THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA CRUZ RIVER
FROM AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
DO YOU KNOW how the Santa Cruz River and Santa Cruz County got its name?

Before you reach for "Arizona Place Names" be advised that the origin presented in that book is not accurate regarding this issue. The name has a long and
interesting history in southern Arizona and the following article recounts this history.

You can read about this in my article:

2012 SANTA CRUZ RIVER: The Origin of a Place Name. Journal of Arizona History 53(1):81-88.




DID YOU KNOW that a significant amount of research has now been accomplished on the Sobaipuri and Apache?

Remarkably, it is still possible to read documents prepared by archaeologists that state that "Archaeologists do not currently know much about the people
living in southern Arizona during this period [A.D. 1450 and the 1690s], because very few sites have been identified or investigated." Let me assure you
however, that just because a few relicit intellectuals are unaware of or chose not to incorporate the new data there is a lot of new information available. For
almost 30 years I have been studying the O'odham and Apache occupations in southern Arizona (and surrounding areas). I have conducted numerous
thematic surveys focused on these groups and have identified, visited, and recorded something like 80 Sobaipuri-O'odham sites, and around the same number
of Apache sites. My excavations at the Kino period Guevavi and San Cayetano mission sites, as well as at several sites related to, and earlier and later than,
the Kino period on the San Pedro have revealed a considerable amount of new data regarding the O'odham. Work in the adjacent mountains and along these
rivers has revealed important new information about the Apache.

Modern O'odham welcome this research because it provides a perspective on their ancestors not available when using Spanish documents alone. This work
shows that the Sobaipuri were not hunter-gatherers like their desert brethern, but rather they built irrigation canals (I have recorded a still-visible system at
Guevavi and also one on the San Pedro) and produced bountiful harvests. The Sobaipuri lived in planned well organized villages, not the dispersed rancherias
of their more mobile Tohono O'odham neighbors. There is no gap between the prehistoric groups (such as the Hohokam and Trincheras) and the O'odham
presence, but rather there were people here continously, though perhaps different people. Many of the publications indicated here and others provide additional
background regarding these and many more issues. "Earth and Sky" documents the research history relating to the O'odham.





DID YOU KNOW that the Sobaipuri-O'odham and Tohono O'odham were not the same people?

The Tohono O'odham were historically a desert dwelling people. Although today the name is used to denote the tribe as a whole (Tohono O'odham Nation),
historically the Tohono O'odham were a distinct people from the Akimel O'odham or River People. The Tohono or Desert O'odham did not live along the rivers.
Consequently they included peoples who hunted and gathered full time or did so for a portion of the year and then came to the river to farm for a season.
These people were both fully and partially mobile.

In contrast, the Sobaipuri were a subset of people who resided along the rivers and so they are Akimel O'odham (as are the Gila and Salt River O'odham). The
Sobaipuri-Odham were sedentary, which means they planned and built consistently laid out villages in which they lived year round. They farmed using
irrigation canals and so they were attached to certain segments of the river that they had improved. Consequently, when they moved every 10 or 20 years they
tended to stay along the same general segement of the river, shifting sides or moving a mile or two up or down stream. After the fields had been in fallow for a
sufficiently long period of time or when political stresses calmed, people might have moved back to the same location and rebuilt new houses or they might
have moved to a nearby location.

These two types of people (Tohono and Akimel) look very different in the archaeological record. Since they practiced different lifeways they also have different
histories. It is only a consequence of colonialism and outside influences that they are all now considered Tohono O'odham. These groups (Tohono and Akimel)
did not live under a tribe-wide political structure and so the nationwide government now in place was initially imposed by outsiders. It is this government,
however, that allows people within the nation to interface with the non-nation world. It is this political structure that is legitimized by the legal, political, and
economic structure of the US.


You can read about this in my books (including Earth and Sky cited above):

2014 A Fateful Day in 1698: The Remarkable Sobaípuri O’odham Victory over the Apaches and Their Allies. University of Utah Press. (Book)

in prep Remembering Those Who've Lost Their Songs: A Collaborative Perspective on Heritage and Identity at San Xavier del Bac. Book Manuscript.
(Seymour, Deni J., Tony Burrell, and David Tenario)





DID YOU KNOW That the Pima on the Upper Santa Cruz were in fact Sobaipuri not a generic Pima:

It was thought for many years that the Pima, a generic type of Pima, lived on the southernmost Santa Cruz River, while the Sobaipuri lived from San Xavier
north. Some scholars still incorrectly state that the Sobaipuri were initially only on the San Pedro while the Pima and theTohono O'odham inhabited the Santa
Cruz. Both of these asertions are incorrect. Both the Santa Cruz and San Pedro rivers were inhabited by Sobaipuri, as discussed in these papers:


An Ethno-Geographic Evaluation of the Santa Cruz River Pima and Their Principle Great Settlement of San Xavier del Bac. Under review

2011 1762 On the San Pedro: Reevaluating Sobaípuri-O'odham Abandonment and New Apache Raiding Corridors. The Journal of Arizona History
52(2):169-188 (summer).





