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
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)
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