A. L. (Alfred Louis) Kroeber.

Yuman tribes of the lower Colorado online

. (page 1 of 2)
Online LibraryA. L. (Alfred Louis) KroeberYuman tribes of the lower Colorado → online text (page 1 of 2)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook










.^^•v, ^:wm:


* <'*

.- **. • ... ,

o >



iV » " » , ^O

■.,\ '!■.■-> ^


A o.

o -V

IS y «


< o




'o , .







o V




■/,-■>■ /<U^\\\V,'










<^. ^... ./

\ .^ A v^

^ "




'<-. -^o \>


- '^1' l■.,^''■ -^

' • • ^ \ '


%,** .•»«•. x.<*"

,'^ ^^-


'^^ %-

\ 0°






,0^ .> V '. ^P

'^ V ^'% ^M>^^ .^ >


^^\ '^:^^^*'



• • 5 \ *


0^ '^o

4* '•








■> • • ,u O ' . . 5







4 o
■a? ^





*■ C (

.o' v"'




^ '




■- . r1









■ *»''



* ■•^.


Y^5 K"^





Vol. 16, No. 8, pp. 475-485 August 21, 1920




Besides the IMohave and Yuma, who are well-kno\vn tribes still
living in some numbers about Needles and Yuma, five or six other
tribes of Yuman lineage once occupied the banks of the lower Colorado
river. Of these half dozen, only the Cocopa and Kamia retain their
identity, and the latter are few. The others are extinct or merged.
In order, upstream, the Yuman tribes of the river were the Cocopa,
Halyikwamai, Alakwisa, Kohuana, Kamia, Yuma, Halchidhoma, and
Mohave. The following discussion of this string of peoples refers
chiefly to the less known ones among them and is based on information
obtained from the Mohave and on statements in the older literature.


The Cocopa, called Kwikapa by the Mohave, held the lowest courses
of the river; chiefly, it would seem, on the west bank. They have
survived in some numbers, but have, and always had, their principal
seats in Baja California. They are mentioned in 1605, and seem to
be Kino's Hogiopa or Bagiopa in 1702.

The Halyikwamai, as the Mohave call them, are the Quieama or
Quicoma of Alarcon in 1540, the Halliquamallas or Agaleequamaya
of Onate in 1605, the Quiquima of Kino in 1701-02, the Quiquima
or Jalliquamay of Garees in 1776, and therefore the first California
group to have a national designation recorded and preserved. Oiiate
puts them next to the Cocopa on the east bank of the Colorado, Garees
on the west bank between the Cocopa and Kohuana. Garees estimated

476 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 16

them to number 2000. but his figiires on the population of this
region are high, especially for the smaller groups. It seems impossible
that three or four separate tribes should each have shrunk from 2000
or 3000 to a mere handful in less than a centuiy, during which they
lived free and without close contact with the whites.

The discrepancies between the habitat assigned on the left bank
by one authority and on the right by the other, for this and other
tribes, are of little moment. It is likely that every nation on the river
owned on both sides, and shifted from one to the other, or divided,
according to fancy, the exigencies of warfare, or as the channel arid
farm lands changed. The variations in position along the river, on
the contrary, were the re.sult of tribal migrations dependent <ni
hostilities or alliances.

The ilohave, who do not seem to know the name Quigyuma or
Quiquima, say that the Halyikwamai survive, but know them only
as mountaineers west of the river. West of the Cocopa, that is, in
the interior of northernmost Baja California, they say is Avi-aspa,
"eagle mountain," visible from the vicinity of Yuma; and north of
it another large peak called Avi-savet-kyela. Between the two moun-
tains is a low hilly country. This and the region west of Avi-aspa is
the home of the Akwa'ala or Ekwa'ahle, a Yuman tribe whose speech
seems to the Mohave to be close to the Walapai dialect, and different
from the Diegueiio. They were still there in some numbers about
thirty years ago, the Mohave say. They rode horses; they did not
farm. They were neighbors of the Kamia-ahwe or Diegueiio, and
occasionally met the Mohave at Yuma or among the Cocopa.

