Native North Americans speaking a language that belongs to the Uto-Aztecan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock and that is closely related to that of their neighbors, the Pima.
The ancestors of both the Pima and the Papago were the Hohokam peoples.
They were a semisedentary tribe who farmed corn, beans, and cotton and gathered wild vegetable products (the beans of the mesquite and the fruit of the giant cactus); although farming remains the major economic activity of the Papagos, many are engaged in cattle raising.
The Papago suffered dreadful oppressions from their enemy, the Apache.
The Papago were early visited by Spanish missionaries, including Father Eusebio Kino in 1694.
In the 1860s the Papago joined with the Pima and Maricopa and helped the United States force a peace with the Apache.
By an executive act of 1874 the United States created a reservation for them in S. Arizona.
See R. M. Underhill, Social Organization of the Papago Indians (1939, repr. 1969); Jack Waddell, Papago Indians at Work (1969); Bernard Fontanta, Of Earth and Little Rain: the Papago Indians (1989).