July 14, 2012

Ak Chin Indian Community of the Maricopa (Ak Chin) Indian Reservation


Who is the Ak Chin Indian Community?

The Ak Chin Indian Community of the Maricopa (Ak Chin) Indian Reservation is a Native American community located in the Santa Cruz Valley in Arizona. The community is composed mainly of Akimel O’odham (Pima), and Tohono O’odham (Papago), as well as some Hia-Ced O’odham members.

Official Tribal Name: Ak Chin Indian Community of the Maricopa (Ak Chin) Indian Reservation

Address:  42507 West Peters & Nall Rd, Maricopa, Arizona
Phone: (520) 568-1023

Official Website:

Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning:

Ak-Chin is an O’odham word translated to mean “mouth of the wash” or  “place where the wash loses itself in the sand or ground.” The term refers to a type of farming that relies on washes – seasonal food-plains created by winter snows and summer rains.

Common Name: Ak Chin Community

Alternate names: Pima, Papago

Pima is believed to have come from the phrase “pi ‘añi mac or pi mac, meaning “I don’t know,” used repeatedly in their initial meetings with Europeans.

Papago means “tepary bean eater.”  It was applied to them by conquistadores who had heard them called Ba:bawĭkoʼa by other Piman bands that were very competitive with the Tohono O’odham. Papago is the Spanish pronunciation of Ba:bawĭkoʼa.

Region: Southwest Culture Region

State(s) Today: Arizona

Traditional Territory:

 Confederacy: O ‘Odham (Pima and Papago) 


Reservation: Maricopa Indian Reservation

In May 1912, President Taft signed for a 47,600 acre reservation. However, the acreage was reduced to just less than 22,000 acres the following year. 

The reservation is located in Pinal County, Arizona within the Sonoran Desert. Averaging an elevation of 1,186 feet, this reservation located 37 miles south of Phoenix. Much of the land is good for farming, and 15,000 acres are irrigated.

Charter: The tribe’s government was formally organized in 1961, under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.
Land Area:  
Tribal Headquarters:  Maricopa, AZ
Time Zone:  
B.I.A. Office:  

Population at Contact:

Registered Population Today:

 Ak-Chin Indian Community has an enrollment of about 889  tribal  members.

Tribal Enrollment Requirements:

Genealogy Resources:

Number of Council members:  The Ak-Chin Indian Community is governed by a 5 member Tribal Council.
Dates of Constitutional amendments: 
Number of Executive Officers:  


Language Classification: Uto-Aztecan => Piman => O’odham 

Language Dialects: O’odham language dialects  include:

  • Tohono O’odham
    • Cukuḍ Kuk
    • Gigimai
    • Hu:huʼula
    • Huhuwoṣ
    • Totoguañ
  • Akimel O’odham
    • Eastern Gila
    • Kohadk
    • Salt River
    • Western Gila
  • Hia C-ed O’odham

Tohono O’odham and Papago refer to the same language, as do Akimel O’odham and Pima. The Ak-Chin Indian Community has its own written form of the O’odham language.

Number of fluent Speakers: In 2000 there were estimated to be approximately 9,750 total O’Odham speakers in the United States and Mexico combined.

It is the 10th most-spoken indigenous language in the United States, and the 3rd most-spoken indigenous language in Arizona after Western Apache and Navajo. It is the third-most spoken language in Pinal County, Arizona and the fourth-most spoken language in Pima County, Arizona.

Approximately 8% of O’odham speakers in the US speak English “not well” or “not at all”, according to the 2000 Census. Approximately 13% of O’odham speakers in the US were between the ages of 5 and 17, and among the younger O’odham speakers, approximately 4% were reported as speaking English “not well” or “not at all.”



Bands, Gens, and Clans

Social Organization:

Related Tribes:

Traditional Allies:

Traditional Enemies:

Ceremonies / Dances:

Modern Day Events & Tourism:


Papago and Pima (O’odham) Legends

Art & Crafts:





O 'Odham (Pima) brush wickiup 

The O’odham traditionally lived in brush wickiups.


Economy Today:


One of the first major enterprises of the Ak-Chin Indian Community was Ak-Chin Farms, which currently harvests over 15,000 acres, making it one of the largest farming communities in the U.S.

Ak-Chin Indian Community entered into the gaming industry in 1994 with Promus/Harrah’s management for a 72,000 square foot casino. The casino has expanded to include: a 148-room resort hotel and new bingo facility, which employs over 830 people and is considered one of the top employers in Pinal County.

Religion Today: Christianity, traditional tribal religion

Traditional Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:

Burial Customs:

Wedding Customs


Newspapers:  Ak-Chin O’odham Runner Newspaper

Famous Papago, Pima, O’odham

Catastrophic Events:

Tribe History:

In the News:

Further Reading:

“It is what holds us together as a people”: A history of the Ak-Chin Indian Community.

Encyclopedia of American Indian History (4 volume set)  

US Tribes A to B
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