|Desert grassland surrounding the Tuzigoot ruins. National Parks website photo.|
If you visit Tuzigoot National Monument you can see four major habitats that would have provided nearly everything the ancient Sinagua's would have needed within about 50 acres, which is about the size of a very small farm. Tuzigoot is located in the desert grasslands of the Upper Sonoran Desert. The desert grasslands surrounding these ruins would have provided yucca plants which provided some fiber and some food for the Native Americans. Food would have been in the form of plants such as cacti fruits that could have been gathered or animals for hunting. The desert grasslands are the least productive habitats though of this area. Even more productive would have been the mesquite and acacia bosque downslope and closer to the river and wetland. This thick brushy habitat grows where soil moisture is higher than in the grasslands and where the river has deposited deep soils. The mesquite trees provide huge amounts of food in the form of mesquite beans every summer. These bean pods were ground-up and made into cakes. Mesquite wood also provided materials for building and tools. The deep soils of the mesquite bosque are also likely where farming took place. Of course, farming in these areas provided food mostly in the form of corn, beans and squash, but it also provided cotton to make clothing. The mesquite bosque was also a great place for animals to hide and was therefore very good for hunting.
|Tavasci Marsh. Photo from National Parks website.|