Native American tribes inhabited Arizona for centuries before Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado launched a Southwest expedition here from Mexico City in 1540. Settlers and missionaries followed in his wake, and by the mid-19th century the US controlled Arizona. The Indian Wars, in which the US Army battled Native Americans to ‘protect’ settlers and claim land for the government, officially ended in 1886 with the surrender of Apache warrior Geronimo.
Railroad and mining expansion grew. In 1912 President Theodore Roosevelt’s support for damming the territory’s rivers led to Arizona’s becoming the 48th state.
Today Arizona is in transition. Fifty years of rapid growth have taken a toll on the state’s limited natural resources. Scarcity of water remains among the foremost issues for Arizona lawmakers, who continue the desperate search for water needed to supply the burgeoning cities.