From Pima County,
drive northwest on I-10. To visit Picacho Peak State Park take exit
219. To visit the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, take the
Coolidge exit and follow the signs to the park entrance off Arizona
Route 87/287. To continue to Maricopa
County, drive west on I-8 to Gila Bend.
The Gila (pronounced "hee-la") River Indian Community
has long been the home of the Akimel O'odham, also known as
the Gila River Pima, and the Pi-Posh, also known as the Maricopa.
Currently, the two tribes live together and are over ten thousand
strong. The Maricopa people first lived along the Colorado
River, but moved to avoid battles with the Mohave and Yuma
tribes. Today, many live in the Gila and AK-Chin Indian Communities.
The Akimel O'odham (Pima or River People) lived along
the Santa Cruz River, while the Tohono O'odham lived in the
desert. The O'odham trace their ancestry to the Hohokam
or "those who came before."
Casa Grande landscape
Photo: Ron Ory
Your Visit to Pinal County
The expedition followed the Santa Cruz River Valley for several
miles before turning north just past Picacho Peak to reach
known sources of water. Font and Anza made a detour to survey
the Casa Grande ruins. After following the Gila for several
miles through what is now the Gila River Indian Community,
they camped at Laguna del Hospital (Camp #25). They
then continued west, bypassing a bend in the Gila River.
Sites of Interest
Peak State Park and Expedition Camp #21
29, 1775, Father Font describes that the expedition camped
at a place "a little beyond a picacho or peak which
the Indians called Tacca." Anza called the place, "the
flat of El Aquituni." Upon leaving the next day,
Anza comments on a, "...lack of water, any of which is found
only by rare accident. Nevertheless, no dissatisfaction whatever
has been shown by the people who have made the march, and
this is a thing to marvel at, especially in the women and
children, and their patience under the hardships is an indication
of the contentment with which they are accepting their lot."
Picacho Peak was often used as a landmark. During the 17th
century, the Jesuit priest Father Kino mentioned Picacho Peak
in records of his journeys. In 1846, the Mormon Battalion,
on their way to California to fight in the war with Mexico,
constructed a wagon road through Picacho Pass. Today, Picacho
Peak State Park is found a little west of Anza's camp. An
Anza Trail interpretive exhibit is found on the west side
of the park overlooking a campsite area and the Anza route
through the Santa Cruz River valley.
B. Casa Grande and Expedition Camps #22-25
As noted by Anza and Font, expedition Camps #22 to #25 were
at Pima villages, where the expedition was well-received and
cared for, as illustrated in what Font wrote, "...These Pima
Indians of the Gila are gentle and of good heart, and to show
their appreciation for our coming they begged permission from
the commander [Anza] to dance, and then they went from tent
to tent of the soldiers dancing, the women linked together
in their fashion." The campsites are within the boundaries
of the Gila River Indian Community today. The Anza expedition
camped approximately five miles to the northwest of the Casa
Grande, and on October
31, 1775, Font and Anza visited the ruins there in order
to check the accuracy of Father Kino's prior descriptions
and measurements. At this time Font recorded the Bitter Man
story as told to him by a Pima native. The Casa Grande
ruins, which translates as the "Big House", date to around
A.D. 900-1450 and include an ancient Hohokam farming village
as well as the four-story Great House. The ruins were the
first archaeological preserve in the United States and are
today located within Casa
Grande Ruins National Monument (1100 Ruins Dr., Coolidge,
AZ). They are about an hour drive from either Phoenix or Tucson.
The Gila Indian Center museum is located along Interstate
10 at the Casa Blanca Interchange. The Gila Heritage Park,
run by the tribe, features self-guided tours of traditional
Indian homes including the Pima, Maricopa, Papago and the
Apache. Camp #25 (November 3-6) was called Laguna
del Hospital because the sickness experienced there
by the animals as well as two women. One of the women, who
was pregnant, was given medicines.
Akimel O'odham / Pima
The name Pima was given to the local native peoples by the Spanish.
It may come from the O'odham phrase Pi-nyi-match which means "I
don't know," the answer given by these American Indians to many
of the questions asked by the Spanish.
They farmed by utilizing floodplains near the river and by collecting
monsoon rains to water their crops of corn, beans, squash and cotton.
Akimel O'odham dancers
of the Gila River Indian Community
On The Trail in Pinal County
Questions on the Trail
After visiting the area surrounding the Gila River
Question: How has the diet and culture of the Gila River
Indian Community changed since Anza passed through?
Question: How do you get to the Casa Grande Ruins National
Monument? View this pdf
map to find the answer.
On the CD: The Casa Grande
O'odham Song: Casa Grande Song (flute), also
called "Song After the Inhabitants of Casa Grande
Music for Fandango: La Merlequina.
Font and Anza took a side trip to visit the Casa Grande
ruins. Font writes on October
31, 1775 "...We went to it after Mass and returned
after noon, accompanied by some Indians and the governor
of Uturituc [a Gila Pima village], who on the way recounted
us the history or tradition which the Gila Pimas preserve
from their ancestors concerning this Casa Grande...The
Indians said that through these holes, which are rather
large, the prince, whom they call The Bitter Man, looked
at the sun when it rose and set, in order to salute
it...A long time ago there came to that country a man
who was called The Bitter Man because of his ill nature
and his harsh rule. This man was old, but he had a young
daughter. And there came in his company a young man
who was not a relative of his or of anybody else, and
married the daughter, who was very pretty as he was
handsome. And this old man brought as servants the Wind
and the Clouds...the old man went away to a sierra where
there are many pines, and, calling on God to aid him,
he cut many pines and brought many timbers for the roof
of the house. When this Bitter Man came, there were
no trees in the country, nor any plants, but he brought
seeds of all kinds and reaped very large harvests, with
the aid of his two servants, the Wind and the Clouds,
who served him."
About the first of the expedition's four fandangos
Font writes, "...This being the feast of San Carlos
and the saint's day of our monarch, we chanted Mass
with all the ceremony possible. It was sung by Father
Garcés, and I assisted with my instrument [psaltery]....After
Mass in honor of the feast day, the commander decided
to give some refreshments to the people of the expedition.
This consisted in giving to each one a pint of aguardiente,
as a result of which there was more than moderate drunkenness
amongst the soldiers, and more than one man remained
drunk until the next day" (Laguna
de Hospital, November 4, 1775).