Native American Culture in Mesa, AZ | Fort McDowell | Visit Mesa

Native History And Attractions

Exploring Mesa's Surrounding Native American Offerings.


Arizona is home to 22 Native American tribes. Each tribe has a unique cultural heritage and storied traditions that offer a rich and diverse experience to our traveling guests. Throughout the state you will find major events, exhibitions and festivals celebrating Native American traditions including art, dance, cuisine and more.

Mesa's neighboring Native American Tribes include; Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Gila River Indian Community, and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

The first known settlement in the Mesa area was about 2,000 years ago. A Native American civilization now called the Hohokam (meaning those who are gone), built an empire that lasted 1,500 years. The agriculturally-oriented Hohokam engineered hundreds of miles of irrigation canals, cultivating thousands of acres of land. Many of those same canal routes are used today throughout metropolitan Phoenix.

Basket dancers in Mesa, AZ

When visiting Mesa, you can learn more about the Hohokam and more of Arizona's Native American tribes at these locations:

Arizona Museum of Natural History: The Southwest Gallery presents information on the ancient cultures of central Arizona. The displays give you the opportunity to walk though replicas of Hohokam dwellings, and glimpse artifacts used in daily activities, such as cotton weaving, jewelry manufacture, pottery making, hunting activities, food preparation and storage. The ceramic timeline dramatically displays how ceramics changed through time in the Hohokam, Anasazi and Mogollon cultures. 480-644-2230, 53 N. Macdonald, Mesa

Park of the Canals: This newly-renovated 31-acre park featuresevidence of ancient Hohokam Indian canals dating back to 700 B.C. and an extensive desert botanical garden with signage. 480-644-2352, 1710 N. Horne, Mesa

Mesa Grande Ruins: One of only two remaining Hohokam mounds in the metro Phoenix area, the Mesa Grande Ruins temple mound is larger than a football field in both length and width and 27 feet tall at its highest point and remains intact with very few excavations that have impacted its integrity. The Cultural Park is open from October to mid-May; group tours are available by calling 480-644-3553,

When visiting the Phoenix area, you can learn more about Arizona's indigenous cultures and their legacy in the Sonoran Desert at these renowned museums:

Heard Museum: Features include 10 exhibition galleries, free guided tours, outdoor sculpture gardens, café, art gallery, trading-post style shopping and more. 602-252-8848,, 2301 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix

Pueblo Grande Museum: Dedicated to the study and interpretation of the Hohokam culture. Explore the ruin of an 800-year-old platform mound, an excavated ball court, canal map and full-scale reproductions of prehistoric Hohokam homes. 602-495-0900,, 4619 E. Washington Street, Phoenix

Talking Stick Resort Cultural Center: A priceless collection of Native American art is displayed throughout Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale. In our lobby, guests will find a cultural center. Ensconced in glass, the cultural center features native pottery, jewelry and a talking stick, a custom piece from which the hotel gets its name. The art displayed in the cultural center reflects the Pima and Maricopa ancestry that now forms the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC). In fact, most of the art included in the cultural center was actually created by members of the SRPMIC.

Other mediums of art featured throughout the property, include historic Arizona photos, textiles, commissioned contemporary Native American paintings, baskets and more. You would have to stay at the hotel several times to see all of the art compiled there. Moreover, it is said that the art collection inside Talking Stick Resort is the largest Native American collection one can see outside a museum. 480-850-7777, 9800 E. Indian Bend Rd., Loop 101 & Indian Bend Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85256

HuHuGam Heritage Center: Preserving the legacy of the Gila River Indian Community, this center is a climate-controlled repository for prehistoric and historic artifacts, cultural materials and vital records. The public can view these materials and tribal members can research their past. Call ahead for travel art exhibitions and history shows. 520-796-3500, 4759 N. Maricopa Rd., Chandler

Besh-Ba-Gowah Archeological Park: Walk through a 700 year-old Salado Culture pueblo and view the typical furnishings of the era. Numerous artifacts of this remarkably advanced culture also displayed in the museum. 928-425-0320,, 150 N. Pine St., Globe

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument: The tallest and most massive Hohokam structure known. Designated as a national monument in 1892, Casa Grande is the nation's first archeological preserve. 520-723-3172,, 1100 W. Ruins Dr., Coolidge