Cocopah Tribe

Mailing Address

County 15th and Avenue G
Somerton, AZ 85350

Contact Information




Cultural History

The Cocopah Tribe's Reservation area is situated thirteen miles to the south of Yuma, Arizona and fifteen miles to the north of the San Luis in Mexico. Their unique reservation allows them to enjoy the thrills of the resources. Their reservation is bordered by the United States, Mexico, Arizona, and even California. Several ancient records state that the realm of their territory used to include some portions of Arizona, some parts of Southern California as well as that of Sonora, Mexico. The United States-Mexican border was defined by the Treaty of the Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty was also the reason for the division of the Cocopah Tribe’s land territories. The Cocopah Tribe’s land was then divided into two in the year 1948. Their tribal unity with the United States Cocopah and that of the Mexican Cucupa had to be sacrificed because of the land borders.

The Cocopah Indian Reservation was established in compliance with the Executive Order Number 2711 signed by President Woodrow Wilson. In addition to the original size of the reservation, the tribe gained an additional 4,200 acres. This was because of the Cocopah Land Acquisition Bill signed by President Ronald Reagan. The Bill included the North Reservation to be part of the Cocopah reservation area. These land now compose the 6,500 acres of agricultural and non-agricultural land. The agricultural portion of the area is leased to the non-Indian farmers. 

This tribe is one of the descendants coming from the Greater Yuman-speaking people along the Colorado River. Their ancestors had once lived in the Lower Colorado River delta as well as the Gulf of California prior to their present location. Their agricultural sector is still their main source of economic growth. They have learned the art of cultivating their lands for corn, beans, melons and even wild rice. Their mode of transportation was the use of log rafts that carried them to their territories along the river.  They also traveled in the waters in search for shellfish and for hunting fish. Aside from these, the tribe is also known to be expert deer hunters.

The construction of dams in the past lessened their properties. The construction also made a drastic remark on their culture. It was Harnando de Alarcon, a Spanish explorer, who first described the tribe’s way of living. According to his tales in his journal, he found the tribesmen tall and well-built. The women, according to the tales wore willow bark skirts while the men wore loincloths to keep their bodies warm and free from the harms of the native insects.

These present times, the Cocopah Indian Tribe has ventured into several business enterprises. The tribe opened a convenience store in 1987. In the same year, a gas station, smoke shop and a Bingo Hall was also established. They are currently operating their Cocopah Casino, the Cocopah Golf and RV Resort as well as the Cocopah Resort and Conference Center.