Native People

O'odham warrior in traditional garb.

The people who lived along the Santa Cruz River when the first contact with the Spanish was made were called the Sobaipuri, a branch of the O'odham (sometimes known as Pima people). Their agrarian culture revolved around the resources of the Santa Cruz and San Pedro rivers, farming corn, beans and other crops while augmenting their diet by hunting and gathering. Due to disease, intermarriage and deaths from Apache attacks, the name Sobaipuri is no longer heard. Their descendants, however, live among the O'odham people.

The present day O'odham living in close proximity to the Santa Cruz River are the Tohono O'odham (Papago) or desert people, and the Akimel O'odham (Pima) or river people. The names Pima and Papago were applied to the Indian tribes by the Spanish explores, not names that they used for themselves.

The O'odham nation consists of various smaller tribes of sub groups, including the above mentioned Akimel and Tohono groups. Their native language and customs are similar yet distinctly different giving each branch its own uniqueness. They believe themselves to be descendants of the ancient Hohokam civilization or "those who came before." Their culture is rich and colorful and many participate in traditional activities.

Learn more about the O'odham people, the nearby Apache, and a few interesting characters like Pedro de la Cruz and Lázaro Chihuahua.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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