here is little doubt that Arizona history begins in the summer of
T 1540 with Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s march to present-day
Zuni though some might wish to reckon the beginning the previ-
ous year. In 1539 Fray Marcos de Niza guided by the intrepid Esteban —
ex-slave and survivor along with Cabeza de Vaca of the ill-fated Narvaez
expedition to Florida — claims to have traveled to a place near Zuni and
then returned to Mexico upon hearing of Esteban’s death at the hands of
the Zuni. De Niza still told the tales of the seven cities of Cibola laden
with gold that convinced the viceroy of New Spain to send Vasquez de
Coronado north. Failure to find riches slowed but did not deter the expan-
sion of Spanish colonization. The Spanish colonial period lasted until
Mexican independence in 1821. The period of Mexican control ended
with the Gadsden Purchase of 1854 and the abandonment of the Mexican
garrison at Tucson in 1856.The subsequent American period continues to
be indelibly marked by the Mexican, Spanish, and Native American peo-
ple and culture.
Captain General Francisco Vasquez de Coronado leads an army of
Spaniards, European mercenaries, and Indians through Arizona to explore
what would later form the greater United States Southwest. A mere 48
years after Columbus’ landing, Coronado’s men stood on the edge of the
Grand Canyon, and visited the Indian pueblos at Hopi, Zuni, Acoma,
Pecos, and the villages along the io Grande.They explored parts of Texas
and saw and described the large buffalo herds of the plains, crossed into
Oklahoma and traversed southern Kansas as far as the Great Bend of the
Arkansas iver before reaching Indian villages in central Kansas. The
Coronado Expedition, one of the great epic stories of the Age of
Discovery, ended prehistory in the American Southwest.
Antonio de Espejo finances and leads a small expedition from the io
Grande to Hopi and along the Verde iver in search of mineral deposits.
The wealthy Juan de Onate leads an expedition from the io Grande
to Hopi and sends Captain Marcos Farfan to explore the mines in the
Verde iver valley.
Onate’s second expedition through Arizona proceeds west from Hopi
to the Colorado iver and down to the Gulf of California in search of a
trade route to the sea.
The Franciscan mission of San Bernardo de Aguatubi is established at
the Hopi town of Awatovi. A little over 300 years later (1935-1939) it
would be excavated by a team sent out from the Harvard Peabody
The Pueblo evolt expels the Spanish from northern New Spain
(Mexico and the Hopi country).
Father Eusebio Francisco Kino an Italian Jesuit missionary, found
twenty-five missions, of which three — San Gabriel de Guevavi San
Cayetano de Tumacacori, and San Francisco Xavier del Bac — are in the
Santa Cruz Valley between Tucson and Nogales.
Father Kino visits Indian villages in Arizona for the first time.
Diego de Vargas reestablishes Spanish colonial control over the
Pueblo people of northern New Spain.
Father Kino visits and describes the ruins at Casa Grande, today a
National Monument near Coolidge, Arizona.
Hopi kill the Spanish priests and sack Awatovi, bringing to an end
Spanish colonization of northern Arizona.
The Pima evolt. lasting nearly four months, results in the destruc-
tion of missions, Spanish farms, and around 100 people killed.
A Spanish presidio (military garrison) is established at Tubac along the
Santa Cruz iver south of Tucson.
Jesuits are expelled from Spanish territory in the New World
Lieutenant-Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza, commanding officer at
Tubac Presidio, explores a route to San Francisco, California, and returns
to lead 240 people to establish a colony there.
Tucson is established as a Spanish presidio by the Irish mercenary
Captain Hugo O’Conor, El Capitan Colorado.
American evolutionary War for independence from Britain.
Mexico gains independence from Spain.
The Office of Indian Affairs is created as a bureau of the United
States War Department.
War between Mexico and the United States.
Congress directs the Secretary of War to gather information on the
history, the present condition, and the future prospects of the Indian
tribes of the
Discovery of gold in California increases pressure to link eastern and
western states, and millions in federal funds are spent to open routes
through the Southwest.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is moved from the War Department to
the Department of Interior.
