Hohokam Platform Mounts

About 2,000 years ago, in what has seemed to some people the inhospitable desert of Central Arizona, Indian people developed a farming culture which utilized extensive irrigation systems. As farmers they raised corn (maize), tepary beans, grain amaranth, agave, and little barley. This ancient culture, called Hohokam by archaeologists, is considered ancestral to the O’odham peoples.

Hohokam history is generally divided into two major periods: Preclassic (from about 200 to 1150 CE) and Classic (from about 1150 to 1450 CE). The Preclassic Period is characterized by clusters of small villages along the canal systems and the construction of ball courts.

Sometime after 1100 CE, the Hohokam ball courts seemed to be less important and the people began constructing platform mounds. These platform mounds took on greater importance and between 1250 and 1350 they grew dramatically in size. During this time, the platform mounds would be composed of thousands of cubic feet of fill. The construction of these mounds required community labor on a massive scale. Some archaeologists have calculated that construction of the larger mounds may have required 50,000 person-hours.

Most of the platform mounds—more than 120 have been identified—were constructed in the Phoenix Basin. The mounds were often built within an adobe compound and some of them are over 3.5 meters (12 feet) high. On top of the mounds there were as many as 30 rooms.

While the ball courts of the early period were open and seemed to encourage spectators, the platform mounds have limited access. This seems to suggest a major change in Hohokam social organization. Archaeologist Brian Fagan, in his book Elixer: A History of Water and Humankind, writes:  “It is as if Hohokam society became more hierarchical, with only a few individuals having access to the precincts within the enclosures.”

The construction of the platform mounds seems to suggest a change from a relatively egalitarian society to a more stratified society, a society in which an elite group was setting itself apart from other people. The platform mounds seem to be associated with elite activities.

The shift from ball courts to platform mounds suggests that there was a change in religion, in the nature of the Hohokam’s relationships with the supernatural. While the ball courts were built into the ground, the platform mounds seem to reach for the sky. Brian Fagan writes:  “It was as if a few members of society elevated themselves in both material and spiritual terms above everyone else, whereas in earlier times the relationship between the living and the ancestors, with the underworld where humans originated, had been more important. Now, perhaps, the close spiritual relationships were between a few individuals with unusual powers and the water deities of the supernatural realm.”

After 1400, many of the Hohokam towns were abandoned. This may be due to a combination of environmental factors (including the build-up of salt in the soil from irrigation) and civil warfare. According to Gregory Schaaf, the director of the Center for Indigenous Arts and Culture, in his book Ancient Ancestors of the Southwest:  “Pima oral history tradition describes how elite Hohokam leaders became oppressive and locals drove them back to the south, as part of a liberation movement.”

At the beginning of this decline, the population of the Phoenix basin is estimated at 40-50,000. During the next 200 years, it will drop to 5,000.


Hohokam Ball Courts

In the desert area of Arizona, an area now occupied by the greater Phoenix metro area, Indian people were farming corn, beans, squash, and cotton more than 2,500 years ago. Called Hohokam by archaeologists, these people developed a system of irrigation that carried water for many miles to their productive fields which yielded two harvests per year.

In the Phoenix Basin, the Hohokam brought some 70,000 acres under cultivation with their elaborate networks of irrigation canals. Along the canals were interdependent villages whose residents shared the work of constructing, maintaining, and managing the canals. In the larger communities there were basin-like structures which archaeologists have identified as ball courts.

Balls courts were an important part of the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica (Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras), such as the Maya. In Mesoamerica, the ball game which was played on these courts was often a ceremonial event which tied different communities together.

At about 600 CE the archaeological data shows the contact between the Hohokam and the civilizations of Mexico intensified. This marks the beginning of what archaeologists call the Colonial Period. Imports from the civilizations in Mexico at this time include cast copper bells, macaws (which are valued for their feathers), and mirrors made from bits of iron pyrite. Hohokam communities built ball courts between 700 and 1100 C.E.

While the Mesoamerican ball courts were generally built out of stone, in the Arizona desert the Hohokam built theirs by digging into the desert and piling the soil up on either side. Some of the ball courts were 250 feet (76 meters) in length and 90 feet (27 meters) in width. In some instances they were dug up to 9 feet (nearly 3 meters) into the subsoil.

With regard to the nature of the ball game, archaeologist Brian Fagan in his book Elixer: A History of Water and Humankind, writes:  “Quite what form the ball game itself took remains a mystery, but there is no question that it originated in Mexico, where commoners played a version of the contest that required each side to cast a rubber ball back and forth without touching the ground.”

Archaeologists have uncovered rubber balls similar to those used in Mesoamerica at sites in the Southwest. Historical records from Mesoamerica indicate that the ball games were generally the culmination of a period of feasting, trading, and social activities. Thus archaeologists feel that something similar was happening among the Hohokam. Some feel that the ball games were a way of integrating the various interdependent villages with tournaments between teams from different villages.

Some archaeologists feel that the ball games were associated with trading days or trading fairs. Artisans from many different Hohokam communities could come together for a single trading event in which a great variety of goods would be available. Writing in the journal American Antiquity, David Abbott, Alexa Smith, and Emiliano Gallaga write:  “We can imagine Hohokam potters in the middle Gila River valley packing up loads of their wares, walking one or two days to ballcourt events in the lower Salt River valley, while eager buyers anticipated these merchants’ arrival.”

There is some indication that some Hohokam villages specialized in producing some materials. For example, the Hohokam had a site north of Phoenix for the specialized production of manos and metates from a kind of quartz-basalt known as New River andesite. The manos and metates manufactured here were then traded to Hohokam villages and hamlets in other areas. The ball games would have provided a good opportunity for this type of trade.

At the Hohokam sites, archaeologists have observed that the ball courts were oriented in various directions. This seems to suggest that the different ball courts may have been used to celebrate different events in a ceremonial calendar.

The Hohokam managed to create large public works, such as their canal systems and ball courts, but there is no evidence of any ruling elites. The ball game may have integrated the communities, brought together for feasting, dancing, trade, and sport and in so doing reduced the need for social coercion and a ruling class. In 1100, however, they stopped building the ball courts and began building mounds, suggesting a change in their social and religious organization.


Death in Pueblo and Athabascan Cultures

Funerary practices and beliefs about death are more about the living than the dead. They provide some insights into the cultures of the people. The several Pueblo cultures and the Athabascan cultures (Navajo and Apache) live in close proximity to one another in New Mexico and Arizona. These cultures, in spite of their geographic proximity, have very different beliefs about death and how to deal with dead bodies. Some of their funerary customs and beliefs are discussed below.  

Athabascan Culture:

The Athabascan-speaking people – the Navajo and the Apache – migrated from the area north of Edmonton, Alberta.

In the late 1300’s and early 1400’s groups of hunting and gathering Athabascans began arriving in the Southwest from the far north in Canada. These were the ancestors of the Navajo and Apache peoples. While there are some scholars who feel that the Navajo and Apache could have begun arriving in the Southwest as early as 800 CE and some who feel that it was as late at 1500 CE, most tend to place their arrival between 1200 and 1400.

When the Spanish entered New Mexico, they recorded that the Tewa referred to one of the neighboring tribes as Navahú, in reference to large areas of cultivated lands. This is in reference to the Navajo practice of dry-farming in arroyos, and cañadas (canyons). The Tewa also referred to these newcomers as Apachü which means strangers and enemies. The Spanish would later refer to these people as Apache de Navajó meaning the Apaches with the great planted fields.

Among the southwestern Athabascan groups there is a fear of death and of dealing with both the bodies and the possessions of dead people. Among the Jicarilla Apache, for example, there is a great effort to keep children from seeing a dead person. In addition, children do not associate with other children who have family members who have recently died until the family has been cleansed by the proper ceremonies. There is a concern that children may be marked by the aura of death.

With regard to the Chiricahua Apache, at death the spirits begin a four-day journey to the spirit world. For the Chiricahua,  open burial sites are very dangerous between the moment of death and the time when the grave is covered. During this time the spirit of the deceased is loose and free. It is thus able to cause mischief or harm.  Funeral rites are expected to expedite the spirit’s journey.

Traditionally among the Navajo, the body of a dead person was left on the ground in the hogan (home) which was then abandoned or the body was immediately buried. The body was allowed to decompose because the memory, thoughts, and descendents are the part which lives on. The idea of putting someone in a coffin or putting chemicals in the body to preserve the corpse is viewed with disgust by traditional Navajo.

At death, the personal property of a Navajo is buried with the corpse or it is destroyed. Traditionally, the name of the deceased is not mentioned for one year following death. After this year, the name of the deceased is rarely mentioned.

When a Navajo who has lived a full and long life dies, there is no period of mourning as it is felt that the spirit is ready to travel to another world. There is no dread of touching or handling the corpse of an old person.

