Tumacácori Foundation Document

Foundation Document

Tumacácori National Historical Park
Arizona September 2014

Mission of the National Park Service

The National Park Service (NPS) preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The National Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.
The NPS core values are a framework in which the National Park Service accomplishes its mission. They express the manner in which, both individually and collectively, the National Park Service pursues its mission. The NPS core values are:

  • Shared stewardship: We share a commitment to resource stewardship with the global preservation community.
  • Excellence: We strive continually to learn and improve so that we may achieve the highest ideals of public service.
  • Integrity: We deal honestly and fairly with the public and one another.
  • Tradition: We are proud of it; we learn from it; we are not bound by it.
  • Respect: We embrace each other’s differences so that we may enrich the well-being of everyone.

The National Park Service is a bureau within the Department of the Interior. While numerous national park system units were created prior to 1916, it was not until August 25, 1916, that President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act formally establishing the National Park Service.
The national park system continues to grow and comprises 401 park units covering more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. These units include, but are not limited to, national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House. The variety and diversity of park units throughout the nation require a strong commitment to resource stewardship and management to ensure both the protection and enjoyment of these resources for future generations.


Every unit of the national park system will have a foundational document to provide basic guidance for planning and management decisions—a foundation for planning and management. The core components of a foundation document include a brief description of the park as well as the park’s purpose, significance, fundamental resources and values, and interpretive themes. The foundation document also includes special mandates and administrative commitments, an assessment of planning and data needs that identifies planning issues, planning products to be developed, and the associated studies and data required for park planning. Along with the core components, the assessment provides a focus for park planning activities and establishes a baseline from which planning documents are developed.
A primary benefit of developing a foundation document is the opportunity to integrate and coordinate all kinds and levels of planning from a single, shared understanding of what is most important about the park. The process of developing a foundation document begins with gathering and integrating information about the park. Next, this information is refined and focused to determine what the most important attributes of the park are. The process of preparing a foundation document aids park managers, staff, and the public in identifying and clearly stating in one document the essential information that is necessary for park management to consider when determining future planning efforts, outlining key planning issues, and protecting resources and values that are integral to park purpose and identity.
While not included in this document, a park atlas is also part of a foundation project. The atlas is a series of maps compiled from available geographic information system (GIS) data on natural and cultural resources, visitor use patterns, facilities, and other topics. It serves as a GIS-based support tool for planning and park operations. The atlas is published as a (hard copy) paper product and as geospatial data for use in a web mapping environment. The park atlas for Tumacácori National Historical Park can be accessed online at: http://insideparkatlas.nps.gov/.

Part 1: Core Components

The core components of a foundation document include a brief description of the park, park purpose, significance statements, fundamental resources and values, and interpretive themes.
These components are core because they typically do not change over time. Core components are expected to be used in future planning and management efforts.

Brief Description of the Park

Tumacácori National Historical Park is located in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, 18 miles north of the United States–Mexico border, 13 miles north of the City of Nogales, and 43 miles south of Tucson. The park protects three Spanish colonial mission ruins: San José de Tumacácori (Tumacácori), Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi (Guevavi), and San Cayetano de Calabazas (Calabazas). Tumacácori, Guevavi, and Calabazas are commonly referred to as units of Tumacácori National Historical Park. All park facilities are located at the Tumacácori unit, where visitors access the park through the Tumacácori Visitor Center. The Guevavi and Calabazas units are open to the public only as part of a Tumacácori National Historical Park guided tour.
Missions Tumacácori and Guevavi, established in 1691, were among more than 20 missions founded by Jesuit Father Eusebio Francisco Kino. These missions were established in the region known to the Spanish as the Pimería Álta, stretching from what is now Sonora, Mexico, through southern Arizona. Calabazas is first recorded in the mission register by Jesuit Father Francisco Pauer in 1756. The construction of the existing Tumacácori church began around 1800 under the administration of Franciscan missionaries. Although it was never completely finished, the Tumacácori church was in use in the early 1820s. The mission’s last resident priest was deported by the Mexican government in 1828, and the last members of the mission community moved away in 1848.
Subsequent use of the three mission sites varied widely, involving, among other things, sheep and cattle ranching, resident “caretakers” and others living within the structures, use as a post office and a customs station, homesteading, and use as a base for U.S. military units.

