Prehistoric People of Arizona

— guest author Allan D. Kissam

When crossing the desert of Arizona, take some time for visiting one of the largest prehistoric ‘developments’ in North America. Development is the correct word because the local people built a large community house, in Spanish the Casa Grande, or great house. Also, there are canals and multiple family homes that are clearly part of a thriving community.

Layout of the Casa Grande development in Arizona – source NPS


This development, in 1892, was the first prehistoric and cultural preserve established in the United States under President Harrison. Prior to this protected status, natural deterioration and visitor abuse had taken its toll on the structure. Unearthed since then are canals, dwellings, and artifacts as part of an ongoing program to understand who the people were and how they lived in the local area. While the people of Casa Grande Ruins are not identified with any specific tribe of today, the native peoples are known to have farmed and traded with others.

photo A. Kissam

Located near Coolidge, Arizona, there are major highways nearby and services. It is possible to pack a lunch and munch while wondering how the ancient people lived and laughed hereabouts. Sun protection is recommended and heavy rains do occur. Find out more at the National Park Service here.

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