Christmas Comes Early to Arizona; Tonto Apache Receive Land Into Trust


The Tonto Apache Tribe of Arizona received an early Christmas gift this week as Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn signed a reservation proclamation quadrupling the tribe’s land into trust.

On December 22 Washburn announced that approximately 292 acres of trust land in the city of Payson, Gila County, Arizona belonging to the tribe would be added to the tribe’s existing reservation under the authority of the Indian Reorganization Act of June 18, 1934 (48 Stat. 984: 25 U.S.C. 467).

“I am pleased to exercise the authority delegated to me by the Secretary of the Interior and to issue this reservation proclamation, which quadruples the size of the Tonto Apache Tribe’s reservation,” Washburn said in a release following the announcement. “Restoring tribal homelands is one of President Obama’s highest priorities. Consistent with this priority, the Tonto Apache Tribe hopes to develop the new reservation land into homes for tribal members.”

The Tonto Apache Reservation previously consisted of 85 acres and now encompasses more than 375 acres of land. The original 85-acre reservation on the outskirts of Payson was given to the tribe in 1972. The tribe, which has more than 100 members, operates the Mazatzal Casino which is the largest non-government employer in Payson according to In 1999 the tribe and the U.S. Forest Service signed an Initiative Agreement that would provide 272 acres to the tribe through a federal land exchange. In 2011, the Bureau of Indian Affairs sought input from state and local governments about the proposed reservation proclamation – receiving no objections or concerns. Now in 2015, the tribe has the land to according to, will be used for much-needed housing for tribal members and their families.

According to the release, “Restoring tribal homelands and furthering tribal sovereignty are among the Obama Administration’s highest priorities for Indian country. Tribes exercise significant sovereign powers on reservations and have the ability to govern themselves.”

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