Before metro Phoenix became the bustling metropolis it is now, the region was (and still is) home to several American Indian cultures. Take a step back in time and learn about the history of the indigenous peoples who lived here, such as the Hohokam, and those still here today, such as the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Gila River Indian Community, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and Tohono O'odham Nation.
Experience American Indian culture through the personal voices of tribal artists at the renowned Heard Museum. The museum is known for its quality of collections and the accurate portrayal of native arts and history. Through a combination of American Indian storytelling, historical collections, and art from tribal communities around the region, the Heard offers an expansive perspective of native culture. The museum also hosts annual events such as the Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market and the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest.
2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
Learn about the history of the Hohokam people through exhibits and artifacts, and stroll through prehistoric remains and structures on the museum’s interpretive trail. There are also special programs and annual events hosted by the museum that are fun and educational for all ages.
Ever wondered what it would be like to walk through a 1,500-year-old village? At the Arizona Museum of History, you can explore the pit houses and above-ground structures of the Hohokam civilization, filled with artifacts from those ancient times.
Operated by the Gila River Community, this heritage center and museum preserves and displays historical artifacts, cultural materials, and traveling art from local tribes.
National Monuments and Reserves
Familiarize yourself with a day in the life of a 13th-century Sonoran Desert farmer and explore the ruins of what were once community grounds and irrigation canals. Casa Grande is named for the monument’s main draw: a four-story “great house” that has managed to survive extreme weather conditions for about seven centuries.
Nestled into a cliff is an ancient two-room high-rise apartment—a limestone dwelling now referred to as Montezuma Castle. This living space was home to the Sinagua people and is known to be one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in North America. The monument is just a few minutes from Interstate 17 and makes for a great side trip when traveling from Phoenix to Sedona, Flagstaff or the Grand Canyon.
Eleven miles from Montezuma Castle is the Montezuma Well, a natural sinkhole formed by the collapse of a limestone cavern. The well provides an aquatic habitat for desert dwellers and has served as an oasis for wildlife and humans for thousands of years.
Scan miles of desert landscape from atop an ancient village built by the Sinagua people. This pueblo ruin allows you to imagine what life was like for the Sinagua and discover how they built their homes and villages to weather the desert climate.
At Tonto National Monument you will find two Salado-style cliff dwellings and discover the different ways ancient peoples used the resources of the land to create colorful pottery, cotton cloth, and other artifacts.
Petroglyphs—rock carvings made by scratching away the dark layer of a rock’s surface to reveal the lighter rock underneath—in this region vary from several hundred to more than 7,000 years of age. Here's where to see the creations left behind by ancient native civilizations.
Stop by this hole-in-the-wall eatery — recognized by the James Beard Foundation as an American Classic in 2012 — and taste both the savory and sweet fry bread creations that have made it a local favorite.
Located in the Wild Horse Pass Resort, Kai Restaurant is a fine-dining experience with a five-star rating from Forbes Travel Guide. Chef Joshua Johnson uses locally farmed ingredients from the Gila River Indian Community to create dishes inspired by the food culture of the Pima and Maricopa tribes.
The architecture, interior design, and art of this American Indian-owned resort were designed to represent the Gila River Indian Community’s heritage and culture. Wild Horse Pass also houses Kai Restaurant, which specializes in dishes inspired by the cuisine of the Gila River Community.
Talking Stick Resort houses one of the largest collections of American Indian artwork outside of a museum. The cultural center inside the resort features a priceless collection of Native American pottery, art, and jewelry.