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How to walk with the Hohokam, Phoenix, Arizona

Hohokam is the name given to the people who were long gone from the Phoenix area when the pioneers arrived. It's not much of a name, it just means "those who are gone", and it's what the Pima people called them. But names don't matter. They were the people, just as the Pimas are the people. And if you want to walk with them, and live in the greater Phoenix area, it's easy, just step out of your door.

"The people who have gone" built gigantic canals, much larger than the modern ones you see now in Phoenix. They built large structures, mostly out of adobe, that have literally melted away with time. But they're all still there, under your feet, from Tempe to Peoria, and way beyond.

If you're wondering why the the ruins of this gigantic and spectacular civilization couldn't be preserved, look again. The modern city of Phoenix was literally built right on top of it. A tiny portion of it has been preserved at Pueblo Grande at 44th Street and Washington, but really, there isn't all that much to see. There are lumps, and holes, and melted adobe. But you can visit the world of the Hohokam anytime you want to, and you don't have to go into a museum, or read a brochure.

Step outside. If you're a neighbor of mine, look towards the White Tanks, and New River. If you're downtown, or by the airport, looks towards Tempe. If you're near Camelback Mountain, look south towards the Salt River. With each step you take, you are walking above the ruins of the Hohokam. Sit at your local Starbucks - the ancient canals are still there, under your feet. Push a shopping cart across the parking lot of your local Safeway, and walk with the Hohokam.

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