DID YOU KNOW that San Xavier de Bac in Kino's time was not located where it is now?

When father Kino first visited the O'odham at their ancestral village of Wa:k it was located north of where it is now. Kino called the village San Xavier del Bac, a
name which it has been known by outsiders by since. He described the village as being placed in a lowlying area where irrigation canals could run through the
buildings. In 1701 he began the foundation for a church. When at mid century a second church was built by a different Jesuit priest, the village and mission
were still to the north. It was not until long after the Franciscans took charge that the community was moved to the south, to its currently location where the
White Dove of the Desert was built.

New archaeological evidence, fresh translations of relevant documents, and consideration of oral historic evidence inform on this original Kino period site.



You will be able to read about this in my upcoming book:

in prep Remembering Those Who've Lost Their Songs: A Collaborative Perspective on Heritage and Identity at San Xavier del Bac. Book Manuscript.
(Seymour, Deni J., Tony Burrell, and David Tenario)





DID YOU KNOW that Sobaipuri descendants still live among us?

It is commonly said that the Sobaipuri are extinct. Yet, people who recognize this specific heritage live within the Wa:k community, at San Xavier del Bac. For
these people their Sobaipuri heritage is a matter of pride and they recall a different history and cultural traditions than their Tohono O'odham neighbors.

Contrary to some scholars who have argued that this term is unknown to the people themselves, local residents do recognize this term. Those researchers
were simply asking the wrong people; they were asking the Tohono O'odham about Sobaipuri heritage, rather than asking the Sobaipuri descendants about
Sobaipuri heritage.

It is thought that the name "Sobaipuri" was derived from a Tohono O'odham word that distinguished these people who lived along the Santa Cruz and San
Pedro rivers. The term refers to their warlike nature, their need for being militarily strong to defend against their enemies on the eastern and northern frontiers.
So s-o:bai-puri should mean either 'being many enemy/people' or 'where there are many enemy/people' -- maybe referring to the large villages on the San
Pedro and elsewhere. S-o:baima would mean 'being like Apaches, enemies' (the -ma "like" is a different suffix from -puri 'plural').

Many O'odham who are descended from the Sobaipuri support research into their heritage. Archaeological research provides an alternative view point to that
presented in the Spanish documentary record. Also their heritage has been blended by the policies of outsiders with that of the Tohono O'odham and so
archaeology allows them to reassert and understand their distinctiveness. A balance must be struck between preservation of these limited resources and
study in a way that assists descendant populations.


You can read about this in my books:

2014 A Fateful Day in 1698: The Remarkable Sobaípuri O’odham Victory over the Apaches and Their Allies. University of Utah Press.

in prep Remembering Those Who've Lost Their Songs: A Collaborative Perspective on Heritage and Identity at San Xavier del Bac. Book Manuscript.
(Seymour, Deni J., Tony Burrell, and David Tenario)





DID YOU KNOW that the O'odham resided in the Santa Cruz and San Pedro valleys as early as the A.D. 1200s?

Most common conceptions of the O'odham, historically known as the Pima, is that they arrived late in the region's history, perhaps just in time for Father
Kino's first visit. The view has been that after the prehistoric Hohokam southern Arizona was an empty niche into which the O'odham and Apache moved.
Yet, research over the past three decades that has focused on the study of the Sobaipuri-O'odham (those O'odham living along the Santa Cruz and San Pedro
rivers) provides substantial evidence for their presence in the A.D. 1400s. Even more recent evidence in the past two years has produced chronometric dates
that indicate an A.D. 1200s presence, or perhaps even earlier. These luminescence dates were obtained directly from their pottery. This means these people
bumped up against the prehistoric cultures. Clearly there was no occupational hiatus.

Right near Rio Rico is one of the first and earliest known Sobaipuri-O'odham sites, which is discussed in "Earth and Sky" and in the following:

2011 Dating the Sobaípuri: A Case Study in Chronology Building and Archaeological Interpretation. Old Pueblo Archaeology Bulletin 67:1-13.


This one does not report the earliest dates because at the time the earliest dates were in the A.D. 1400s:

2007 An Archaeological Perspective on the Hohokam-Pima Continuum.
Old Pueblo Archaeology Bulletin No. 51 (December 2007):1-7.





DID YOU KNOW that since at least early historic times the Santa Cruz River was not a perennial stream?


Embargoed until February 2015.



DID YOU KNOW that the remnants of Guevavi Mission visible on National Park Service land are not the mission
established by Kino?

