Explore Arizona’s Native American Communities

The Stand restaurant in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community

Discover the history and culture of the Native American communities in and around Tempe and throughout Arizona.

Hike up “A” Mountain for views of ancient Hohokam petroglyphs
Located on the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, “A” Mountain is situated adjacent to Arizona State University and Downtown Tempe. 

“A” Mountain, officially named Hayden Butte Preserve Park, is not only a great spot for hiking and enjoying views of Tempe, but also a chance to get a glimpse into Native American history. The butte is culturally-significant to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, who consider the butte to be a sacred place and a link to its ancestors. Hikers and explorers alike can see hundreds of petroglyphs, or rock art images, that were made by the Hohokam between A.D. 750 and 1450. Many of the petroglyphs can be easliy seen from the trails on the south side of the mountain. The Hohokam were the prehistoric inhabitants of this area. They built hundreds of miles of irrigation canals, cultivated corn as their main crop and lived in many settlements both large and small throughout the valley.

Exploring the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
To get there from Tempe – Just 15 minutes north of Tempe, take the 101 N freeway and exit east of Indian School Rd. The community is located just east of Scottsdale.

Learn about the traditions, culture and history of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community by visiting the Huhugam Ki Museum. The museum highlights several pieces of history for both the O’odham (Pima) and Piipaash (Maricopa) tribes that live in this community. Intricate baskets, beautiful clay pottery, original clothing items and photographs tell stories of the tribes. It’s located on the main tribal campus, at 10005 E. Osborn Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85256. Open Tuesday-Friday 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (480) 362-6320.

There is also a visitor center located at the Pavilions at Talking Stick shopping center, open Thursday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and daily in March. Visitors can learn more about the community and Talking Stick destination areas such as Talking Stick Resort and Golf Club, OdySea Aquarium, Top Golf, Talking Stick Pavilions shopping center and Salt River Fields at Talking Stick stadium.

For authentic food of the community, plan a lunch stop at The Stand. The Stand is located just off the corner of Alma School and Indian School (not to be confused with the burger-and-taco joint of the same name on 36th Street and Indian School). It’s a rustic little spot that you would miss if you blinked. The menu is short and sweet, including red or green chili on fry bread or wrapped burrito. The fry bread and tortillas are both made in-house, and are beyond delicious. Featuring outdoor seating on old tree stumps, friendly owners and authentic food of the tribe, this is a “can’t miss” spot. Open weekdays for lunch.

Exploring the Gila River Indian Community
To get there from Tempe – Take I-10 east about 15 minutes, and exit at Queen Creek Road heading west (right). Drive about one-half mile to Maricopa Road and turn right.

Plan a visit to the Huhugam Heritage Center to learn about the Gila River Indian Community. The museum highlights the ancestral, historic and current cultures of the Gila River Indian Community, made up of two tribes – the Akimel O’otham (Pima) and the Pee Posh (Maricopa). View an outstanding collection of nearly 500 O’odham baskets, an exquisite Pee Posh pottery collection and arts and crafts museum collections. The museum is located at 21359 S. Maricopa Rd., Chandler, AZ 85226. Museum hours are Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (520) 796-3500 for more information.

The Gila River Indian Community also offers a variety of shopping, dining and hotel experiences. The Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Casino, Rawhide, Kai Restaurant and more are all within a few minutes off I-10 freeway.

Plan a visit to the Heard Museum
2301 North Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004 | (602) 252-8840

Founded in 1929, the Heard Museum has grown in size to become recognized internationally for the quality of its collections, its educational programming and its festivals. Focused on accurately portraying Native arts and cultures, the Heard combines the stories of American Indian people through art, including a variety of paintings, drawings, prints, photography and sculpture. There’s so much to see here, visitors can spend hours looking at the variety of galleries and exhibits. Visitors to the museum learn about the cultures and experiences of the people – past and present – who create art. Partnerships with American Indian artists and tribal communities provide visitors with a distinctive perspective about the art and cultures of Native people, especially those from the Southwest. And if you’re visiting in the spring, make plans to attend the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market. The second largest market of its kind in the country, the fair features more than 600 Native artists including well established and acclaimed talents along with a new and upcoming generation.

