TONTO APACHE TRIBE, ARIZONA
"Place of the Yellow Water"
The Tonto Apache Tribe is located adjacent to the town of Payson (originally named Te-go-suk, Place of the Yellow Water), in northwestern Gila County approximately 95 miles northeast of Phoenix and 100 miles southeast of Flagstaff, Arizona.
The Tonto Apache are the direct descendants of the Tontos who lived in the Payson vicinity long before the advent of the Anglo. The large Rio Verde Reserve, near Camp Verde, was established in 1871 for the Tonto and Yavapai Indians. The Reserve was dissolved in 1875 when they were forcibly moved to the San Carlos Apache Reservation. Some Tontos gradually returned to Payson after 20 years of exile to find white settlers had taken much of their land.
The Tonto Apache Tribal Lands are surrounded by a variety of major landforms. The Mazatzal Mountains are located to the west; the Sierra Ancha Mountains are to the south; and the Mogollon Rim to the north. The Mogollon Rim, just minutes from the reservation, offers beautiful pines, lakes, streams, camping and hunting. The winter snow provides unlimited skiing, snowmobiling and even cross-country snowshoe racing.
Recently the tribe was recognized as part of the military Code Talkers and a coin was pressed by the U.S. Mint in recognition.
On September 3, 1994, the Mazatzal Casino opened for business. It is a 35,000 square-foot casino which includes over 300 slot machines, a poker room, a 300-seat bingo hall, restaurant, sports lounge, gift shop and arcade. The casino is one of the largest employers in Payson, Arizona, employing over 300. It has been voted "Best Of" in Payson for two years.
The Tonto Apache Tribe is a generous giving people who help fund many youth programs in Payson, Arizona. Their contributions to the community are constant and they pride themselves on helping those who are less fortunate.