O'odham Himdag (Culture)

O'odham Land History

Traditional O’odham lands straddled the present-day United States/Mexican border. The Northern Boarder of O’odham lands surrounded the area of the Gila River, the western border was the Colorado River, the southwestern boarder ran along the northern part of the golf of California, the southern border was located in Sonora, Mexico down south near Hermosillo, and the eastern border was located along the San Pedro River.

In 1845 the Mexican government held claim to a large portion of land on the western side of this country (map). Within this land was the O’odham traditional land. In 1845 the acceptance of the Republic of Texas into the United States caused a border dispute with Mexico over where the border of Texas was. This dispute led to the Mexican/American War. Mexico lost the war and ceded all claims to Texas with the Rio Grande as its border, upper California, and what is present day Arizona north of the Gila River, New Mexico and parts of Utah, Nevada, and Colorado. For now, O’odham remained fairly unaffected because they were left to their own ways.

In 1853 Mexico and the United States created the current-day Mexican/United States border with the Gadsden Purchase. There were 29,670 square miles bought from Mexico for $10,000,000; that is $337.04 a square mile, or $0.53 an acre. The Mexican President needed the money to fund his armies that were addressing other ongoing rebellions within their country. This land was purchased from President Antonio de Santa Anna by James Gadsden for the purpose of completing the southern transcontinental railroad and settle conflicts between the 2 countries after the Mexican-American War (ended in 1848).

The sale of their traditional land was done without the O’odham being involved in the deal or informed that this transaction even took place. This purchase split the O’odham lands in half. Since the O’odham were not informed of this, the purchase originally had very little impact on them.