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Gila River

Gila River War Relocation Memorial

By Maricopa Historical Society Vice President Denny Hoeh

For Archeology & Heritage Awareness Month, Maricopa Historical Society Vice President Denny Hoeh shared his top 10 historically-significant sites that contribute to the rich and diverse social tapestry around Maricopa. He said he hopes residents will step out and learn a few things beyond the legends and oral histories of the community.

“There’s an old expression that’s attributed to Dr. [Richard] White from the University of Washington. He said that ‘Americans love history, but have little use for historians,’” Hoeh said. “We all like our histories and we all like our stories that we have grown up with and things of that nature, but it’s nice to go to these places and see a little bit more of the correct history, some of the artifacts and some of the information that we might have missed in the folklore.”

Him-Dak Eco-Museum, Ak-Chin. Photo by William Lange

 

  1. Ak-Chin Indian Community

“They actually have three museum sites… which give a lot of history of Maricopa and the Native Americans just to the south [of Maricopa]. Those are [all] free [and] open to the public pretty regularly.”

  • Him-Dak Eco-Museum – 47685 W. Eco-Museum Road
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs Agency House – 46348 W. Farrell Road
  • Francis of Assisi Mission Schoolhouse – 16657 N. Church Road
Huhugam Heritage Center. Photo by Mason Callejas
  1. Huhugam Heritage Center 21359 S. Maricopa Road, Chandler

“It’s significant because not only does it have displays on the Akiel O’Odham and Peeposh members of the tribe, but it also stores the artifacts from Snaketown. Snaketown was one of the most significant Hohokam centers.”

 

Sonoran Desert National Monument. Photo by Bob Wick
  1. Sonoran Desert National Monument

“[The monument is] terribly underused, but through the national monument was a thoroughfare that literally people have been using for centuries. It designates nine different, recognized trails or nine different aspects to the trail.”

The area was traversed by pre-colonial indigenous cultures living around the Gila River basin; Spanish explorers in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, including Francisco Coronado, Juan Bautista de Anza and Father Kino; the Mormon Battalion, Forty Niners and multiple stagecoach routes.

Gila Bend
  1. Gila Bend Museum – 644 W. Pima St., Gila Bend

“In that museum it talks about [the historic] trails. It has pictures and exhibits and even some artifacts.”

Petroglyphs
  1. Painted Rock – Petroglyphs – Rocky Point Road, Dateland

It is the petroglyphs of the Hohokam people. It’s significant in that it is such a clear place that many of the folks who came along those trails and kept journals describe this area. So, we know exactly this area was visited by de Anza, was visited by the Mormon Battalion, was visited by gold rush pioneers as well as the Butterfield Stage[coach] line.”

 

First lady Eleanor Roosevelt visiting the Japanese Internment Camp on Gila River land near Maricopa.

 

  1. Japanese Internment Camp – Butte Camp Monument – Indian Route 86

“There’s an old structure that used to be the cultural center of the Gila River community. They’ve closed that cultural center, but in front of that they have displays and information about the Japanese internment camps… that were just outside of Maricopa.”

Ira Hayes Memorial, Sacaton
  1. Mathew B. Juan – Ira H. Hayes Memorial Park – Voak Drive, Sacaton

“[The commemorative park] talks about Ira Hayes [and] it talks about the veterans of WWI. One of the first soldiers to be killed in WWI happened to be a member of the Gila River community.”

Casa Grande Valley Historical Society Museum
  1. The Museum of Casa Grande – 110 W. Florence Blvd., Casa Grande

“It’s the old stone church building, [but] because Casa Grande and Maricopa paralleled a lot of history, when you go in and look at that museum, a lot of the history that is in that museum is also the history of Maricopa.”

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
  1. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument – 1100 W. Ruins Drive, Coolidge

“This has been around for a long time, It’s again one of those places that were recorded in lots of different histories, and when different people came into this area, they kept journals and they mentioned this area.”

In 1918 it officially became a national monument, so it is celebrating its 100th birthday as a National Monument this year.

Second Courthouse, Florence
  1. Florence

“I think you have to go to [Florence] to have a feel for the history of the area. [It] has a state historical park called McFarland [Historic State Park]… it has some great displays on the WWII German prison camp that was there… Also, the Pinal County Historical Society has a great museum… it has some great displays about this area [and] Pinal County. It also has a whole section that looks at the state prison.”

