Arizona has a rich cultural history, intertwining the prehistoric with the historic. Situated within Tonto Basin in southeastern Arizona, Tonto National Monument preserves cliff dwellings and other remnants of prehistoric cultures. As these groups left, other native peoples used the valley. The Spaniards arrived in the 1500's, followed by pioneers from the east, further changing what is now Arizona. The following links will lead you further into the cultural history within and surrounding Tonto National Monument.
Cordelia Adams Crawford
On March 7, 1981, six women were elected to the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame. All the honorees had been prominent in some area of public life except for Cordelia Adams Crawford, who lived in the Tonto Basin.
used with permission of Sharlot Hall Museum - Prescott, AZ
The first known written record of the cliff dwellings comes from a diary kept by a young schoolteacher, Angeline Brigham Mitchell.
The diary details her confrontations with Indians, a mountain lion, skunks, a gila monster, and stampeding cattle. This excerpt, from December 12, 1880, describes her trip to the cliff dwellings at what is now Tonto National Monument.
Adolph Bandelier studied law, but his interest in natural history led him to dedicate his life to archeology. His main focus was the southwestern US and northern Mexico, and he visited the cliff dwellings at what is now Tonto National Monument in May, 1883. This excerpt is from his “Final Report of Investigations Among the Indians of the Southwestern United States, Carried on Mainly in the Years From 1880 to 1885”.
In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt set aside 640 acres for a national monument containing the ruins of two large Salado cliff dwellings and about sixty other significant archeological sites. Originally overseen by the US Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Tonto National Monument became a unit of the National Park Service in 1933. These excerpts are from monthly reports filed by park staff between 1935 - 1965.
Did You Know?
The inhabitants of the area in and around Tonto National Monument created beautiful pottery and textiles. Many of the artifacts found here are on display in the museum.