Archeological evidence indicates that the Hohokam people of the Tucson area used the saguaro in their daily lives. The strong, woody ribs were gathered to construct the framework for the walls of their homes.
Additionally, saguaro ribs were used to collect saguaro fruits, which grow high up on the plant. Several ribs were tied together with a cross piece at the end. These long poles were used to knock ripe fruit down from the top of the plants. It would then be gathered to eat. The present day Tohono O’odham are believed to be descendents of the Hohokam. In the O’odham culture, the saguaro is a sacred plant, to be given utmost respect. The calendar is based on the cycles of the saguaro, and includes ceremonies involving the saguaro such as one that involves the making of wine from saguaro fruits.
The present day Tohono O'odham continue to gather saguaro fruit just as their ancestors did. They use the sweet fruits to make the ceremonial wine as well as jelly and candies. They also use the high protein saguaro seeds as chicken feed.
Last updated: February 24, 2015