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Excavation Site Reveals History of SRPMIC Ancestors

One of the many artifacts believed to belong to the Hohokam were uncovered at an excavation site in the area.

The great ancestors of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community continue to show us their rich and beautiful history.

Long before the Phoenix metro area existed and centuries before contact with Europeans, the ancestors of the SRPMIC, the Hohokam, flourished here.

Recently, large cooking pits, pottery and other items such as stone axes belonging to Hohokam people were uncovered at an excavation site in the area. It’s not rare to find such a discovery in the Phoenix area or other parts of Arizona, but it doesn’t happen every day. Hohokam life has been documented and studied for years. Many of these special places have been located by experts but remain purposely hidden to protect what’s left.

The items found recently date back about 1,200 years ago, when at least 40,000 Hohokam lived in the area known today as Pueblo Grande, now a museum and archaeological park at 46th and Washington streets in eastern Phoenix.

Pueblo Grande sits north of the Salt River and west of Papago Park. The location was a key area for control of the river’s flow.

“It was the Two Waters of today, the administrative headquarters,” said Thomas Wright, staff archaeologist for the SRPMIC Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Division.

A similar Hohokam hub is located near Country Club Drive and Main Street in Mesa, now the Arizona Museum of Natural History.

Wright said that archaeologists first recorded the excavation site in 1929, and the reason the site was uncovered recently is because of planned infrastructure work.

The SRPMIC Council members have visited the site, and President Delbert Ray Sr. and Vice President Martin Harvier shared their experience at public events including the 2016 SRPMIC Community Council inauguration and the 12 Percent Gaming Grant announcement late last year.

A number of cooking pits were uncovered, some roughly four feet deep, perhaps used for feasting preparation. Artifacts were also found, including arrow points, ceramic figurine fragments, food grinding tools and a space believed to be a house.

Found artifacts were taken to a lab to be analyzed before being returned to the Community’s repository, Wright said.

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