“One of the [other] buildings that you see right away [in Florence] is the second Pinal County Court House. You can go in, there’s a little bit of an exhibit, and the fun thing about that is that when they built it they ran out of money before they put in a clock, so they painted a clock in the tower.”

MacFarland State Park – 24 Ruggles St., Florence
Pinal County Court House – 135 N. Pinal St., Florence
Pinal County Historical Museum – 715 S. Main St., Florence


This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

First lady Eleanor Roosevelt visiting the Japanese Internment Camp on Gila River land near Maricopa.

 

Winston Churchill once said, “history is written by the victors,” alluding to a reality in which often only self-serving histories are memorialized. Despite criticisms over the implications of such a statement, Churchill believed the subjective nature of history tends to bend in favor of a conflict’s winner, sometimes excluding controversy and atrocity.

IF YOU GO
What: Gila River Japanese Internment Camp presentation
When: Feb. 5, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road
Who: Maricopa Historical Society
How Much: Free

One such American story is that of World War II Japanese and German internment camps.

To aid in telling the controversial tale of these camps, one of which happened to be in Maricopa’s backyard, the Maricopa Historical Society is hosting a speaker Monday who will shed light on what many consider to be a dark time in American history.

“[The presentation] focuses on this challenging period in our history when, due to fear and other issues, we lost our way a bit and incarcerated people, two-thirds of which were American citizens, because they looked like the enemy,” said Jody Crago, director of the Chandler Museum.

The political and social atmosphere that spawn this fear of invasion and defeat, Crago said, is relative to today and deserves revisiting.

“If your livelihood or your community seems like it’s being supplanted by some other group, it’s natural to be afraid of what the future holds,” Crago said.  

But in this instance, he said, that fear, whether warranted or not, became so great the government began to extensively deprive citizens of their rights.

The question being, Crago said, “is this important to think about today?”  

Crago’s presentation will also have a secondary component.

He hopes to highlight some of the new improvements at the Chandler Museum including a new “expanded” museum near the Chandler Fashion Center, which, he said, will include exhibits on Japanese internment camps in Arizona.

He also said, soon after the museum is open it will feature an exhibit on Chandler boxing legend Zora Folley, who once challenged Muhammed Ali for the heavyweight title but was defeated.

Crago has more than 25 years working in small museums focusing on community interaction. He co-created ChandlerpediA and is co-founder of the East Valley Cultural Heritage Coalition in Phoenix. He serves on the American Association for State and Local History National Leadership Awards Committee and was president of the Museum Association of Arizona.

His presentation on the Gila River internment camp will be held at the Maricopa Public Library, Feb. 5 at 5:30 p.m.

by -
Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa City Council voted Oct. 3 to approve payment of a third-installment for irrigation water at Copper Sky.

The $191,750 credit will supply the city’s recreation complex with 500 acre-feet, or almost 163 million gallons, of non-potable water to help keep fields and landscaping green around Copper Sky.

Interim Parks Director Fred Gray said, though he wasn’t around in 2013 when the first agreement was made, he understands that at the time, Global Water lacked the infrastructure or supply to support their need.

Gila River Water Storage LLC, being more established, agreed to step in and provide the city 1,500 acre-feet, which would last until 2015 when the second agreement was made.

According to the agreement, an initial 1,500 acre-feet would be supplied for the first year, with an additional 500 acre-feet coming each year thereafter. The contract, which is set to expire in 2020, set the initial price at $347 per acre-foot, and then increases that number by roughly $20 dollars a year until that expiration date.

When the contract does expire, the city will have paid out just over $1.5 million to Gila River.

At that point, Gray said, the city should open up the bidding process to potentially allow Global Water to gain the business.

“My guess, based on my experience with municipal governments, is that we would be required to look at other options at that point, based on the amount of money that we would be spending,” Gray said.

Being a six-year contract, he added, the city should most likely start looking at those options sometime in the fifth year – 2019.

“If I were going to be the long-term guy, that’s what I would recommend,” Gray said.

Global Water was recently granted a zoning change and permit to move forward with a plant expansion they say will allow them to supply another potential 11,000 customers. It is, however, unclear at this point if the utility plans to seek out the city’s business when the contract does expire.