The City of Peoria was founded on Hohokam land dating back to early 200 A.D.

Hohokam irrigated over 110,000 acres of crop
Peoria sits on amazing land – Hohokam was the largest population in pre-historic Southwest

History of Hohokam

The Complete History of Peoria from Hohokam to Present Day

Who are the Hohokam People?

The Hohokam are thought to have lived in southern Arizona around AD 400-1400. Hohokam’s are generally considered to be a Native American culture of the Southwest. HOOKAM is archaeologists’ name for a prehistoric culture between 300 BC centered on the Salt, Gila, Cape Verde, and Santa Cruz rivers in the low-heat Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona.

According to the National Park Service the word Hohokam is borrowed from the Udam language and is used by archaeologists to refer to groups of people who lived in the Sonoran Desert.

The Hohokam term comes from Uto-Aztecan family group of languages – namely from the Piman language. Hohokam means “exhausted” or “all used up”.

Hohokam refers to the culture and people of a particular period, and should not be confused with Huhugam, which refers to respect for ancestors and descendants. The name Hohokam (pronounced with the accent on the last syllable) comes from Hoohugum, a name given by modern Native Americans in this area to the prehistoric peoples they call their ancestors.

The Hohokam cultural sequence was originally identified at the site of Snaketown in the lower Gila Valley southeast of Phoenix by early 20th-century archaeologists Harold Gladwyn and Emil Khoury. The people who lived in the Hohocam (ho-ho-cam) region were probably among the ancestors of modern southern desert populations such as the Udhams, as well as the Pueblos and possibly other populations in northern Mexico.

Pioneer Period

200-775 AD

The Hohokam are believed to have originally migrated to northern Mexico, becoming the most skilled irrigated growers ever known in the Southwest. To survive in the desert, the Hohokam lived in villages composed of brush, clay and wood built over a shallow pit.

Early farmers saw agricultural, harvest and cultural improvements with trade with peoples in present-day Mexico. The resourceful Hohokam designed an elaborate irrigation network using only stone tools and organized labor. Before modern development abolished this system, they were commonly referred to as “Channel Makers” by their predecessors.

Colonial Period

775-975 AD

Village engineering and architecture changed very little. Agricultural development, irrigation, harvesting, everything improved.

In the Salt and Gila Valleys, where rivers flowed all year round, the Hohokam’s built huge irrigation systems and grew most of their food. The Hohokam’s lived in villages in the foothills of the Tucson Mountains, close to water sources such as the Santa Cruz River or Brawley Wash. Near their villages, in floodplains or on flooded slopes, the Hohokam’s laid out fields of corn, beans, marrows and cotton.

Sedentary Period

975-1150 AD

The Hohokam people. Culture, community, etc. reached its’ full potential. The occupation reached its maximum geographic extent. Preclassical peaked during the sedentary phase, when the Hohokam culture spread from northern Mexico in the south to Flagstaff, Arizona in the north.

Classic Period

By 1300 AD

Hohokam’s irrigation system irrigated 110,000 acres, supporting the largest population in the prehistoric Southwest. The people began building great multiple-story community-based houses with large walls of adobe.

There was more of everything – including pottery manufacturing as well as a plethora of agricultural products such as bean, squash, game, and wild plant foods. Networks of canals and irrigation reached its’ greatest extent.

Some anthropologists call the Hohokam the prehistoric merchants of the Southwest.

1350-1450 D

Hohokam was abandoned possibly because of The Great Drought of 1276-1299. Their economy had been crippled after years of crop failure, farmers abandoned the land, and the people left the villages.

Since the 1980s, knowledge of the Hohokam has expanded significantly because of archaeological cultural resource management projects conducted in the Phoenix and Tucson Basins.

However, according to Southwest Archaeology, the Hohokam’s are one of the four largest cultures in the American Southwest and northern Mexico. There is strong evidence that they maintain ties with communities in Mexico. They are believed to have acted as middlemen in a trade network that stretched from Mexico to the Great Lakes region.

For In-Depth Research

The Hohokam of Southwest America

An Exhaustive Resource

Paper by the James M. Bayman
The Hohokam reached an apex of sociopolitical development between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries in the Sonoran Desert of North America. Hallmarks of the Hohokam tradition included red-on-buff pottery, large-scale canal irrigation agriculture, and monumental buildings, including ball courts, platform mounds, towers, and Great Houses.

