Trivia likes to lodge itself in my brain and never leave. I can remember the most obscure facts and anecdotes. Whenever my friends and family play Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy I’m suddenly popular, but if you’re ever stranded in Phoenix, Arizona, and happen to ask me for simple directions to a grocery store or gas station, I will most assuredly disappoint you with a blank stare.
I forget where I was when I learned about the Hohokam Indians but I most definitely remembered the history behind Phoenix’s original inhabitants. It stuck in my brain like a seed. And it’s also what inspired my historical romance novel, CAPTIVE SPIRIT.
You see, around 300 BC, people from the ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures traveled north to settle in the desert valleys formed by the slow moving Gila and Salt Rivers in what is now known as Arizona. They existed peacefully as farmers and master canal builders until around 1500 AD when their population vanished for reasons unknown. The Pima Indians called these people Hohokam, "Those Who Have Gone."
How cool is that?!
There are about a million stories woven into that fact alone begging to be written. Why would a thriving population in the rugged Sonoran Desert—with upwards of around 50,000 people at its peak—all of a sudden vanish into thin air? Why would people abandon masterfully built canals, some reaching 10 miles long and still in existence today, and plentiful crops like cotton, corn, beans, and squash? The Hohokam Indians abandoned their pithouses, their ball courts, their ceremonial burial grounds, their whole lives. Why?
Of course, there are all sorts of theories—famine, war, internal strife, drought, disease, floods, climatic changes, migration with other tribes—but no one can say with certainty what happened to the Hohokam Indians. And so the mystery continues to tease storytellers like me.
Liz Fichera is the author of CAPTIVE SPIRIT, her debut historical romance novel from Carina Press. She prefers to write about ordinary people who do extraordinary things, oftentimes against the backdrop of Native American legends in the American Southwest. Please visit Liz at http://www.lizfichera.com/.
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