Indians often ran away or revolted, and many missions tettered on disaster. Use of firearms, whippings, religious ritual and psychological punishments were all methods employed by the missionaries to maintain control of their slaves. The cost of getting into Heaven, went sky-high, since there was little else for the Church to sell their flock.”From the wealthiest, whether it be for marriage or burial, the pastor demands as much as seems appropriate, even if it comes to two or three thousand whalers” writes Phillipe Segessor of his experience on the frontier. “The burial of an Indian servant or of his child costs 16 thalers, provided the large cross is not carried in the forefront of the procession. If it is carried, the cost is twenty-five thalers. Burial of a wealthy Spanish costs 30 thalers, with Mass and offices for the soul extra.” None of this money went to the Missionary father who provided all services for free in the belief that, “God would provide”.

During the sixty years that the Jesuits served the natives of California, 56 members of the Society of Jesus came to the Baja California peninsula, sixteen died at their posts, two were martyrs. Fifteen priests and one lay brother survived the hardships, only to feel the sting of the Jesuit removal decree launched against the Society by King Carlos III of Spain. Rumors that the Jesuit priests had amassed a fortune on the peninsula and were becoming very powerful, produced he order on February 3, 1768 when the King ordered the Jesuits forcibly expelled from the Americas and returned to the home. The Franciscans, under Fray Junípero Serra, took charge of the missions-closing or consolidating settlements.

Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé - in Mulegé

Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé – in Mulegé

When the expulsion order was issued from the King of Spain for the Jesuits to be rounded up and shipped to Europe, no resistance resulted. Instead the Jesuits from the fourteen operating missions said goodbye to the Indians who had worked for them and sadly left for Loreto. Following their forced march, many of their loyal friends reportedly followed their path and provided food and water to the priests throughout their ordeal. One priest later wrote “Not only did I weep then but throughout the journey, and even now as I write the tears stand in my eyes.” While few believed the Jesuits had amassed the fortunes believed to be hidden in the hills, it is true, on the mainland there were priests more tolerant of the natives and their ways than others. There beatings and hard labor was the measure of their devotion. On the Baja where life was strikingly harder, the Jesuit fathers changed the lives of many of their Indians neophytes and in return, they reportedly returned the love shown them. When they arrived in Loreto, the King’s order was read to them. Together they said a farewell prayer for their native friends and themselves; and in the dark of night they marched to the beach, to board the ship home. Still, the natives cried and kissed the hands that had worked so hard to lift them up from their hunger, as true friends, they begged the priests not to desert them. It is written even the governor shed tears, as the exiled missionaries stepped into the boat and together chanted the litany of Our Lady. Their voices rang out from the dark, reaching the weeping crowd on shore and the Jesuits sent their last farewell to Baja and their flock. Of the 678 Jesuits expelled from Mexico, seventy-five per cent were Mexican born. The royal decree said any Jesuit who returned to Spanish land under any pretext, was subject to the penalty of death. All the missionaries were sent to Vera Cruz, where they were held until their brothers from remote lands joined them there, so they all could be shipped together. There thirty-two of the Jesuits priests died while awaiting transit.

The only Franciscans mission in Baja was Missión San Fernando Rey de España de Velicatá and the nearby Visita de la Presentación was built in 1769. Thirty-nine Friars toiled on the peninsula during the five years and five months of Franciscan rule. Four died, ten transferred to Alta California, and the rest returned to Europe. Along with Governor Gaspar de Portolà, Father Serra was ordered by the Spanish government to travel north and establish a series of mission sites in Upper California. The Dominican order arrived in 1772, and by 1800, had established nine more missions in northern Baja, while running all the former Jesuit missions.

Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé-in Mulegé Founded in 1705 by the Jesuit missionary Juan Manuel de Basaldúa.

Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé-in Mulegé
Founded in 1705 by the Jesuit missionary Juan Manuel de Basaldúa.