With regard to life after death, this is an issue of little concern for most Navajo. They feel that they will find out when they die and in the meantime this is something they have no way of knowing anything about and therefore they should not waste time thinking about it. The Navajo cultural orientation is towards life, toward making this life happier, more harmonious, and more beautiful.

For the Navajo, birth and death are seen as opposites: one cannot exist without the other. Life is a cycle. It reaches its natural conclusion in death at old age. It is renewed in each birth. Death before old age is considered to be both unnatural and tragic. Death before old age prevents the natural completion of the life cycle.

Pueblo Culture:

In northern Arizona and New Mexico there are several Indian nations who traditionally lived in compact villages. The Spanish used the word pueblo which means “town” in referring to these people. The Pueblo people are not a single cultural tradition, but are in fact several distinct cultures. They share some features – farming, housing – and are very different in others.

Among many of the Pueblos, food is placed with the body of the deceased. If the deceased had lived a good life, then little food was left with them as they would need little sustenance in traveling straight to the afterworld. On the other hand, if the deceased had not been particularly virtuous then they would need more food for their difficult journey.

Among the Keresian-speaking Pueblos of the Rio Grande area, death is viewed as a natural and necessary event: if there were no death, then soon there would be no room left in the world. After death, both the soul and the guardian spirit leave the body, but remain in the home of the deceased for four days. Then they journey to Shipap, the entrance to the underworld. The virtue of the deceased then determines the assignment to one of the four underworlds. Those who enter the innermost world become Shiwana (rainmakers) and return to the villages in the form of clouds.

Among the Zuni, the spirit of the dead lingers in the village for four days. During this time the door to the deceased’s home is left open to permit the entry of the spirit. On the morning of the fifth day the spirit goes to Kothluwalawa beneath the water of the Listening Spring. Here the spirit becomes a member of the Uwannami (rainmakers). Members of the Bow Priesthood become lightning makers who bring water from the six great waters of the world. The water is poured through the clouds in the form of rain. The clouds are the masks worn by the Uwannami.

Among the Hopi, a mask of cotton is placed over the face of the dead to represent the cloud mask which the spirit will wear when it returns with the cloud people to bring rain to the village. Four days after burial the spirit leaves the body and begins a journey to the Land of the Dead. They enter the underworld through the sipapu (sacred hole) in the Grand Canyon where they meet the One Horned God who can read a person’s thoughts by looking into the heart. Those who are virtuous follow the Sun Trail to the village of the Cloud People.

In the Hopi burials, clothing, water, and piki (a special bread) is often placed with the corpse. In many cases the Hopi will use a quilt as a burial shroud. The grave is then sealed with rocks.

When a kikmongwi (chief) dies, the staff which has symbolized his authority during his life is buried with him. In addition, his body is painted with symbols for important ritual occasions.

Among the Hopi, the spirits of children who die before they are initiated into a kiva return to their mother’s house to be reborn.

For the Hopi, the ancestors are important to their culture and they strongly feel that the physical remains of the ancestors should be treated with respect. Ancestors maintain a spiritual guardianship over the places where they are buried and they are not to be disturbed by archaeologists.

The Hopi see the clouds which bring water to their villages as ancestors and thus they petition their departed ancestors to return and to bring with them the life-giving rain. In this way, the Hopi view death as a return to the spiritual realm and from this comes more life in the form of rain.

Among most of the Pueblos, life after death is the same as before death: the deceased journey to a town where they join a group with which they were associated in life. Only the Hopi express the idea of punishment after death.

At Cochití, when a person dies, an ear of blue corn with barbs at the point is placed in the corner of the room where the death occurred. This ear of corn represents the soul of the deceased which will linger in the area for a while.

The Pueblos: 1700 to 1725

In 1680, the Pueblos of New Mexico revolted against the Spanish and drove them from the region. A decade later, however, the Spanish returned and began their re-conquest of New Mexico. In 1696, eleven Pueblo villages along the Rio Grande revolted again against the Spanish, but the revolt was quickly crushed. By 1700 the Spanish were again firmly entrenched in the region and for the next generation the Pueblo people had to adjust to the Spanish, their strange religion, and their insistence that the Pueblos totally submit to Spanish rule.  

Conflicts with the Spanish:

Adjustment to the return of the Spanish and their priests was not always peaceful. In northern Arizona, the Hopi attacked and destroyed the Spanish occupied village of Awatovi in 1700. The Spanish priests and their male converts were sealed in a kiva and then suffocated by having hot ground chilies poured in through the roof opening. The women and children were taken to other Hopi villages. Some of the Hopi survivors from Awatovi were taken in by the Navajo where they founded the Tobacco Clan.  

In 1703, three of the Spanish soldiers sent to protect the priest at Zuni were killed by the Zuni. The soldiers had been living with Zuni women.

In 1706, the Spanish re-established Galisteo Pueblo and re-named it Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. They forced 90 Indians to live in the pueblo.

Also in 1706, the Franciscan friar noted that the mission at Cochití Pueblo had a bell without a clapper. He wrote:

“The Indians took all the clappers away, to make lances and knives.”

In 1719, Spanish authorities tried a Taos man for having drunk a beverage made with peyote. The Spanish felt that peyote was associated with black magic and that it gave visions to witches.


During this re-adjustment period, some Pueblo villages were abandoned; some were relocated; some older village sites were re-occupied; and some new villages were established.

In 1700, the Zuni re-occupied the village of Halona (present-day Zuni Pueblo). At this same time, the pueblo of San Felipe on top of Black Mesa was abandoned and a new pueblo was constructed at the foot of the mesa.

In 1702, a group of Tewa from New Mexico sought refuge among the Hopi in Arizona. The Hopi chief did not fulfill the promise of land until they demonstrated their prowess. The Tewa defeated a Ute attack and were given a site on First Mesa where they built the village of Hano.

That same year, the Jemez returned to their valley and resettled on an earlier village site.

In 1706, the people of Picuris pueblo, decimated by disease and warfare, returned to their pueblo from their exile in Kansas. They had fled their homeland during the Pueblo Revolt of 1696.

In 1709, the Spanish government approved the purchase of land at the mouth of the Río Jémez by nine Indians from Santa Ana Pueblo. The seller was Spanish colonist Manuel Baca. In order to regain their farm lands which had been lost through the Spanish land grants, Santa Ana Pueblo had started to buy these lands back from the Spanish settlers. First, they had to wait until the settler was ready to sell the land, and then they had to petition the Spanish government for permission to buy it. Then all parties had to agree on the price, the land’s boundaries, and the terms of the sale.

In 1716, some of the people who had fled from Jemez following the Pueblo Revolt of 1696 returned to the village from Walpi in Hopi country.


In 1700, Pueblo pottery began to change in shape and decoration. Previously, the Pueblo potters had used a lead glaze, but this process was abandoned and the potters began to substitute pigments made from ores which were rich in iron or manganese. This produced a dark brown to black look.

The potters at Acoma Pueblo began making a type of pottery known as Ako Polychrome. The Ako Polychrome jars have a top-heavy, mushroom-shaped upper body with a wide bulge at about the middle of the jug. There is a very short neck and a tapered underbody. A range of small motifs, including feather clusters, was used for decoration.

An example of an Ako Polychrome jar can be found

at Fenimore Art Museum.


The potters at Santa Ana and Zia developed a new style of pottery which archaeologists call Purname Polychrome. Many of the jars have a motif consisting of a cluster of bird feathers. Many of the jars from Zia have a band of red or black arcs around the circumference below the main design area.

At Zuni, Potters began using concave bases for jars, a style which may have been borrowed from the southern Tewa. The new style of pottery, which is decorated with red and black matte mineral paints, is known as Ashiwi Polychrome.

Death in the Piman and Yuman Cultures

Funerary practices and beliefs about death are more about the living than the dead. They provide some insights into the cultures of the people. The Piman (O’odham) and Yuman cultures of the American Southwest have diverse beliefs and burial practices even though they are both located in the desert regions of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. In both of these cultural groups, cremation was a common way of disposing of the dead. Some of their funerary customs and beliefs are discussed below.

Yuman Culture:

The Yuman culture tradition is in the desert and semi-desert area along the Colorado and Gila Rivers. This area includes parts of Arizona, California, Sonora, and Baja California Norte.

The Yuma-speaking tribes can be divided into four groups:

Delta: the tribes living along the lower Colorado River. These include the Cocopa, Kahwa, and Halyikwamai. During the nineteenth century, the Kahwa and the Halyikwamai, battered by the Quechan-Mohave alliance, merged with the Maricopa.

River: the tribes living along the Colorado River where it forms the border between Arizona and California, plus those living along the Middle Gila River in Arizona. These tribes include the Quechan, Mohave, Yuma, Maricopa, Halchidhoma, and Kavalchadom. During the nineteenth century, the Halchidhoma and Kavalchadom merged with the Maricopa.  