The Halyikwamai, according to the Mohave, adjoined the Akwa'ala
on the north, nearer the Yuma, and like the Akwa'ala were hill
dwellers. They also did not farm, but migrated seasonally into the
higher mountains to collect mescal root, vadhilya. They did not, in
recent times, come to the river even on visits, evidently on account of
old feuds between themselves and the Yuma and Kamia. In the last
war expedition which the Yuma and Mohave made against the Cocopa
— about 1855 — the Akwa'ala and Halyikwamai were allied with the

It would seem therefore that the Hal.yikwamai or Quigyuma or
Quiquima are an old river tribe that was dispossessed by its more
powerful neighbors, took up an inland residence, and of necessity
abandoned agriculture.


1920] Kroehcr: Tumaii Tribes of the Lower Colorado 477


The country of the Alakwisa is oeeasionally mentioned by the
Mohave in traditions, but the tribe seems to have been extinct for
some time, and fancy has gathered a nebulous halo about its end.
Here is the story a.s told by an old Mohave.

"When I was young, an old Mohave told me how he had once come home-
ward from the Cocopa, and after running up along the river for half a day, saw
house posts, charcoal, broken pottery, and stone mortars. He thought the tract
must still be inhabited, but there was no one in sight. He ran on, and in the
evening reached the Kamia, who told him that he had passed through the old
Alakwisa settlements. His Kamia friends said that they had never seen the
Alakwisa, the tribe having become extinct before their day, but that they had
heard the story of their end. It is as follows.

' ' There was a small pond from which the Alakwisa used to draw their drink-
ing water, and which had never contained fish. Suddenly it swarmed with fish.
Some dug wells to drink from, but these too were full of fish. They took them,
and, although a few predicted disaster, ate the catch. Soon women began to
fall over dead at the metate or while stirring fish mush, and men at their
occupations. They were playing at hoop and darts, when eagles fought in the
air, killed each other, and fell down. The Alakwisa clapped their hands, ran up,
and gleefully divided the feathers, not knowing that deaths had already occurred
in their homes. As they wrapped the eagle feathers, some of them fell down
dead; others lived only long enough to put the feathers on.

"Another settlement discovered a jar under a mesquite tree, opened it, and
found four or five scalps. They carried the trophies home, mounted them on
poles, but before they reached the singer, some dropped lifeless, and others fell
dead in the dance. So one strange happening crowded on another, and each
time the Alakwisa died swiftly and without warning. Whole villages perished,
no one being left to burn the dead or the houses, until the posts remained stand-
ing or laj' rotting on the ground, as if recently abandoned. So the Kamia told
my old Mohave friend about the end of the Alakwisa."

Fabulous as is this tale, it is likely to refer to an actual tribe,
although the name Alakwisa may be only a synonym of story for
Halyikwamai or some other familiar term of history.


The Kohuana or Kahuene of the Mohave are Alarcon's Coana and
the Cohuana or Coguana of Onate, who found them in nine villages
above the Halyikwamai. Kino seems to mean them by his ' ' Cutgana.
Garces in 1776 called them Cajuenche. placed them above the Hal-
yikwamai and below the Yuma, and estimated that there were 3000
of them. Their fortunes ran parallel with those of the Halchidhoma,
and the career of the two tribes is best considered together.

478 Vniversity of California Fiiblications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 16


Next above were the Kamia, also recorded as the Comeya, Quemaya,
Comoyatz, or Camilya. There is much confusion concerning them,
owing to the fact that besides the farmiug tribe on the river, who
alone are the true Kamia of the JMohave, the Southern Diegueiio call
themselves Kamiai, and the Mohave call all the Diegueiio "foreign
Kamia." It is however well established that a group of this name
was settled on the Colorado adjacent to the Yuma.


Above the Kamia were the Yuma, who call themselves Kwichyana
or Kuehiana and are known to the other Yumans by dialectic variants
of the same name. They are the Hukwats of the Chemehuevi, the
HatiLshe of the Apache (this term however includes other Yuman
tribes also), the Garroteros of some Spanish authors. Garees esti-
mated their population at 3000. Kino seems to have been the first
author to call them Yumas. He puts them at the confluence of the
Gila and Colorado, with settlements reaching up the affluent to the
vicinity of 114° 15' or perhaps twenty miles in an air line, and down
the main stream about the same distance, say to the Mexican boundary.
The Cutgana whom he mentions as a .separate nation, west of the
Halyikwamai and associated with them, are more likely the Kohuana
than the Kuehiana- Yuma.


