Who are the Tohono O’odham?
The Tohono O’odham are a Native American culture group that live in southern Arizona on four different reservations. The Ak Chin reservation is about 21,000 acres and has a large 10,000-acre farm that produces cotton. The other three reservations, the Papago, the San Xavier and the Gila Bend are all controlled by a central government that is located in Sells, Arizona. These combined reservations equal about 2.8 million acres and is mostly desert. As of 1993, there were an estimated 20,000 Tohono O’odham living in Arizona.
Stella Tucker (Tohono O’odham) learned to harvest Saguaro fruit
from her grandmother and has participated in the harvest since she was a
young girl. Since the mid-1980s, she has directed the Saguaro National Monument’s
Saguaro harvesting program. Ms. Tucker has taught children from the Tohono
O’odham reservation and public schools the traditions of Saguaro harvesting
and Saguaro syrup and wine making. She has conducted workshops for the Tucson
Botanical Gardens and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.