The designation Maricopa as actually an Anglo term: the people refer to themselves as Pipatsje. They originally lived along the Colorado River near present-day Parker, Arizona, but later moved up the Gila River away from the Colorado River.

Upland: the tribes living in Northwest Arizona. These include the Walapai, Havasupai, and Yavapai. The Yavapai were traditionally divided into three groups: Yavepe (also spelled Yavapé; Northeastern Yavapai), Tolkapaya (also spelled Tolkepaya; the Western Yavapai), and Kewevkapaya (also spelled Kwevkepaya; the Southeastern Yavapai.) The Walapai were divided politically into three subtribes: Middle Mountain People in the northwest, Yavapai Fighters in the south, and Plateau People in the east.

California: the tribes living west of the Colorado River include the Diegueño, Kamia, Paipai, and Kiliwa.

Among the Walapai, the dead were traditionally cremated along with their possessions. The souls of the dead departed for the ancestral land of Tudjupa in the west. There was also an annual burning of clothing and food to commemorate the dead. The practice of cremation, however, was stopped by the U.S. Army in the nineteenth century as the United States required Christian burials.

Traditionally, the Havasupai observed very little ceremony regarding the disposal of the dead. The dead were either cremated or placed in caves or rock cairns.

Among the Mohave, the deceased was cremated upon a funeral pyre. Orators would make speeches about the virtues of the deceased and songs would be sung. Articles burned with the deceased would accompany the soul to the land of the dead. After death there was a taboo on mentioning the name of a dead person.

Among the Cocopa, the soul leaves the body at the time of cremation and goes to the spirit land near the mouth of the Colorado River. However, twins go to a different place and are continuously reincarnated. After death the name of the deceased is never mentioned.

Piman Culture:

The Sonoran desert of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico is home to a number of Piman-speaking groups, primarily the Tohono O’odham (Papago) and Akimel O’odham (Pima). With regard to archaeology, the Hohokam are considered to be the ancestors of the Piman peoples.

The Pima were the village agriculturists of central and southern Arizona. The Pima call themselves O’odham which means “we, the people”. They are divided into four basic groups: (1) River Pima in Central Arizona (Akimel O’odham); (2) Tohono O’odham (also known as Papago) in southern Arizona and northern Sonora; (3) Pima Bajo in Mexico; and (4) the Sobaipuri. The Sobaipuri were driven out by Apache and Spanish and intermin-gled with the other Pima groups. Traditionally they occupied the San Pedro River valley from Fairbank, Arizona, north to the Gila River junction, and the Santa Cruz River valley north to Picacho.

The dead were buried in a rock crevice and covered with stones or in a stone cairn roofed with logs. To accompany the spirit on its four day journey to the Underworld in the east, food and possessions were also interred with the body. A short speech by a relative usually accompanied burial. In this speech, the deceased would be asked not to return.

Among the Tohono O’odham, warriors killed in battle were cremated by scalp takers.  

Among the Akimel O’odham the custom was to destroy a house where death had occurred and to build a new house a few meters away.

The Hohokam cremated their dead. Along with the body, pottery, palettes for preparing body and face paints, and ornaments were also burned.


The Sonoran Desert stretches across Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora (Mexico). It is a hot, dry place. It is also the homeland for Indian people who call themselves O’odham.  

Papago by Curtis

The name O’odham means “we, the people.” The Spanish, the first European people to enter the area, called them Pimas Altos meaning Upper Pima Indians. The word Pima comes from the phrase pi-nyi-match (“I don’t know”) which was often the reply which the O’odham gave to the Spanish explorers.

The O’odham speak languages which are classified as Uto-Aztecan which means that they are linguistically related to other Indian nations such as the Hopi, the Ute, the Paiute, and the Shoshone, as well as many Indian nations in Mexico.

Today, there are two basic O’odham tribes: the Akimel O’odham (River People) who live along the Gila River and the Tohono O’odham (Desert People) who live to the south in what is now the Papago Reservation.  

The Spanish, the American government and many non-Indian people have long used the name Papago in referring to the Tohono O’odham. Papago is from Papahvio-otam (“bean people”) which is the name given them by the neighboring Akimel O’odham.

According to the elders, the people have lived in the Sonoran Desert since they were created. One creation story says that Earthmaker scraped dirt from his chest and made it into a ball.

Then he stamped on it to flatten it out until it reached the edge of the sky. Then he made all of the things on the earth – the mountains, the rivers, the clouds, the animals, and the plants.

Earthmaker then made a small man with a beard and called him Eetoi. Earthmaker then made Coyote, a special being who could communicate with the supernatural. Using clay, Earthmaker then made people. The people were perfect and they did not die. However, there were too many people and soon they began fighting among themselves. Earthmaker and Eetoi then destroyed the people with a flood.

After the flood Earthmaker, Eetoi, and Coyote decided to create new people out of clay. To get just the right color, they baked the new people. Coyote’s batch was first and he burnt them black. The creators breathed life into them and then threw them away, far on the other side of the world. The second batch, made by Earthmaker, weren’t cooked long enough and they were white. The creators breathed life into them and threw them away, across the sea. The third batch, made by Eetoi, were baked nice and brown. The creators breathed life into the people and they stayed in the land where they had been created. Earthmaker gave Eetoi the title of Elder Brother.

Eetoi lives in a cave in the Baboquivari Mountains which are located southwest of Tucson, Arizona. When the people need him, that is where they find him.

Archaeologists tell us that the O’odham are the descendents of the Hohokam who were farming in the Phoenix area and along the rivers in southern Arizona more than a thousand years ago.

The homeland of the O’odham people was first claimed by the Spanish under the European concept of discovery which states that Christians have the right to claim and govern all non-Christian nations. In 1821, O’odham land became a part of Mexico and under the Mexican constitution they became Mexican citizens. In 1854, the United States bought much of the O’odham territory from Mexico. The O’odham were neither consulted nor told about this sale. Under American law, the O’odham lost their citizenship. Many of the O’odham simply ignored American jurisdiction and continued to claim their Mexican citizenship.

The United States did not purchase all of the O’odham territory from Mexico. As a consequence, the O’odham, like a number of other Indian nations, has to contend with an international border which divides its people. While most O’odham today live in the United States, there are still many O’odham who live in the Mexican state of Sonora.

Without negotiating a treaty with the O’odham or consulting with them, the United States simply extended federal Indian policy to them. In 1857 the government appointed the first Indian agent for them.

The Tohono O’odham and the Akimel O’odham have never been at war with the United States, nor has the United States ever negotiated a treaty with them. From the very beginning of the American occupation, O’odham warriors helped the army in their battles against the Apache. From the O’odham viewpoint, the Apache were traditional enemies who had been raiding into O’odham territory for a long time. The American army, therefore, was a convenient ally to help the O’odham stop the Apache raids.

The first Papago or Tohono O’odham reservation was unofficially created in 1864 when a two square league area around the Mission San Xavier del Bac was set aside for their exclusive use. The area was officially placed under the jurisdiction of the Indian agent in 1874.

In 1912, President William Howard Taft issued an executive order creating the 47,600 acre Ak-Chin reservation in Arizona. The reservation was created in part in gratitude to the O’odham for their help in the wars against the Apache in the late 1800’s.

With the creation of the Ak-Chin Reservation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs filed for a water appropriation on behalf of the Ak-Chin Indian Community which called for a total of 70,000 acre-feet annually. Non-Indians in the area were upset about the size of the reservation and about the water appropriation. Within four months of the original executive order, President Taft issued a second executive order which reduced the size of the reservation to 21,840 acres.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued an executive order to create the 3.1 million acre Papago Reservation for the Tohono O’odham. The town of Indian Wells was renamed Sells after Indian Commissioner Cato Sells and became the headquarters for the new Indian agency. The creation of the reservation was opposed by the Tucson Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona state land commissioner, and the Pima Farm Improvement Association. On the other hand, many non-Indian cotton growers favored the establishment of the reservation. Since the cotton growers needed seasonal labor, frequency supplied by the O’odham, having the reservation provided a convenient place for these laborers during the eight or nine months when they were not needed in the cotton fields.

O'odham map

The reservation is marked in red in the map shown above.

The Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation (formerly called the Papago Reservation) located south and west of Tucson in southern Arizona is the second largest Indian reservation in the United States. It is about the size of the state of West Virginia. The boundary line for the reservation, however, excluded the eastern slope of Boboquivari Mountain, one of the most sacred areas for the O’odham.