Mission Santa Rosalía de Mulegé was a ranchería of Cochimí Indians, known as Mulegé, at the entrance of Bahía de Concepción, a part of the Gulf of California. A hurricane in 1717 reportedly devastated the fields that supported the settlement, finally construction of a stone church began in 1766, with a 300 Indian workforce. In 1733 the Dominicans began to rebuild, but their work force of less than 100 forced closure in 1828. LORETO MISSION-The Mother Church of Baja’s Missions have been restored in what is now downtown Loreto, Baja Sur. Spanish Missions on the BAJA began on October 19, 1697, when Father Juan María de Salvatierra, with a small group of soldiers, disembarked from the ship “Santa Elvira” into the Bay of San Dionisio at 26° N latitude. In the first days after their arrival, the missionary erected a modest structure that served as a chapel, and they placed a wood cross on the front. On October 25 they carried the image of the Virgin of Our Lady of Loreto in a solemn procession, a ritual of faith that claimed this land as Spanish territory.

Mother Mission of Loreto Baja Sur

Mother Mission of Loreto Baja Sur closed in 1829.

Thus began the Mission Loreto. Loreto served as the base for expansion of the Jesuit mission system, first in south-central Baja California and then to more remote portions of the peninsula both to the north and to the south. The mission’s stone church, which stands today, was started in 1740. After the Jesuits were expelled from Baja California and replaced, first by the Franciscans in 1768 and then by the Dominicans in 1773 Loreto continued to be the headquarters. In 1769, the Loreto Mission was the starting point for the land portion of the land/sea exploratory expedition the joint military-missionary expedition that traveled into today’s state of California as far north as San Francisco Bay, led by Juan Bautista de Anza who later established new Franciscan missions at Velicatá Baja, San Diego and Monterrey. The Mexican Captain established a land route to California which aided colonization and cut off Russian and English encroachments.

SAN JAVIER -3San Javier is a village in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. It is approximately 25 miles southwest of Loreto on an dirt mountain road. It has a population of 131 residents and contains the Misión San Francisco Xavier de Viggé-Biaundó (more commonly called Misión San Javier). In 2002 San Javier Mission was checkpoint #8 in the Baja 1000 off-road race. Located in a deep valley in the Sierra de La Giganta, Mision San Javier is one of the few original Baja California Missions in an almost perfect state of preservation.

SAN JAVIER altar view

SAN JAVIER altar view

Mission San Javier was the second mission founded by the Jesuits and dates from 1699. That Mission is considered the most beautiful and best preserved Mission of the Californias. San Javier was built with stone hauled from a quarry 16 miles away. Its interior has a golden altarpiece with five oil paintings, brought from Mexico City in thirty two boxes; two statues: one of San Francisco Javier and another one of Our Lady of Guadalupe; a crucifix, all from the 18th century. It has three bells, two of them are dated 1761 and the other one 1803. There is a monument at the end of the street that leads to the church, known as “the Cross of Calvary”, from there hundreds of pilgrims walk on their knees to visit the Church of San Francisco Javier.

RELICFestivities of the Patron Saint Day are from December 1st-3rd; There will be horse races, cock fights, folklore dances, a few national artists will perform. On the way up the road, take a side trip to Las Parras Ranch, which has a 200-year-old chapel to visit. During the annual celebration that attracts hundreds of pilgrims to participate in the county fair/carnival atmosphere that overwhelms the hamlet every year. One women decided to build a hot-dog stand – her first such venture at the Festival, although she grew up there. She had her portable wood stove set up from which she was making and selling tortillas, and while she sold lots of hot-dogs, she was surprised that her tortilla stove attracted a crowd of fascinated on-lookers waiting to be customers. The town’s wants to establish a self-guided nature walk of the surrounding area, including the orchards that date back almost three centuries to the Jesuit founders of the original mission. Dedicated to All Saints on the 1st of November 1699, by Father Juan María de Salvatierra it was later destroyed by hostile Indians. In 1701, the task of rebuilding the mission was given to Father Juan de Ugarte, he introduced cattle breeding, big and small species, developed agriculture and taught the locals to thread and knit wool, not only for themselves, but also for the missionary project in general. It was not until 1744 when they started construction of the mission that stands today, because of the difficulty in obtaining masons who wanted to come to a remote land, the mission was not completed until 1759. Its strong waIls and foundations are built of limestone have withstood the ravages of time.