My excavations near Guevavi Mission and surveys at the mission itself and in surrounding areas indicate that there are numerous Sobaipuri-O'odham loci
where residential structures are located. These distributions suggest this was an important place for habitation for some time. Yet, the evidence previously
defined as possible O'odham is either too early or too late. There is evidence of a prehistoric Trincheras occupation and later historic occupations by the
O'odham, Spanish, Mexicans, and so on. But the Sobaipuri-O'odham and hybridized O'odham occupations are not on NPS land.

You can read about this in my book and in the following articles:

1997 Finding History in the Archaeological Record: The Upper Piman Settlement of Guevavi.
Kiva 62(3):245-260.

2009 Father Kino’s 'Neat Little House and Church' at Guevavi.
Journal of the Southwest 51(2):285-316.

2010 Beyond Married, Buried, And Baptized: Exposing Historical Discontinuities in an Engendered Sobaípuri-O'odham Household. Chapter 12 Engendering
Households in the Prehistoric Southwest, edited by Barbara Roth, pp. 229-259. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.



DID YOU KNOW that in contrast to what is often said, San Jose de Tumacacori Mission is not where Kino visited in the
1690s?

When Kino first stepped foot into what is now southern Arizona the first native village he stopped at was what he called San Cayetano del Tumacacori. This
was on the east bank of the river. In contrast to past notions this is not the the Palo Parado site partially excavated by Di Peso nor is it at the current NPS
mission site of San Jose de Tumacacori. It was not until late in the Jesuit period, sometime after the 1751 Pima Revolt that O'odham moved to the current and
celebrated location of San Jose de Tumacacori. What is seen there now is the Franciscan mission.

Kino's San Cayetano del Tumacacori was a large settlement located on the east side of the river. Excavations at the archaeological site inferred to be San
Cayetano del Tumacacori have revealed that it consisted of a formally arranged layout of houses, as do all Sobaipuri residential sites. Chronometric dates and
historic artifacts place it in the correct time period as do links to the historic documentary record.


You can read about this in my book and also my article:

2007 A Syndetic Approach to Identification of the Historic Mission Site of San Cayetano del Tumacácori.
International Journal of Historical Archaeology
11(3):269-296.



DID YOU KNOW that the Calabasas Mission site is not in the same location it was in the late 1700s?


Embargoed until February 2015.



DID YOU KNOW the Origin of the Name of Canoa?

Despite what it looks like, the name does not originate from canoe, but rather canoe and Canoa have the same origin which explains the term's use in local
history. The community of Canoa today dervies its name from a stop or paraje along the travel routes of historic figures such as Anza, Font, and Garces. The
place was already named in 1775 when these early Spanish explorers made their way along the west bank of the Santa Cruz from Tubac Presidio toward
California and the founding of San Francisco.

The term canoa, in fact, is the name of an irrigation flume and also watering trough, and these names derive from a concept common with canoe. In this case
it is very likely that what is being referenced is a irrigation flume and here's why....


Embargoed until February 2015.





DID YOU KNOW that Tubac Presidio was used by the Apache?


Embargoed until February 2015.





DID YOU KNOW we can now routinely identify Apache sites?

People are under the impression that not many Apache sites are known and that they are impossible to find. Both of these are misconceptions. Hundreds of
Apache sites have been recorded. They are not impossible to find, its just that they have a different archaeological signature. Once you recognize that
signature and understand aspects of their terrain selection and landscape use these are identifable.


These and many additional articles discuss the basic signature of the southernmost Apache from around A.D. 1300 to the 1800s:


2013 Geronimo's Wickiup: Methodological Considerations Regarding Mobile Group Hut Signatures. International Journal of Historical Archaeology
17(1):182-195.

2012 Isolating a Pre-Differentiation Athapaskan Assemblage in the Southern Southwest: The Cerro Rojo Complex. Chapter 5 in "From the Land of Ever
Winter to the American Southwest: Athapaskan Migrations, Mobility, and Ethnogenesis," edited by Deni J. Seymour, pp. 90-123. University of Utah Press.




DID YOU KNOW that the Ancestral Apache were in southern Arizona in the A.D. 1300s?

For quite some time, archaeologists and linguists have thought that the Apache arrived late into the Southwest, around the 1500 or 1600s. They also thought
that the ancestral Apache arrived via the Plains, only later swooping into the Southwest. While this late arrival is still commonly taught in university classes
there is ample evidence to suggest otherwise. Chronometric dates I have obtained over the past 10 years are producing evidence of an ever-earlier presence.
Right now we have definitive evidence of ancestral Apache in the southern Southwest (in the Dragoon and Peloncillo mountains and elsewhere) in the A.D.
1300s. These dates are from residential sites indicating that they were living in these areas at least this early. Their distribution suggests a western route of
migration, probalby in addition to a plains one.