Lots of people seem to think that Indians didn’t know about alcohol until the Europeans brought it to this continent. However, the Tohono O’odham were making an alcoholic ceremonial drink from the fruit of the saguaro cactus long before Europeans even knew that this continent existed. Called tiswin, it is drunk in conjunction with a rain ceremony-the Náwai’t. The  Náwai’t ceremony includes ritual Mocking Bird speeches, songs taught to them by the supernatural being I’itoiI which bring the clouds down. During the ceremony the people make themselves drunk, much like the plants in the rain. The consumption of large amounts of tiswin results in vomiting, a recognized ceremonial feature which is called “throwing up the clouds.”

In 1922, the Tohono O’Odham held Náwai’t ceremonies which included the ritual consumption of tiswin to break an extended drought. The Bureau of Indian Affairs had the agency police raid the villages of Big Fields and Santa Rosa where several hundred participants were dispersed. The police arrested several leaders and Keepers of the Smoke for making tiswin. While the Bureau of Indian Affairs continued to warn people about this ceremony, the Tohono O’Odham continued to hold the ceremony in secret.

There are a lot of people, including some eminent historians, who seem to think that the last military battle against Indians took place in 1890 at a place called Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala Sioux in South Dakota. In fact, the American army continued its war against Indians through the rest of the nineteenth century and the twentieth century. While the Tohono O’odham have always been friendly toward the Americans, there have been a few skirmishes. One of the most interesting of these skirmishes took place in the 1940s.

The basis for these skirmishes began in 1924 when the United States Congress passed legislation giving all Indians full American citizenship. This was done without consulting with Indian people. In 1940, the United States Congress passed another bill giving Indians citizenship. While many states, including Arizona, simply ignored both citizenship bills and denied Indians the rights of citizenship, the United States government insisted that as citizens Indians must register for the draft. In 1940, at the Tohono O’odham village of Toapit, 30 men under the leadership of Pia Machita refused to register for the draft. Marshals and Indian police attempted to arrest the leader, but they were roughed up and forced to release the 84 year old Machita. The Tohono O’odham then escaped into the desert. Pia Machita eluded the American army and federal marshals until 1941.

Oral tradition among the Tohono O’odham tells of army planes bombing villages during this time in an attempt to capture the draft rebels. The army’s unofficial story, again told as oral tradition, is that they were not bombing the villages, only dropping flour sacks on them to mark them so that they could be found from the ground.

Culturally, the O’odham don’t fit the common stereotypes of Indians who lived in tipis and hunted buffalo. Instead of tipis, the O’odham lived in dome- shaped lodges made from a framework of saplings and thatched with grass and/or leafy shrubs. These lodges were 12 to 20 feet in diameter. In addition to this lodge, they also built ramadas to provide them shade. These ramadas – which are still commonly used – provided an outdoor living and cooking space.  

While the Plains Indians kept a Winter Count which recorded their history on skins, the O’odham kept calendar sticks. These sticks contained a notch for each year and then markings to show the events for the year. The calendar sticks are considered to be personal rather than tribal and so they are traditionally destroyed when the person keeping them dies. Most anthropologists consider the calendar sticks to be mnemonic devices (which help the owner remember the events) rather than a form of writing.


Papago Basket Flat

With regard to arts, the O’odham have gained a reputation for their fine basketry. The first evidence of the commercialization of O’odham basketry was seen in 1900 when the basketweavers began incorporating yucca into their baskets. Yucca is scarce and is used only in baskets which are intended to be sold to outsiders. In addition, they began making coiled baskets for the tourist market. These coiled baskets were easier to make than their traditional “tree” or plaited baskets.

Papago Basket with lid

Papago Basket

The Civil War and Indians in Arizona

In some parts of the country, such as Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), the Civil War divided Indian nations with some joining the Union forces and others joining with the Confederacy. In other parts of the country, such as Arizona, the Civil War simply meant that Indians now had two enemies rather than just one. In many instances, the tribes were unclear about the difference between Union and Confederate forces.  

The California Volunteers under the command of General James Carlton entered Arizona from the west in 1862 with the intent of displaying a Union presence in a territory whose sympathies lay with the South. At Maricopa Wells, the Americans met with the Maricopa. One of the members of the Volunteers wrote:

“They presented a comical appearance, half-civilized, half-barbarous, as they rode up to our camp on their raw-boned ponies, dressed off in some United States uniforms given them by order of the General; brass buttons and red paint, infantry dress coats and bare legs, military caps and long hair.”

The Maricopa chief expressed friendship with the Americans and asked for weapons so that they might defend themselves. Two years earlier, the Maricopa, together with some American allies-the Gila Rangers-had raided the Yavapai, killing 13 and capturing five who were sold into slavery in Mexico. The Maricopa, who were probably unaware of the reality of the Civil War, viewed these new American troops as potential allies and potential partners in their raids against other Indians.

Like the Maricopa, the Apache were probably unaware of the Civil War, but when Union troops entered their territory they responded in what they felt was an appropriate fashion: under the leadership of Cochise and Mangas Coloradas, the Apache attacked the column. The troops set up artillery and returned fire. The Apache were driven off by canon fire and Mangas Coloradas was wounded. In response to this attack, Union forces established Fort Bowie at Apache Pass so that the military could escort travelers, mail couriers, and supply trains through the pass.

The attitude of the Americans toward the Apache was expressed by a member of the California Volunteers who wrote:

“Before leaving Apache Pass too far behind I wish to say that I am an advocate for the extermination of the Apaches. They have never made and kept a treaty of peace, but have ever been thieves, highwaymen and murderers. Year out and year in, hundreds have perished upon the roads by their hands, and it is estimated that within the past twelve months at least one hundred white persons have been killed by them on the road between Tucson and the Rio Grande; some of which murders were most horrible, tying up their victims by the heels and building slow fires under their heads.”

In New Mexico, Union General James Carlton ordered Kit Carson to round up the Mescalero Apache and confine them on a reservation at Bosque Redondo. The General’s orders:

“The men are to be slain whenever and wherever they can be found. The women and children may be taken as prisoners.”

Traditionally, army officers used captured Indian women as sexual slaves.

With regard to the Confederate attitudes toward the Indians in Arizona, the Confederate governor of Arizona wrote to the commander of the Arizona guards:

“The Congress of the Confederate States has passed a law declaring extermination to all hostile Indians. You will therefore use all means to persuade the Apaches of any tribe to come in for the purpose of making peace, and when you get them together kill all the grown Indians and take the children prisoners and sell them to defray the expense of killing the Indians.”

In 1863, Union General Carleton issued an ultimatum to the Navajo: they were to peacefully transfer to the reservation at Bosque Redondo or be treated as hostile. Colonel Kit Carson then began to wage a “scorched earth” campaign against the Navajo. The plan, devised by General Carleton, called for all male Navajo to surrender or be shot.

In 1863, soldiers under a white flag lured Apache leader Mangas Coloradas into a parley where he was seized. While he was sleeping, his guards touch his feet with bayonets which have been heated in the fire. When he rose in protest, he was shot. The army claimed he was killed while trying to escape.

As the other Apache prisoners watched, the soldiers boiled Mangas Coloradas’ severed head in a cauldron to prepare the skull for scientific study. While the Anglo scientists had an interest in correlating brain size and skull shape with intelligence, character, and racial characteristics, the Apache viewed the mutilation as a barbarity that exceeds the murder. As a consequence, Apache mutilation of American enemies they had killed became more common.

In 1863, Arizona gained political independence from New Mexico and its new constitution disqualified Indians from participation in the electoral process.

At Fort Yuma, Arizona, the United States negotiated a treaty of peace in 1863 among the Pima, Mohave, Yavapai, Maricopa, Chemehuevi, Walapai, and Yuma. The purpose of the treaty was to promote safe travel in tribal territories by the Americans. The tribes also promised to help the Americans in their war against the “Apache Tribes.” The treaty was not ratified by the Senate.

In 1864, Union General James Carleton took command of the war against the Apache. He claimed that he could subdue the Apache quickly and sent hundreds of troops against them. Like other Americans, Carleton never understood that there were several distinct Apache tribes and assumed that the Apache were a single unified tribes. Consequently, the American troops spent most of their time attacking peaceful groups, creating more enemies.

A U.S. Army dispatch summarized the official attitude regarding the Apache in Arizona territory:

“All Apache Indians in that territory are hostile, and all Apache men large enough to bear arms who may be encountered in Arizona will be slain wherever met, unless they give themselves up as prisoners. No women or children will be harmed; these will be taken prisoner.”

While Arizona’s many Indian nations did not become directly involved with the Civil War, during the war the American stereotypes and antagonisms towards the Indians seemed to intensify and help justify the Americans’ genocidal attitudes.  

