The Ak-Chin Indian Community, which consists of both Tohono O’odham (Papago) and Pima Indians is in the northwestern part of Pinal County. The reservation land, at an elevation of approximately 1,186 feet, lies in the Sonoran Desert. State Route 238 intersects the reservation at its northernmost and easternmost corners. The new State Route 347 runs through the reservation, connecting Interstate 8 and I-10. In May 1912, President Taft, by executive order, created a 47,600-acre reservation. In September of the same year, he issued another executive order, which reduced the size of the reservation to its current size of just over 22,000 acres. Ak-Chin is well known for leading the long battle with the Department of the Interior to pass the “The Ak-Chin Water Settlement Act.” Ultimately passed by Congress in 1984, the Act’s full implementation meant that the Ak-Chin Community’s goal of becoming 100 percent self-sufficient was attainable, since it could continue its successful agricultural operations on a larger scale. At full operation, Ak-Chin Farms will cultivate approximately 16,000 acres. The community’s goal of total self-sufficiency is about 98 percent accomplished.
In addition to agriculture, the Ak-Chin Community has developed an industrial park with more than 100 acres. The park is currently occupied by the Ak-Chin Grain Storage Facility leased to AZ Grains; Walker’s Farm Fresh Meats and Custom Kill Processing; White’s Towing Service; and Keith Equipment, Inc. With 700 employees, the 70,000-square-foot Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino contributes greatly to the economy. The entire tribe participates in the first Eco Museum in the United States. An Eco Museum is distinguished from a traditional museum in that land and territory replace the museum building, and the residents of the area take on the roles of curator and public. This museum acts as an exhibit and storage area for prehistoric local artifacts owned by tribal families.
Ak-Chin, located in a lush desert area, is 43 miles northwest of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, which consists of well-preserved remains of a central four-story building and several smaller out lying buildings constructed by the Hohokam Indians during the 13th century. West of Ak-Chin, low picturesque mountains enclose the scenic oasis on the desert. Remnants of other civilizations that inhabited the basin during earlier times are still in evidence. Major events held on the reservation include: St. Francis Church Feast (October); Honoring Past Chairman’s Day (October); Annual Tribal Council Election (second Saturday in January); and the annual Ak-Chin Him-Dak Museum celebration (April). AK-CHIN