Published on June 19, 2012 by Amy
The second largest reservation of the Pima and Maricopa tribes is the Salt River reservation found on the northern border of the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, AZ (TDAI). The 50,500 acre reservation is home to some 5,000 enrolled members of the two tribes (AID, 41). Prior to 1961, the Salt River Community and its larger companion to the south of Phoenix, the Gila River Community were administered as a single unit. In 1961, the two communities split and have continued to function as separate, unique entities that are home to the two same tribes.
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The true community seal of the Salt River Pima & Maricopa begins with a white ring bearing the words “Great Seal” at the top and “Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community” around the bottom (sample seal provided by the Salt River Tribal HQ). All lettering appears in black. The seal can be seen throughout the reservation, the tribal headquarters, for example, bears an extremely large representation of the seal just next to the main entrance.
The main element of the seal is the “man in the maze”. This recurring symbol from Pima art represents man’s journey through life. In life he overcomes various obstacles represented by the maze. As he overcomes these obstacles he becomes stronger and wiser. His life begins at the center of the maze and ends when he reaches the top it. On the seal the maze appears in yellow while the man and the walls of the maze are all in black.
The flag of the Salt River Community is royal blue and bears a variant of the seal of the community in the center (photo provided by NAVA member Harry Oswald). As the seal appears on the flag, only the phrase “Salt River” and “Arizona” appear, and on a yellow background, not white. The maze of life has been greatly simplified. Unlike the true seal, the one on the flag is not a true maze. Missing are the maze entrance and the “man in the maze”. Simplification of the seal as it appears on the flag was done for economic reasons – the actual seal would have been very expensive to accurately reproduce. With the use of a simplified seal, the Salt River Pima and Maricopa have two flags – one de jure, with the true seal of the community and one de facto, caused by economic reality.