Invading Mexico in the 1880s

In the 1880s, the American wars against the Apache Indians ignored the border between the United States and Mexico, and the American military often ignored Mexico’s sovereignty in their eagerness to kill Apaches. This was a time when the American press often urged genocide against Indians, particularly against the Apache. Many of the military intrusions into Mexico were made in response to alleged raids by Mexican-based Apache groups.  

In 1881, a small war party of Lipan Apache attacked and looted the house of an American settler in Texas, killing two people. The army followed the party into Mexico where the Apache were surprised at their mountain camp. Six Apache warriors were killed and a small boy and a woman were captured.

In 1882, Apache warriors under the leadership of Juh and Geronimo raided the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona to capture the Chiricahua Apache band led by Loco. This band had stayed on the reservation when the Chiricahua had broken free the year before. Loco and his people were forced to the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico. The army struck the Apaches near the Arizona-New Mexico border and then battled them again 20 miles into the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Nineteen Apache, primarily women and children, were killed in the two battles.

A war party of 25 Chiricahua Apache warriors, under the leadership of Chatto, crossed into Arizona from their stronghold in the Mexican Sierra Madre Mountains in 1883 and raided a charcoal camp near Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The raiding party then moved northeast across the southeastern corner of Arizona, covering 75-100 miles a day. They crossed into New Mexico where they killed a federal judge and his wife and kidnapped their young son to be raised as an Apache warrior. During their raids, the Apaches killed 26 Americans. They managed to escape back into Mexico without being seen by any American soldier.

In response to the raids, an American army unit of 320 men under the command of General George Crook crossed the boundary with Mexico in search of “hostile” Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apache. The expedition’s principal guide was Tzoe (called “Peaches” by the Americans), a Cibecue Apache who had been a part of the hostile bands. In addition, a number of Apache and Yavapai scouts accompanied the Americans.

The Americans managed to surprise the Apache in their mountain stronghold. Consequently, a number of the Apache leaders-Geronimo, Naiche, Chihuahua, Chato, Bonito, Nana, Loco, Mangas, and Kahtennay-agreed to return to the reservation in Arizona.

In 1885, two bands of Chiricahua Apache left the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona.  Tiswin was a traditional Native alcoholic beverage which had been forbidden by the American government. In open defiance of the government’s prohibition, the Apache had brewed up the tiswin (a kind of beer or wine), got drunk and had fled into Mexico. One of the bands was led by Naiche and the other one by Chihuahua. There were about 140 people in the two bands, including 35 men and 8 boys old enough to fight.

One raiding party of ten warriors slipped back into the United States, carried out raids for a month in an area patrolled by 83 companies of soldiers. They killed 38 Americans, captured a number of horses, and escaped back into Mexico with the loss of only one warrior.  

In the Bavispe Mountains of Sonora, Mexico, Chihuahua’s band encountered U.S. troops. While the warriors diverted the troops, the women and children hid in a cave. However, the army found the women and children. They killed some, and then forced the survivors, including the wounded, to walk several hundred miles to Fort Bowie, Arizona. At the Fort, food was simply thrown on the ground for the women and children, implying that the prisoners were no more than animals. The women, including the wounded, were forced to dig latrines.

What many histories record as the final intrusion into Mexico during the 1880s Apache Wars came in 1886 when the Chiricahua Apache surrendered to the United States Army in Mexico on the condition that they would be held as prisoners for two years and would then be allowed to return to their own land. Instead, they spent the next 27 years as prisoners of war in prisons in Alabama, Florida, and Oklahoma.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

By 7000 BCE, American Indians were living in Arizona’s Verde Valley. While these earliest inhabitants of the area had a hunting and gathering subsistence, by 700 CE there were farmers, called the Southern Sinagua people by archaeologists, living in the area. At this time they were growing crops similar to other Southwestern peoples: corn, beans, squash, and cotton. By 1000 CE their population had increased and they had begun to build cliff dwellings. Life in the Verde Valley, however, was interrupted in 1064 when the Sunset Crater volcano erupted, spreading a half billion tons of ash across 800 square miles. The Southern Sinagua people temporarily abandoned the valley.  

Pit House

Shown above is the excavation of a pit house that was occupied during the Camp Verde phase (900 to 1125 CE). The photograph is from the 1958 excavation of the site.

When the Sinagua people abandoned the Verde Valley, they simply moved to the nearby hills where they sustained themselves on agriculture dependent on rain.

By 1100 the Southern Sinagua people were returning to the Verde Valley and by 1130 they had started construction on a cliff dwelling which would later be called Montezuma Castle. This was a twenty-room, five-story dwelling located in a limestone cliff about 100 feet above Beaver Creek. The natural overhang shades the rooms and shelters them from the rain. This structure is estimated to have housed about 50 people. By 1300, there were an estimated 6-8,000 people living in small villages in the well-watered area.

Montezuma Castle 1

Montezuma Castle 2

Like their Hohokam cousins to the south, the Sinagua people used an irrigation system to bring water to their fields. About 11 miles away from Montezuma Castle is an immense sinkhole that was formed when an underground cavern collapsed. It is about 55 feet deep and 368 feet in diameter. An estimated 1.4 million gallons of water flow through the well daily. The Sinagua people dug irrigation ditches to channel this water to their fields.

Montezuma Castle was abandoned by the Sinagua people about 1425 CE. According to Hopi oral traditions, the Sinagua people migrated to the north where they become incorporated with the Hopi. Archaeologists do not know why the Sinagua people left the area, but the hypotheses include warfare, drought, and clashes with the newly-arrived Yavapai people.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the abandoned pueblo was “discovered” by Americans who arrogantly assumed that such a complex and elaborate structure could not have been built by the “primitive” Indians of North America and thus believed that it had been built by the Mexican Aztecs. They named it Montezuma Castle based on this belief, naively unaware that the structure predated the rise of the Aztecs in Mexico. Caring little about its historical significance, the Americans then mined it for any artifacts that they might find, often destroying parts of the structure in their greedy quest. In some instances they used dynamite to destroy walls so that they could gain entrance to rooms in order to loot them.

Following the passage of the Antiquities Act in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt declared four sites of historic and cultural significance as the first National Monuments in the United States. One of these first four was Montezuma Castle, which the President identified as “of the greatest ethnological value and scientific interest.” Montezuma Castle National Monument encloses 826 acres.

Montezuma Castle Historic

Shown above is an early photograph of the site.

T Shaped Door

The T-shaped doorways shown in the photograph above are similar to those found in Ancestral Puebloan sites such as Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde.

One of the first advocates for the creation of Montezuma Castle National Monument was Edgar Lee Hewitt who had worked on the drafting of the Antiquities Act. Hewitt felt that this was an archaeologically significant site that was being imperiled by aggressive pot hunting. The creation of Montezuma Castle National Monument was relatively uncontroversial and caused few complaints. The site was small, remote, and not being exploited by agriculture in the vicinity.

Montezuma Castle National Monument soon became a destination for America’s first car-bound tourists. While the early tourists who visited the National Monument were allowed to climb a series of ladders up the side of the limestone cliffs, public access of the ruins was discontinued in 1951 due to extensive damage from the visitors.

During the 1930s, there was more archaeological focus on the valley. Earl Jackson, a graduate student under Byron Cummings at the University of Arizona and the son of the Montezuma Castle custodian Martin Jackson, conducted an archeological survey of the entire Verde drainage area for his master’s thesis. In this work, Jackson specified the location of numerous sites and made comparisons of sherds, burials, and artifacts that he discovered. In 1933, archaeologists excavated Castle A, another 45-50 pueblo on the Monument. The findings from this excavation provided more detail about the Sinagua people who lived along Beaver Creek.

Castle A 1

Castle A 2

Shown above are photos from the excavation of Castle A. These are from a report by Martin L. Jackson entitled “Report on Montezuma Castle C.W.A. Work, Federal Project No. 5.”

In 1947, the National Park Service acquired Montezuma Well, a place which is sacred to a number of tribes, including the Yavapai and the Hopi. According to Yavapai tradition, Montezuma Well is the hole through which the Yavapai entered this world. Once they had entered this world, the hole filled with water. After acquiring the administration of this property, Park Service personnel noted that Yavapai, Apache, Hopi, and Navajo people frequently visited the site for spiritual reasons.

In 1949, Albert Schroeder, the first full-time archaeologists assigned to Montezuma Castle National Monument, visited with Hopi priests. He showed them sketches of the ruins near Montezuma Well. He reported:

They reminded me of a legend that had formerly been related to me of how the Snake arose from a great cavity or depression in the ground, and how, they had heard, water boiled out of that hole into a neighboring river. The Hopi have personal knowledge of the Well, for many of their number have visited the Verde Valley, and they claim the ruins there as the home of their ancestors. It would not be strange, therefore, if this marvelous crater was regarded by them as a house of Paluluken, their mythic Plumed Serpent.