Establishment and Boundary Adjustments

Tumacácori was established as Tumacácori National Monument on September 15, 1908, by President Theodore Roosevelt (see appendix A for the presidential proclamation and subsequent amendments). The 9.11-acre monument was set aside to preserve “the Tumacácori Mission, an ancient Spanish ruin, which is one of the oldest mission ruins in the southwest . . . with as much land as may be necessary for the protection thereof.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower enlarged the monument in 1958 with the addition of a 0.15-acre tract surrounding the ruins of a lime kiln adjacent to the monument. The National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978 revised the authorized boundary of the national monument, adding 6.37 acres and removing 0.13 acres, providing what would become the grounds for the park’s annual interpretive cultural celebration, La Fiesta de Tumacácori. The monument was redesignated a national historical park by Congress in 1990 with the addition of the ruins of the Guevavi (8 acres), and Calabazas (22 acres) mission churches. The legislation states that the park is to “protect and interpret . . . sites . . . associated with the early Spanish missionaries and explorers of the 17th and 18th centuries” and “to give appropriate recognition to the role of . . . Father Eusebio Francisco Kino in the development of the mission sites and the settlement of the region.” An additional 310 acres surrounding the Tumacácori unit, including a one-mile stretch of the Santa Cruz River and adjacent riparian area, gallery forest, and mesquite bosque (forest), were added to the national historical park in 2002, bringing the total to 360 acres. The addition was authorized “to protect and interpret the resources associated with the Tumacácori
Mission,” and “enhance the visitor experience . . . by developing access to these associated mission resources.”

Archeological and Historic Resources

The park protects the standing and subsurface ruins of the churches, conventos, and parts of the community grounds of the Tumacácori, Guevavi, and Calabazas missions. Along with these ruins, which date to the 1700–1800s, the park also contains subsurface and surface scatter remains of pre-mission O’odham and prehistoric Hohokam and Trincheras cultures, as well as post-mission settlement. The three missions are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and the Guevavi and Calabazas missions are also designated national historic landmarks. The Tumacácori Visitor Center and Museum, built in 1937, is listed in the National
Register of Historic Places and is designated a national historic landmark. The visitor center, original museum dioramas, wall surrounding the original park boundary, and the two 1930s era residences are excellent examples of NPS rustic architecture and New Deal era craftsmanship.
The park maintains, within the park and in collections maintained at the NPS Western Archeological and Conservation Center, extensive associated archives and museum collections that preserve artifacts and information that contribute to cultural identity. Tumacácori National Historical Park preserves records including archeological resources, oral histories, written documents, and pertinent databases.

Natural Resources

The landscapes of Tumacácori National Historical Park provided resources important for development of communities before, during, and after the Spanish arrived in the area. Tumacácori National Historical Park is situated on the ancestral lands of the O’odham, whose preexisting settlements influenced the location of the mission sites. Missions were established in communities along the river with access to sufficient irrigable land and reliable surface water.
The Guevavi and Calabazas units consist of desert scrub and mesquite bosque environments. The Santa Cruz River flows through the Tumacácori unit; approximately one mile of endangered Southwest cottonwood-willow riparian habitat are protected within the unit.

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

Tumacácori National Historical Park includes a portion of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. Named for the captain of the nearby Tubac Presidio, the national trail recognizes the first successful overland route facilitating the colonization of Alta California with the founding of the presidio and community of San Francisco by settlers from existing settlements in the Pímeria Alta. A one-mile stretch of the Anza Trail passes through the Tumacácori unit of the park.


