Arizona’s Native American communities are an integral part of the state’s history and culture. Home to 22 federally recognized tribes, Arizona is a state that embraces the various traditions of our Native American neighbors. Many tribal lands are located in the far reaches of Arizona, but a few border Tempe and neighboring cities. Here are a few places to explore and learn more.
Hike “A” Mountain
Officially called Hayden Butte Preserve Park (O’odham: ʼOidbaḍ Doʼag), this Downtown Tempe Landmark is culturally significant to the salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Hikers can see hundreds of petroglyphs made by the Hohokam people between A.D. 750 and 1450. They are protected and should only be viewed but not touched.
Pueblo Grande Museum & Archaeological Park
Opened in 1929, this museum gives visitors a peek into prehistoric history by showcasing the remains of the Hohokam people’s ball court and platform mound. Visitors can also see replicated dwellings, native plants and galleries exploring the Hohokam culture which thrived throughout the Salt River Valley which is now Metro Phoenix.
Founded in 1929, the Heard Museum is focused on accurately portraying Native arts and cultures through a series of galleries that showcase both the past and present. The extensive collection includes a variety of Katsina Dolls created by various Native American Tribes. This is a must-see museum during your visit to Arizona.
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
Located 45 minutes south of Tempe stands one of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America. It is believed it was inhabited by the Hohokam from 1350 C.E. to 1450 C.E. Take short, self-guided tour around the monument or schedule a guided tour, which are offered from late November through early April.
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
Located along Tempe’s NE border, this community offers several modern attractions for visitors to enjoy. To learn about their history, you can visit the Huhugam Ki Museum which features pieces from the O’odham (Pima) and the Piipaash Maricopa Tribes. Items include intricate baskets, pottery, clothing and photographs.
Gila River Indian Community
Located just SW of Tempe, the Gila River Indian Community provides visitors with shopping, dining and casino experiences. To learn about their cultural heritage, visits the Huhugam Heritage Center. This museum highlights the ancestral heritage of the community made up of the Akimel O’otham (Pima) and the Pee Posh (Maricopa) tribes.
Located four hours north of Tempe, visitors can explore the wonders of the Navajo Nation which covers NE Arizona and extends into NM and UT. World renown sites to see include Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. You can also visit museums in Tuba City and Window Rock.
Located approximately four hours north of Tempe, the Hopi Reservation is accessed by going through the Navajo Nation. Start your visit at the Hopi Cultural Center in Second Mesa. Perhaps the best way to discover their rich heritage and culture is by scheduling a tour through First Mesa Consolidated Villages.
Exploring Phoenix’s Native American Culture
Whether you are a visitor to Tempe or have lived in the area for years, check out these fascinating museums and ancient ruins of the original inhabitants of Arizona.
Support local Tempe merchants
Support local Tempe merchants. Tempe retailers, artists, florists and more sell everything from ASU gear to flowers to skateboards to artwork. These businesses will benefit from your patronage now more than ever, so use this list as you’re looking for gifts, or gift cards, for loved ones (or just for you).