GEO-Education O’odham: Spatial Mapping Assessment and Resource Training
Grant Supported by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services


In 2010, during the development of the Tohono O’odham Nation Long-Range Plan (LRP), officials encountered difficulties when establishing a land use plan for the Nation.  A need for accessing, maintaining, and obtaining spatial data was identified.  Additionally, the Nation realized that there was a shortage of trained geospatial professionals. 

The ANA Grant-GEO:SMART Project helps to address these needs through training, GIS education, and technical support of geospatial projects on the Nation.   This is accomplished by offering classes and workshops in GIS  here at TOCC.

The project fosters collaborations with Nation entities including: the Department of Planning and Economic Development that facilitated the LRP; the Department of Information Technology (DOIT); the Tohono O’odham Utility Authority (TOUA); and the eleven districts of the Nation with the goal of increasing the geospatial technical capacity of the Tohono O’odham Nation.


ANA Grant main objectives:

  • By the end of 36 months GEO:SMART will convene and facilitate the Tohono O’odham Nation Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Working Group representing at least four departments from the Nation’s government and two Tohono O’odham Nation agencies.
  • By the end of 36 months GEO:SMART will provide two practical-based, college-level courses and ongoing technical support for at least 36 individuals including Tohono O’odham Nation department and district employees and TOCC degree-seeking students with at least 30 successfully completing the courses.
  • By the end of 36 months GEO:SMART will provide two college-level Information Technology courses for at least 18 individuals including district staff members and degree-seeking students with at least 15 successfully completing the courses.




  • Three classes in GIS starting Spring 2022. All classes at TOCC are set up for hybrid learning for the semester.


  • Wildfire mapping workshop. This workshop focuses on where wildfire has been on the reservation and analyzing any regrowth.
  • Story map workshop. How to make stories with your data using Arc GIS Story maps

  Spring dates yet to be determined:

  • GIS/ Drone workshops for Tohono O’odham Nation high school juniors and seniors


SPRING 2022:

We are offering 3 classes Taught by Dr Jason Post.

  • Introduction to Global Positioning
  • Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
  • Advanced Geographic Information Systems

All classes are free for any Tohono O’odham Nation member and/or employee.

To know more about the classes Download or click on this pdf or story map


Compared to the classes offered at TOCC, the workshops are a lot less formal. They are a one day, 6 hour workshop, held on either Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday from 10am-4pm. Lunch is provided for all participants.

Workshops are meant to be customizable depending on the need of the district or department. Topics such as GPS Field mapping, GIS Basics on map making , GIS internet Data sources are just a few topics that continue to be addressed.

Workshops follow all TO Nation Covid Guidelines.

To find out more, follow this link to a story map of our workshops’ progress.


Why should the different districts participate?

 The courses and technical assistance provided by TOCC and the workshops will enable current staff in the Nation’s districts and executive departments to conduct skilled GIS mapping and to maintain layered maps. Education in IT will enable district members to manage their computer networks and provide newly trained Tohono O’odham members for employment. The courses will provide TOCC students with skills for future employment in needed high technology positions.

Nation Employees

  While the ANA Grant is aimed at the Nation’s employees and non-employee TOCC students, the membership of the Tohono O’odham Nation that resides on the Nation has approximately 14,000 individuals and we welcome any member who wishes to learn. The Tohono O’odham Nation will benefit from the project once district members and departments gain their technical capacity to map and analyze data within their Nation’s land base.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is GIS?
    • GIS gathers, manage, and analyzes data and places into a map form. For example, collecting data on where school bus routes run and then producing a map that shows those routes.
  • How can this help the district?
    • This training allows each district to have the ability to maintain and use their own data to make maps that are most needed for that district. 
  • How much does it cost to participate?
    • It is completely free. The tuition, books, and equipment are provided.
  • Can a non-Nation member employee participate?
    • Yes. It is open to ALL employees of the nation, member or not.
  • Does the participant need to have computer skills?
    • Yes. For classes, they need to have more advanced experience using computers. However, for workshops, we can assess which workshop would best fit the experience level. There are workshops for all experience levels.
  • What are the computer skills necessary?
    • The participant should know: how to download and unzip a zip file, how to compress a file, knows how to connect to an external hard drive, navigate web pages, knows how to find and open files, and have an internet connection.
  • What are the courses like?
    • They are college level courses, which require papers/ projects, quizzes, and exams. They are 16 week programs, with 3 credits that can be transferred to any four year college/university in the country.
  • Do you have to be a student to enroll in the classes?
    • Yes. However, you can enroll as a “non-degree seeking student”. This allows you to be a student without having to declare a major or program.
  • What are the workshops like?
    • The workshops are less formal and are a one day 8 hour workshop, when in person. They are held on Saturdays from 9am-4pm, with a free lunch provided. However, due to Covid-19 and with respect to the Nation’s health, we have changed the workshops to self paced webinars with zoom tutoring.