Ofelia Zepeda grew up in a small farming community in Stanfield, Arizona. Her parents being from Sonora, Mexico among others, were a group of people that settled outside a Reservation and so Ofelia grew up connected with a Indian tribal affiliation of O'odham and claims it to be her main language. Ofelia attended regular schools and eventually, the University of Arizona, Tucson where she received her Bachelor and Masters Degree, as well as her Ph.D. (in 1984). Zepeda's dissertation was on the topics of Papago Morphology and the main area of Zepeda's life work has been the O'odham language with a focus on preservation.
Ofelia's major accomplishments include: having been the Co-Founder of the American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI), Co-Coordinator and faculty member in the AILDI Institute (a summer institute that offers courses to (potential) educators working with American Indian communities and working with the multicultural population across the United States). Teaching a survey course of American Indian language, and being awarded a $320,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for her "singular work in advancing the field of native language scholarship positions." Zepeda is also a poet; she has published a great list of work, and is also co-author of several articles and the author of the single pedagogical textbook on the Tohono O'odham language A Papago Grammar.
Today, Zepeda teaches language classes at the University of Arizona where she has worked since 1979. She she also instructs under/graduate courses on the Tohono O'odham language structure. Ofelia is also the current editor of Sun Tracks, a Native American literary publication. She dedicates her work to the preservation, importance, and education of the Tohono O'odham language.