Desert Vista students work on American History project

Student reporter Peta Nichols shares information about third-grade students at Desert Vista Elementary School who are participating in the American History Film Project and the local history they are covering. (Courtesy of Apache Junction Unified School District)

Student reporter Peta Nichols shares information about third-grade students at Desert Vista Elementary School who are participating in the American History Film Project and the local history they are covering. (Courtesy of Apache Junction Unified School District)

 
Third grade students at Desert Vista Elementary are participating in the American History Film Project, a multi-disciplinary project teaching kids to research, report, plan, act, interview, draw, film, and edit for a video.

The nationwide project encourages children to take pride and ownership of their own local or state history. Videos are then uploaded and shared with all participating classrooms, providing insight into the pockets of regional history and culture from all around our nation.

The following is the first in a series of reports we would like to share with you as students launch their budding media careers.

Did you know our community once was the home of several Native American tribes? My name is Peta, and I would like to tell you some information about some Native Americans that lived in our area. Some of these tribes were the Apache tribe, the Hohokam tribe, the Salado tribe, and the Pima tribe.

These tribes all lived in our area. The Apache and Pima are still in our area, but the Salado and the Hohokam are not because they are ancient tribes. We know they lived in our area because people have found pieces of jewelry, hunting tools, petroglyphs, and pottery.

“The petroglyphs are figures of people and animals,” said Jim Swanson, a local historian. Mr. Swanson allowed me to interview him about the history of the Native Americans in our area. He said that the Native Americans used petroglyphs to tell stories and remember historical events.
The Hohokam tribe was very important to our area because of the canals they built. They lived about 300 B.C. to 1450 A.D. The Hohokams were farmers.

Most of their time during the day was spent working on their canals and crops. They grew corn, cotton, tepary beans, squash, and more. They built canals that led water to their crops. The Hohokam left evidence behind so we know they lived in our area.

There is still evidence of the canals and of their homes. The Big House at the Casa Grande Ruins is an example of a Hohokam home.

We don’t know what happened to the Hohokam tribe. It is a mystery. They do know that the descendants of the Hohokam are the Tohono O’odham tribe.

Today, when you drive around Apache Junction you see people and places that were influenced by the Native Americans that lived in our area. For example, the Hohokam lived in community homes like our apartment buildings. We wear jewelry made from turquoise and silver. The pottery and baskets are used to decorate our homes. Some of our street names use Native American words.

I hope you enjoyed learning about the Native Americans and specifically the Hohokam tribe.

There is plenty more information about them in books and on the Internet.

Editor’s Note: Peta Nichols is a student at Desert Vista Elementary School.

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