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Tohono O'odham

A native American tribe formerly known as the Papago, the Tohono O'odham live on 4 reservations in southern Arizona, west of Tucson. Numbering about 20,000 people in 1993 the Tohono O'odham tribe gains most of its income from mineral leases with some irrigated farming. The Ak Chin Reservation of 21,000 acres has a 10,000 acre farm which mostly grows cotton. The Papago, San Xavier, and Gila Bend Reservations have a common government with headquarters at Sells, Arizona and a total of 2.8 million acres, mostly desert.

Mission San Xavier del Bac, the "White Dove of the Desert," built in 1783 is on the reservation and still used as a church. It is open to the public on weekdays and Saturday. Founded in 1700 it is one of the many missions[?] built in the southwest by the Spanish on their northern frontier. The San Xavier Fiesta is held in the evening of the Friday after Easter and features a torch-light procession of tribal members, a children's dance and booths. The mission is about 10 miles south of Tucson off I-19[?].

In late November the All-Indian Papago Tribal Fair and Rodeo is held which includes a pow wow, rodeo and a Miss Pagago contest. There is also bingo. Camping is available in some locations but you need to contact the district of the reservation intend to camp in for a permit. There are a few archeological sites open to the public including Hohokam[?] ruins at Forteleza Ruins. The Hohokam are believed to be the ancestors of the Tohono O'odham.

At the Ak Chin Reservation there is a festival honoring St. Francis in October. Ak Chin also has a unique "eco-museum" which feature exhibits throughout the reservation, many designed and maintained by families who live there.

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