In O'odham language, "Tohono O'odham" means
The Tohono O'odham American Indians live on
approximately 3 million acres southwest of Tucson, Arizona. There are
three primary parts to the reservation. The total size is larger than
the state of Delaware. Tohono O'odham also live in northern Sonora,
The Tohono O'odham belong to their own nation,
separate from the United States. They have their own flag,
government, and police.
There are about 20,000 members of the Tohono
The Desert People didn't have a written language
until the 1970's. They have always passed on their stories, traditions,
cultural, and spiritual beliefs by the spoken word.
About 10,000 members of the nation speak their
first language. Their language revival is growing, and many children
and adults are now learning to speak Tohono O'odham.
The Man in the Maze, above, is one of the symbols
of the Tohono O'odham. The figure seeks a deeper meaning of life. The
center of the circle stands for that deeper meaning. The journey through
life is often puzzling and difficult, but the People must struggle and
work hard to reach that deeper meaning. This symbol is often used on
baskets and jewelry.
In 1986, the Tribal Council reclaimed Tohono
O'odham as their official name. For more information about the Tohono
O'odham, you may have to search under "Papago," the name given to the
Desert People by the Spanish.
References used for the information found on
this page: Tohono O'odham: History of the Desert People and Tohono O'odham:
Lives of the Desert People both written by the Papago Tribe and
Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert
by Ofelia Zepeda (1995), University of Arizona Press.
The Heard Museum's
Web site has excellent information on the Tohono O'odham, past and
Another resource on the Desert
People is: The Tohono O'odham
by Jacqueline Greene (1998), Franklin Watts.