Misión San Francisco Borja Spanish mission established in 1762

Misión San Francisco Borja
Spanish mission established in 1762



Mission San Borja was established in 1762 by the Jesuit Wenceslaus Linck at the Cochimí settlement of Adac, west of Bahía de los Ángeles. Before becoming a mission, the site of San Borja served as a visita for Missión Santa Gertrudis. The construction of buildings started in 1759 and a stone church was completed in 1801 during the Dominican period. The mission was abandoned in 1818, as the native population disappeared. Early on, the Mission was supplied from the mainland by boat which shipped grain by wagon a dozen miles from the gulf. This mission was financed by one women in Europe who supported the name of her favorite saint.

Beautiful old church never really moved into--a special fixerupper

Beautiful old church never really moved into–a special fixerupper

Road to San Borja Road to San Borja[/caption]



It was the silver smelted from Mount Alamos that fueled the interest from the Spanish Crown to colonize the New World. Coronado camped here in 1540, but Alamos and Aduana really boomed when silver was discovered in 1680. Alamos then held sway over a vast region and was arguably the most historically important spot in Sonora, the ecologically richest spot where the Sonoran Desert met a dry tropical forest,



In 1955 the Aduana Mine just outside Alamos, Sonora was gearing up for a new decade of silver mining and work crews were assembled to tear down the 200 foot smoke stacks, tools in hand not a worker moved, instead the Indian work force, explained the stack was needed the Indian’s believe so “that thousands of ghosts could nightly leave their tombs in the depths of the mountain each night wandering as free spirits. Before dawn the ghosts return through the smokestack to passages networking throughout the mountain, without the stacks, the ghosts would be doomed to wander homeless forever without rest. The huge stack was protected from demolition by superstitions and stands still today as a symbol of the past rich silver age. Time and time again Alamos, Sonora has planted the seed of History, and has helped spread Civilization across the South West. This rich mining community nestled in a Tropical region of Northern Mexico has flown many flags including Mexico, Spain and France and its history has been turbulent, it was once almost a country itself.

In 1780 Álamos was at its peak of population and wealth. It was an era of mansions building and furnishings from the world’s finest items, Philippine galleons brought fabrics, rich silver and all the best of the Orient. The mines were exporting silver bars and the wealthy business community was importing the best Europe had to offer, during this time Father Baegert wrote, ” even at times of fasting, when they come to us in confession…such finery among the women as I scarcely ever saw in Mexico… With astonishment and pity I have seen many a woman dressed in velvet cloth of gold.”



Seven miles west of Alamos surrounded by 4,700′ mountains, Aduana has less than 300 people where once there was 5,000, there is a store, cemetery, a small restaurant-inn, a plaza and a church named Nuestra Senora de Balvanera. At the altar is a painting of the Virgin of Balvanera and in the shrine below is her statue. Legend says the statue was actually brought here from Spain where it was discovered hidden in a cave. The cactus growing from the church wall 12′ above the ground represents the cactus which a legend says from when a Mayo Indian saw a lady on top of a cactus. Thinking she needed help the Indians built a pile of rocks to climb up and reach her. Once there, they discovered she had vanished and in her place was a rich vein of silver.

Aduana's Fiesta of Nuestra Señora de La Balvanera

Aduana’s Fiesta of Nuestra Señora de La Balvanera

La Aduana became one of Mexico’s richest silver mines, for four hundred years from 1737, the Aduana mine produced silver. In 1906, mining stopped and the isolated small mining communities fell into ruin, ghosts took the place of the residents and slowly the jungle began reclaiming it’s own. The pages of history speaks of a 1000 mule train that left the tax collection site in Alamos and labored for five months winding along the Kings highway, the Camino Real, to Mexico City. ADUANA BELL2-2The cactus growing in the church wall represents the cactus the Virgin was seen on and late each November Aduana’s Fiesta of Nuestra Señora de La Balvanera the statue of the Virgin is taken from the Aduana church to the Alamos church in a Saturday procession. Before dawn on Sunday morning, the Alamos bells ring for the start of the quiet religious procession back to

Organ Pipe Cactus growing from the Aduana Church wall 12 foot above the ground was thought either a “miracle” or possibly seed dropped by birds

Aduana. During the week, pilgrims walk, some on their knees, from all over Sonora to fulfill their vows to the Virgin. The weekend of the Fiesta, Aduana is jammed with thousands of people, bands playing, food and religious art vendors, take a bus to the junction and walk-in, traffic snarls quickly.

