The ancestor's of the American Indians were among the first people to set foot in the Americas 30,000 years ago. They have lived in the Sonoran Desert near the Gila River in what is now Sonoita, AZ for at least 2,000 years. Called the Pima Indians by exploring Spaniards who first encountered them in the 1600s, these early Americans called themselves "O'Odham," the River people, and those with whom they intermarried, "Tohono O'Odham," the Desert people.
Ranching began in Arizona with the arrival of Spanish conquistadors, who introduced cattle to southern Arizona and designated vast land grant haciendas like the Arivaca, Reventon, Sopori and Canoa along the Santa Cruz River and the San Bernadino in the southeast corner of the state. The Spanish also left the remnants of their language to describe the cattle and cowboying experience, a blend of Spanish-Mexican words including lariat, corral, remuda and bronco.
Arizona’s past and present reflect a myriad of human cultures tied to the land. From ancient agrarians harvesting communal crops to present day ranching, farming and mining, this area of Arizona has provided an abundance of scenic and natural resources that have supported people whose “way of life” depends on those resources. The future quality of life and the natural beauty of Santa Cruz County will depend on the decisions made now, by all of us who choose to make our homes here.
The Center for Desert Archeology, a private nonprofit organization, promotes the stewardship of archaeological and historic resources in the American Southwest and Mexican Northwest through active research, preservation, and public education.
Santa Cruz Nature and Heritage Festival is the umbrella organization for two events; the Film Festival and the Nature and Heritage Festival. The mission of the Santa Cruz Nature and Heritage Festival is to educate participants about the rich history and cultural diversity of Santa Cruz County, AZ and northern Sonora, MX and the shared natural beauty and resources of the area.