Frequently Asked Questions

Enunciate vowels as in Spanish with an emphasis on the second "a." (Too-muh-kä'-ko-ree)

A. Quick answer: We don't really know.

Slightly longer answer: It's the English version of a Spanish version of an O'odham word or words which were what the O'odham residents told Kino that they called this place when he arrived and attempted to record it, but we don't know what they actually were trying to say to him.

Some details:

In January 1691, Father Kino arrived at an O'odham village on the east side of the Santa Cruz River. As was his usual procedure, he asked the residents what they called their village, and recorded their response as best he could. The villagers, of course, were speaking O'odham, which was not a written language, while Kino was recording the name with Spanish phonetics so that it could be pronounced as accurately as possible by Spanish speakers. To this name he would then append the name of the new mission's patron saint. In this case, the village gained the official title of Mission San Cayetano de Tumacácori.

Unfortunately, in the case of Tumacácori, Kino apparently had a hard time converting the O'odham words into Spanish spellings. What exactly it was that the O'odham tried to tell Kino that day is unknown. When modern O'odham speakers and scholars are asked what they think the name "Tumacácori" might originally have meant, ideas vary widely. Here are a few translations that we have found.

  • Tjuma ka korit, "crooked rock" (Alfonse Pinart listing of O'odham place names).
  • " 'Tumacácori' is from a Native American name for "place where the wild chiles are gathered." (Wild Foods of the Sonoran Desert, Arizona - Sonora Museum publications, 1995, p.8.)
  • "Tumacácori in old Pima, two words: a 'rock' and 'flat,' or 'place of the flat rock.' Two words in modern Tohono O'odham: an 'arch,' a fold or bend, and the lighter colored material in that fold, descriptive of a geological formation on the east side of Tumacácori Peak near its base." (Bleser, Nicholas, Tumacacori From Rancheria to National Monument, Southwest Parks and Monuments, 1989, p.1.
  • ". . . translated from the O'odham variously as 'flat, rocky place,' 'caliche bend,' or even 'pepper bush.' " (Lamb, Susan, Tumacácori, Southwest Parks and Monuments, 1993, p. 6.)
  • "Papago 'Chu-uma Kakul.' Chuuma, meaning a white stone; kakuli 'bending over,' broadly tumacácori 'Caliche Bluffs.' " (Barnes, Will C., Arizona Place Names, University of Arizona Press, 1988, p. 437. Credited to "Father Oblasser.")
  • In 2010, the O'odham Cultural Center brought together a group of elders who proposed "Chumak ka:kork," meaning caliche hills. (Bernard Siquieros, O'odham Cultural Center education specialist, during training provided to Tumacácori staff, February 2012).
  • Chemag Gakolik. A name for Tumacácori Peak. Chemag = thick, bedded caliche, or weathered tuff that looks like thick, bedded caliche. Gakolik = mountain with a crooked, bent, or leaning shape. "One meaning of Chemag Gakolik is a mountain of the gakolik shape, in which outcrops of chemag are prominent. This describes the mountain called Tumacácori Peak." ('O'odham Place Names, 2012, Harry J. Winters, Jr.)
  • Spellings have not always been as carefully and consistently maintained as they are today, and the name of Tumacácori has been no exception. Kino first wrote the name in January 1691 as San Cayetano de Tumagacori. It was subsequently spelled as Tumacacor or Tumacacori by the priests who succeeded him.

The standardization of the use of accents in written Spanish also is a modern idea. For the name to be pronounced correctly in modern Spanish, an accent mark is required over the second "a", although historically it was not included.

A. The boundary walls were started in 1933 and completed in 1934. The visitor center dates to 1937.
A. With great care, time and money! The National Park Service employs its own preservation craftsmen as well as partnering with universities and organizations that have expertise in the care of historic structures.
A. The National Park Service mandate is to preserve the mission ruins. Due to many difficulties with living here, the mission residents left in 1848. Even if there was the desire to restore the mission, there are no known detailed drawings of the appearance from that time, so no one knows the details of how it used to look. After the residents left, the mission deteriorated due to lack of ongoing maintenance. Its current appearance reflects the historical circumstances surrounding this site, from construction, through the departure of the residents, through the time when it became preserved by the federal government when it was established as Tumacacori National Monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, up until the present time when it continues to be cared for by the National Park Service as part of Tumacácori National Historical Park.
A. Nearly everything with the exception of the roof and the floor is original. Of course, as part of the historic preservation of the structure, new lime plaster is put on the exterior walls as needed and the dome and sacristy roof are white washed to prevent moisture from deteriorating the adobe blocks.
A. No one knows for certain, but they are lined with hydraulic lime plaster so it's likely they were used to store or move water in some way. Another theory is that they were lime plaster working areas during the construction phase of the church.
A. These two satellite missions are part of Tumacácori National Historical Park but only open to the public during guided tours. Join a guided tour by reservation on selected days, generally from January through March.
A. Mass is held on Sunday morning of the annual Tumacácori Fiesta, offered during the first full weekend of December. It is held in front of the church due to the large number of people in attendance.
A. Yes. You may apply to hold a wedding in the church as long as it abides by the guidelines set forth in your special use permit. The most common limiting factors are group size, hours of operation, and access to electricity and facilities.

Last updated: March 10, 2021

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P.O. Box 8067
Tumacacori, AZ 85640


520 377-5060

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