In 1775 on September 29th de Anza’s expedition leaves Alamos, it arrives in Tubac in 17 days. On October 23, de Anza departs Tubac with 300 people and more than a 1000 head of livestock. They have no wagons or carts, all supplies were loaded on pack mules every morning and unloaded each night. The expedition follows reports of a great river flowing into the bay, where they built a presidio, mission and a pueblo now known as the San Francisco. In March 1776 deAnza arrived in Monterrey, California, 1800 miles from where he started, on March 28th Mexican Captain Juan Bautista de Anza and Padre Pedro Font arrive at the tip of San Francisco, where deAnza planted a cross, claiming all lands for the King of Spain.

In February 1781 Ramoñ Laso de la Vega came to Álamos to recruit settlers for Los Angeles. He left with 11 settlers and 17 soldier families. Several of the soldiers had married in Álamos. Ramoñ Laso de la Vega was under the command of Fernando de Rivera y Moncado who was leading a group of 42 soldiers. Fernando de Rivera followed the de Anza trail north through Sonora to Arizona and then west towards Los Angeles. He was killed along with his men, before reaching the San Gabriel Mission. On September 4 Ramoñ Laso de la Vega arrives in Los Angeles. His party had gone from Álamos to Guaymas and then sailed to Loreto, Baja California. From there they marched up the Peninsula. The official record states that 11 families of settlers from Sinaloa and Sonora along with four soldiers and their families founded Los Angeles.

Sketch drawn in 1869 by California emmigrants who found the Tubac Presidio abandoned with the bell, church ornaments and images ripe for thieves like the peaches still rippening on the trees and not a soul to be found. When Apaches roamed close-folks ran for the hills

“Sketch drawn in 1869 by California emmigrants who found the Tubac Presidio abandoned with the bell, church ornaments and images ripe for thieves like the peaches still rippening on the trees and not a soul to be found. When Apaches roamed close-folks ran for the hills”


SAN CAYETANO de TUMACACORI… When Mexican decree forced all Spanish-born to leave in 1878, Tumacacori lost it priest. Scaffolding still clung to the bell tower and for twenty years the Indians, settlers, helped by Mexican priests hung on to the settlement. Apaches kept raiding and the hard winter of 1848 drove the last residents from Tubac and Tumacacori. The 157 year relm of the Spanish Mission came to an end.

When the final Tohono Oodham and Pima families left Tumacacori Mission for the safety of San Xavier they took the Mission's statues with them for safe-keeping. Soon everyone would camp inside the old abandon Mission, soon the roof disappeared.

When the final Tohono Oodham and Pima families left Tumacacori Mission for
the safety of San Xavier they took the Mission’s statues with them for safe-keeping. Soon everyone would camp inside the old abandon Mission, the roof soon disappeared, the holes in the wall and floor come from vandals digging for Jesuit gold.


The first mortuary chapel was built at Tumacacori perhaps signals the realization that germs were killing people.

The first mortuary chapel was built at Tumacacori perhaps signals the realization that germs were killing people.

Altar area of Tumacacori

Altar area of Tumacacori

Chapel view of Tumacori interior

Chapel view of Tumacacori interior

In the extreme southeast corner of California, far from the more famous chain of twenty-one coastal missions, were two forgotten missions. The short lived missions of the Colorado River, near present day Yuma, remain a sketchy record and exist only as one historical marker each. Purísima Concepción, established in October 1780 at Fort Yuma and Mission San Pedro Y San Pablo de Bicuñer, founded January 7, 1781, were really “Arizona” missions on the California side of the Colorado River and not part of the better known coastal California Mission system. One mission site, Mission La Purisima Conception de la Virgen Santisima, most likely was built here because of the commanding hill top location.