Lieutenant Lorenzo Sitgreaves’ expedition of northern Arizona,
resulting in the first major description of the region’s native people and
environment, is followed by important surveys by Lieutenant Amiel W.
Whipple (1853-1854), by Edward Beale (1857-1858), and by Lieutenant
Joseph C. Ives
The Gadsden Purchase acquired 29,640 square miles of Mexican land
south of the Gila iver for ten million dollars.
Salt iver and Gila iver eservations are established for Pima and
The War between the States or Civil War is the bloodiest in
Arizona’s only Civil War “battle” takes place at Picacho Peak, where a
brief skirmish leaves three Union soldiers dead and two Confederates
President Abraham Lincoln signs the law creating the Territory of
Arizona on February 24.
Gold is discovered near Prescott, beginning Arizona’s own gold rush.
Colonel Christopher Carson starves the Navajo into submission and
moves them to Bosque edondo on the Pecos iver in eastern New
Mexico, where they remain until signing a peace treaty with the United
States in 1868.
Ex-Confederate Jack Swilling digs a ditch on the north side of the
Salt iver to plant crops and, eventually, to found the city of Phoenix.
The Fort Apache military post is established near Whiteriver on the
present-day White Mountain Apache eservation.
On April 30 William S. Oury,Tucson’s first mayor, along with other
townspeople, about four dozen Mexicans, and nearly 100 Tohono
O’odham (Papago) raided an Apache settlement near Camp Grant, then
at the junction of Aravaipa Creek and the San Pedro River, killing from
30 to 150 Apaches. mostly women and children.
Camp Verde eservation is revoked and the Yavapai are relocated to
the San Carlos Apache eservation. More than 100 Indians die from
the 180-mile trip.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs begins removing Indian children from
their homes and sending them to boarding school.The motto of the
Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania is “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.”
ur history of Arizona archaeology begins in 1879 with the
O founding of the Bureau of American Ethnology and ends with
the Columbian Quincentenary of 1992.We divide it into three
broad periods.The first from 1879 to 1920 was characterized by wilder-
ness exploration, artifact collection, and site protection.The second peri-
od from 1920 to 1960 was marked by classifying artifacts, especially pot-
tery, and writing culture histories. A third period from 1960 to 1992
marks an. elaboration of historical and scientific research combined with
a growing concern with the rightful place of the American Indian in the
construction of their prehistory.
Exploring, Collecting, and Protecting Prehistory:
1879 to 1920
Arizona began this period as a territory where merchants and high-
waymen, church ladies and “sporting ladies”, miners and cowboys, and
incompletely pacified Indians were major actors in the dramas of frontier
society. It was an uncharted land waiting to be explored, settled, and
tamed. Into this land came men and women dispatched by the great
museums of the American East to bring back unusual things from the
American West. These people were not trained archaeologists and many
were interested less in prehistory than in the living Native American
Indians they saw everywhere.These first explorers of the past were intent
upon collecting artifacts for wealthy sponsors and grand exhibitions to
fulfill a young nation’s need for a visible, material history.To their lasting
credit they also saw an immediate need to protect the prehistoric ruins of
the Southwest through the passage of laws.The first Federal Antiquities
Act was passed in 1906.
John Wesley Powell, the Union Major who lost his right forearm in
the Civil War battle of Shiloh (1862), helped create and directed the
United States Geological Survey (1881-1893) and the Bureau of
American Ethnology (1979-1902). He is also renowned in Arizona for
his daring explorations of the Grand Canyon and Colorado iver.
The Phoenix to Maricopa stage is robbed so often that Acting
Governor John W. Gosper offers a bounty of $500.00 for each outlaw
On August 22 two murderers are taken from jail and hanged in the
Phoenix plaza by the Law and Order Committee.
Adolph Francois Bandelier, a naturalized American born in
Switzerland, begins exploring ruins in the Verde, San Pedro, Salt. and Gila
iver Valleys, around Tucson, and on the White Mountain Apache
eservation for the Archaeological Institute of America.
