Juan was a Pima Indian from the Gila River Indian Community. Juan was born in San Tan, Pinal Co., Arizona April 22, 1892 to Joseph and Mary B. Juan. Mathew grew up in the small agricultural town of Sacaton, Arizona (also the capital of the Gila River Indian Community). He stayed there until he reached high school and left for the Sherman Institute (an Indian boarding school) in Riverside, California. Upon graduation, he joined a travelling circus.

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