Over the past 10 years (2003–2012), visitation has averaged 43,261 per year. Most visitors to the national historical park spend time touring the Tumacácori mission church and associated garden, orchard, and museum. Recreation activities available to visitors include self- guided and guided tours, wildlife watching, photography, walking and hiking, horseback riding on the Anza Trail, and picnicking. Calabazas and Guevavi missions are not open to the public and can be visited only on special reserved tours.


Park Purpose

The purpose statement identifies the specific reason(s) for establishment of a particular park. The purpose statement for Tumacácori National Historical Park was drafted through a careful analysis of its enabling legislation and the legislative history that influenced its development. The park was established by executive order on September 15, 1908 (see appendix A for the presidential proclamation and subsequent amendments). The purpose statement lays the foundation for understanding what is most important about the park.


Park Significance

Significance statements express why a park’s resources and values are important enough to merit designation as a unit of the national park system. These statements are linked to the purpose of Tumacácori National Historical Park, and are supported by data, research, and consensus. Statements of significance describe the distinctive nature of the park and why an area is important within a global, national, regional, and systemwide context. They focus on the
most important resources and values that will assist in park planning and management. The following significance statements have been identified for Tumacácori National Historical Park. (Please note that the sequence of the statements does not reflect the level of significance.)

  1. The cultural resources of Tumacácori National Historical Park collectively represent the culture of native peoples before and after the arrival of Europeans as well as the Spanish effort to colonize the Santa Cruz River valley through the Jesuit and Franciscan missionization of its native people. Tumacácori National Historical Park is the only NPS unit displaying an entire, original institutionalized Spanish mission landscape including
    • a cabecera, the mission headquarters where the priest actually resided and from which he visited other missions (visitas) in his jurisdiction
    • a visita, a mission in which the priest was not in residence but visited on a
    • regular basis
    • a ranchería, a term used to describe Native villages that had not attained the status of a mission
    • a ganadera, a cattle ranch or livestock operation
    • In addition to the physical structures and features, Tumacácori National Historical Park preserves a record of the social and political hierarchy that was overlaid on the existing American Indian communities.
  2. Tumacácori National Historical Park is one of the few NPS venues that regularly teaches and incorporates traditional architectural preservation techniques in partnership with international, local, and native communities.
  3. All three mission sites contain some of the best remaining examples of Spanish Mission period architectural styles, including original materials, features, and construction techniques.
  4. Tumacácori National Historical Park maintains a record of cultural interaction, continuity, and change before, during, and after contact with Europeans. Today the park recognizes the distinct lifeways and the range of cultures that have existed since people were part of the landscape.
  5. The landscapes at the three mission sites and the broader natural and cultural resources of the Santa Cruz River valley contain important elements of the environment that sustained people before, during, and after the missions were established. These features now allow visitors and residents to imagine and understand the different communities’ relationships to these landscapes over time.

Fundamental Resources and Values

Fundamental resources and values (FRVs) are those features, systems, processes, experiences, stories, scenes, sounds, smells, or other attributes determined to warrant primary consideration during planning and management processes because they are essential to achieving the purpose of the park and maintaining its significance. Fundamental resources and values are closely related to a park’s legislative purpose and are more specific than significance statements.
Fundamental resources and values help focus planning and management efforts on what is truly significant about the park. One of the most important responsibilities of NPS managers is to ensure the conservation and public enjoyment of those qualities that are essential (fundamental) to achieving the purpose of the park and maintaining its significance. If fundamental resources and values are allowed to deteriorate, the park purpose and/or significance could be jeopardized.
The following fundamental resources and values have been identified for Tumacácori National Historical Park:

