Arizona ‘s Native American history began long ago, with the Hohokam, Anasazi and the Sinagua people. These cultures can be traced back hundreds and hundreds of years. Some of these tribes simply disappeared and others have evolved into the Indian Tribes we see today.
Since that long ago beginning, the Indian community has been through its share of difficult times. When settlers and miners first arrived in Arizona , many of the Native American’s did not approve of their infringement on the land. Wars and raiding broke out across the region. After years of battle, the Native American’s were forced onto Indian Reservations.
In 1859, Congress established the first Indian Land in Arizona and named it the Gila River Indian Land. Between 1859 and 1934, Indians were mistreated and their land was taken away from them and then portions returned. Finally in 1934, Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act. This Act did several things for the Indian culture. First of all, it ended the allotment of land, gave Indians the right and limited means to hire counsel and banned compulsory religion. It also promoted traditional Indian handicrafts and encouraged tribes to set up governments and form corporate business charters. However, it wasn’t until 1948 that the Indians were allowed to vote, provided the individual knew English.
I have consciously used the word “Indian Lands”in place of the word “Reservation.”It is a small gesture showing honor and respect to these Indian tribes. The term honors the tribe’s ownership in their culture and land.
Today Arizona has 27% of its land devoted to Indian Lands, totaling 20,000,000 acres. Arizona has more Indian Land than any other state. Currently, there are about 252,000 Indians representing 17 tribes living on 20 Indian Lands spread out across Arizona .
the following information will give you a quick look at all 20 Indian Lands and the people that live on them. If you would like more in depth information on a particular Indian Tribe, click on the name of the Indian Tribe.
the Ak-Chin Indian Lands is located along the Santa Cruz River Valley in Pinal County. It is 30 miles south of Phoenix. The Ak- Chin people live on 21,840 acres and the tribe has 575 members. The land is home for the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino. The Cocopah Indian Lands is 13 miles south of Yuma and 15 miles north the San Luis, Mexico in Yuma County. The tribe lives on 6.009 acres and has 774 members. The Cocopah people have many businesses. They have opened a convenience store, smoke shop, bingo hall, recreational vehicle park, Cocopah Casino and gas station. The Colorado River Indian Lands has land in both Arizona and California. The tribe holds 225,995 acres in La Paz County, Arizona . The Mohave Indians have lived here for centuries, however the Chemehuevi, Hopi and Navajo Indians were relocated here back in history. Currently, there is a population of 3,1000. The Mohave Indians are known for their handicrafts and the Chemehuevi for their powwows. The Fort Apache Indian Lands is in the White Mountains of Arizona . The land covers part of Apache, Gila and Navajo Counties.
It is 150 miles from Phoenix. The Apaches live on 1,664,984 acres and have 10,000 members. The land has been turned into a recreational spot. The tribe has Sunrise Ski Resort and the Salt River Canyon for attractions and recreation. Fort McDowell Mohave-Apache Indian Lands is along the banks of the Verde River in Maricopa County. It is 15 miles from Phoenix. The Indian Lands contain 24,680 acres and has 849 members. The tribe hosts recreational activities by the Verde River and the Fort McDowell Gaming Center is situated close to Fountain Hills. Fort Mojave Indian Lands lies in California, Nevada and Arizona . The land is in Mohave County with 12 miles of the Colorado River running through it. It has 22,820 acres and 1,000 members. Farming cotton and alfalfa is important to the tribe, along with the Spirit Mountain Casino and recreation areas near the Colorado River. Fort Yuma-Quechan Indian Lands is just north of Yuma. The Indian Land has 43,589 acres and 2,419 members. The tribe opened Paradise Casino and has recreational spots by the Colorado River. The Gila River Indian Lands is in Central Arizona , south of Phoenix. It is within Maricopa and Pinal Counties. The land includes 372,000 acres. The Indian Lands include both Pima and Maricopa Indians, totaling 11,550 members. It is home to Lone-Butte Industrial Park, Firebird Lake Water Sports World, Gila River Arts and Crafts Center and the Gila River Casino. Havasupai Indian Lands is located at the bottom of Havasu Canyon in the Grand Canyon. It is in both Coconino and Navajo Counties. The land includes 188,077 acres and 601 members. Tourism is improving the tribe’s living standards, although it is difficult. This is due, in part, to the fact that there are few ways into and out of the community. Travel can only be done by foot, horse or helicopter.
