The Tohono O’odham Nation announced it is contributing $1 million each to the University of Arizona and Arizona State University to support their world-renowned medical researchers’ efforts to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus. The funding will come from the Nation’s 12% gaming revenue grants that are required under its compact to share with local community programs.

Both universities will use the funds to mitigate the impact and disruptive consequences of COVID-19, including new testing methods and tools to enable the effective and equitable deployment of emerging technologies. 

Under the tribal-state gaming compact, the Nation and other tribes are required to share a percentage of gaming revenues with local governments and qualified nonprofits. The Nation has awarded more than 500 of these grants since enactment of the compact in 2003 and, with large awards such as these, the program allows for funding to come from multiple Fiscal Years.

Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris, Jr. said, “This virus is showing no signs of letting up, and until we have better testing, treatment, and a vaccine, our communities remain at risk and our economy will continue to falter. That is why the Nation made the decision to contribute these funds – which we were already committed to share – to support the world-class research taking place right here in Arizona that is working to overcome the pandemic.”

“Our success at Arizona State University is closely tied to our partnerships in the community and we are grateful for the support of the Tohono O’odham Nation, whose gift today will enable us to intensify our efforts to manage the complexities of this pandemic and prepare for future public health emergencies by investing in scientific preparedness,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow.  “This generous investment will be put to use to help serve communities across the state.” 

 The University of Arizona is proud to partner with the Tohono O’odham Nation, particularly as our main campus is located on their ancestral homelands,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins, “As Arizona’s land-grant university, our mission is to serve the entire state, and the Nation’s support will allow this work to continue and expand, and help Arizona emerge stronger from this pandemic. 

The Tohono O’odham Nation is a federally recognized tribe with more than 35,000 enrolled citizens. The Nation has the second-largest tribal land base in the United States, with more than 2.8 million acres of reservation land in central and southern Arizona. The Tohono O’odham Nation operates casinos at three locations in southern Arizona (Tucson, Sahuarita, and Why) and one in the West Valley near Glendale, AZ.