The National Park Service at Montezuma Castle National Monument has facilitated visits by tribal members and groups for spiritual purposes. They allow Native people to collect water from Montezuma Well for spiritual purposes and provide them with private access to portions of the Monument for the performance of spiritual ceremonies.

In 1966, Montezuma Castle National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This means that all of the prehistoric sites within the Monument are considered as contributing properties. Monument administration is thus required to consider the potential impacts of its undertakings on historic and prehistoric resources.

After the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) in 1978, the Monument collaborated more closely with the tribes to insure that tribal perspectives and interpretations are included on issues ranging from development plans to interpretive museum labels.

In the 1970s the National Park Service at Montezuma Castle National Monument began working with the Yavapai-Apache tribe to develop a tribal cultural information center. In 1981, the Yavapai-Apache completed a regional visitor information center, a gasoline station and convenience store, and a one-hundred-unit RV campground. The National Park Service began leasing roughly six thousand square feet of the information center building from the nation to serve as the administrative headquarters and visitor orientation center for Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot National Monuments. In 1995, the tribe also opened Cliff Castle Casino and the Monument’s administration moved to Camp Verde.

After the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, the Monument removed from museum displays all artifacts associated with human remains or burials and those considered to be sacred objects.

About 350,000 tourists visit Montezuma Castle National Monument each year. The visitor center at the Monument includes a museum and, of course, a gift shop.

Pueblo Weaving

For more than a thousand years, American Indian agriculturalists have been living in villages in what is now Arizona and New Mexico. When the Spanish first encountered these villages, many of which had multi-story apartment complexes built from stone, they referred to them as “pueblos,” the Spanish word for village.  

Europeans have grouped these diverse people together under the designation Pueblo Indians based on a few common traits: they are agriculturalists who grow corn, beans, and squash; they built permanent villages with a central plaza; and most have kivas (underground ceremonial centers). They are not, however, a single people, tribe, nation, or group: the peoples grouped together as Pueblos speak six mutually unintelligible languages and occupy more than 30 villages in a rough crescent more than 400 miles in length.

NM Pueblo Map

The map above shows the current Pueblos in New Mexico. Not shown are the Hopi Pueblos which are in Arizona.

The Pueblos are generally divided into two major groups: (1) eastern (Tanoan and Keresan speakers) with a permanent water source which enables them to practice irrigated agriculture, and (2) western (Hopi, Hopi-Tewa, Zuni, Acoma, Laguna) who rely on dry-land agricul¬ture.


Acoma Pueblo is shown above.

Zuni Pueblo 1850

An 1850 sketch of Zuni is shown above.

The Pueblos have a long tradition of weaving. For many centuries prior to the European invasion of North America, Pueblo weavers were making cloth which was traded over long distances. Fabrics were woven from a variety of different plant materials-both domestic and wild-and it was not uncommon for human hair, dog hair, and wild animal hair to be incorporated into fabrics. The important plant materials used for weaving textiles included milkweed, hemp, mesquite, cliff rose, willow, yucca, agave, stool, and bear grass. In addition, both feathers and fur were also used in weaving. Bird feathers were used in making warm blankets.

One of the plant fibers used for weaving was, and sometimes still is, yucca which can be processed to produce a linen-like fabric. Among the Zuni, the central leaves of the yucca plant were gathered and each leaf was folded into a piece that was about 10 centimeters (3.5 inches) long. These pieces were then placed in a pot of boiling water together with some wood ash. The skin would then be removed from the leaves and chewed (generally by the children). After this, the fibers could be separated and straightened. After the fibers had dried-usually by hanging them in a storage room-they would be soaked in cold water and then rubbed between the hands to soften them. The softened fibers would then be pulled into a fluffy mass which would allow them to be spun and woven like cotton.  

Pueblo weavers used two basic types of looms. The back strap loom was used to make sashes and belts. The vertical loom was used for producing larger fabrics, including blanks, ponchos, and cloth for making dresses and shirts. The vertical loom can be anchored on a ceiling beam on the top and then on four floor anchors on the bottom.

The backstrap loom is attached to an interior wall and then tension is maintained by a backstrap which allows the weaver to change the tension in the loom by changing the position of the body. The cloth produced using the backstrap loom is narrower than that produced with the vertical loom.  

Pueblo Sash

Shown above is a sash.

The development of loom weaving in the Southwest coincided with the introduction of domesticated cotton. By 425 BCE, the Hohokam in Arizona were raising cotton and trading it widely. By 700 CE, the Ancestral Puebloan people (sometimes called Anasazi by archaeologists) were growing cotton in New Mexico. Upright looms appear shortly after this.

By 1260 CE, the Hopi village of Homol’ovi was the center of cotton trade between the Hopi and other tribes in the Southwest. Homol’ovi had 200 rooms and had an estimated population of about 200 people.

At Zuni Pueblo, men traditionally spun and wove cotton. The cotton they used, however, they did not grow themselves, but obtained from the Hopi.

Among the Hopi, weaving was a traditional male activity. Hopi cotton cloth was a highly valued trade item among Indian people in the region. Hopi textiles, including the coarse white cotton lengths used for kilts, sashes, and shawls, was traded throughout the Southwest and south into Mexico.  

According to the Hopi oral tradition, it was Spider Woman who taught the Hopi how to weave cotton in the ancient time. The efforts of the weaver are therefore viewed as a manifestation of the creative power of spirituality. Weaving is not seen as an act in which one creates something by oneself; it is seen as an act in which one uncovers a pattern that was already there.

After sheep were introduced to the area by the Spanish, wool began to replace cotton in Pueblo textiles.  

Mount Taylor and the Pueblos

The Pueblo Indians, who have lived in the American Southwest for thousands of years, do not draw a distinction between the secular and the sacred: everything is spiritual. This spirituality permeates all aspects of their lives, including their interaction with the land, with other peoples, and with the supernaturals. All life is interrelated, balanced, and interdependent. Human beings, therefore, must maintain harmony with the rest of the universe. One of the places that is important for the maintenance of harmony and the spiritual health of the people is the mountain which the Americans call Mount Taylor.

Mt taylor

In 1849, shortly after the United States acquired New Mexico from Mexico the Americans, ignoring any possible Native American names for the mountain, renamed it after President Zachary Taylor. The mountain is called Dwankwi Kyabachu Yalanne by the Zuni; Kaweshtima by the Acoma; Tsibina by the Laguna; and Tsiipiya by the Hopi.

Zachery Taylor

Zachery Taylor, shown above, gained fame as a military officer in his campaigns in the Black Hawk War and the Seminole Wars.

With regard to the Zuni and Mount Taylor, Zuni Governor Cooeyate has said:

“The Zuni relationship to Mount Taylor, as an important place on the landscape and as a marker of the extent of the Zuni homelands, has been documented through historic records for more than 300 years. First by the early Spanish representatives in the eighteenth century, later by American military personnel and early anthropologists throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century, and more recently in land claims cases in the latter half of the twentieth century. While the importance of Zuni’s relationship to Mount Taylor can be found in writings that are very old, our relationship to the mountain exceeds the historic record by many centuries.”

In addition to being a sacred area for these Pueblos, the mountain is also a sacred area for a number of non-Pueblo tribes including the Navajo. The Navajo name for the mountain is Sootdzit. From this mountain, the people gather soil, tobacco, minerals, medicines, and other resources which are used to create the Mountain Soil Bundle which is used in the Blessing Way Ceremony.

With regard to its physical geography, Mount Taylor is a stratovolcano located midway between Albuquerque and Gallup in the southwestern corner of the San Mateo Mountains. It rises to an elevation of 12,000 feet and is the highest point in the Cibola National Forest. The mountain is largely forested and rises like a blue cone above the desert. The forest on its slopes was an important source of timber for the Pueblos.

In 1905, without consulting the tribes or taking into consideration the sacred nature of Mount Taylor, the United States incorporated the land into a national forest to be administered by the Secretary of Agriculture. Since the primary focus of the Forest Service is on resource development, over the past century the cultural resources on Mount Taylor including pilgrimage trails, shrines, and archeological sites have been threatened by increased development.

In 1978, Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) which was designed to pro¬tect and preserve traditional religious practices, including access to sacred sites, the use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through traditional ceremonies. The Act directed federal agencies to survey their rules and regulations and to try to accommodate the practice of Indian religions. The Act directs federal agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service, to adopt land management policies which will be sensitive toward tribal religious needs concerning federal public lands. As a result of this Act, federal agencies began to formally consult with American Indian tribes about how proposed federal developments might harm sacred places. The law, however, did notinclude an administrative mechanism for Indian tribes to contest agency decisions.  

In 2009, Mount Taylor was designated as a Traditional Cultural Property. According to Acoma Pueblo Governor Sanchez:

“This designation highlights the rich historic and cultural connections that each tribe maintains with the mountain, especially for the Pueblo of Acoma.”