The Hopi Indian Lands is in Northern Arizona . It is in both the Coconino and Navajo Counties. The tribe’s land measures 1,561,213 acres and includes 8,114 members. The tribe is known for their handicrafts, such as Kachinas and pottery. The Hopi’s also publicize some of their ceremonial dances. The Hualapai Indian Lands is near the Grand Canyon. The Hualapai are in Coconino and Mohave Counties. The Indian Lands covers 992,463 acres and includes 1,400 members. The tribe offers the Hualapai Arts and Crafts Center, Hualapai Tribal River Runners and recreational areas. The Kaibab-Paiute Indian Lands is in Northern Arizona , near the Utah border. The Indian Lands is in Mohave County. The tribe’s land contains 120,827 acres and has 200 members. They have a visitor center and a gift shop near the Pipe Spring National Monument. Navajo Indian Lands is in Northern Arizona , near the state of New Mexico. A portion of the reservation lies in Apache, Coconino and Navajo Counties. It is the largest Indian Land in the United States. The tribe encompasses 4,775,068 acres and has 175,000 members. Many of the Navajo people live on farms. The Indian Lands includes Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Monument Valley, Four Corners and the Navajo National Monument.
the Pascua Yacqui Indian Land is south of Tucson and is the newest Indian Land in Arizona .
It is in Pima County. The tribe includes 895 acres and has 8,000 members. The Yacqui Indian Land is home to the Casino of the Sun. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Lands is minutes from Phoenix. It is in Maricopa County. The tribe includes 55,801 acres and has 5,527 members. The members are a combination of the Pima and Maricopa Indian tribes. Both of these Indian communities live on the Indian Lands. The land hosts recreation along the Salt River, a waste disposal operation, a sand and gravel plant and the Pavilions shopping center. San Carlos Apache Indian Land is in Eastern Arizona . The Indian Land is in Gila and Graham Counties. The tribe’s land encompasses 1,826,541 acres and has 10,000 members. The San Carlos people raise cattle, mine gemstones and provide recreational spots in the area. San Juan Southern Paiute Indians are a special tribe. This tribe has no acreage, but has 209 members. Most of these members live in Coconino County. The people are called Paiute-Navajo Indians.
The Tohono O’odham Indian Lands is in Southern Arizona . The Indian Lands lies in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima Counties. The tribe is separated into four Indian lands: the Tohono O’odham Reservation with 2,773,050 acres, Gila Bend Reservation with 10,000 acres, San Xavier Reservation with 71,000 acres and Florence Village with 200 acres. The tribe numbers 18,061. The tribe was once called the Papago, until 1986 when the name was changed to Tohono O’odham. The Indian Lands hold the Desert Diamond Casino, the National Historic Landmark of Mission San Xavier del Bac, farming and mining. The Tonto-Apache Indian Lands is in Northern Arizona , near Payson. The tribe is in Gila County. The Indian Land includes 85 acres and 103 members. The Yavapai and Apache Indians live on this land. The land hosts the Mazatzal Casino and recreational spots. Yavapai-Apache (Camp Verde) Indian Lands is also in Northern Arizona . The Indian Lands covers only 653 acres with 1,200 members. The Yavapai and Apaches live on the Indian Lands together. The tribe has the Cliff Castle Casino, two National Monuments (Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot), along with the Yavapai-Apache Visitor Activity Center. Yavapai-Prescott Indian Lands is still another Northern Arizona Indian Lands. This tribal land adjoins the town of Prescott. The tribe holds 1,400 acres and 139 members. The Yavapai operate Bucky’s Casino and are developing their handicrafts