  • Mission San José de Tumacácori. The park preserves a nearly complete mission complex at Mission San José de Tumacácori. Established by Eusebio Francisco Kino, the mission later became a Franciscan visita, and shortly thereafter it was made their cabecera. Tumacácori is an excellent example of original 1800s Franciscan mission architecture with a number of distinctive, well-preserved features including a round mortuary chapel, scalloped niches, and an outstanding example of stenciled art, frescoes, murals, and original gypsum and plaster finishes. The final layout of the church includes discernible adaptations that reflect economic constraints at the time of construction. The integrity of the architecture, including the materials and other evidence of original construction techniques, greatly enhances research opportunities at all three mission sites.
  • Mission Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi. Mission Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi is the only preserved earthen Jesuit cabecera in the United States. It has great potential to serve as an educational tool for learning about American Indian and Spanish colonial interaction because of well-preserved associated cultural sites and features, which include an associated Indian village. The site of Guevavi is relatively undisturbed with few post-Jesuit mission period archeological resources present. Guevavi has remnants of the first mission church built in what is today Arizona. The church is the only known standing Jesuit earthen mission architecture found in the United States.
  • Mission San Cayetano de Calabazas. Mission San Cayetano de Calabazas includes the only known remaining standing Spanish colonial visita in the national park system. Calabazas preserves a history of diverse and extensive adaptive reuse including a mission period visita and ganadera, Mexican governor’s residence, U.S. cavalry camp, customs house, and a post office.
  • Cultural Continuity. Tumacácori National Historical Park is situated on ancestral lands of the O’odham, whose preexisting settlements influenced the location of the mission sites. The park strives to provide a balanced and objective view into the lives of native people who were impacted by the mission and its goals for religious conversion and economic exploitation. Native people provided labor and knowledge regarding local materials and resources and influenced the style and expression of church art. The park is valued by individuals and groups who believe the mission sites are an important part of honoring, perpetuating, and celebrating their customs and traditions. The mission sites serve as tangible links to the past by providing connections to both personal heritage and general history of individuals, families, and groups. Collectively, they represent a blending of cultures that have resulted in a living “Mexican” and “Southwestern” culture. The experiences of people who resided at and near the mission sites exemplify persistence of culture, community, and beliefs. The park’s extensive archives and museum collections record the history and document the ongoing connections between the community and the park.
  • Landscapes. The distinct character of the landscape at each of the three sites offers a range of visitor experiences that provide opportunities for imaginative and personal insights into past and ongoing changes within the Santa Cruz River Valley. Distinctive aspects of the three sites include the relatively unspoiled natural viewshed and soundscape at the Guevavi unit, the contrasting industrial development that surrounds the Calabazas unit, and the living community that includes Mission San José de Tumacácori.
  • Tumacácori National Historical Park recognizes that its landscapes are sacred and culturally significant to descendant communities, residents, and visitors. These landscapes provided resources important for development of communities before, during, and after the Spanish arrived in the area. The remnants of the acéquia (canal or irrigation ditch) and orchard/garden are representative examples of the agricultural infrastructure necessary to sustain populations.
  • Preservation Program. Tumacácori National Historical Park serves as a model and venue for teaching and maintaining traditional historic preservation techniques. These traditional methods are used to preserve and maintain the park’s historic structures, including the three mission churches and associated historic features and landscapes. The park’s historic preservation program fosters partnerships that promote community involvement by mentoring on traditional preservation methods and technologies.

Interpretive Themes

Interpretive themes are often described as the key stories or concepts that visitors should understand after visiting a park—they define the most important ideas or concepts communicated to visitors about a park unit. Themes are derived from, and should reflect, park purpose, significance, resources, and values. The set of interpretive themes is complete when it provides the structure necessary for park staff to develop opportunities for visitors to explore and relate to all park significance statements and fundamental resources and values.
Interpretive themes are an organizational tool that reveal and clarify meaning, concepts, contexts, and values represented by park resources. Sound themes are accurate and reflect current scholarship and science. They encourage exploration of the context in which events or natural processes occurred and the effects of those events and processes. Interpretive themes go beyond a mere description of the event or process to foster multiple opportunities to experience and consider the park and its resources. These themes help explain why a park story is relevant to people who may otherwise be unaware of connections they have to an
event, time, or place associated with the park.
The following interpretive themes have been identified for Tumacácori National Historical Park:

  • The long history of the missions of Tumacácori National Historical Park serves as a doorway to the rich and complex stories of cultural encounter, cooperation, conflict, accommodation, and resistance that characterized the efforts of the Spanish Crown and the Catholic Church to establish colonies in northern New Spain and missionize the native peoples.
  • The Jesuits and Franciscans, in their efforts to modify the landscape and create a social order familiar to Europeans, attempted to impose their systems and institutions on the native peoples. Their responses exemplify the ability of individuals and cultures to adapt, survive, and retain identity and community coherence in the face of pervasive change.
  • Tumacácori National Historical Park continues to be a vital and vibrant focal point celebrating the cultures and communities associated with the Santa Cruz River valley—a meeting place and social cener serving to perpetuate, celebrate, honor, and appreciate traditions and explore change.
  • The diversity and integrity of the architectural resources of Tumacácori National Historical Park and its more than 100 years of federal management provide outstanding opportunities to understand the history, science, and art of historic preservation.
  • The distinctive evolution and current character of the landscapes of Tumacácori National Historical Park are reflective of the enduring relationships between people and places—illustrating how people change, and are in turn changed, by the natural environment.

Part 2: Dynamic Components

The dynamic components of a foundation document include special mandates and administrative commitments and an assessment of planning and data needs. These components are dynamic because they will change over time. New special mandates can be established and new administrative commitments made. As conditions and trends of fundamental resources and values change over time, the analysis of planning and data needs will need to be revisited and revised, along with key issues. Therefore, this part of the foundation document will be updated accordingly.

Special Mandates and Administrative Commitments

Many management decisions for a park unit are directed or influenced by special mandates and administrative commitments with other federal agencies, state and local governments, utility companies, partnering organizations, and other entities. Special mandates are requirements specific to a park that must be fulfilled. Mandates can be expressed in enabling legislation, in separate legislation following the establishment of the park, or through a judicial process.
They may expand on park purpose or introduce elements unrelated to the purpose of the park. Administrative commitments are, in general, agreements that have been reached through formal, documented processes, often through memorandums of agreement. Examples include easements, rights-of-way, arrangements for emergency service responses, etc. Special mandates and administrative commitments can support, in many cases, a network of partnerships that help fulfill the objectives of the park and facilitate working relationships with other organizations. They are an essential component of managing and planning for Tumacácori National Historical Park.

Special Mandates

Public Law 101-344, August 6, 1990
In administering the park, the Secretary shall utilize such interpretative materials and other devices as may be necessary to give appropriate recognition to the
role of the Jesuit Missionary Priest, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, in the development of the mission sites and the settlement of the region.

Administrative Commitments

Please see Appendix B for a table of the administrative commitments for
Tumacácori National Historical Park.

Assessment of Planning and Data Needs

Once the core components of part 1 of the foundation document have been identified, it is important to gather and evaluate existing information about the park’s fundamental resources and values, and develop a full assessment of the park’s planning and data needs. The assessment of planning and data needs section presents planning issues, the planning projects that will address these issues, and the associated information requirements for planning, such as resource inventories and data collection, including GIS data.
There are three sections in the assessment of planning and data needs:

  1. analysis of fundamental resources and values
  2. identification of key issues and associated planning and data needs
  3. identification of planning and data needs (including spatial mapping activities or GIS maps)

The analysis of fundamental resources and values and identification of key issues leads up to and supports the identification of planning and data collection needs. Please see appendix C for the fundamental resource and values analysis tables, which describe current conditions, potential threats and opportunities, planning and data needs, and selected laws and NPS policies related to management of the identified fundamental resources and values.

