The Tohono O’odham (also known as the Papago) are an indigenous people of the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Their traditional territory encompasses an area of about 11,000 square miles.
The Tohono O’odham have lived in the region for thousands of years, and have a rich cultural heritage that includes traditional ecological knowledge, agriculture, and art. They have a matrilineal kinship system, and their society is organized into small, autonomous villages.
The Tohono O’odham have had a complex history of interactions with outside groups, including the Spanish, Mexicans, and later the Americans. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Tohono O’odham’s land was gradually taken by the Mexican and American governments through a series of treaties and executive orders.
In 1853, the United States established the Gadsden Territory, which included a large portion of Tohono O’odham land, and in 1854 the United States and Mexico established the current international boundary, which bisected the Tohono O’odham’s traditional territory.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the US government implemented a policy of forced assimilation of indigenous peoples, which included the forced attendance of Tohono O’odham children at government-run boarding schools. This policy had a devastating impact on Tohono O’odham culture and society.
Despite this, the Tohono O’odham people have managed to maintain their cultural traditions and have been recognized as a sovereign nation by the United States government. Today, the Tohono O’odham Nation is the second-largest Indian reservation in the United States, with a population of more than 34,000 enrolled tribal members.