Hohokam Craft Economies

An Exhaustive Resource

Paper by the James M. Bayman
The Prestige Goods Economy Model invoked by archaeologists to explain the development of power in middle-range societies generally fails to discriminate the varied roles of social valuables. This study illustrates a multi-faceted approach for identifying the symbolic utility of craft economies among the Hohokam in North America.

The Complete History of Peoria from Hohokam to Present Day

History of Peoria AZ

Peoria is a city in the State of Arizona

Name means “prairie fire”
Home to Lake Pleasant
Major suburb of Phoenix
14 miles north of the state capital

Peoria, Arizona is in Maricopa and Yavapai counties and is Arizona’s second largest city in terms of land area and ninth largest in terms of population. Its name means “prairie fire”.

The Complete History of Peoria from Hohokam to Present Day

1885 AD

The Arizona Canal Company, managed by William J. Murphy – an entrepreneur who completed portions of the Topeka and Santa Fe railroad – envisioned fertile farmland fed by salt river water.


Peoria was founded by four Illinois families who moved to Arizona and named the city after their home state. The early settlers built basic housing. Sometimes they used tents to shelter themselves. The families began receiving more wealth for their produce.

1906 Image of Peoria School District


U.S. Post Office was established.


A district system was introduced that divided the city into six geographical districts. The city council planned and surveyed the Town Site and dug by hand along a public thoroughfare at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Washington Street – this provided water to residents and the travelling public.


Several structures erected – including the First Presbyterian Church, Greenhut Ranch and the original water tower. Peoria School District was formed and recognized by the county and a 1-room schoolhouse was built –shortly after they had to rebuild / remodel it and added on another room making it a 2-room schoolhouse.

1919 Image of the Arizona Republic


The Roosevelt Dam was built – this provided consistent flows of water to area canals.


Arizona becomes the 48th state of the United States of America.


The Arizona Republic describes Peoria as “one of the richest agricultural districts in the valley”. Peoria has top quality soil, and its’ principal crop is cotton with 15,000 acres planted.

The Complete History of Peoria from Hohokam to Present Day


Peoria is becoming a center for cotton production. Citrus trees are also being planted for commercial crop in the Salt River Valley.


The Peoria High School building is the largest building in Peoria. The building had luxuries that schools rarely had at the time such as drinking fountains and bathrooms. The building has been added to the National Register of Historic Places and is still being used to this day.

1937 Image of Peoria High School State Championship Team


Peoria High School won its first state football championship.


Works Progress Administration (WPA) police station and two-room jail house was built for a city that had fewer than 2,000 residents.

The Complete History of Peoria from Hohokam to Present Day


Arizona’s first home A/C units are installed.


The City of Peoria is incorporated.

The Complete History of Peoria from Hohokam to Present Day


Brewers begin their spring training at the Greenway Sports Complex.


Major economic moves and buildings are erected. City Hall, court buildings, council chambers and library, Peoria’s Sports Complex, and the City’s first wastewater treatment plant.


The City of Peoria opens the Challenger Space Center, Rio Vista Community Park and Recreation Center, Peoria’s Center for the Performing Arts (PCPA), etc. You can read more about this part of Peoria’s history at

Present Day – 2040

The City of Peoria is one of the fastest growing cities in Arizona.

Looking for a Roofing Contractor Peoria Arizona?

For In-Depth Research

2040 Plan for Peoria

An Exhaustive Resource

Paper by the City of Peoria Government
Peoria was established in 1886 as a humble agricultural community. Since incorporating on June 7, 1954, Peoria has blossomed as a rapidly-growing, modern city that offers a high quality of living in the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert. Many diverse and positive characteristics
contribute to make Peoria the special place it is today.

City of Peoria: Historic Preservation Plan

An Exhaustive Resource

Paper by the City of Peoria Government
The town of Peoria began near the intersection of present day Peoria Avenue and Grand Avenues. The community has come a long way since the first land was sold for farming. The Peoria Historic Preservation Plan identifies the prehistory and history of the City as important values and provides strategies for preservation of buildings, structures and sites for future generations.