Identification of Key Issues and Associated Planning and Data Needs

This section considers key issues to be addressed in planning and management and therefore takes a broader view over the primary focus of part 1. A key issue focuses on a question that is important for a park. Key issues often raise questions regarding park purpose and significance and fundamental resources and values. For example, a key issue may pertain to the potential for a fundamental resource or value in a park to be detrimentally affected by discretionary management decisions. A key issue may also address crucial questions not directly related to purpose and significance, but still indirectly affects them. Usually, a key issue is one that a future planning effort or data collection needs to address and requires a decision by NPS managers.
The following are key issues for Tumacácori National Historical Park and the associated planning and data needs to address them:

Ongoing Protection and Preservation of the Park’s Mission Architecture, Archeological Sites, and Associated Features. These fundamental cultural resources are being impacted by environmental and human-caused factors, including natural weathering and deterioration, damage from animals (e.g., bats, rodents, and birds), inadvertent impacts from visitors, as well as occasional intentional looting and vandalism. Current management approaches for the three
park units, including the recently acquired lands along the Santa Cruz River, do not convey a sense of place or the historic context of the park’s cultural landscapes.
Associated planning and data needs:

  • Resource stewardship strategy
  • Cultural landscape reports for all three park units

Managing New Lands and Natural Resource Types.
In 2002, the park was expanded by 310 acres, a 720% increase in total acreage. This expansion introduced important new resource types into the park, including a portion of the Santa Cruz River and its associated riparian habitat. As such, the park lacks strategic natural resource planning to assist in the management of these resources and associated issues. For example, these areas are being impacted by a number of factors, including cattle that enter through broken fences and trespass on park lands, nonnative plants, water pollution, climate change, trespass by all-terrain vehicles on park lands, and other human-caused impacts (e.g., visitor-created trails).
Associated planning and data needs:

  • Resource stewardship strategy
  • Vegetation management plan
  • Visitor Use Management Plan
  • Orchard Management Plan

Improving Visitor Experience and Enhancing Interpretation.
The park’s three units have the potential to provide a wider range of visitor opportunities, such as recreational activities and interpretive programs, than are currently being provided. Moreover, the park hosts a variety of popular special events that draw large crowds. These events and associated crowds could impact the quality of the experience for some visitors. At the same time, visitor crowding
could impact fragile cultural resources in certain areas of the park. The park also lacks a plan for visitation to the Guevavi and Calabazas units.
Associated planning and data needs:

  • Comprehensive interpretive plan
  • Visitor use management plan
  • Wayside exhibit plan to guide interpretive media

Planning and Data Needs

To maintain connection to the core elements of the foundation and the importance of these core foundation elements, the planning and data needs listed here are directly related to protecting fundamental resources and values, park significance, and park purpose, as well as addressing key issues. To successfully undertake a planning effort, information from sources such as inventories, studies, research activities, and analyses may be required to provide adequate knowledge of park resources and visitor information. Such information sources have been identified as data needs. Geospatial mapping tasks and products are included in data needs.
Items considered of the utmost importance were identified as high priority, and other items identified, but not rising to the level of high priority, were listed as either medium- or low priority needs. These priorities inform park management efforts to secure funding and support for planning projects.


Part 3: Contributors


Bob Love, Superintendent
Anita Badertscher, Chief of Interpretation and Education
Jeremy Moss, Chief of Resource Management
Michelle Torok, Administrative Officer
Steve Gastellum, Facility Manager
Jason Welborn, Biological Science Technician


Skip Meehan, Outdoor Recreation Planner / Intermountain Region Liaison
Darcy Killpack, GIS Specialist, Intermountain Region

Other NPS Staff

Erin Flanagan, Project Manager, Denver Service Center – Planning Division
Carrie Miller, Project Specialist, Denver Service Center – Planning Division
Pam Holtman, Quality Assurance Coordinator, WASO Park Planning and Special Studies Division
Nancy Shock, Foundation Coordinator, Denver Service Center – Planning Division
John Paul Jones, Visual Information Specialist, Denver Service Center – Planning Division
Ken Bingenheimer, Editor, Denver Service Center – Planning Division


Last updated: December 30, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 8067
Tumacacori, AZ 85640


(520) 377-5060

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