O'odham Himdag (Culture)

Before discussing O’odham Himdag there is some basic knowledge that is important to know.

The word “O’odham” means “people.”

There are four separate O’odham groups. The names of each group either describe where they lived or how they lived. Below are the names of each group of O’odham.

Tohono O’odham – This translates to Desert People; they occupied the desert and survived this harsh environment with what the desert had to offer.

Akimel O’odham – This translates to River People; they traditionally occupied the area surrounding the Gila River and Salt River. They lived and farmed in villages near the rivers.

Hia Ced O’odham – This translates to Sand People; their traditional lands went west to Yuma, east to Ajo, Arizona, north to the Gila River area, and as far south as Puerto Penasco, Mexico. They lived in the harshest and most desolate of O’odham lands. They moved from camp to camp following their scarce resources.

Ak Chin – This translates to mouth of the wash; it refers to their style of farming. This refers to a type of farming that utilizes the seasonal food-plains created by winter snows and the heavy summer rains. The O’odham of the Ak Chin Indian Community are comprised of both Akimel and Tohono O’odham.

Traditionally all of the O’odham land encompassed a large area: from north of the Gila River near Phoenix to south near Hermosillo in Sonora, Mexico. The western border ran along the Colorado River bordering the northern portion of the Gulf of California and the eastern border ran along the San Pedro River.

Each group of O’odham has their individual cultural lifestyles because of where and how they live. That being said, they also share a great deal of culture. They all share a common language with slight dialectical differences.

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