How To Pronounce Indian Names: Tribes of Arizona

Ten Native American Names That Might Give You Trouble

Antelope Canyon, Navajo Nation in Arizona
••• Antelope Canyon, Navajo Nation in Arizona. Judy Hedding

There are 22 Indian tribes in Arizona, and some of them have difficult names. Here are phonetic pronunciations, so that you know how to pronounce those Native American tribal names when you visit.

Pronounce Arizona's Indian Names

  1. Gila River Indian Community - Pronounced: hee-la
    The Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) is located south of Phoenix. The Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino, Sheraton Wild Horse Pass resort & Spa, Rawhide Western Town, Whirlwind Golf Course, Phoenix Premium Outlets and the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park are all located on GRIC. The HuHuGam Heritage Center is also an enterprise of the GRIC. Ira Hayes, one of the soldiers who raised the infamous glag at Iwo Jima, was a full-blooded Pima Indian born on the GRIC.
  1. Havasupai Tribe - pronounced: have-a-soup-pie
    The Havasupai Reservation is located near the southwest corner of the Grand Canyon National Park and consists of 188,077 acres. Havasupai means "people of the blue green water."
  2. Hohokam Tribe. Now called the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Pronounced: ho-ho-kam
    The Hohokam people were artisans and entrepreneurs. They are credited with having established intricate irrigation systems in the area. They are associated with central and southern Arizona. Hohokam means "those who have gone." We have a ballpark in Mesa named Hohokam Stadium.
  3. Hopi Tribe - pronounced: hope-pee
    Located in northeastern Arizona in parts of Coconino and Navajo counties and encompassing more than 1.5 million acres. Hopi means "peaceful person." 
  4. Mohave Tribe - pronounced: mo-hah-vee
    Mojave Indians are “the people by the river.” The part of the reservation that is in Arizona is in the northwestern part.
  1. Navajo Tribe - northeast Arizona, includes Canyon de Chelley. Pronounced: nav-a-hoe
    The Navajo Nation in Arizona is found in the northeast part of the state. Historians credit the Navajo Code Talkers for helping to win World War II. The magnificent Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo land, as is Canyon de Chelly. The Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort, outside of Flagstaff, is a good home base for seeing the many sights located on the Navajo nation.
  1. Pasqua Yaqui Tribe - pronounced: pask-wah yah-key
    The main location for the Pasqua Yaqui is in the Tucson area, but the community of Guadalupe, nestled between Tempe and Phoenix, has a population that includes these tribal members. Pasqua Yaqui means "Easter people."
  2. Tohono O'odom Tribe - pronounced: tah-hoe-na aut-um
    Located in central/southern Arizona, with the reservation in Arizona covering parts of Pinal, Pima and Maricopa Counties. The capital of the Tohono O'odom nation is Sells. Desert Diamond Casino in Tucson is one of their enterprises.
  3. Yavapai Tribe - pronounced: yav-a-pie
    North of the Phoenix area, includes Prescott. Yavapai means "people of the sun." 

    The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation is a 950-member tribe in Maricopa County. The Fort McDowell Yavapai are one of three Yavapai tribes in Arizona. The Yavapai are best known for creating intricate baskets.

  4. Ak-Chin Indian Community - pronounced ahk-chin
    Originally part of the O'odham society before it was divided into four nations. Ak-Chin means "mouth of the wash." It is located in Pinal County, south of Phoenix. Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino and resort is located on tribal land. The Ak-Chin Pavilion, a popular concert venue, is not on tribal land; they simply are the name sponsor of the amphitheater.

    For more information about Native American tribes in Arizona, visit the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs online.


    1. These are not all the tribes in the state, just the ones that may be tricky to say.
    2. When visiting reservation lands, make sure you know the local (tribal) laws that apply.