Both mission’s short history are closely intertwined.

This cross marks the spot where de Niza is believed to have entered in what is today the San Rafael Valley 10 miles east of Nogales, Arizona

This cross marks where Fray Marcos de Niza is first thought to have entered the U.S. in what is today the San Rafael Valley ten miles east of Nogales, Az.

Mission San Pedro y San Pablo de Bicuñer was founded on January 7, 1781 by Father Francisco Garcés to protect the Anza Trail where it forded the Colorado River. The settlement, located about ten miles northeast of Yuma Crossing, was a part of the Arizona mission system. It could not adequately support it’s Indians, the Spanish colonists had seized the best lands and destroyed the Indians’ crops, and ignored their rights. In retaliation, the Quechan Indians attacked and destroyed the settlement and the neighboring Mission Puerto de Purísima Concepción during a three-day period, beginning on July 17, 1781. Some 50 Spaniards, including Father Garcés as well as three friars and Captain Fernando Rivera y Moncada were killed, and the women and children taken captive. The attack closed the crossing and crippled communications between Las Californias and New Spain-Mexico. Today, a historical marker is on Imperial County Road 524, 0.2 mi W of intersection of Levee and Mehring Roads, 4.4 mi NE of Bard, California, eight miles away, along the river.

Saint Thomas Yuma Indian Mission is a Catholic mission in Winterhaven, California. It was dedicated in 1923, and its design replicates the Mission Puerto de Purisima, which once stood on this site. Built on the grounds of the original mission founded by Father Garces in 1780, the mission is a reminder of the long history of the Quechan Indian Nation and Yuman People. The present Catholic Mission Church was built in 1922 and is a replica of the original Mission destroyed during the uprising in 1855. Mass Sat. 4:30 and Sun. 9:30 a.m. June-Sept

St.Thomas Indian Mission is at Fort Yuma, California, on the Colorado River’s west bank, opposite the present city of Yuma. Take Interstate 8 almost to the Arizona border. After the check station, turn off on Winterhaven. Fort Yuma (1849-1885) would become a U.S. military outpost and was revived as an active mission in 1919.

During his travels, Father Garcés became acquainted with Chief Palma, head of the Yuman Indians living along the Colorado River. Palma had embraced Christianity and visited Mexico. He asked Garcés to live with the natives and seemed interested in conversion. After some study the king ordered a mission be built. Father Garcés strongly recommended against too large a presence. The Yumans, unlike the California Indians who lived off the land, were agriculturalists likely to resent settlers, who appropriate Indian crop land. Unfortunately the commandant general, Carlos de Croix did not listen to Garcés, and he ordered that two missions be built, Purisima Concepcion at Fort Yuma and San Pedro y San Pablo at Bicuner. On August 1st, 1779, leaving Padre Diaz with a small escort of soldiers at Sonoyta, Padre Garcés started with two soldiers on his last expedition into what is now Arizona. He reached Yuma late in the month, and on September 3rd, sent the soldiers back to Diaz at Sonoyta, with the information that he was already having trouble on account of the dissensions among the Yumas. The soldiers reached Diaz, just when a Papago reported that some of his tribe had revolted and were planning to attack the soldiers.


PADRE GARCES AT SAINT THOMAS MISSION IN YUMA. A plaque on the site with a statue of father Garcés commemorates the mission and its beloved friar-it proclaims
Born April 12, 1738
Died July 17, 1781

Just as Garces had predicted, the natives resented the white presence and Garcés was given several warnings that the missions would be attacked. The Yumans finally did attack both missions on Tuesday, July 17, 1781. Garces was saying mass at Concepción to a few people, mostly women, when the attacks started. While the killings and looting was occurring, both priests heard confession and administered the sacrament to some of the dying. The same day the Indians attacked Padres Diaz and Moreno at Bicuner as they were preparing to say mass, and they, and most of the soldiers, were killed in the attack. Through the influence of Palma, Garcés and Father Barranche survived until the 19th when they were both beaten to death with clubs. The four priests were afterwards recovered and laid to rest in one coffin in the church at Tubutama.

