Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
It rises in western New Mexico, in Sierra County on the western slope of continental divide in the Black Range . It flows southwest Gila National Forest and Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, then westward into Arizona, past the town of Safford, and along the southern slope of the Gila Mountains . It emerges from the mountains into the valley southeast of Phoenix, where it crosses the Gila River Indian Reservation as an intermittent stream, due to its use as a water source. East of Phoenix, it turns abrupty southward along the Gila Bend Mountains , then abruptly westward again near the town of Gila Bend, Arizona. It flows southwestward and joins the Colorado near Yuma, Arizona.
Hila Akimel O'odham
A band of Pima (autonym "Akimel O'odham", river people), the Hila Akimel O'odham (Gila River People), have lived on the banks of the Gila River since before the arrival of Spanish explorers.
Their traditional way of life (himdagĭ, sometimes rendered in English as Him-dak) was and is centered around the river, which is considered holy. Traditionally, sand from the banks of the river is used as an exfoliant when bathing (often in rainstorms, especially during the monsoon).
In the GRIC, the traditional way of life has generally been better preserved than in the SRPMIC . Some speculate this may be due to the fact that the Gila River, a central aspect of the traditional way of life, still flows through the reservation year-round (although at times as an intermittent stream), while the Salt River does not.
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