Sahuarita /sɑːwəˈriːtə/ is a town in Pima County, Arizona, United States. Sahuarita is located south of the Tohono O’odham Nation and abuts the north end of Green Valley, 15 miles south of Tucson. The population was 25,259 at the 2010 census.
The first known human inhabitants of the Sahuarita region were the Hohokam people, which may be the ancestors of the modern-day Tohono O’odham nation. The Hohokam were known for their highly innovative and extensive use of irrigation. The Hohokam were very peaceful people, they had extensive trade routes extending to Mesoamerica, and showed many cultural influences from their southern neighbors.
The Sobaipuri were possibly related to the Hohokam and occupied the Southern portion of the Santa Cruz, with the Pima to their North and South. While Coronado passed just East of Sahuarita in 1521, it wasn’t until Eusebio Kino’s 1691 journey along the Santa Cruz River that he met the leaders of the Sobaipuri people. Kino was a true champion of the indigenous Indians, opposing forced labor in mines by Spanish overseers. Kino would later go on to found the Mission San Xavier del Bac in 1699, just north of Sahuarita. In 1775, Francisco Garcés would follow the same path, laying the groundwork for the founding of Tucson.
In 1775, after building a series of missions in the region, the Spanish established a fort in the Tucson region to control the Native American settlements nearby. This just north of Sahuarita, which effectively placed the region under Spanish control. Eventually, a town came to be and was named Tucson. After the Mexican War of Independence in 1821, the region came under Mexican control until they sold the land to the United States as part of the Gadsden Purchase.
In 1854, following the Gadsden Purchase, Sahuarita would become a part of the Territory of New Mexico, in the United States of America. In the same year, Andrew B. Gray would travel the region on behalf of the Texas Western Railroad, in order to run a preliminary survey of the region. Meanwhile, the Native American peoples of the region were being pushed onto each other’s land through American expansionism. In 1857, the Sobaipuri, who had acted as a buffer between the hostile Mexicans to the south and Apache to the north, finally collapsed under the pressure and vacated the area, generally moving westward to Papago territory. Sahuarita was part of the Confederate Arizona Territory between 1861 and 1862 before being captured by the Union and incorporated into Arizona Territory in 1863. In 1867, Fort Crittenden was created between Sonoita and Patagonia in order to support the establishment of American settlements in the Santa Cruz Valley. In 1874, the San Xavier reservation was created, now called the Tohono O’odham Reservation, and Native Americans were forcibly relocated to the reservation.
Sahuarita contains the Titan Missile Museum, built in 1963 during the height of the Cold War, which is the only Titan Missile site in the world accessible to the public. The actual Titan II missile, the most powerful nuclear missile on standby in the US, remains in the silo for visitors to see. The Sahuarita Airstrip continued to be used by the U.S. Air Force throughout most of the Cold War.
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