One of two early inhabitants of Arizona were the Hohokam people, who built extensive irrigation systems in the center of the state in order to maintain their crops. Hohokam groups lived near what are now Phoenix, Casa Grande and Tucson. The other group were the Anasazi people, who built elaborate cliff dwellings in the high plateaus in the state’s northwest corner. Both groups reached the peak of their civilization between 1100 and 1300 AD, and, for unknown reasons, were both gone by 1400 AD. There were also other native cultures in Arizona prior to the coming of European people: Sinagua and Solado.


The 16th century brought the Spanish explorers, including Cabeza de Vaca, Marcos de Niza, and Fancisco Vasquez de Coronodao, who came looking for seven legendary cities of gold. And from 1810 to 1821, Mexico ruled Arizona during during the Mexican war of independence from Spain . In 1848, under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico relinquished control to the United States , and Arizona became part of the United States Territory of New Mexico in 1850. In 1863, Arizona was organized as a separate territory. The original capital was at Fort Whipple , and moved several more times before finally landing in Phoenix in 1889. During the late 1800s there was sporadic warring between the U.S. and the Apache Indians, until Geronimo surrendered in 1886.


Soon after abundant deposits of copper and silver were discovered, and mining flourished. The subsequent population surge included lawlessness, Wyatt Earp’s gunfight at the OK Corral, and the arrival of the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads. Ranching soon followed, and Arizona finally received statehood in 1912.