The One, Two, and No Village settlement patterns existed through the scant contact and premodern periods. Villages were a collection of household buildings (a household had separate sleeping, cooking, and storage structures), plus a central meeting house and an associated central dance ground. Prior to the 1850s, the most substantial village buildings had earth roofs and circular brush walls; mud was not, or not commonly, a building material. The No Villagers had ephemeral versions of the same building types. In particular, they had no earth-roofed buildings. On the other hand, part way through the premodern period, beginning around 1850, the One and Two Villagers added rectangular mud-walled houses to their older mudless form, and they added mudwalled Christian churches, with associated mud-walled feast houses and European-style dance grounds, to their inventory of village public buildings. These new substantial buildings were native or folk copies of Spanish prototypes. During the modern period the Gila River and Salt River reservations of traditionally One Villager People were largely divided into separate household farm allotments producing a dispersed, road-gridded settlement pattern. The largest reservation in the Two Villager tradition, the Sells Reservation, was not so divided. Its villages remained nucleated with wide open spaces between them.
In some respects, however, all reservations, large or small, allotted or not, and whatever their prior settlement pattern, have now become like dispersed small American towns. The downtown is the reservation or tribal headquarters and the distinct villages, or grid of allotments, are the neighborhoods. Like a small town, the reservation is a bounded, self-governing, self-serving social entity of a few thousand people. Unlike a typical U.S. town, however, there is very little commercial (buying and selling) activity. As in previous eras, the gift, not the sale, is the dominant Indian-to-Indian mode of exchange. Therefore, there is nothing in a reservation resembling a business district. Nowadays people buy most of their necessities, but they do so in White towns off the reservation, and they sell little among themselves.