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Ancestral Homeland: Sourthern Arizona

Various Names / Spellings: also known as Tohono O'odham


Tribal Headquarters

Tohono O'odham Nation
P. O. Box 837
Sells, AZ 85634
Phone: 1.520.383.2028
Fax: 1.520.383.3379

Reservation Population 2010: 10,201


Before the arrival of the whites, the Pima were civilized and fighting on and off against the Apache who lived to their east. After the white invasion, the Apache forced their way further west and south. Apaches may have lived as far south as the northern part of the Mexican State of Sinaloa.

By the mid 18th century, the Apache were living in southeastern Arizona and sending their soldiers as far west as the Colorado River, to combat the white invaders.

After the revolver was invented, the United States quickened their westward expansion and by the 1840s were causing trouble in Arizona. The Pima could not avoid that trouble. Nor could the Apache. A Reservation was created for the Pima in 1859. However, as more whites invaded, more Pima joined the Apache.

In 1872, the United States created the Chiricahua Apache Reservation which borders the eastern lands of the Pima. It was located in southeastern Arizona and eradicated soon after by the United States. After the Chiricahua Reservation was eradicated, many of the Apache and Pima were relocated to the San Carlos Reservation.

Not all Apache and Pima relocated to San Carlos however. Many continued to live throughout the Chiricahua Reservation and fight the invading whites. After Geronimos fight in 1886, the fighting stopped. For the next 30 years, the Apache and the Pima who were allied with them, continued to live in southern central Arizona and southeastern Arizona (where the old Chiricahua Reservation was located) and northern Sonora.

The Papago Reservation includes the first Papago Reservation created for the Pima at San Xavier on July 1, 1874. The Gila Bend Reservations were created on December 12, 1882 and modified (reduced in size supposedly) on June 17, 1909 (probably for Chippewa's from Montana) and in 1987 was transferred to the United States. Replacement lands were put into trust in 2004. In 1916, negotiations led to the creation of the largest part of the Papago Reservation. It's likely over 200 Chippewa's from Rocky Boys Reservation (those who were forced off Reservation rolls) from Montana, were relocated to the Papago Reservation negotiated for in 1916 and ratified in 1917.

By 1916, the United States commenced to negotiate with the 2,000 Apaches and Pima living in extreme southern Arizona and southeastern Arizona. Not wanting Mexico an attraction (the Mexican Civil War was about over by 1916), the United States agreed to set aside a very large Reservation for the Chiricahua Apache and their Pima allies.

Today, these three Reservations which include Gila Bend, Papago (Tohono O'odham), and San Xavier are known as the Tohono O'odham Reservation. They prefer Tohono O'odham Nation. It was originally known as the Papago Reservation. Most of the citizens of the Tohono O'odham Reservation are Chiricahua Apache. About 10% to 20% are Chippewa.

In 1902, the population of Gila Bend Reservation was 693, while San Xavier had a population of 531. It was also reported in 1902, that the Nomadic Papago (had no Reservation) of Arizona (the Chiricahua Apache and Pima) had a population of 2,046. So the total Papago population in 1902 was 3,270.

By the time of the Indian Reorganization Act's 1930s population estimates, Gila Bend had a population of 228, San Xavier had a population of 525, and Papago had a population of 5,146. An increase in the Papago population can be attributed to the population decline at Gila Bend and the relocation of the Montana Chippewa's, to Arizona.

Brief Timeline

1687: Father Eusebio Kino teaches the Papago to grow wheat, chickpeas, onions, and melons

1853: The Gadsden Purchase brings Papago lands to the United States

1876: The tribe makes peace with the Apache

1917: Sells Reservation established

1986: Tribe changes name from Papago to Tohono O' odham

Additional References to the History of the Tribe


Sells Resrvation

Tohono O'odham Reservation


Pima Agency


New Mexico Superintendency

Arizona Superintendency


Correspondence and Census Records

Tribe Agence Location of Original Records

Pre-1880 Correspondence

M234 RG 75 Rolls 962

Roll Number




Post-1885 Census

M595 RG 75 Rolls 595

Roll Number




Papago Pima Agency, 1901-51

Washington D.C.

and Los Angeles

- - 347-61, 478, 480-85 FHL Films: 579757-579770, and FHL 580740

Vital Records

Important Web Sites



  • Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives; Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1906 Available online.
  • Klein, Barry T., ed. Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian. Nyack, New York: Todd Publications, 2009. 10th ed. WorldCat 317923332; FHL book 970.1 R259e.
  • Malinowski, Sharon and Sheets, Anna, eds. The Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1998. 4 volumes. Includes: Lists of Federally Recognized Tribes for U.S., Alaska, and Canada – pp. 513-529 Alphabetical Listing of Tribes, with reference to volume and page in this series Map of “Historic Locations of U.S. Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Canadian Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Mexican, Hawaiian and Caribbean Native Groups” Maps of “State and Federally Recognized U.S. Indian Reservations. WorldCat 37475188; FHL book 970.1 G131g.
Vol. 1 -- Northeast, Southeast, Caribbean
Vol. 2 -- Great Basin, Southwest, Middle America
Vol. 3 -- Arctic, Subarctic, Great Plains, Plateau
Vol. 4 -- California, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Islands
  • Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians. 20 vols., some not yet published. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978– .
Volume 1 -- Not yet published
Volume 2 -- Indians in Contemporary Society (pub. 2008) -- WorldCat 234303751
Volume 3 -- Environment, Origins, and Population (pub. 2006) -- WorldCat 255572371
Volume 4 -- History of Indian-White Relations (pub. 1988) -- WorldCat 19331914; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.4.
Volume 5 -- Arctic (pub. 1984) -- WorldCat 299653808; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.5.
Volume 6 -- Subarctic (pub. 1981) -- WorldCat 247493742; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.6.
Volume 7 -- Northwest Coast (pub. 1990) -- WorldCat 247493311
Volume 8 -- California (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 13240086; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.8.
Volume 9 -- Southwest (pub. 1979) -- WorldCat 26140053; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.9.
Volume 10 -- Southwest (pub. 1983) -- WorldCat 301504096; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.10.
Volume 11 -- Great Basin (pub. 1986) -- WorldCat 256516416; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.11.
Volume 12 -- Plateau (pub. 1998) -- WorldCat 39401371; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.12.
Volume 13 -- Plains, 2 vols. (pub. 2001) -- WorldCat 48209643
Volume 14 -- Southeast (pub. 2004) -- WorldCat 254277176
Volume 15 -- Northwest (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 356517503; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.15.
Volume 16 -- Not yet published
Volume 17 -- Languages (pub. 1996) -- WorldCat 43957746
Volume 18 -- Not yet published
Volume 19 -- Not yet published
Volume 20 -- Not yet published


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  • This page was last modified on 16 August 2014, at 09:06.
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