Phoenix is incorporated on February 25 with a population of 1,780.
The population of Arizona is 40,440.
On March 21 Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday leave Tombstone for
good two days after Morgan Earp is ambushed and killed. Shortly there-
after, President Chester A. Arthur threatens to place Arizona under mar-
tial law unless it shows more respect for order. Apparently unimpressed
by the President’s threat, a group of Texas cowboys battle the Mexican
population of St. Johns resulting in two killed. In August two jailed
killers are taken out and hanged from a tree in Globe, and another one is
lynched by Bisbee miners in September. A month later seven notorious
criminals let themselves out of the county jail in Tucson. Amidst this tur-
moil the Mormon settlement of Tempe is founded in July.
Cosmos Mindeleff surveys Canyon de Chelly.
The Black Canyon stage is robbed twice in three days; the Florence-
Cibola stage and the Prescott-South Fork stage are robbed on the same
Arizona Pioneers’ Historical Society is organized in Tucson.
Five Bisbee bandits are hanged simultaneously at Tombstone from one
Tempe Normal School (Arizona State University) opens on February
8 with 33 students.Two Tucson gamblers and a saloon keeper donate 40
acres of land for the University of Arizona.
Geronimo, called Goy-ath-lay “The Man-Who-Yawns” by fellow
Chiricahua Apache, surrenders for the last time to General Nelson A.
Miles on September 5.
Frank Hamilton Cushing, studying Zuni Pueblo since 1879 for the
Bureau of American Ethnology, excavates ruins near Phoenix for the
Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition financed by Mrs.
Mary Hemenway of Boston. Cushing excavates at Los Muertos and at
Pueblo Grande. Emil W. Haury would later define the Classic period
Hohokam in his doctoral dissertation based on Cushing’s work at Los
Sheep men start range war with cattlemen in the Tonto Basin after
20,000 sheep are stampeded by cowboys. Flagstaff mob breaks down jail
and kills two prisoners being held on murder charges.
On December 18th ichard Wetherill, a Mancos cowboy, and Charlie
Mason discover Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling in North America
while rounding up stray cattle in present-day Mesa Verde National Park.
Phoenix becomes the capital of Arizona Territory.
Sheriff Glen eynolds and Deputy W. A. Holmes of Globe are killed
by the Apache Kid and seven other Apaches being escorted to jail on
Jesse Walter Fewkes begins exploring pueblo ruins in northern
Arizona. He excavates at Awatovi and Sityatki on the Hopi eservation,
at Homolovi outside of Winslow, and at the Chavez Pass and Chevelon
Arizona Territorial Museum (Arizona State Museum) is established in
Tucson at the University of Arizona.
ichard Wetherill, now an avid explorer of prehistoric ruins, publish-
es a report recognizing the Basketmaker to Pueblo cultural sequence in
the Four Corners area.
ichard Wetherill discovers Kiet Siel, Arizona’s largest cliff dwelling,
today in Navaho National Monument.
Walter Hough leads the Museum-Gates Expedition of the United
States National Museum in a survey of east-central Arizona.
Geronimo dies in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Walter Hough surveys the Upper Gila River for the United States
The first “Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities” becomes
law protecting antiquities on federal land. It gives the Executive Branch
authority to determine the importance of archaeological sites on these
lands and to designate national monuments. It authorizes a procedure for
granting permits to conduct scientific investigations on federal land.
The United States Congress establishes Mesa Verde National Park in
southwestern Colorado. Montezuma Castle, a Sinagua cliff dwelling
between Phoenix and Flagstaff is designated a National Monument.
Jesse Walter Fewkes excavates at Casa Grande (1906-1908).
Tonto uins, Salado cliff dwellings occupied in the A.D. 1300s, are
designated a National Monument.
Byron Cummings of the University of Utah,William B. Douglass of
the Department of the interior, and John Wetherill, Richard’s brother, are
the first white men to discover Rainbow Natural Bridge.
Navajo National Monument is designated and includes Kiet Siel and
Betatakln, two Anasazi cliff dwellings occupied during the last half of the