The Baja resisted European colonization for more than a century after its discovery, the Spanish finally managed it using the missions we find in poor condition today or have disappeared completely, but tourists today still visit sites such as Misión San Vicente Ferrer, Misión El Descanso and Misión San Miguel Arcángel de la Frontera.

Misión San Vicente Ferrer -San Vicente was one of the largest and most important of the Dominican missions, because of its fertile land, abundant water, and strategic location on the missions' Camino Real.

Misión San Vicente Ferrer –
San Vicente was one of the largest and most important of the Dominican missions, because of its fertile land, abundant water, and strategic location on the missions’ Camino Real.

Missión San Vicente Ferrer was established on August 27, 1780 on the western edge of the basin of San Vicente, a permanent creek creating rich pasture lands allowed this mission to grow corn, wheat, beans and barley. The brothers, Miguel Hidalgo and Joaquin Valero also raised cattle, goats and sheep. Wild plants as mezcal, jojoba and various kinds of cactus were harvested. At its founding, St. Vincent Ferrer was the administrative center of the military missions, with the job of preventing attacks on the Indians coming down the stream of San Vicente and to protect the mountain missions they were erecting. Of all the Dominican missionary settlements, San Vicente Ferrer was the largest, with almost 1300 square kilometers, including the church, bedrooms, kitchen, dining and the presidio walls and towers. Today the ruins are ninety miles south of Ensenada by the federal highway about seven miles north of San Vicente.

Nowadays, indigenous Cocopah people still inhabit a small government-protected corner of the Colorado River delta near the junction of the Hardy and the Rio Colorado.Bishop341 The Cocopah Tribe is split into two groups, one of the U.S. side of the border and another poorer group living in Mexico who mostly work on fishing and agricultural ejidos. While working in the Colorado River Delta, I happened by the Cocapau village about the time the Bishop of Mexicali, the Monsenor José Isidro Guerrero Macías, was visiting the “Vista” which the Catholic church still serves and hosts mass for the locals, much like the missionaries of old, who visited the outlier villages and held mass for the locals. There was a large turnout and the church provided rosary beads for those attending, a few babies got kissed and blessed–the Bishop’s ring was kissed and the Monsenor then moved on down the road til the next time. The locals really enjoyed and appreciated the visit, it was well-attended and food was served following Monsenor Macias visit.
Welcome to the Cocupa
A Spanish mission was more than a religious institution. Its purpose was to take an indian population and convert it not only to Catholicism, but to the Spanish way of life. In building the missions in Texas, the Spanish wanted to create a self-sufficient population that would become loyal Spanish subjects, thereby staving off any involvement of foreign powers like France. Indian converts were taught farming, raising livestock, black-smithing, carpentry, stonework, and weaving. To sustain a mission, the padres needed strong backs, to cultivate crops and run enough live stock to support a mission. Indians were often forced into living at the missions, and beatings enforced the conversion to Catholicism. Forcing tribes into missions was enforced by Spanish soldiers, simple flogging was handled by the priest or assistants. ALAMO SAN ANTONE 4-Indians and missionaries at San Antonio de Valero found protection at the mission from Apaches from the west and Comanches from the north, the local tribes, were under constant attack. Mission life brought protection as well as a shelter with a stable food supply. It also gave Indians access to: firearms and horses. On June 30, 1745, an Apache attack on the town of San Fernando was driven back by 100 mission converts from Valero. You might remember another story of Americans holding off the Mexican Army in a Mission of the same name “San Antonio de Valero Mission”, or more fondly asthe Alamo, the cradle of Texas Liberty.

