Tohono O’odham Nation of Arizona



Verlon M. Jose, Chairman
Carla L. Johnson, Vice Chairwoman
Legislative Council

(updated October 2023)

Contact Information

Address: PO Box 837

Sells, AZ 85634

Phone: 520-383-2028

Health and Human Services Executive Director:

Tara Chico-Jarillo

Education Executive Director:

Patrick H. Andrews

Tribal Historic Preservation Officer:

Peter Steere

Tohono O'odham Institutional Review Board:


GOVERNANCE: Three independent branches of government include; Executive (Chairman and Vice-Chairwoman), Legislative (Tribal Council with two representatives from each of the 11 Tohono O'odham districts), and Judicial (Courts and Judges).

The Chairman and Vice-Chairwoman (Executive Branch), and Tribal Council representatives are elected for staggered 4-year terms. Elections are held in odd years. The Tribal Council elects from its own membership a Legislative Chairman and Legislative Vice-Chairman to serve 2 years. The Tribal Council representatives each serve on three of the Legislative Councils 12 standing committees.

Each of the eleven districts has its own governing district council with at least five representatives, including a chairman and vice-chairman. Each district governs itself in matters of local concern.

The Tribal Council meets monthly for 5-day general sessions.

The Tohono O'odham Nation resides in Congressional District 3, Legislative District 4. 

If you are interested in doing research with Tohono O'odham Nation, visit the Institutional Review Board website for more information.



COMMUNITY PROFILE: The Tohono O'odham Nation, "People of the Desert," have lived in the region for more than 10,000 years. The federally-recognized sovereign nation was greatly affected by the legacy of the 1853 Gadsden Purchase, which split their lands between the United States and Mexico. Twentieth-century federal policies of forced relocation moved numerous Tohono O'odham families outside of Arizona, yet many continue to live in the Sonoran desert of their ancestral lands. Prior to the 1980s, the Tohono O'odham were known as the Papago Tribe.

The Nation is comprised of four distinct segments. The largest of these (the Tohono O'odham Reservation) is located 63 miles west of Tucson, Arizona, and is more than 2.8 million acres. San Xavier, the second largest land base, is 71,095 acres. Smaller areas are the San Lucy District (near Gila Bend, AZ), and Florence Village (near Florence, AZ). The Tohono O'odham Nation is organized into 11 districts with Sells, Arizona, functioning as the Nation's capital. 

The Tohono O'odham Nation operates a two-year accredited community college in Sells, Arizona, offering numerous degrees, certificates, and other credentials. Principal economic activities include tourism - most notably the Mission San Xavier del Bac - and three casinos. The casinos employ more than 1,200 Native American and non-Native people.  The Nation also operates other facilities, such as the Tohono O'odham Utility Authority, Tohono O'odham Economic Development Authority, and the Tohono O'odham Gaming Enterprise. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2017-2021 American Community Survey, the population of the Tohono O'odham Nation Reservation and Off-Reservation Trust Land is 10,106. The following document provides a Census snapshot of the Tohono O'odham Nation with comparisons to the state of Arizona and the United States as a whole.

Note: When interpreting data for small populations or rural areas, it is important to note the margin of error which is provided where possible. The margin of error can be interpreted as providing a 90 percent probability that the true value lies within the estimate plus and minus the margin of error.

First Things First is Arizona's early childhood agency, providing health screenings and a variety of services across the state. Included here are two of their most recently available reports on the Tohono O'odham Nation.