Papago Tribe

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Papago Indians (from papáh ‘beans’, óotam ‘people': `beansmen,’ ‘bean-people’1; hence Span. Frijoleros. The name is often erroneously connected with ‘cut-hair,’ ‘baptized,’ etc.) A Piman tribe, closely allied to the Pima, whose original home was the territory south and south east of Gila River, especially south of Tucson, Arizona, in the main and tributary valleys of the Rio Santa Cruz, and extending west and south west across the desert waste known as the Papaguería, into Sonora, Mexico. From San Xavier del Bac to Quitovaquita, one of their westernmost rancherias, it is about 120 miles, and this may be considered as the extent of the settlements in the 17th and 18th centuries, during which period, owing to the inhospitality of their habitat, they were less inclined to village life than the Pima. Like the latter, the Papago subsist by agriculture, maize, beans, and cotton formerly being their chief crops, which they cultivated by means of irrigation; but many desert plants also contribute to their food supply, especially mesquite, the beans of which are eaten, and the saguaro, pitahaya, or giant cactus (Cereus giganteos), from the fruit of which preserves and a syrup are made. An extensive trade in salt, taken from the great inland lagoons, was formerly conducted by the tribe, the product finding ready sale at Tubac and Tucson. Their present principal crops are wheat and barley. They are also stock-raisers; and in recent years many of them have gained a livelihood by working as laborers, especially on railroads and irrigation ditches. The Papago are tall and dark complexioned; their dialect differs but little from that of the Pima, and their habits and customs are generally similar except that the men wear the hair only to the shoulders. Their traditions also bear close resemblance save where varied by local coloring. Like the Pima, the Papago women are expert basket makers. Their pottery is far inferior to that of the Pueblos, and the designs and patterns of both the pottery and the basketry are the same as those of the Pima. One of their favorite games, played with 4 sticks, was that known as kints (Spanish quince, ‘fifteen’), called by them ghin-skoot (probably derived from the same word). From early times the Papago have been known as a frugal and peaceable people, although they by no means lacked bravery when oppressed by their enemies, the Apache, from whose raids they suffered severely. Their typical dwelling is dome shaped, consisting of a framework of saplings, thatched with grass or leafy shrubs, with an adjacent shelter or ramada. These lodges are from 12 to 20 feet in diameter, and sometimes the roof is flattened and covered with earth.

Map of Papago Indian Towns
Map of Papago Indian Towns

The Papago in the U. S. numbered 4,981 in 1906, distributed as follows: Under the Pima school superintendent (Gila Bend Reservation), 2,233; under the farmer at San Xavier (Papago Reservation), 523 allottees on reserve, and 2,225 in Pima County. In addition, 859 Papago were officially reported in Sonora, Mexico, in 1900, but this is probably a low estimate of their true number in that state.

The Papago subdivisions and settlements, so far as known, are:

  • Acachin
  • Alcalde
  • Ana
  • Anicam
  • Areitorae
  • Ati
  • Babasaqui
  • Bacapa
  • Baipia
  • Bajio
  • Batequi
  • Boco del Arroyo
  • Caborca
  • Caca Chimir
  • Cahuabi
  • Canoa
  • Casca
  • Charco
  • Chioro
  • Chuba
  • Coca
  • Comohuabi
  • Cops
  • Cubac
  • Cuitciabaqui
  • Cuitoat
  • Cujant
  • Cumaro
  • Elogio
  • Fresnal
  • Guadalupe
  • Gubo
  • Juajona
  • Junostaca
  • Macombo
  • Mesquite
  • Milpais
  • Nariz
  • Oapars
  • Ocaboa
  • Oiaur
  • Onia
  • Ooltan
  • Otean
  • Perigua
  • Perinimo
  • Piato
  • Poso Blanco
  • Poso Verde
  • Purificación (?)
  • Quitovaquita
  • Raton
  • San Bonifación
  • San Cosme
  • San Ignacio (?)
  • San Lazaro
  • San Luis Babi (?)
  • San Martin
  • San Rafael
  • Sand Papago
  • Santa Barbara (?)
  • Santa Rosa
  • Saric (?)
  • Saucita
  • Shuuk
  • Sierra Blanca
  • Soba
  • Sonoita
  • Tachilta
  • Tacquison
  • Tecolote
  • Tubasa
  • Tubutama
  • Valle
  • Zuñiga


  1. Kino, 1701, in Doc. Hist. Mex., 4th s., 1, 360, 1856; McGee in Coville and Macdougal, Des. Bot. Lab. ,1903 

MLA Source Citation:

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906. Web. 21 January 2015. - Last updated on Jul 28th, 2014

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