Today, Arizona draws retirees and tourists anxious to bask in the sun and visit the Grand Canyon, but the state's history is about a lot more than its climate.
Here are six historical events and highlight's from Arizona's history:
Cliff dwellings and other ancient evidence remains to trace man's presence in the Arizona area back at least 20,000 years. Studying tree rings, historians have determined there was a drought from 1276 to 1299 A.D. that ended much of the prehistoric civilization in the area. Written history began in the 1500s when Spanish explorers came to the area, says the Office of the Arizona Governor.
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Much of Arizona became a U.S. territory when the war with Mexico ended in 1848. Then the Gadsden Purchase in 1853 acquired the rest of what is today Arizona, but it wasn't until 1912 that it became the 48th state to join the union.
When the southern states seceded from the union as the Civil War approached, residents in the Arizona territory supported the southern cause, partially because they were already angry that the U.S. government wasn't helping them with Apache Wars. When the Overland Mail route was taken out of the territory and the Army withdrew, Indian raids increased. "Since the withdrawal of the Overland Mail and the garrison troops the chances against life have reached the maximum height. Within six months nine-tenths of the whole male population have been killed off, and every ranch, farm and mine of the country have been abandoned in consequence." It wasn't until the end of Civil War battles in the territory that some of Arizona's prominent citizens returned to the territory. A gold rush in 1863, before the war was over, pulled more people into the sparsely populated area that made up today's central Arizona.
The Indian Wars were fought in the Arizona territory for many years, and often overshadowed even the Civil War with their intensity and devastation. In fact, the Civil War increased the Apache raiding because the U.S. Army sent soldiers east to fight, leaving the territory largely unprotected, according to the Arizona Department of Emergency & Military Affairs.
Permission to create a volunteer infantry regiment, which would include native Arizonians from the Pimas and Maricopas, to fight the Apache Indians was received, and more than 100 men were in the regiment by 1866. They waged numerous battles, before being disbanded. The Apache Wars finally ended in 1886 when Capt. Emmett Crawford defeated Geronimo and within two months, the leader of the Apaches surrendered.
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During the Apache Wars, other initiatives were undertaken in the Arizona territory to relocate Native Americans. "Soon, 8,500 men, women and children were marched almost 300 miles from northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico to Bosque Redondo, a desolate tract on the Pecos River in eastern New Mexico," says Legends of America.
"Traveling in harsh winter conditions for almost two months, about 200 Navajo died of cold and starvation. More died after they arrived at the barren reservation. The forced march, led by Kit Carson became known by the Navajos as the 'Long Walk.'"
At the end of World War II, the availability of air conditioning and refrigeration grew, and from that point on, Arizona's population boomed. As a side note: Navajo Indians from Arizona helped transmit secret U.S. communications after the Pearl Harbor bombing in 1941. They became well-known as Navajo Code Talkers, and they were critically important during the war, saving numerous lives.
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