An Annotated Bibliography of the Tohono O'odham (Papago Indians)

compiled by

Bernard L. Fontana

with the assistance of

Michael U. Owens


    This bibliography is an outgrowth of a project begun in the summer of 1956 with the support of an Eban F. Comins grant provided by the Department of Anthropology of the University of Arizona. I had just completed my first year of graduate work in the anthropology department and had determined to focus my studies on the Papago Indian (Tohono O=odham) community living on the San Xavier Reservation some nine miles south of downtown Tucson, Arizona. To do so would require a knowledge of previous research concerning Papagos, and the compilation of an annotated bibliography seemed to be a good way to begin.

    The San Xavier Reservation, which became the first Papago Indian Reservation when it was created by executive order in 1874, is also the site of one of North America=s great architectural and art treasures, Mission San Xavier del Bac. It was built by ancestors of some of today=s reservation population in the late eighteenth century and it has remained their church ever since. It was logical, then, that Mission San Xavier del Bac should be included in the bibliography as well.

    Since 1956, the scope of the bibliography has become ever expanding.

    When first contacted by European missionaries in the late seventeenth century, ancestors of the APapagos@ included many groups who spoke closely-related dialects of the same language. For reasons they apparently never made explicit, the earliest Spaniards to come into contact with them applied such labels as APima,@ ASoba,@ ASobaipuri,@ AGileño,@ APiato@(apostate Pima Alto), and APapago@ to groups of these people depending on location and time B and not always consistently at that. Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, a Jesuit missionary who was the first European to live permanently among these northern Piman-speakers, never used the term APapago@ in his writings or on his maps, but some of his contemporaries and many of his successors in the eighteenth century reserved that label exclusively to describe Piman-speaking people who lived in settlements away from the riverine areas of what after 1854 became southern Arizona and northern Sonora.

    When in 1687 Father Kino became the first European to initiate sustained contact with the Northern Pimans, he was obviously aware there were other peoples farther to the south in Mexico who spoke dialects of the same language, people variously labeled by Spaniards as APima bajo@ (Lower Pima), ATepehuan,@ ATepecano,@ and ANévome.@ Much of their territory came collectively to be referred to by Spaniards as the APimeriá Bajo,@ the land of the Lower (or Southern) Piman-speaking Indians. By contrast, the region in the north was labeled by Father Kino as the APimería Alta,@ the land of the Upper or Northern Pimans.

    The language of all these peoples, both north and south, has been classified by modern linguists as ATepiman.@

    Although there was occasionally stated recognition on the part of Spaniards in the eighteenth century that these APimans@ referred to themselves by dialectical versions of the term AO=odham,@ which means Apeople@ in the O=odham language, they, and all their non-Indian successors in the region until 1986 continued to label O=odham speakers without regard to those people=s internal view of themselves.

    In the eighteenth century, those O=odham who lived on the San Pedro were consistently referred to as ASobaipuri@ (Sobas Puris, Soba y Puri, Soba Jipuri, etc. etc.) by Europeans. Father Kino also used ASobaipuri@ in labeling the natives of the Santa Cruz River (the Río Santa María in his day), although some of his contemporaries and most of his eighteenth-century successors called them APimas.@

    The O=odham living in Caborca and its vicinity were called ASobas@ by Kino, a name he bestowed on them because that was the name of their presumed Achief@ (indio principal). The term however, seems not to have lasted, and for much of the eighteenth century the O=odham who lived on or near the Concepción, Altar, Magdalena, and Gila rivers, like those residing at the more easterly communities of Dolores, Remedios, and Cocóspera, were called APimas.@ All were river-dwelling people able to practice reasonably intensive agriculture, growing crops of corn, beans, squash, and cotton.

    By contrast, APapagos@ in the eighteenth century were O=odham whose settlements were scattered throughout the vast desert reaches away from permanent or semi-permanent streams. During the summer rainy season they congregated in farming settlements in intermontane valleys where they could take advantage of flood waters debouching onto fields from arroyos descending from adjacent mountains. During dry times of the year, especially in winter, they congregated near the few permanent springs in the foothills of mountain ranges or they migrated to settlements of river-dwelling O=odham, trading their labor, goods collected from the desert, or skills as singers or curers for their subsistence. These seasonal migrations of Papagos, the Tohono O=odham (Desert People), increased as the eighteenth century wore on, especially as European-introduced diseases took their heavy toll of river-dwelling O=odham, the Pimas. Papagos moved in from the desert, often recruited by Spaniards, to take their places and to intermarry with the survivors. By the nineteenth century, there may have been nearly as many APapagos@ living in river settlements as there were native APimas,@ the Gila River B where Pimas have remained B being the exception. And by the nineteenth century, the ASobaipuri@ label had all but disappeared. There was, finally, a group of O=odham who lived in the most arid portions of the Sonoran Desert in what became the westernmost portions of northern Sonora and southern Arizona. Although encountered by Spaniards as early as 1694, it was the nineteenth century before these semi-nomads were given a label by outsiders: AAreneño@ (also AArenero@), or Sand People. In their own language they refer to themselves as the HiaCed O=odham, and in English they have been known as the ASand Papagos.@

    When Anglo Americans moved into southern Arizona in the aftermath of the 1854 Gadsden Purchase, they simplified the whole labeling process by calling Piman-speaking Indians on the Gila River APimas@ and calling all other Pima-speakers in Arizona APapagos.@ If nothing more, it became an administrative convenience and, in time, it became a conceptualization generally accepted by the O=odham themselves. The conceptualization is one that spilled over the international boundary, and O=odham in northern Sonora also came to be called APapagos@ by their Spanish-speaking neighbors.

    It was only in 1986 when APapagos@ in the United States approved a new constitution that their name was Aofficially@ changed from APapago@ to ATohono O=odham@ (ADesert People@) B a label that is now recognized in all official records, including library records, and by the public at large.

    No effort as been made in this bibliography to change APapago,@ APima,@ ASobaipuri,@ or ASoba@ to AO=odham@ when they appear as such in the original source.

    Taking the babel of labels into account, the bibliography now includes all the Northern O=odham (Northern Pimans) regardless of imposed labels, but with one important exception: the Gila River Pimas (Akimult O=odham, or ARiver People.@ or AGileños@). These people reside on the Gila River and Salt River reservations; Spaniards never established missions among them; and their interactions with more southerly O=odham have been somewhat minimal. Modern APimas,@ and that is still officially how they refer to themselves when speaking English or Spanish, have maintained an identity quite separate from that of the Tohono O=odham. This is in spite of the fact that those of both groups who still know their native tongue speak mutually intelligible dialects of the same language.

    Because the population of the Ak Chin Reservation near the town of Maricopa, Arizona is heavily Tohono O=odham, although mixed with Gila Pimas, Ak Chin has been included in this bibliography as well. Included here, too, are the HiaCed O=odham, or ASand Papagos.@ While many today, and perhaps most, are now enrolled members of the Tohono O=odham Nation, they nonetheless recognize a distinct history and ethnicity.

    Finally, with very rare exceptions, this bibliography is restricted to published materials. I have, however, included much so-called Agrey literature,@ official reports printed in limited editions, as well as Ph.D. dissertations and Master=s theses. On the other hand, holographic and single-copy or extremely-limited copies of unpublished manuscripts have generally been excluded.

    Over the years, many students and others have contributed to the compilation of this bibliography, but none so assiduously as Michael U. Owens. To him, as well as to Carol H. Mast, I am deeply grateful.

    Bernard L. Fontana

    May, 2004