On October 3, 1977 the first large scale strike by undocumented workers in U.S. labor history began at the Arrowhead Ranch, located in the East Valley community north of Tolleson, Arizona. Despite strike breaking efforts of the Border Patrol, the predominantly Mexican national workers persevered in their efforts to negotiate formal contracts with the powerful growers. Supported by the Maricopa County Organizing Project (MCOP), the courageous efforts of the Arizona Farmworker movement left a legacy of struggle, organizing under extreme adversity, and belief in Human Dignity that continues till today.
Upon being called to participate in 1990 at the First Continental Encounter of Indigenous Nations, Pueblos and Organizations which took place in Quito, Ecuador, the trajectory of development for the organization was thrust into a continental scope of responsibilities and commitments. In 1994, MCOP made the organizational transition into the Indigenous Peoples community empowerment movement TONATIERRA. Since then, TONATIERRA has effectively engaged with the Original Nations of Abya Yala [the Americas] in establishing the Nahuacalli as an Embassy of Indigenous Peoples, located in Phoenix, Arizona. All of the programming of TONATIERRA operates under the mandates of the Nahuacalli in support of local-global and holistic indigenous community development initiatives in education, culture, and community economic development in accord with the principles of Community Ecology and Self Determination.