Public Information & Communications
For Release: Jan. 10, 2013
Contact: Kevin Christopher
Public Information & Communications Specialist
After years of efforts to preserve the site, the public is invited to a grand opening for the Mesa Grande Cultural Park, 1000 N. Date St., Saturday, Jan. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to Noon. Mesa Grande is an ancient archaeological treasure in the middle of a modern city and is one of the most important prehistoric Hohokam sites in Arizona.
“The opening of the Mesa Grande Cultural Park is a great opportunity to show more people in Mesa and the valley how special this site is,” District 1 Councilmember Dave Richins said. “It has taken many years of hard work by museum staff, archaeologists, community leaders and the Native American community to preserve and promote this amazing treasure.”
The Mesa Grande Cultural Park features a Welcoming Center which will tell the story of the project to preserve the site and will display ceramics, baskets and other Hohokam artifacts. In addition to serving as a learning environment, the Welcoming Center will also assist archaeology students and Arizona Museum of Natural History staff with ongoing excavations. The center’s design replicates Native American building techniques and includes an outdoor covered gathering area.
The grand opening will include a blessing and ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8:30 a.m., Salt River Traditional Dancers at 10 a.m., guided tours and traditional Hohokam games such as the atlatl and rabbit stick throws. The Mesa Grande Neighborhood Alliance will also provide a free pancake breakfast after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The City of Mesa purchased the six-acre site in 1985 from Jack and Acquanetta Ross. The Arizona Museum of Natural History, owned and operated by the City, preserves Mesa Grande with assistance from the Southwest Archaeology Team. It is being opened as an official Arizona 2012 Centennial Legacy Project and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Mesa Grande has always created unique interest to the public and is of substantial scientific significance to the archaeological community. With the completion of the cultural park, Mesa Grande will now be open for everyone to enjoy,” Arizona Museum of Natural History Administrator Tom Wilson said.
Mesa Grande remains one of the largest and most complex ancient Hohokam platform communities in the United States. The Hohokam built and used the platform mound between approximately A.D. 1100 and 1450. The mound is larger in length than a modern football field and 27 feet tall. Western explorers first discovered the site in 1856.
“This is an accumulation of years of work from many dedicated individuals and organizations who came together to preserve the legacy left by Mesa’s first residents,” Mayor Scott Smith said. “This site is a great point of pride in Mesa and now we can share it with the community.”
The Mesa Grande Cultural Park will be open four days a week from October through mid-May. Hours will be Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from Noon to 4 p.m. Admission will be $5 for adults, $2 for children ages 3-16 and $4 for guided tours. Tours need to be scheduled in advance.
Funding for the Mesa Grande Cultural Park is from a generous grant from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, cultural impact fees and private donations. For more information, visit www.mesagrandeculturalpark.org
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