The designation serves as guidance for any future development of the area and calls for tribal consultation on any proposed development.


Acoma Pueblo is shown above.

The Hopi and the Spanish

The Spanish entrada (entrance) into the American Southwest began during the sixteenth century with explorers who were driven by greed. The Spanish hunger for gold and other fast wealth was justified in their own minds by their religion: their attempts to harvest souls for their religion justified their brutality toward the native peoples they encountered. They had absolutely no doubts about their own cultural and religious superiority. Not only did they have no respect for the Indian cultures which they encountered and the hospitality which was freely offered them, but they expected the Indians to recognize their superiority and to serve them as porters, concubines, and slaves.  

At the beginning of the Spanish entrada, it is estimated that the Hopi, whose villages were the western-most of the Indians classified as Pueblos, had a population of about 29,000. The Hopi were not a politically unified group, but lived in several autonomous villages in Northern Arizona.

First contact with the Spanish invaders came in 1540. A Spanish expedition under the leadership of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was making a sweep through the Southwest in search of the mythical Seven Cities of Cibola. The expedition came north from Mexico with a force of 330 Spaniards (most of whom are mounted soldiers) and 1,000 native allies. At Zuni in New Mexico, the Spanish waged a fierce hour-long battle in which they captured the village and the Indians fled into their stronghold at Thunder Mountain. The Spanish, who were starving, quickly seized the Zuni food supply.

After capturing Zuni, Coronado sent an expedition under the command of Captain Pedro de Tovar to make contact with the Hopi who had a tradition of trading with the Indian nations of the Colorado River area. The Hopi met the Spaniards at the town of Kawaika-a with coldness. The Hopi were in battle formation and drew a line on the ground with sacred corn pollen telling the Spaniards not to cross it. There was a short battle that was won by the Spaniards.

The next contact which the Hopi had with the Spanish came in 1583. Spanish conquistador Antonio de Espejo and his soldiers had taken formal possession of Zia Pueblo in New Mexico and the land around it for the King of Spain. The party then moved to El Morro and then to the Zuni. Travelling with 80 Zuni, the Spanish made contact with the Hopi village of Awatobi in Arizona. A combined force of Hopi and Navajo warriors met the Spanish in a show of strength and unity, but the Spanish forced both groups to make peace with them.

At the Hopi village of Tusayan the Spanish were presented with 4,000 cotton blankets, some of which were colored and some of which were white. The Spanish noted that the women wore cotton skirts that were embroidered with colored thread.

Espejo also noticed that the Hopi were painting their bodies with mineral pigments.  With the help of Hopi guides, the Spanish visited the Hopi mines which were located in Yavapai territory. The mines were located in the Jerome Mountains and had been mined by the Yavapai for centuries. The Spanish find that the mine shafts burrowed deep into the mountain, but they were disappointed to find that the mines contained copper rather than silver and gold.

At the end of the sixteenth century, the Spanish invasion of the Southwest turned from one of exploration to one of colonization. With colonization came Spanish rule. Under the reasoning of the Discovery Doctrine Spain, as a Christian nation, was entitled and perhaps obligated to rule over all non-Christian people which it encountered. Thus, the Spanish took possession of Pueblo lands and peoples.

The first colonizing efforts came in 1598 when Juan de Oñate led a large colonizing party-129 soldiers and their families, 10 Franciscan missionaries, 83 wagons, 7,000 cattle, sheep, and goats-into New Mexico and established a colony at San Juan in the upper Rio Grande valley. The Spanish brought with them over 1,500 head of horse and mules: 1,007 horses, 237 mares, 137 colts, and 91 mules.

Meeting with leaders from 30 pueblos, Oñate took formal possession of New Mexico for the Spanish and ignored any possible Indian ownership of the land. He took possession of Pueblo lands in the name of the Christian King of Spain and for the benefit of any of the Spanish colonists with him who might want to exploit them. The Spanish warned the Pueblo leaders that they must accept baptism and instruction in Christian doctrine. If they failed to do this, then the Spanish would inflict physical punishment upon them and they would suffer the eternal torment of hell afterwards.

In Arizona, Oñate demanded that the Hopi give formal submission to the King of Spain. The Hopi superficially obeyed, hoping for a hasty departure of the Spanish troops.

Later that year, a small Spanish group under the leadership of Captain Marcos Farfan de los Godos set out with Hopi guides to the Indian mining areas in the San Francisco Mountains. Here they encountered Jumano settlements and they persuaded the Jumano to guide them to the mines. They found mines which were being operated by the Yavapai. The ores extracted from the mines were used as pigments and were considered by the Indians of the area to be a valuable trade commodity. The Spanish immediately laid claim to the mine.  

In 1599, the Spanish destroyed the pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico after a native upraising. All Acoma adults were indentured for 20 years and all of the men had one foot hacked off. Two visiting Hopi, whose villages were to the west of Acoma, had one hand cut off so that others among their people would understand what happens to those who do not submit to Spain.

The Spanish, like many other European colonists, justified their taking of Indian goods and souls by giving the Indians the “gift” of Christianity. The first Christian missionaries arrived among the Hopi in 1628 in the form of 30 Franciscans. These men had come to the Americas specifically to convert the Indians to both their religion and their culture.  They established missions at the Hopi villages of Awatobi, Oraibi, Shungopovi, Mishongnovi, and Walpi. They also attempted to convert the Navajo. The following year, the Spanish missionaries arrive at the Hopi village of Awatovi.

In 1629, the Franciscan Spanish missionaries renamed mountains which are sacred to the Indians after their patron saint: San Francisco Peaks.

In 1630, the Spanish constructed their Catholic church on top of a kiva (an underground ceremonial room) at the Hopi village of Awatovi. This symbolized to both the Catholic priests and to the Hopi that Christianity was to be dominant.

In 1655, some of the Pueblos lodged a formal complaint against the excesses committed by the Franciscan fathers. In response to the complaint, Father Guerra searched homes in search of feathers or idols. In the Hopi village of Shongopovi, the Spanish priest found Juan Cuna in possession of a katsina doll. The Spanish Inquisition had ordered Indian religions to be destroyed, and so Father Guerra publicly whipped Juan Cuna, poured turpentine over his wounds, and ignited it, burning him alive.

Katsinas (also spelled Kachinas), for the Hopi people in Arizona, are the spiritual essence of everything that is. Beginning in December each year, the Katsinas come to live for a while with the people. From December through July the Katsinas will come and go from the kivas (underground ceremonial rooms). To teach the children about the many different Katsinas, the Hopi carve  tihu or dolls which represent different Katsinas. These tihu are not dolls to be played with, but hung from a wall or beam as a valuable possession.

In 1680, Pueblo spiritual leader Popé leads a revolt against the Spanish. By coordinating and uniting several Pueblos, the Indians defeated the Spanish. The Franciscans were driven out and the Pueblos set about re-establishing their religions. Among the Hopi in Arizona, the kivas were rebuilt using materials from the destroyed churches. At this time, the Hopi also began to use church bells in some of their ceremonies. For the Hopi, the use of the church bells symbolized the superiority of their religion over Christianity.

The Spanish soon began the process of re-conquest and as a result there were a number of population shifts within the Southwest. In Arizona, the Hopi village of Walpi, fearing Spanish reprisals from the Pueblo Revolt, moved from a lower terrace to a more defensive position on top of First Mesa. People from the New Mexico Pueblos fled the returning Spanish to resettle among the Hopi.


The Hopi village of Walpi is shown above.

While the Hopi population was estimated at 29,000 at the beginning of the Spanish entrada, by 1690 it had decreased to 14,000 due to diseases brought by the Europeans.

In 1699, Espleta, the chief of the Hopi pueblo of Oriabi, led a delegation of about twenty to meet with the Spanish governor of New Mexico. Espleta proposed to the governor that they should agree that their two nations live in peace and recognize the other’s right to its own religion. The governor refused to accept these terms.

In 1699, the Spanish attempted to reoccupy the Hopi villages with the occupation by Spanish priests at the village of Awatovi. The following year, the Hopi attacked and destroyed the Spanish-occupied village of Awatovi. The Spanish priests and their male converts were sealed in a kiva and then suffocated by having hot ground chilies poured in through the roof opening. The women and children were taken to other Hopi villages. Some of the Hopi survivors from Awatovi were taken in by the Navajo where they founded the Tobacco Clan.    

A group of Tewa from New Mexico sought refuge among the Hopi in 1702. The Hopi chief did not fulfill the promise of land until they demonstrated their prowess. The Tewa defeated a Ute attack and were given a site on First Mesa where they built the village of Hano.

