Papago Indians

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United States Gotoarrow.png American Indians Gotoarrow.png Arizona Gotoarrow.png Indigenous Peoples of Arizona Gotoarrow.png Papago Indians

Flathead Indian -Luzi - Papago woman.jpg

Ancestral Homeland: Sourthern Arizona

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

Tribal Headquarters[edit | edit source]

Tohono O'odham Nation
P. O. Box 837
Sells, AZ 85634
Phone: 1.520.383.2028
Fax: 1.520.383.3379
Reservation Population 2010:
Tohono O'odham 10,201
Gila River 11,712
Maricopa (Akchin) 1,001
Total is 22,914

History[edit | edit source]

Before Europeans began to settle in the areas previously owned by American Indians, the Pima were civilized but were fighting on and off against the Apache (they were really Chippewa's) who lived to their east. After white settlers arrived, 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 (the Yuma region or land of the Yuma Apache), to combat the settlers.

After the revolver was invented, the United States quickened their westward expansion and by the 1840s white settlers and miners had reached Arizona. Neither the Pimas nor the Apaches were able to avoid the problems caused by white settlements on lands which previously belonged to the Native Americans. A Reservation was created for the Pima in 1859. However, as the unrest grew Pima Indians began to join the Apaches.

In 1872, the United States created the Chiricahua Apache Reservation which borders the eastern lands of the Pima. It was initially located in southeastern Arizona but was eventually relocated to the area now known as the San Carlos Reservation.

Not all Apache and Pima relocated to San Carlos however. Many continued to live throughout the Chiricahua Reservation. After Geronimo's fight in 1886, the fighting stopped. For the next 30 years, the Tohono O'odham (they were really Chippewa's) continued to live in southern central Arizona and southeastern Arizona (where the old Chiricahua Reservation was located) and northern Sonora.

The Papago Reservation which included Pimas, was started at San Xavier, (location of the old San Xavier mission) on July 1, 1874. The Gila Bend Reservations were created on December 12, 1882 and modified on June 17, 1909. In 1987 the reservation 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 or the Sells Papago Reservation.

Today, these five Reservations which include Gila Bend, Gila River, Maricopa (or 'Akchin'), Papago (Tohono O'odham (or Sells), and San Xavier are known as the Tohono O'odham Reservation. The native Americans who live on the reservation prefer the name they have given the lands: "Tohono O'odham Nation". It was originally known as the Papago Reservation. Many of the citizens of the Tohono O'odham Reservation 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 of Arizona (they had no Reservation and were Pima but were probably the Kickapoo Saginaw Chippewas) 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 Chippewas to Arizona, and the nomadic Kickapoo Chippewas who numbered 2,046 in 1902.

The Kickapoo[edit | edit source]

They have Algonquin origins as do the Apache and Navajo. The Kickapoo originally lived in southeastern Michigan and northern Ohio or the land of the Saginaw Chippewas who are also known as the Swan Creek and Black River Chippewas. They (the Swan Creek and Black River Chippewas) probably originally lived in Montana. Ojibway authors from the 19th century, wrote about the Chippewas forcing their way east, from a westerly location. The 1832 Edinburgh Encyclopedia recorded that the Leni Lenape, who are also known as the Delaware, forced their way east from a location along the Missouri River. The Delaware speak Chippewa according to the 19th century Ojibway author Peter Jones.

The Kickapoo Chippewas have lived in the lands now known as Arizona state for an extremely long time. Their territory probably extended as far south as northern Sinaloa in Mexico, if not much further south. Today, the Saginaw Kickapoo Chippewas are continuing to cling to their Anishinabe identity in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. They are living in southeastern Arizona just west of their old Chiricahua Reservation. They are trying to gain State and Federal Recognition in Arizona. To better their chances of gaining State or Federal Recognition, they know they can't claim to be Chippewa. Read the Seven Fires Prophecy. Click this link to read about the Kickapoo of Arizona.

The 1909 Montana Chippewa Deportations[edit | edit source]

In 1909, the United States again refused to honor treaty. They began to gather the Chippewas who continued to live throughout the Reservations they created for them, before or after the 1896 Deportations. Chief Rocky Boy had no choice but to act on behalf of the Montana Chippewas. If he didn't he possibly faced jail time.