 San José de la Laguna

San José de la Laguna

The Spanish Missions in New Mexico territory were a series of religious outposts established by Franciscan friars under charter from the Spanish Empire and the government of the Vice royalty of New Spain for Indian Reductions of the Native Americans—Indians into Christianity. The Spanish wanted to hispanicise the Indians, including the rich cultures of 21 distinct Pueblo people; the Tewa; the Navajo; and the Apache. The missions also tried to pacify resistance to the European invasion of the tribes’ pre-Columbian homelands. The missions introduced European livestock, fruits, vegetables, and small-scale industry into the Southwest region. Fray Marcos de Niza, was sent by Coronado, he first saw New Mexico in 1539, where the picturesque mission church of San José de la Laguna was built around 1706 by Fray Antonio Miranda and shows the single aisle floor plan commonly used in pueblo churches. It has been repaired many times, and acquired its distinctive white stucco exterior in 1977. The church contains a beautiful altar screen made between 1800 and 1808 by a folk artist. The interior walls are mud plastered and white washed, and the floor is packed earth. Marker is on Interstate 40 at milepost 113.5.

 Salinas National Quarai Unit, in the foothills of the Manzano MountainsSalinas National Quarai Unit, in the foothills of the Manzano Mountains[/caption]

Three historic sites in the sparsely-populated grasslands of central New Mexico, southeast of Albuquerque, are protected as Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, a relatively little-known preserve with low annual visitation. Centerpiece of each are the ruins of 17th century Spanish Franciscan missions, dating from the earliest period of European colonization, when the settlers began to spread Christianity to the local Tompiro and Tewa Indians. The sites have ancient pueblos, mostly overgrown and unexcavated but one village is large and well preserved. Although all structures are ruins and have been abandoned for since 1677, the general remoteness and lack of subsequent settlement in this part of the state have left the remains in excellent condition.

The northernmost site, and the least visited, is Quarai, in the foothills of the Manzano Mountains – this contains a sizeable red brick church plus outbuildings and grassy mounds with pueblo foundations. Twelve miles south, the Abó ruins receive more visitors as they lie along a main road (US 60), but are similar to Quarai except the surroundings are more desert-like, less tree-covered, with long distance views across open plains to the mountains. The third and most extensive site is 20 miles further southeast, at Gran Quivira; this too is based around a mission complex, next to a multi-room pueblo village, both rather different in appearance to the reddish sandstone buildings further north, being instead made of white-grey limestone. The national monument headquarters is in the small town of Mountainair along US 60 though each site also has its own visitor center. No fee is charged for entry, and the ruins are open between 9 and 6 pm.

Salinas National Monument Gran Quivira Unit

Salinas National Monument Gran Quivira Unit

First contact with the Spanish happened in 1583 with the arrival of Don Antonio de Espejo who mentions a settlement that sounds like Gran Quivira. In 1598 with the expedition of Don Juan de Oñate who was the first Spaniard to colonize New Mexico. As part of the mission system, Gran Quivira was first placed under the Pecos Mission District, with the arrival of Fray Alonso de Benavides in 1626, Gran Quivira became a visita of Abo in 1629, then construction began on the first permanent mission at Gran Quivira. Soon a larger church, San Buenaventura, was begun. By 1672 a combination of disease, drought, famine, and Apache raids led to the abandonment of Gran Quivira.

The Acoma Pueblo had contact with Spanish explorers heading north, all generally recorded as peaceful interactions. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s Expedition, described the Pueblo in 1540 as “one of the strongest places we have seen.” Upon visiting the Pueblo the expedition “repented having gone up to the place.” The only access to the Acoma Pueblo during this time was a set of almost vertical stairs cut into the rock face. It is believed Coronado’s expedition was the first European contact with the Acoma.

By 1598, relationships with Spain had declined. In December, the Acoma heard that Juan de Oñate intended to colonize the area. The Acoma ambushed a group of Oñate’s men, killing 11 of them, including Oñate’s nephew. The Spanish took revenge on the Acoma, burning most of the village and killing more than 600 people and imprisoning approximately 500 others. Prisoners of war were forced into slavery and men over 25 years old had their right foot amputated. Wikipedia says that a row of houses on the north side of the mesa still retain marks from the fire started by a cannon during the Acoma War.

Many Acoma people resent Juan de Oñate being called New Mexico’s founder. In 1998, after an Oñate statue was erected as a tribute at the Onate Monument Center in Alcalde, someone cut off the bronze right foot of his statue with a chainsaw. Karma!








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