The Halehidhoma or Halehadhoma, as the Jlohave know them,
were unquestionably at one time an important nation, suffered reverses,
and at last lost their identity among the Maricopa, although there are
almost certainly .survivors today with that tribe. Oiiate found them
the first tribe on the Colorado below the Gila. Kino brings them above
the Gila. They had no doubt taken refuge here from the Yuma or
other adjacent enemies, but can have profited little by the change,
since it brought them nearer the Mohave, who rejoiced in harrying
them. Garcas makes them extend fifteen leagues northward along the
river to a point an equal distance south of Bill Williams fork. He
was among them in person and succeeded in patching up a temporary
peace between them and the Mohave. He calls them Alchedum or

1920] Kroeber: Yuman Tribes of the Lower Colorado 479

usually Jalchedun, but they can scarcely still have numbered 2500
in 1776, as he states.

The Mohave report that the Kohuana and Halchidhoma once lived
along the river at Parker, about halfway between the Mohave and
Yuma territories. The period must have been subsequent to 1776,
since the location corresponds with that in which Garces found the
Halchidhoma, whereas in his day the Kohuana were still below the
Yuma. Evidently they too foiuad living too uncomfortable in the
turmoil of tribes below the confluence of the Gila — the Mohave say
that they lived at Aramsi on the east side of the stream below the
Yuma and were troubled by the latter — and followed the Halchidhoma
to the fertile but unoccupied bottom lands farther up. If they had
been free of a quarrel with the Mohave, their union with the Hal-
chidhoma brought them all the effects of one.

It must have been about this period of joint residence that the
Halchidhoma, attempting reprisals, circled eastward and came down
on the Mohave from the Walapai moinitains. In this raid they cap-
tured a ilohave girl at Ahakwa'-a'i whom they drove to their home
at Parker and then sold to the Maricopa. Subsequently in an attack
on the latter tribe, the Mohave found a woman who, instead of fleeing,
stood still with her baby, and when they approached, called to them
that she was the captive. They took her back, she married again,
and had another son, Cherahota, who was still living in 1904. Her
half- Maricopa son grew up among the Mohave, and, becoming a shaman,
was killed near Fort Mohave. This indicates that he reached a
tolerable age.

But the preponderance of numbers and aggressions must have been
on the side of the Mohave, because they finally crowded both Hal-
chidhoma and Kohuana south from Parker, back toward the Yuma.
The Halchidhoma settled at Aha-kw-atho 'ilya, a long salty ' ' lake ' ' or
slough, that stretched for a day's walk west of the river at the foot
of the mountains. The Kohuana moved less far, to Avi-nya-lratapaiva
and Hapuvesa, but remained only a year, and then settled farther
south, although still north of the Halchidhoma.

After a time, the Mohave appeared in a large party, with their
women and children. They would scarcely have done this if their foes
had retained any considerable strength. It was a five days' journey
from ilohave valley to the Kohuana. The northerners claimed the
Kohuana as kinsmen but kept them under guard while the majority
of their warriors went on by night. They reached the settlements of

480 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Etlin. [Vol. 16

the Halchidhoma in the morning, the latter came out, and an open
fight ensued, in which a few Halchidhoma were killed, while of the
Mohave a number were wounded but none fell. In the afternoon, the
Mohave returned — pitched battles rarely ended decisively among any
of these tribes — and announced to the Kohuana that they had come to
live with them. They also invited the Halchidhoma to drive them
out ; this the latter were probably too few to attempt. For four days
the Mohave remained quietly at the Kohuana settlements, doctoring
their wounded. They had probably failed to take any Halchidhoma
scalps, since they made no dance. The four days over, they marched
downstream again, arrived in the morning, and fought until noon,
when they paused to retire to the river to drink. The Halchidhoma
used this breathing space to flee. They ran downstream, swam the
river to the eastern bank, and went on to Avachuhaya. The Jlohave
took six captives and spoiled the abandoned houses.

After about two days, the Mohave account proceeds, they went
against the foe once more, but when they reached Avachuhaya found
no one. The Halchidhoma had cixt east across the desert to take refuge
with tlie Hatpa-'inya, the "east Pima" or Maricopa. Here ends their
career; and it is because of this merging of their remnant with the
Maricopa, that, when the Mohave are asked about the latter tribe,
they usually declare them to have lived formerly on the river between
themselves and the Yuma : the Halchidhoma are meant. There can be
. little doubt that the Maricopa too were once driven from the river to
seek an asylum among the alien and powerful Pima ; but the Spanish
historical notices place them with the latter people on the Gila for so
long a time back, to at least the beginning of the eighteenth century,
that tlieir migration prolialily far antedates the period which native
tradition traverses.

