A deep green oasis of farmland marks the Ak-Chin Indian Community’s homeland near Maricopa, Arizona. Roughly 70 percent of the 23,000-acre reservation is cultivated, and the tribe grows a variety of crops, including corn, cotton, wheat, barley, pecans and potatoes. Ak-Chin Farms, the tribe’s first enterprise and a major employer, is one of the largest farming communities in the United States.
Agriculture is central to the Ak-Chin, a tribe that gets its name from an O'odham word that means “mouth of the wash” or “place where the wash loses itself in the sand.” The term refers to the type of farming practiced since time immemorial—farming that relies on the seasonal flood-plains created by winter snowfall and summer rain.
President William Taft signed an executive order in 1912 establishing the Ak-Chin reservation with 47,600 acres. The following year, the reservation was cut to less than half its original size.
The tribe is governed by a five-member council—a chair and vice chair who serve four-year terms and three council members who serve two-year terms. Most of the tribe’s 1,000 members live in Ak-Chin Village, located on the western side of the reservation.
In addition to its farm, the tribe operates Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, an egg farm, an industrial park, a golf course, an entertainment complex and an airport.
Ak-Chin Indian Community also houses the Him-Dak Eco-Museum, which includes a library, oral history center, rooms for artifact storage and preservation, and a rooftop terrace for tribal celebrations. The museum hosts two yearly celebrations: the Him-Dak Celebration in April and Native American Recognition Day in September.