At an initial glance, the state of Arizona represents a typical southwestern cultural land. But the reason for the uniqueness of this land is the amazing fusion of the Mexican, Native American, contemporary and frontier influences. The eclectic Arizonian culture is prevalent all through the land, whether you are shopping in the crowded Phoenix market or making a trip to the Cliff dwellings of the Native Indians. Get a detailed understanding of Arizona politics and culture as you continue reading, and find out what makes this state surpass the rest 49 states of the United States.
Arizona- The Origin
It was the Europeans who first traveled to Arizona during the 14th-15th centuries, with Spanish explorers finding their way into this area through Mexico. Majority of such expeditions fulfilled the goals of missionary or colonization purposes. When in 1821, Mexico attained freedom from the clutches of Spain; Arizona came directly under the New California jurisdiction.
The economic boom in Arizona began with the 17th century mining industry. Several thousands of immigrants targeted this region for its silver and gold. Copper, ranching and cotton also gained much significance in improving the economy of this state in the later part of 1800s as well as early 1900s. This is when the ‘wild west’ coin was termed to express the culture of Arizona. Business continues to thrive in Arizona. An interesting example is the Scottsdale based company Amerisleep. They chose to set up a company selling memory foam mattresses online. Unlike many companies they chose to base their company in Arizona rather than the neighboring state of California (see: http://www.bestmattress-brand.org for more details).
With intricate water networks, air conditioning systems, and the warm climatic conditions resulted in an increase in the population of this land. The Riordan Mansion at Flagstaff and the Arizona History Museum still offer a glance of the past life of the people belonging to this region.
Prevalent Political Scenario
The land of Arizona is mostly considered to be politically conservative, and till the year 1952 Arizona was under the control of conservative Democrats. This scenario changed with the entry of Barry Goldwater of the Republicans, and in the past few years, the 2 parties have even number of followers in this rapidly-growing state. The economy of the state is still recuperating from the collapse of housing construction and large-scale immigration mainly from Mexico and California.
The Republican Party has been observed to take the reign of the political culture of Arizona lately, with its presence felt in the state legislature. President George Bush in 2004 won 10 electoral votes of the state with a 10% margin (winning 55% of the total votes), while John McCain claimed 54% of the total votes in 2008 to give the Republicans full control over the state legislature’s both chambers. The presence of Democrats in Arizona has dwindled as the state is represented by only Republicans in the Senate House.
It is interesting to note that Arizona was the first state in the US that voted against the anti-gay marriage amendment during the midterm elections of 2006. Despite the fact that the state of Arizona prohibits gay marriage, the anti-gay marriage amendment would have completed abolished domestic partnerships and civil unions for couples in homosexual relationships. While mostly being the red state when it comes to presidential elections, the only exception came in the year 1996 at the time of Bill Clinton’s election as the US President. The only other Democrat who won the presidential election in Arizona in the year 1948 was H. Truman.
The Diverse Culture
The exclusiveness of Arizona’s culture is evident through its combination of outdoor beauty, and a southwestern effect on its Hispanic and Native American cultures. People who love exploring the outdoor will enjoy the most in Arizona. The locals of this region engage regularly in activities like biking, hiking, golf, camping, etc. – basically anything that keeps people outside their homes. Due to much attention focused on the scenic landscape, most restaurants provide mouthwatering cuisines (including native delicacies) in large patios. The sky, mountains, sunset and desert offer breathtaking picturesque which should not be missed by any traveler.
Native Americans- A huge chunk of Arizonian culture is influenced by the Native Americans. Whether you are simply visiting this state or planning to stay here, take the first chance to view any Native American festivity organized in Arizona to learn more about their culture and traditions. You will be amazed by the artistry used in the music, costume and dance in such festivals.
The Mexican Influence – Another culture that impacts this land is that of Mexico. The Hispanics have their fair share of population in almost all parts of Arizona. The Hispanics are warm people who revel in their spicy and colorful lifestyle and love for authentic Mexican cuisines. Music and dancing are the major sources of entertainment for these people. And you will surely enjoy their taste in music as well as outfits and accessories.
If You Are Planning to Immigrate
Make sure you have all the legal papers properly documented if you plan to settle down in this or any other part of the country. The Sheriff Department is strict, especially in case of undocumented immigrants. Moreover, the Senate Bill 1070 that was signed initially in 2010 happens to be one of the most laborious anti-immigrant laws of this land. However, you can find satisfaction in the fact that the people of Arizona are full of kindness and warmth who are willing to welcome strangers to this land with a huge, friendly hug.
Places to Visit As A Traveler
And if you are in Arizona to visit, make sure that you visit the following places before leaving this state, or you will be missing out on some of the most delicious Mexican cuisine at its best.
Barrio Café – Visit this place for its famous Chiles en nogada that finds its name from the “nogal” walnut tree. This dish is made up of chiles, poblano, picadillo fillings, and a topping of walnut-based sauce known as nogada, along with pomegranate seeds to represent the Mexican flag color. You can also opt for the cochinita pibil, or the enchiladas verdes if you want to taste some more of authentic Arizonan dishes.
Ranch Market– This is the place where you can shop for sweet bread called pan dulce, or the famous fruit beverage, agua fresco, which consists of hibiscus or pineapple, watermelon and other fresh fruits of this region.
These places offer an insight on the culture of this region where age-old generations of locals and recent immigrants live together as part of a big family.
Whether you are migrating to Arizona or just planning a short trip, you will feel at home in this land where the weather is perfect and the people are open to idea of strangers visiting their land.