South Mountain Community College Historic Walking Tour – Stop 4


Historical Period: Disputed Territory, 1848-1921


In the center of our campus is the “Mandala,” built in 1996 as a celebration of our campus and our community’s mixed cultural heritage. What are some representations of precious metals you see in the artwork?


How do think the present cultures in the area came about?

After Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821, they essentially claimed all of Spain’s territory, including present-day Arizona. But only a few years later, gold was discovered in California, and the American Southwest became a battleground for US expansion, leading to the Mexican-American War. When the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war in 1848, the whole of our modern Southwest (including the richly diverse people living here) came under the claim of the United States. All of a sudden, America had to decide how to govern newly anointed citizens who, over three centuries, had evolved from native, Mexican, and Spanish influences.

Question: What do you think influenced some of the imagery in the mandela?

When you look around our campus, and around South Phoenix in general, you see evidence of these mingling cultures. Look around from this point for examples of native artwork and history, Mexican culture, and Spanish influence. What do you see? You might notice the adobe-like structures of the buildings, designed in 1980 by famed Southwest architect Bennie Gonzales, who sought to celebrate the ancient history of our community. You might see artwork and carvings in the buildings, referencing Native American history. Our community is home to a rich blend of diverse cultures, even today, and the structure of our campus reflects this proud heritage.

Tour Map

Click the image to see the tour map.