Museum celebrates a heritage
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 10, 2007


Fiesta honors cultures that have 'been here for a long, long time'

Yvonne Wingett

Constantino Aranda sat inside an east Phoenix museum, his hands folded on his lap, as drums from a centuries-old indigenous dance and ceremony echoed.

"It's the dance of our culture," said Aranda, 57, a retired carpenter from Mexico who once danced himself, before cancer took hold. "It shows that the culture of the indigenous people, their roots are here. People shouldn't forget that we've been here for a long, long time."

On Sunday, a few hundred people gathered at Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park to celebrate the cultural connections between the prehistoric cultures of the Hohokam people of the Salt River Valley and the Meso-American cultures of Mexico and Central America.
It was a pre-party to National Hispanic Heritage Month, which starts Saturday with fiestas, art shows and concerts recognizing the culture and contributions of Latinos in the United States. Dozens of events are planned throughout the state, home to more than 1.6 million Hispanics.

The Pueblo Grande Museum features exhibits and displays about the Hohokam culture and sits at a 1,500-year-old Hohokam village ruins near 44th and Washington streets.

Several of the exhibits highlight the connections to ancient Meso-American cultures, said Stacey Mays, visitor-services supervisor.

The two peoples exchanged cotton, shells, corn, copper bells, squash and cotton, she said. The Hohokam also adapted a version of the Meso-Americans' ball court, she said. It's impossible to know what games were played inside the arena, she said, but the court probably was used for public ceremonies and to resolve disputes.

"Every culture is special in some way," said Angelica Romero, 20, of Apache Junction. "That's why we came here, so we could share it with (ourselves) and others."

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