In 1908, chief Rocky Boy began gathering the Little Shell Chippewas who lived in the mountains north, east, and southeast of Helena, Montana. They were sent to a location near Helena to await relocation to reservation lands. Chief Rocky Boy was ordered to gather the Little Shell Chippewas who lived around Great Falls, Montana. Indian Agent Frank Churchill was sent to Montana in 1908-1909, to find chief Rocky Boy to negotiate with him about the relocation of Native Americans to reservation lands.

Churchill found chief Rocky Boy at a Chippewa village near Garrison, Montana (it was possibly located very near the St. Peter's Mission near Ulm, Montana, 4 miles northeast of Garrison) and they negotiated the terms of locations which would be suitable for relocating the Montana Chippewas.

One location was Blackfeet Reservation lands. In November of 1909, several hundred Chippewas were deported to the 4th Blackfeet Reservation. The Land Acts were likely the main reason for the Deportations. Churchill had to request that all of Valley County, Montana (it was really Fort Peck Reservation) be withdrawn from white settlement and a new 2,592 sq. mi. Chippewa Reservation be created. Both requests were granted. William R. Logan, who was the Superintendent of Fort Belknap Reservation, was put in charge of finding land for the new Chippewa Reservation for the Chippewa's from Fort Peck Reservation.

He had the land south and west of Fort Belknap Reservation added on to Fort Belknap Reservation. Chief Rocky Boy was instrumental in having that new Reservation created. It's still there. Chief Rocky Boy was also probably responsible for the creation of the Sells Papago Reservation. In 1909, the United States was very aware of the coming Mexican Civil War and knew they had to keep the Arizona Indians out of that coming conflict.

The Sells Papago Reservation's Creation[edit | edit source]

While chief Rocky Boy was negotiating with Frank Churchill, both probably negotiated about having new Chippewa Reservations created in southern Arizona. In 1909, there were yet around 2,000 Kickapoo Chippewa's living in southeastern Arizona. They were landless like the Montana Chippewas. The United States did not want them getting involved in the coming Mexican Civil War.

Chief Rocky Boy acted on their behalf. He also requested that those Chippewas in Montana who did not want to move to the 4th Blackfeet Reservation and Fort Belknap Reservation, or were not allowed to move to those Montana Reservations, be relocated to Arizona.

On June 17, 1909, the Sells Papago Reservation was created. It is an extension of the Gila Bend Reservation. The Mexican Civil War was looming on the horizon for the Federal Government. After the Gila Bend Reservation was enlarged, it was close to 6,000 sq. mi. After it was enlarged, the Kickapoo Chippewas who lived in southeastern Arizona, moved to the Gila Bend Reservation which is now known as the Sells Papago Reservation.

Many Montana Chippewas were boarded onto trains and relocated to the new large Reservation in southern Arizona, adjacent to Mexico. That happened in the 1909-1910 time period. What the United States did actually kept the Arizona Indians out of the Mexican Civil War. They did keep their promise. Unfortunately the US government forced Chippewa children (and children from other tribes as well) to attend white boarding schools where they were not allowed to speak in their native language, nor practice their own culture. These children eventually lost their Chippewa and other native Tribal identities.

In 1916-1917, the United States reduced the size of the Gila Bend Reservation. The Sells Papago Reservation now covers 4,453 sq. mi. It is no longer connected to the Gila Bend Reservation, Gila River Reservation, and Maricopa or Akchin Reservation. Many native Americans have strong faith in what is known by them as "The Seven Fires Prophecy" which foretold and warned of the coming events for the native Americans.

Brief Timeline[edit | edit source]

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 [edit | edit source]

Reservations[edit | edit source]

Sells Reservation

Tohono O'odham Reservation

Agencies[edit | edit source]

Pima Agency

Superintendencies[edit | edit source]

New Mexico Superintendency

Arizona Superintendency

Records[edit | edit source]

The majority of records of individuals were those created by the agencies. Some records may be available to tribal members through the tribal headquarters.They were (and are) the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and were charged with maintaining records of the activities of those under their responsibility. Among these records are:

Correspondence and Census Records[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Websites[edit | edit source]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • 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

References[edit | edit source]