Tonto Apache Reservation is on state Highway
87, adjacent to the town of Payson in northern Gila County. The
reservation is 100 miles northeast of Phoenix and 100 miles southeast
The Tonto’s were recognized by a congressional act in October
1972, giving them 85 acres through P.L. 92740. The Tonto Apaches
have worked with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department
of Housing and Urban Development to construct the present community.
The reservation has 27 homes, paved streets, underground
utilities and a naturally attractive location in the Mazatzal
The reservation is in an ideal position to take advantage of the high
tourism volume in and around the Payson area. The reservation has
prime highway frontage available for economic development. The
tribal council is actively involved with a number of major projects at
the present time, which include a full-service convenience store, a
hotel and a multi-purpose building. Presently in operation is the
35,000 square-foot Mazatzal Casino, which includes over 300 slot
machines, a poker room, a 300-seat bingo hall, restaurant, sports
lounge, gift shop and arcade. The casino is the largest employer in
Payson, employing over 300. Also in operation is the Tonto Apache
Tribal Market (smoke shop).
Tribal members are well known in art circles for their outstanding
Beadwork and basketry, which have won them national recognition.
Arts and crafts made by community members are available
and can be purchased at the Tonto Apache Market or at the Tribal
Community Building during one of the frequent weekend sales.
The Tonto Apache Reservation is just minutes from the scenic
Mogollon Rim, a steep escarpment, which separates Arizona's northern
plateau region from the lower deserts of central and southern
Arizona. The region offers beautiful pines, lakes, streams, camping,
and hunting. The winter snow makes for unlimited skiing, snowmobiling,
and even cross-country snowshoe racing.
Among the points of interest in the immediate area are the
incredible Tonto Natural Bridge–the largest travertine bridge in the
world; the Strawberry Schoolhouse–the oldest standing schoolhouse
in Arizona; and the fish hatchery, to name just a few. Payson is
known as the “Festival Capital of the World” with more than 40
events each year, including rodeos, chili cook-offs, the State Fiddler's
Contest & Bluegrass Festival, Loggers Sawdust Festival, the October
Art Festival, November's Swiss Village and the Town Hall Christmas