The tribe is the youngest of Arizona's 20 American Indian communities, new census data shows. The median age is 19.9 years, and nearly a quarter of its members are younger than 9. The implications of having such a young population can be profound, Sharlot Johnson, regional tribal operations officer with the BIA in Phoenix, told the Tucson Citizen. "Federal funding does not meet the tribal needs, and the funds just aren't there any more for social and educational programs." Being young also has advantages. "The youngsters can bring the tribe into the new age, technology-wise." Rafael Tapia, a tribal official, said emphasis on family is the source of its relative youth. "Maintaining family unity is a way to deal with hardships and successes. It's our strength. It's our way to survive in a changing world. We try to maintain the cultural component. With so many young members, it's important to get the cultural knowledge passed on to them." The Census Bureau reports 3,315 members live on reservations in the Tucson area. The tribe has 12,432 enrolled members, Tapia said. Its history in the Tucson area dates to the late 1800s, when Yaqui Indians fled persecution in Mexico. It became a federally recognized tribe in 1978.
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