When I was a child, my family and I would spend summers in the American Southwest. One state that I found very fascinating [albeit too hot during the summer months] was Arizona. It was so very different from my native Pennsylvania. As the last state from the continental USA, it was larger in geography than my home state but less populated.
Another thing that was different was that there is a such a wide variety of climates all in one state. Southern Arizona is what one generally thinks of regarding the southwest – hot desert climates and mild winters. But Northern Arizona has pine forests, mountain ranges, plateaus, deep canyons and some serious winters with a lot of snow. In fact, one year when my family was visiting, we couldn’t make it over one of the passes because we didn’t have chains on our car tires. The snow was so deep that without them, we couldn’t go forward.
One of the land forms for which this state is most known for is the Grand Canyon. According to Wikipedia, it is 227 miles long, 18 miles wide and about a mile in depth. Long before the first European viewed it in 1540, Native Americans such as the Navajo, Hopi, Havasupai and Yavapai inhabited this area. The Native Americans lived inside the canyon sometimes inside the caves and sides of the canyon. It always fascinated me to see these early “apartment” dwellings.
The cultures of this state are what left the most indelible mark in my memory. There are 27 federally recognized Native American tribes in the state. The largest one is the Navajo. They are known for silversmithing, rug weaving and blackware pottery. Traditionally they lived in mud hogans. Another group is the Hopi. They are known for their basket weaving and making Kachina figurines. Traditionally they lived in mud apartment dwellings. A third large group is the Apache which has many subgroups. They are known for their creative use of rawhide and traditionally lived in either teepees, wickiups or hogans. As I write this, I am really craving some Navajo Fry Bread…yum!
For being a relatively recent state [admitted to the Union in 1912], it has been known to Europeans since 1539 [70 years before the English settled in Virginia]. It was a part of the Spanish Empire, then became a part of Mexico before it was annexed by the United States after the Mexican-American War in 1848. It was made a US territory by President Abraham Lincoln. It’s capital and largest city is Phoenix.
As you and your loved ones assemble this map jigsaw puzzle entitled Southwest Travels, it would be a great time to explore more about the culture and history of this state. Better yet, you can make some Fry Bread and plan your trip to this fascinating state!