This present-day name given to the
prehistoric occupants of central and southern Arizona applies to those who lived here
between about the year 0 and 1450 CE (current era). It comes from the Pima Indian
(Akimel O'odham) word for "those who have gone" or "all used up".
The Hohokam engineered an amazing system of irrigation canals and villages,
turning the desert valleys into fertile centers of civilization. They traded with
Mesoamerican civilizations (like the Aztecs) and surrounding Native American cultures, and
developed beautiful pottery, ornamentation, and elaborate rituals.
Although they mysteriously disappeared around 1450 CE (among their
descendants are thought to be the above-mentioned Pima Indians), they set the stage for
the development of modern-day Phoenix.
When white settlers from the expanding United States arrived in the Valley of
the Sun in the nineteenth century, they realized that they had an easy time in trying to
develop an agricultural base. All they had to do was to clean out the old Hohokam
canals, get them going again, and start farming!
A modern city then grew from the ruins of the former civilization: Phoenix
-- from the name of the mythical bird that rose from ashes, to live again.
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