The Mohave decided to stay on in the land above Aha-kw-atho'ilya
which the Halchidhoma had po.ssessed, expecting that the latter would
return. They remained all winter. There is said to have been no
one left in the Mohave country. In spring, when the mesquite was
nearly ripe, and the river was soon to rise, thus opening the planting
season, the ]Mohave went home, traveling three days. The Kohuana
went with them under compulsion, but without use of violence.

For five years the Kohuana lived in Mohave valley. Then they
alleged an equally close kinship with the Yuma and a wish to live
among them. The ]\lohave allowed them to go. Ten days' journey
brought them to their ancient foes. After four years of residence

1920] Kroeher: Yuman Tribes of the Lower Colorado 481

there, one of their number was killed by the Yuma and his body hidden.
His kinsmen found it and resolved to leave as soon as their going
would not be construed as due to a desire for revenge — an interpreta-
tion that might bring an immediate Yuma attack upon them. They
waited a year; and then their chief Tinyam-kwacha-kwacha, "Night-
traveler," a man of powerful frame, so tall that a blanket reached
only to his hips, led them eastward between the mountains Kara'epa
and Avi-hachora up the Gila. They found the ilaricopa at IMaricopa
Wells, recounted the many places at which they had lived, and asked
for residence among their hosts. Aha-kurrauva. the ]\Iaricopa chief.
told them to remain forever.

So runs the Mohave story, the date of which may be referred to the
period about 1820 to 1840. In 1851 Bartlett reported 10 Cawina
surviving among the Maricopa. But this was an underestimation, as
a further Mohave account reveals.

About 1883, the same ilohave who is authority for the foregoing,
having been told by certain Kohuana who had remained among the
Mohave, or by their half-Mohave descendants, that there were kinsmen
of theirs with the Maricopa, went to Tempe and there found not only
Kohuana but Ilalchidhoma, although the Americans regarded them
both as Maricopa. The Kohuana chief was Hatpa'-ammay-ime,
' ' Papago-f oot, ' ' an old man, whom Ahwanchevari, the ilaricopa chief,
had appointed to be head over his own people. Hatpa- 'ammay-ime had
been born in the Maricopa country, but his father, and his father's
sister, who was still living, were born while the Kohuana spent their
five years among the ilohave. He enumerated 6 old Kohuana men
as still living and 10 young men — 36 souls in all besides a few children
in school.

These statements, if accurate, would place the Kohuana abandon-
ment of the river at least as early as 1820; and this date agrees with
the remark of an old Mohave, about 1904, that the final migration of
the tribe occurred in his grandfather's time. It does not reconcile
with the fact that a son of the !Mohave woman taken captive by the
Halchidhoma — who are said to have fled to the Maricopa ten years
earlier than the Kohuana — was still living in 1904. In any event, in
1776 both tribes were still on the Colorado and sufficiently numerous
to be reckoned .substantially on a par with the Yuma and Jfohave ; in
1850, when the Americans came, they were merged among the ;\Iari-
copa, and of the seven or eight related but warring Yuman nations
that once lined the banks of the stream, there remained only three —

482 University of CaUfornia Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethii. [Vol. 16

the Coeopa, Yuma, and Mohave — and a fragment of a fourth, the
Kamia. The drift has quite clearly been toward the suppression of
the smaller units and the increase of the larger — a tendency probably
of influence on the civilization of the region, and perhaps stimulative
in its effects.


The Mohave, Garces' Jamajab, call themselves Hamakhava. Their
territory was Mohave valley, which extends from the canyon through
which the river flows at Needles peaks to somewhat above Fort Mohave.
Most of the lowlands are on the eastern side of the river, but a glance
at a topographic map suggests that the course of the stream through
the valley has been shifting. At present part of the tribe has been
settled on a reservation downstream about Parker. Being a historically
well-known people, the Mohave need not be considered here.


Between I\Iohave valley and the Grand canyon, the Walapai ma.y
have owned or claimed land down to the eastern or southern bank of
the Colorado. But they are a mountain, not a river people. In fact
the shores of the stream are uninhabitable in this forbidding stretch
of raw furrowed rock. The Walapai therefore fall outside the scope
of this review.


