The Statue at Mission & Grande

Heading southbound along Grande Ave, approaching Mission Rd, just north Starr Pass Blvd, is a monument on the west side of the intersection. To read the information on the monument takes a little intentional perseverance since there are no places to park near it.

Soon after its June 14, 2014 dedication, I parked elsewhere, crossed the street and looked up to this bronze statue of an indigenous family looking and pointing to the southeast. It depicts a Native woman holding a basket of various produce, a squatting man with a bow, and a child holding a corn cob. What are they looking and pointing at, I thought?

The Arizona Daily Star stated: “Their faces exhibit both amazement and apprehension at the arrival of strangers who would alter their lives and the land.” It is located at the foot of Sentinel Peak where a Pima village existed when the first Europeans arrived.

The bronze statue, called La Primera Vista, was originally sketched by the late Tohono O’odham artist Leonard Chana and was created by Tucsonense Luis Mesa, who sought to honor our region's original inhabitants. Muralist and sculptor Luis Gustavo Mena created the work using Tohono O’odham models to ensure accuracy. He did consult with leaders of the Tohono Nation San Xavier District to try to be as authentic as possible.

Funding from several groups made this project possible with hopes of more fundraising to enhance the monument with night lighting, benches, and parking spaces to make the area visitor friendly.


Tohono O’odham Celebrate Ancestors – In Sculpture, by Lee Allen, June 9, 2014

Neto’s Tucson: New statue honors regions’ indigenous people, by Ernest Portillo Jr, Arizona Daily Star, June 1, 2014

Suggested reading:

The Pima Indians

The Pima Indians

The Papago Indians of Arizona and Their Relatives the Pima

11/29/2016: edited to correct Kino's monastic order to Jesuit. --LWB