These are quality dates obtained directly from ancestral Apachean material culture. These are luminescene dates on pottery and also burned rock in thermal
features, and radiocarbon dates on grass and leaves and occasionally on other materials. These dates are discussed in ethnographic and archaeolgical
context in the following articles, as are the reasons that the earliest dates occur where they do.

I will be speaking on this soon. See the presentation page of this web site:


Archaeological Evidence of the Gileño Apache: New Insights into Apache Migrations

Recent research provides evidence of ancestral Apaches in the Gila region of the southern Southwest at least as early as the A.D. 1300s. Much of this
evidence comes from chronometric dates obtained from a feature type that comparative ethnographic information (including rarely used land claims
documents) indicates were used for storage. These features, called platform caches, provide rare and ideal material for accurate dating because they are often
covered with grass or leaves. Dates from these features, on Apache pottery, and from roasting pits, all in direct association with Apache material culture of
other types (including rock art), provide a continuous sequence of use from at least as early as the A.D. 1300s through the late 1700s. New information about
a western route south to this region is combined with other evidence regarding the presence of the earliest ancestral Apache three centuries earlier than many
have argued, even in areas where Coronado did not see them.



You can read about these early dates and the route of migration in my articles:


2013 Platform Cave-Cache Encampments: Implications for Mobility Strategies and the Earliest Athabascans. Journal of Field Archaeology 38(2):161-172.

2012 Gateways for Athabascan Migration to the American Southwest. Plains Anthropologist 57(222):9-21.

2012 Isolating a Pre-Differentiation Athapaskan Assemblage in the Southern Southwest: The Cerro Rojo Complex. Chapter 5 in "From the Land of Ever Winter
to the American Southwest: Athapaskan Migrations, Mobility, and Ethnogenesis," edited by Deni J. Seymour, pp. 90-123. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake
City.

in press Three Sisters Site: An Ancestral Chokonen Apache Encampment in the Dragoon Mountains. Book Chapter in: "Fierce, Barbarous, and Untamed":
The Protohistoric Non-Pueblo World.

This one does not report the earliest dates because at the time the earliest dates were in the A.D. 1400s:

2008 Despoblado or Athapaskan Heartland: A Methodological Perspective on Ancestral Apache Landscape Use in the Safford Area. Chapter 5 in
Crossroads
of the Southwest: Culture, Ethnicity, and Migration in Arizona's Safford Basin
, pp. 121-162, edited by David E. Purcell, Cambridge Scholars Press, New York.




DID YOU KNOW that there were other mobile hunter-gatherer-raiders present along the river in addition to the Ancestral
Apache in the A.D. 1400s?

I excavated a site very near Tubac that produced evidence of the Canutillo archaeological complex. This is an archaeological manifestation that is thought to
relate to the historically documented Jano and Jocome, and perhaps the Manso and Suma. These were not Apache peoples, but rather small distinct groups
that lived a similar lifeway. There were more mobile than the Apache and their artifacts and houses reflect this. Later as population sizes dwindled they
intermixed with the Apache and other groups.

You can read about this in my articles:

2009 The Canutillo Complex: Evidence of Protohistoric Mobile Occupants in the Southern Southwest.
Kiva 74(4):421-446.

2010 Contextual Incongruities, Statistical Outliers, and Anomalies: Targeting Inconspicuous Occupational Events.
American Antiquity 75(1):158–176.

You can read about this in my books as well:

2011 Where the Earth and Sky are Sewn Together: Sobaípuri-O’odham Contexts of Contact and Colonialism. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

2014 A Fateful Day in 1698: The Remarkable Sobaípuri O’odham Victory over the Apaches and Their Allies. University of Utah Press. (Book)

WELCOME to a History of Santa Cruz River page.

This page is set up in a "Did You Know?" format so that you can easily connect a
precise answer to each question. Many of the questions may be ones you did not even
know to ask. We have learned so much new information about Arizona's Santa Cruz
River in the past decade that many old notions are being revised. Of course many people
are reticent to think about things in new ways, preferring to hold tight to old ideas. This
page is for those who welcome new knowledge, who are not threatened by revised
understandings of the past. These new notions are based on fresh evidence found in the
archaeological record and in newly transcribed and translated Spanish documents.

Many of these topics are explored in various articles (indicated below) in one of my
books:

2011 Where the Earth and Sky are Sewn Together: Sobaípuri-O’odham Contexts of
Contact and Colonialism. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

The articles cited below can be found on my academia.edu page:

http://independent.academia.edu/DeniSeymour

although some can be found on various pages of this web site.

For more information contact me directly.
THE MATERIAL ON THIS PAGE IS COPYRIGHTED AND SHOULD BE APPROPRIATELY CITED (C) 2013, Deni Seymour