Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tuzigoot, Arizona

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry drifted all over the West trying to find work and avoid the law. As they wandered through the Southwest, riding through the desert on horseback and sleeping under the stars when short of money, they very probably came upon ruins such as those now called Tuzigoot. Administered by the National Park Service as a national monument (see photo above), Tuzigoot was a pueblo inhabited by Native Americans of the Sinagua culture. It is located about 20 minutes from Jerome, on the outskirts of Cottonwood, Arizona.

The settlement began around 1000 A.D. and lasted until around 1400 A.D. Built at the top of a hill (see photo at right), there is a commanding view of the valley below from all sides. The people who lived at Tuzigoot, who probably numbered no more than 225 at its most populous, lived in structures built of adobe bricks, some of which were two stories high. All that is left of Tuzigoot now are the remains of the walls that show how the rooms were connected to each other (see photo at right) and one restored room with a roof on it. The people who lived at Tuzigoot were farmers and hunters who made excellent use of the fertile land surrounding them. To see the ruins, visitors walk on a trail that circles the hill. There are numerous markers all along the trail (see photo at right), which is only about one-third of a mile long, that describe how the Sinagua people at Tuzigoot lived and prospered.

The Visitor Center contains well-rounded exhibits about Tuzigoot (see photo below) and its relationship with other cultures that it interacted with--trade was very important. There is also a small gift shop. Outside, there are more markers that explain how the people of Tuzigoot made use of abundant plant life around them. There are more than fifty Sinaguan ruins in the area and if Heyes and Curry passed by them during their travels, they may have wondered what they were but by the nineteenth century, the settlements had been long abandoned. There are several theories about why the Sinaguans left this area and where they went but nothing definitive has been proved to date.

National Park Service website for Tuzigoot:
http://www.nps.gov/tuzi/index.htm

Website about Tuzigoot from DesertUSA:
http://www.desertusa.com/tuz/du_tuz_desc.html

Brief description of Sinagua history from DesertUSA:
http://www.desertusa.com/ind1/du_peo_sin.html