Afterwards, make sure to stop in to The Heard Museum Shops, featuring pieces from hundreds of artists. If you’re looking for a lunch option during or after your visit, the museum’s Courtyard Cafe features delicious Southwestern inspired dishes. The Coffee Cantina is also a great spot to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or a grab-and-go snack. Museum hours are Monday-Saturday from 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Visit the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park
4619 E. Washington St., Phoenix AZ 85034 | (602) 495-0901

For a prehistoric taste of the Native American history in Phoenix, visit the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park. The museum was opened in 1929 and the original museum building was completed in 1935 using adobe blocks manufactured on site and scavenged supplies. Several additions and updates have been made over the years to include long term exhibits, a meeting facility and much more.

A visit today consists of walking on a short trail around the prehistoric remains of the Hohokam people’s ball court and platform mound. It’s truly fascinating to see the actual building sites of this early Native American community. The trail also features a variety of native plants, walk-in replicated dwellings and an interpretive agricultural garden. Inside the museum’s welcome center, view an award-winning introductory video on the Hohokam people and the Pueblo Grande village site and visit the galleries exploring the Hohokam culture. Museum hours are Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m. and Sundays 1:00-4:45 p.m. The trail closes at 4:30 p.m.

Discover the past at the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
1100 W. Ruins Dr., Coolidge, AZ 85128 | (520) 723-3172
To get there from Tempe – Go south on I-10, take the Coolidge exit and follow the signs to the park entrance. 

One of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America, the Casa Grande ruins purpose still remain a mystery today. Just 45 minutes from Tempe, the “Casa Grande” is believed to have been inhabited by the Hohokam from 1350 C.E. to 1450 C.E. The earliest records of discovery of the ruins came in 1694 from Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino. After years of deterioration and intermittent repairs, President Benjamin Harrison set aside one square mile of Arizona Territory in 1892 surrounding the Casa Grande Ruins as the first prehistoric and cultural reserve established in the United States.

The self-guided tour is a short walk around the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument featuring informational signage along the way. One hour guided tours are offered from late November through early April. It is recommended to call the day of your visit for tour schedules. The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Plan a trip to northern Arizona to explore Navajo Nation
To get there from Tempe – Drive north for approximately 3 1/2 to 4 hours to Navajo Nation

In just under four hours, visitors can explore the wonders of the Navajo Nation. The current Navajo Nation extends into Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Utah. Discover the awe-inspiring beauty of the area by visiting Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. View itinerary ideas on how to best explore the area.

Learn about the tribe’s rich history by visiting one of the museums: the Navajo Interactive Museum in Tuba City (10 Main St, Tuba City, AZ 86045) and the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock (Highway 264 and Loop Rd., Window Rock, AZ 86515). Make time to stop by the Navajo Village Heritage Center, 1253 Coppermine Rd , Page, AZ 86040, to enjoy authentic Navajo food, dance performances, traditional story-telling, and learn about Navajo history and traditions. The best way to visit is to schedule a tour, but walk-ins are welcome. To schedule a tour call (928) 660-0304.

Visit the Hopi Reservation, located in northern Arizona
To get there from Tempe – Drive north for approximately 4 hours, through Navajo Nation, to the Hopi Reservation

Plan to visit the Hopi Cultural Center first, AZ-264, Second Mesa, AZ 86043, to start your journey. The Hopi Reservation encompasses approximately 1.5 million acres offering panoramic views of the surrounding low-altitude desert. Experience the rich history, culture, art and food of the Hopi people by scheduling a tour through the First Mesa Consolidated Villages. Call Marilyn June, the General Manager, directly to schedule your tour at (928) 734-2401, and be sure to read through these guidelines before your visit to make it an enjoyable experience.

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