The native information now accumulated allows the valuable find-
ings of the Oiiate expedition of 1605. as related by Escobar and by
Zarate-Salmeron, to be profitably summarized, reinterpreted, and
compared with the later data.

In Mohave valley, a ten days' journey from the mouth of the river
as the natives then reckoned — and still count — Onate found the
Amacavas or Amacabos. This tribe has therefore occupied the same
tract for at least three centuries. Their "Curraca," or "Lord" is
only kwora'aka, "old man." Onate went downstream five leagues
through a rocky defile — the canyon at the foot of the Needles peaks —
and emerged in Chemehuevi valley, where other members of the same
nation were living. This is the only reference, historical or from native
sources, which puts the Mohave actually in Chemehuevi valley. So
far as their present memory goes, they used to gather mesquite in
Chemehuevi vallev, but maintained no settlements there.

1920] Eroeber: Yuman Tribes of the Lower Colorado 483

Below the ilohave, evidently in the region about Parker or beyond,
Oilate encountered an allied nation of the same speech, the Bahacechas.
This name seems unidentifiable. Their head, Cohota, was so named
for his office: he was the kobota or entei'tainment chief of the Mohave.

On the River of the Name of Jesus, the Gila, Oiiate found a less
affable people of different appearance and manners and of difficult
speech, who claimed twenty villages all the way up the stream. These
he calls Ozaras, or Osera, a name that also cannot be identified. The
Relation gives the impression that this tribe stood apart from all those
on the Colorado. They do not seem to be the Maricopa, whose speech
even today is close to that of the river tribes. The most convincing
explanation is that they were the Pima or Papago, or at least some
Piman division, who then lived farther down the Gila than subse-
quently. This agrees with the statement that they extended to the
shores of the sea; and with Escobar's suspicion, based on the recollec-
tion of two or three words, that they were Tepeguaues : that is, of the
Piman group.

Along the Colorado from the Gila to the ocean, all the Colorado
nations were like the Bahacechas in dress and speech, that is Ynmans.

The first were the Halchedoma, or Alebdoma, in 8 pueblos; the
northernmost alone was estimated to contain 160 houses and 2000
people ; the nation to niimber four or five thousand.

Next came the Cohuana in 9 villages, of 5000 inhabitants, of whom
600 followed the expedition.

Below were the Agalle, HagUi, or Haclli, a "settlement" of 5
rancherias, and near-by the Halliquamallas or Agalecquamaya, of four
or five thousand souls, of whom more than 2000 assembled from their
6 villages. The former cannot be recognized in any modern tribe
and may have been part of the Halyikwamai.

Finally, in 9 pueblos, reaching down to where the river became
brackish five leagues above its mouth, were the Cocopa.

The mythical island Zinogaba in the sea sounds as if it might be
named from "woman," fhenya'aka in Mohave, and ava, "house." Its
chief tainess Cinaca Cohota is certainly "woman-kohota." "Acilla,"
the ocean, is Mohave hatho'ilya. Other modern dialects have "s"
where Mohave speaks "th." The name Esmalcatatanaaha applied
by the Bahacecha chief Otata to a fabulous large-eared race, analyzes
in modern Mohave into asmaJyka, "ear," and a reduplication of
tahana, "very," "indeed," "large." It is clear that the languages
of the Colorado have changed comparatively little in three centuries.

484 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 16

The same permanence applies to the speech of the Chumash of the
Santa Barbara archipelago: the discoverer Cabrillo's forms tally
rather closely with the data obtained in recent decades.

Apart from the Ozara on the Gila, Oiiate thus found six or seven
Ynman nations on the left bank of the Colorado. Five of these are
familiar, one or two appear under unknown designations, and the
Yuma and Kamia are not mentioned. Possibly they remained on the
California side of the river and thus failed of enumeration. But if
the foreign Ozara held the Gila to its mouth, there would have been no
place for the Yuma in their historic seats.

Kino, who visited the river only from the mouth of the Gila down,
in 1701-02, reports these tribes : above the Gila, the Alchedoma ; from
the Gila confluence down, as well as up that stream, the Yuma; next
below, the Quicpiima — the Halyikwamai ; not definitely located, but


Online LibraryA. L. (Alfred Louis) KroeberYuman tribes of the lower Colorado → online text (page 1 of 2)