This month, the Oro Valley Historical Society celebrates Native American Heritage Month, along with the rest of the country, since it came into being during the H.W. Bush administration. You will be able to see the history of those who came before us at the historic Pusch House Museum at Steam Pump Ranch every Saturday from 9 a.m. – noon. Enjoy the Heirloom Farmers’ Market, and then walk a little south at the Ranch to learn so much about how the indigenous people lived, worked, and shaped our Oro Valley life.
Some interesting facts - As of January, 2023, there are 21 native American tribes in Arizona. Of the 15 counties in Arizona, 9 of them have names related to Native Americans. Arizona has the third largest population of Native Americans in the country. The largest reservation is the Navaho, which extends into New Mexico and Utah and has almost 400,000 members. The Tohono O’odham reservation is second largest with 2.8 million acres and 28,000 members.
There is evidence of the existence of the Hohokam (now Tohono O’odham) life at the Honeybee Village site on the southwest corner of Rancho Vistoso Boulevard at Moore Road. This 13-acre core of Honeybee Village has been preserved forever by a group consisting of personnel of the Town of Oro Valley, Desert Archaeology, Pima County, the Tohono O’odham Nation, Arizona State Museum, and Canada Vistas, a local development and home building company owned by Councilman Steve Solomon. Mr. Solomon stated that he “has always been interested in local history and archaeology, and was aware of the 87-acre Vistoso Town Center property containing the Honey Bee Village site, and that it was his intent to preserve the significant portions of this site.” The above group of interested parties spent about a year planning the development of this site in order to preserve and store the artifacts discovered. Mr. Solomon stated that he “felt development and preservation could positively coexist.”
Although much of what was discovered is not visible, informational signs along the easily traversed trail system throughout the preserve educate the visitor on the way of life of those who lived here. During this month when we honor Native Americans (and now that our days are much cooler!) take some time to walk through this Tohono O’odham ancestral site to honor those who went before.
In closing – another very important fact - In World War I and World War II, Native Americans played a significant role as code talkers, leading to extremely successful communication operations. They used their native language to send messages that the Japanese couldn't interpret. They called it 'the unbreakable code.' Congress stated “at a time when Indians were discouraged from practicing their native culture, a few brave men used their cultural heritage, their language, to help change the course of history.”