Who are the Mojave Indians?

A group of Mohave Native Americans, photographed in 1871 during a geographical survey - PD

A group of Mohave Native Americans, photographed in 1871 - PD

The Mojave Indians lived along the Colorado River. The land of the Mojave, which is the the most northern of the Yuman tribes, stretched from Black Canyon (Hoover Dam) and ended about one hundred miles below Parker Dam. They had been there for a few thousand years.

Today they live on two separate reservations. The Fort Mojave Reservation in Arizona, has only Mojave People and the Colorado River Indian Reservation in Arizona and California, is shared by Mojave with members of other local tribes. Both reservations include substantial water rights in the Colorado River, which are used for irrigated farming. In the past, their use of the Colorado River included rafts made of bundles of reeds in fishing, but with natural irrigation lived mainly on corn, pumpkins, melons, and beans.

Roughly 1,400 Mojave live within the two reservations.

The Mojave Indians had two different types of houses. Close to the river, they lived in thatched huts raised off the ground with stilts because of seasonal flooding (the ‘natural irrigation’ mentioned above). Away from the river, they built earthen houses created of a wooden frame packed with clay.

The Mojave were a fierce people willing to protect their land  They were also quite willing to travel far from it. They went to the Pacific Coast, becoming excellent traders. They exchanged such things as surplus crops for goods they desired and valued, such as shells.

A chief, called the ‘aha macav pina ta’ahon,’ along with leaders from the three regional groups of the Mojave, governed the people.

At death, the Mojaves used cremation. All of the belongings of the deceased were placed on a pyre along with the body, to accompany the spirits. Mourners often added their own valuables as a showing of love or respect. The name of the dead was never again spoken.

They gave their name to the Mojave Desert.

For more information about the Mojave Indians

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