What is Tumacácori?

What is Tumacácori?

Tumacácori National Historical Park is located in Southern Arizona, in the upper Santa Cruz River valley. In 1908 Theodore Roosevelt designated Tumacácori as a National Monument and in 1990 it was redesignated as a National Historical Park. Physically the park can be characterized as 360 acres and includes three distinct missions: Mission San Jose de Tumacácori, Mission Los Santos Angeles de Guevavi, and San Cayetano de Calabazas. The visitor center and most of the “attractions” are located at Tumacácori.
Many visitors may tell you the Tumacácori is an old church, I found out quickly that this is not true. An old church is one of the many features of the historic place. In many ways, this misconception represents the way that visitors may miss the true beauty of this park. The longer I am here the more I realize the question, what is Tumacácori, is a loaded one. The longer I am here the more I realize that answering, what is Tumacácori, might be the paradox that keeps the Park Interpreters on their toes.

Like many parks with a colonial history, there is a lot to unpack, learn, and relearn. To understand this park is to understand the culture of people whose voices are seldom heard and unfortunately dwindling. This area was originally home to the O’odham, but the culture of the area has over time been influenced by the Nde (apache), the Yoeme (Yaqui), and the Spanish Colonizers. With such a variety of practices, religions, and traditions the cultural product is rich but vastly complicated and at times painful to confront.

The feelings of the people whose history is Tumacácori’s history are strong and often contradictory. Interpreting all of this and trying to make sense of it is a never-ending task. Gathering perspectives from all those whose stories are Tumacácori’s story is seemingly impossible.

After only being here for a short time there is no way I could ever define in whole what Tumacácori is or what it means to the variety of people who have and do call this home.

To understand Tumacácori we must constantly check our bias and look at a variety of perspectives.

To get the perspective of an Interpretive Park Ranger check out this short    interview I conducted with my supervisor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbxNmhbJyF4

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