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Definition of TOHONO O'ODHAM
: a member of an American Indian people of southwestern Arizona and northwestern Mexico
Origin of TOHONO O'ODHAM
O'odham tóhono ʔóʔodham, literally, desert people
First Known Use: 1986
North American Indian people living mostly in a region straddling the U.S.-Mexico border. Their language belongs to the Uto-Aztecan language stock. Their name means desert people; in the 1980s they rejected the name Papago, from a Piman word papahvi-o-otam (bean eaters). Closely related to the Pima, they probably descend from ancient Hohokam peoples. On their traditional territory, vast stretches of desert regions of Arizona, U.S., and northern Sonora, Mex., the Tohono O'odham practiced food gathering and flash-flood farming. Because of the wide dispersal of their fields, their largest viable political unit was a group of temporarily related villages. They had less contact with colonizers and settlers than other indigenous groups and have retained elements of their traditional culture. Early 21st century population estimates indicated some 20,000 individuals of Tohono O'odham descent.