Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hohokam Freeway (State Route 143)

Agriculture has always been very important to the people of Arizona in order to have life on the lands. The Hohokam Indians settled here around 300 A.D. They settled here and built canals. They didn’t realize that they would be the reason others were able to settle here many years later. Anglos and Mexican-Americans were a big part of south Phoenix before Sky Harbor took many of their homes in the early 1900’s. Minorities have always had a hard time when it comes to settling and being able to keep their lands. Chase building is an iconic building known for having the beloved Arizona Diamondbacks. Many populated areas in Phoenix have been taken over by now greatly recognized buildings and the history behind it has been forgotten.

Arizona State Route 143 was a more significant area before the freeway was conveniently placed there. The Hohokam Indians were very crafty when it came to making life happen in Arizona’s dry heat. They made a living by growing their own crops through the irrigation systems they made themselves. They were big on growing corn and cotton. The Hohokam came from what is now known as Mexico. They lived here for a couple of centuries (15th and 16th). (John, 2006) There is not a set in stone fact as to how the Hohokam people left this area. There are many theories as to where they went. One of the theories is that they migrated back to Mexico due to a drought in Arizona. The next theory is that they actually stayed here and evolved culturally, becoming what is now known Pima people or Papago. There was an excavation at the site before construction began, and that is when archaeologist discovered a great treasure. (Hayden 1970) The Hohokam site was discovered in 1953. The site consisted of around 55 housing for the Hohokam dating as far as 300 AD. There were many valuable artifacts left behind, such as the material they would use to make their houses and their everyday domestication. Estimates were made when looking as to how far back these artifacts really were; holes are 800-year-old fire pits. Dart said, “Ash in the soil and cracked stones nearby reveal that the structures had been destroyed by fire.” The recent excavation entailed work on four Hohokam dwellings, known as “pit houses,” along the south side of Whitehouse Canyon Road. This is the reason the freeway was named after the people that occupied this space. When construction was about to begin there was an archaeologist sent out because it is a procedure. When they found all of these treasures and bodies, they were removed. (Randall, 1987) Many centuries later, freeway 143 (later known as Hohokam freeway) was going to be built exiting the sky harbor airport. An archeologist was brought in to excavate the area and see what grounds were going to be destroyed. It is a rule that any ground believed to have had a buried past must be checked. Archeologist from U of A came along and excavated the area. They found hundreds of bodies of the Hohokam people underground. The findings have been cremated before being buried and also handed over to the Salt River Pima Community for reburial. This is done in order to put the spirits back to rest. This site is now only merely a highway. Serving a different purpose nowadays. (Woodbury, 1961)

- Evelyn Ruiz and Valeria Espinoza


Hayden, D. Julian. (1970), American Antiquity. Vol. 35 No 1

John M. Briggs, Katherine A. Spielmann, Hoski Schaafsma, Keith W. Kintigh, Melissa Kruse, Morehouse, and Karen Schollmeyer. 2006

Randall H. McGuire and Ann Valdo Howar Kiva Vol. 52, No. 2 (Winter, 1987), pp. 113-146
Woodbury, R. B. (1961), A Reappraisal of Hohokam Irrigation. American Anthropologist,
63: 550–560. doi: 10.1525/aa.1961.63.3.02a00070

Woodbury, R. B. (1961), A Reappraisal of Hohokam Irrigation. American Anthropologist,
63: 550–560. doi: 10.1525/aa.1961.63.3.02a00070

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