The Southwest Institute of Montessori Studies is located in modern-day Phoenix/Mesa, Arizona, which is on the ancestral lands of the Akimel O’odham tribe and before that the Hohokam people. This place where we live and work has been and continues to be the home of indigenous peoples since time immemorial. We honor the elders of both past and present, as well as future generations, of the Hohokam peoples and the Akimel O’odham nation. We express gratitude for their stewardship of the land we currently occupy.
Prehistorically, the Hohokam people inhabited a large part of central and southern Arizona. Their descendants, the Akimel O’odham tribe (River People) is also known as the Upper Pima, and today is part of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
Indigenous ancestors of these groups developed the most advanced canal system in North America to provide irrigation water to villages and agricultural lands here in the harsh Sonoran Desert environment. Hundreds of miles of canals were engineered and dug by hand. These systems allowed them to engage in canal farming and produce an ample supply of food. Some of these historic canal courses are still utilized in the Phoenix Valley today. We acknowledge this important infrastructure that early colonizers and modern day populations have benefitted from.
As educators we acknowledge and assume the responsibility to share this important aspect of our local history with our students. We must help them to develop an appreciation for those who came before us and whose territory we now occupy. We must encourage our students, and ourselves, to pursue a journey of learning to better know and understand our current modern-day indigenous neighbors, with the goal of developing an understanding of how we can be better allies.