Science

Cultural History

Native Americans in the Patagonia Lake/Sonoita Creek area consisted of the closely related Sobaipuri and Papago Indian tribes. The Sobaipuri and Papago Indian tribes were also closely related to the Pima Indians who lived in the Tucson area.

The Sobaipuri inhabited the main and tributary valleys of the Santa Cruz and San Pedro rivers. The Spanish established missions among them in the late 17th and early 18th centuries to which several visitas were attached. A visita was a community visited regularly by a priest from a nearby mission. In the mid- to late 1700s, the Apache began raiding the area south of Tucson causing the Sobaipuri to give up their homes and to merge with the Pima and Papago tribes.

The Papago inhabited territory mainly south of Tucson along the Santa Cruz River on into Sonora, Mexico. Papago means “bean eating people.” The Papago were mainly semi-sedentary farmers living in small villages, growing corn, beans, and squash. They supplemented agriculture with a gathering of wild plants and hunting. Today, the Papago are known as the Tohono O'odham Indian tribe.

Sites in the Patagonia Lake/Sonoita Creek area consist of pictographs, petroglyphs, bedrock mortars, rock cairns, rock circles, and lithic scatters.