Street Story

Tour of Arizona’s Reservations

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Arizona Reservations

In the Southwest of the United States are a number of isolated communities deep embedded in Arizona, communities known as Native American Reservations.  Arizona has around ten reservations, from the larger reservations of the Navajo or San Carlos to the smaller reservations of Hualapai or Colorado River. The state has for generations had a strong culture of Native Americans.

arizona indian reservations

Today, there are over 5 million Native Americans living in America, along with dozens of tribes and reservations. In Arizona, a state that has a population of around 7 million, there are around 350,000 Native Americans living in the Arizona reservations, as well in Arizona cities and small towns.

Within the reservations are a society within a society. From cultures and traditions to poverty and scarce resources, venturing into one of Arizona’s reservations has similarities of visiting a foreign country, or at times a foreign third world country.

arizona indian reservations

There are functioning cities, like Tuba City within the Navajo Reservation, there is also public assistance, like public housing complexes for lower income individuals in reservations like the San Carlos Reservation. Most of the reservations consist of rural communities and small towns that are the size of single neighborhoods, all living within the landscape of Arizona’s hills and mountain ranges.

Statistics of Arizona Reservations

The population of Indian reservations have been drastically decreasing over the years. The reality is that there are many different factors that are contributing to this situation. However, and despite there are larger and smaller reservations, they all have one thing in common, poverty on Native American reservations.

arizona indian reservations

Just to give you an idea, in 2010 the poverty rate on all reservations in the United States was almost 30%. But this isn’t the only problem as it may well be the result of other aspects. The truth is that in most reservations Native Americans tend to have poor healthcare services, substandard housing, lower-than-national-average education levels, low employment, and deficient (or even non-existent) economic infrastructure.

arizona indian reservations

In Arizona, the current conditions of the Reservations varies, but mostly all consist of much poverty on Native American reservations, some higher than others. Places like Fort Apache Reservation has a poverty rate of around 54%, while the Gila River Indian Reservation has a median income of 12,000.

Statistics are based on Zip Codes, reservations with multiple zip codes are simply averages.

  • Gila River Indian, Poverty Rate of 48% and Median Income of $12,000
  • Fort Apache, Poverty Rate of 54% and Median Income of $22,000
  • *Navajo Resevation, Poverty Rate 41% and Median Income of $28,000
  • Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation, Poverty Rate of 41% and Median Income of $29,000
  • Hopi Reservation, Poverty Rate of 39% and Median Income of $31,000
  • San Carlos Reservation, Poverty Rate of 43% and Median Income of $35,000
  • Colorado River Reservation, Poverty Rate of 27% and Median Income of $36,000
  • Hualapai Reservation, Poverty Rate of 33% and Median Income of $39,000

*The Navajo Reservation is the largest and its poorest communities are mostly along the border of New Mexico and Arizona.

Brief History of Native Americans

One of the biggest American tragedies was the devastation of the Native American tribes as today many live on Indian (Native American) Reservations that are sovereign lands, while being self-governed within the United States.

During the 1800s, the federal government passed a number of laws, which included the Dawes Act and the Indian Removal Act, that would later become the foundation of years to come of mass problems and issues within the Indian reservations.

In the early 1800s, as the population of America was growing, the tribal land of the majority of Native Americans, especially in the south, was being sought after for financial and personal reasons.

With the growing population moving into Native American territory in the south, Indians were forced to relocate west of the Mississippi, which is why the mostly all of the reservations in the United States are at their current locations, west of the Mississippi River.

These policies have become the cause and effect of today’s Native American population. The stripping of land, culture and traditions, while being forced to live a certain way in a certain environment that was designed for them has become a major setback for Native Americans, and almost had the potential to wipe their entire population from the United States.

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*Note: All information is provided either through people of the community, outside sources, and/or research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.