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Maricopa is, in part, hispani-cization (sp?) of the term Hohokham which was in itself a Pima word meaning "The Cranky Old Men Who Were Here First". When asked by the conquistadores about the ancient canals along the Salt River, the Pimas simply said that the Hohokham left them behind. When asked where the Hohokham went there was never a clear answer. You may know that this (ex) Cowboy is also an (ex) Boatman who guided every river in the Gila watershed worth floating. I met a member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa tribe when I was guiding on the Salt River many years ago who told me of a legend: Came a day when the Pimas killed all the Hohokham and ate them and put their bones into the flooding river. I personally tend to accept it - men don't often make that kind of thing up.

Watching the video out of West Phoenix last weekend I couldn't tell which one was the ancient tantrum throwing United States Senator and which one was the diaper wearing joyless old man complaining that he needed more fences around his gated community country to keep out liberals, girl scouts, the Amway people, and Hispanics. Most of John McCain's district is in Maricopa county and the place has a very long history of this kind of thing.

Today Maricopa County is known for the apparent fattest sheriff in America; the second largest nuclear power generating plant on earth (needed to power their air conditioners); something like 95,000 hectares of cheap franchise fast food, usurious check cashing and wireless businesses; the most conspicuously date rape themed University in America and a bizarre and ostentatious adherence to the "Taco Bell" school of architectural design. Not for nothing, but it also has the largest ethnic concentration camp run by white people wearing brown shirts since Hermann Goering and his boy scouts were in charge of France. Those guys were the last ultra conservative nationalists who preached the idea that work will set you free. They didn't mean it either but you still might want to ask how that is going for them so far.

It used to be good sport anytime you could stop at a news screen and watch anger fueled men who were born when the internet was called "telegrams" raise their trembling, paper-skinned knuckles at every government employee who wasn't delivering a welfare check. Now days it just seems sad. As someone who intends to be an old white American man from Arizona someday I have to wonder if we are all doomed to be as ugly-hearted as these people. Maybe there is something about Phoenix that causes people to draw their water from such a deep and joyless well. In any case, it is clear that someone should send a bag of fresh smelling puppies out to the anti-Hispanic retired guys in "Mesa", "Agua-Fria", "Marana", "El Mirage" and "Guadalupe".

Maybe it is the water. The Hispanics ran Arizona for something like 300 years, which is a lot closer to a thousand year Reich than Bull Conner and Joe Arpaio's sheriff reigns combined. The Spanish Empire or as your grandfather calls them "Hispanics", dropped Saint names in America the way Johnny dropped appleseeds. Half the modern freeways in California were surveyed as the original "Camino Real" system 200 years before George Washington's mother was born. Though the King's men didn't seem to visit the "Rio Salado" basin of Phoenix very much.

Maricopa Wells had its heyday as the stagecoach watering stop between San Antonio and San Diego. Which is a tellingly long stretch without a Sainted place name, but it makes sense in every way. The closest the Spanish came to venerating Arizona was in calling most of the roads in Arizona "El Camino Del Diablo" and you only have to turn left behind a blue haired retiree in Phoenix one time to understand that 500 years ago the Hispanic geographers had a very accurate sense of which places were better left to the devil.

In any case there seems to be a strong sentiment among McCain voters that the people who were here first deserve a higher status of citizenship. It's a tired old syllogism but as intelligent as anything else the Republicans have thought of since maybe when Charles Lindbergh tried to run for the GOP nomination with a platform of joining World War II on the German side. And I for one support rigidly codifying it. After all, your humble (ex) Cowboy was born in Phoenix on the hottest day of the year in 1966. Which puts me well ahead of both Sheriff Joe and Senator McCain, and only about 1700 years from the top of the list.

Ride for the High Country

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