In 1716, a Spanish army under Governor Felix Martinez attempted to make the Tewa who sought refuge among the Hopi return to their pueblos in New Mexico. At First Mesa in Arizona, the Tewa in the village of Hano refused the Spanish request. Feeling that the climb to the top of the mesa to capture the Tewas would be costly, Martinez ordered Tewa crops to be destroyed and Tewa livestock to be killed. Some of the people who had fled from Jemez following the Pueblo Revolt of 1696 did return after the Spanish attack.

In 1775, Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, the missionary priest at Zuni Pueblo, received a request from the Spanish governor to report on the possibility of a land route between Santa Fe and Monterey (the Spanish capital of California). In addition, he was to report on a new plan for the subjugation of the Hopi. The priest and a small party traveled to the Hopi pueblos of Walpi and Oraibi. When he attempted to talk to the Hopi at Oraibi he received a hostile reception.

The following year, Spanish missionary Francisco Garces, stationed at the Mission San Xavier del Bac near Tucson, journeyed north to present-day Tuba City, Arizona . Here he encountered a settlement of Yavapai. A few miles away was the Hopi pueblo of Moenkopi which he describes as “half-ruined” and recorded the name as “Muqui conave.”

Another group of Spanish explorers led by the Francisans Fray Francisco Domínguez and Fray Vélez de Escalante approached the Hopi from the North. With the help of Paiute guides they were shown a road which led from Utah to the Hopi town of Oraibi. The Spanish followed the road to Oraibi where they received a friendly welcome and were given food. They then travelled to Second Mesa where they are told that the people of Shongopovi and Mishongnovi were willing to be friends, but they had no desire to become Christians. On First Mesa they spend the night at the Tewa-speaking pueblo of Hano. Here they met with a number of Hopi leaders and attempted to persuade them to travel to Santa Fe, but the Hopi leaders refused.

By 1780, the Hopi pueblos had now gone three years with no rain. They harvested only 800 bushels of corn and beans. While the Hopi population had been estimated at 7,494 five years earlier, it was now only 798. Five years earlier, the Hopi had had an estimated 30,000 head of sheep, now they had about 300. In addition, a smallpox epidemic swept through the Southwestern Pueblos and killed many Hopi.

In 1781, the Spanish planned to persuade the Hopi to relocate to New Mexico by sending converted Hopi and other Christian Indians to them. These Indians, ostensibly there for trade, would then be able to convince the Hopi to relocate in New Mexico. The plan failed.  After this, the Spanish showed little interest in the Hopi and they lived relatively free from European influences in their lives until their homelands were acquired by the United States.  

The War Against the Yavapai

In 1865, some drunken American squatters murdered Pai headman Anasa. In retaliation, Pai raiders attacked several wagon trains, ran off livestock, and shut down the traffic on the road between Prescott and Fort Mohave. In response to these attacks, the U.S. Army created a line of demarcation which declared that all Indians living more than 70 miles east of the Colorado River were to be considered hostile and subject to extermination. Under this declaration, not only were the Pai considered hostile, but also the Yavapai and Western Apache.  

In 1866, a small party of Tolkepaya Yavapai encountered an American wagon train near Skull Valley. The Yavapai informed the teamsters that this was their land and that the water, grass, and corn belonged to them. The Yavapai told the teamsters that they would allow the Americans to leave unharmed if they surrendered their mules and the contents of their wagons. From the American perspective this was an act of extortion, and in response a group of 13 soldiers-members of the Arizona Volunteers-arrived with orders from Fort Whipple to “punish” the Yavapai. Then more Yavapai and Tonto Apache arrived, including some who had papers showing that they had permission to be in the area. On the third day of the standoff, about 80 Yavapai and Tonto Apache laid down their bows, and displaying their papers from the government, approached the wagon train peacefully. The soldiers opened fire, killing more than 40.

In 1866, the Arizona Volunteers waged a war of extermination against the Yavapai and killed at least 83.

In 1868, a new army commander arrived at Fort McDowell and immediately ordered a campaign against nearby “Apache”. The army informed the peaceful Yavapai under the leadership of Delshe and Ashcavotil that their soldiers were under orders to shoot any Yavapai who wandered away from the post. When 170 U.S. cavalry rode into the Yavapai camp the next morning, the Yavapai fled into the mountains and the cavalry followed. The army then began arresting as a “prisoner of war” any Yavapai who appeared at a military post, even when they came under a flag of truce. Those who tried to escape were shot. The Yavapai retaliated by killing U.S. mail carriers and running off livestock. In response the U.S. troops and their Pima allies began a campaign against the Yavapai.

In 1868, a party of about 30 Yavapai including the headman Quashackama visited the Indian agent at La Paz. They asked for food but were denied rations. They set up camp and waited for the arrival of the Indian Superintendent. At sunrise the next morning, a group of 13 teamsters rushed into the Yavapai camp with guns blazing. They murdered Quashackama and 14 others. The teamsters were seeking revenge for attacks on their wagon trains, but the residents of La Paz knew that these Yavapai could not have been responsible for the attacks. Quashackama had been a friend to the Americans and had helped them to recover strays and stolen livestock. Army officers and territorial officials arrested the teamsters, but a U.S. district judge who was sympathetic to Indian-killers set the murderers free. The remaining Yavapai fled back to the mountains and some took revenge on American travelers.  


In 1870, two Tolkepaya Yavapai men entered the Army’s Camp Date Creek and explained that their people were not hostile but they would like a peace agreement to protect them from military and civilian raiders. Two weeks later a meeting was held with 200 Yavapai under the leadership of Ohatchecama and the Camp Date Creek commanding officer. An informal peace was negotiated. The Yavapai promised to stay off the roads between Prescott and Wickenburg, and to report the presence of Yavapai raiders to U.S. officers. They also agreed to turn in any of their own people responsible for attacks on Americans.

In 1872, the army with 120 U.S. soldiers and 100 Pima scouts tracked a band of Kwevkepaya Yavapai into the Salt River Canyon. With the aid of Nantaje, a Tonto Apache scout who knew the area well, the army located the Yavapai camped in a cave. The army positioned itself below the cave and began firing into the cave. After chanting their death song, 20 Kwevkepaya men charged from the cave. They were quickly gunned down by the Americans. It is estimated that 76 Yavapai were killed in the cave. Eighteen women and children, all of whom were wounded, took cover under the bodies of the dead and survived. The army took the survivors, as prisoners, to Fort Grant.

General Oliver Otis Howard called a peace conference with more than 1,000 Kwevkepaya Yavapai and Apache to quell animosity in the region. The spokesmen for the Yavapai included Pawchine, Sygollah, Wehabesuwa, and Sekwalakawala. All agreed that hostilities should be ended. The Yavapai and the San Carlos Apache promised to help the Americans chase down those who resisted the American invasion.

In 1872, the army called in about 50 Yavapai under the leadership of Ohatchecama to discuss an incident involving a stage coach. The Yavapai left their weapons in camp and came to the meeting unarmed. The Yavapai were innocent of the stage coach incident, but the American general (George Crook) was intent on arresting ten Indians. When the soldiers moved in to make the arrests, the Yavapai resisted, and the soldiers opened fire. Several Yavapai were killed and Ohatchecama and several others were arrested. The remaining Yavapai fled.

Early the next morning, the Yavapai prisoners broke out of the guardhouse. Several were killed and Ohatchecama, with two gunshot wounds and a bayonet stab wound, escaped to the mountains where he died.

Shortly after this incident, Pakota and Takodawa returned from their visit with President Ulysses S. Grant. Upon hearing of the assault, they presented their medals and papers and relayed the President’s promises of peace. Pakota soon found that the pleasant words of accommodation and peace spoken in Washington did not represent reality in Arizona.  

The War Resumes:

In 1872, General George Crook embarked on a war of extermination against the Yavapai. The campaign was carried out by well-armed and well-organized soldiers against scattered bands of malnourished and poorly-armed Yavapai families. The “battles” tended to be one-sided, murderous onslaughts.

The army attacked four Yavapai camps on the Santa Maria River, killing about 40 Indians and taking a number of women and children as hostages. The soldiers burned all of the supplies and shelters in the camps. At Squaw Peak, the army attacked another Yavapai camp and killed 17. In the Santa Maria Mountains the soldiers killed nine more Yavapai.

The following year, as a part of General George Crook’s war against the Yavapai, soldiers attacked the camp of Yavapai headman Notokel. While Notokel and ten others escaped, eight Yavapai were killed and all of their belongings destroyed. Near Fort McDowell, the soldiers attacked a Kwevkepaya Yavapai camp, killing nine and wounding three. Shortly after this, Notokel, two children, and one woman were shot by the soldiers.

Wipukepa Yavapai headman Tecoomthaya moved his people to the extreme north of their territory in order to escape General George Crook’s campaign against them. However, a force of U.S. soldiers with the aid of Pai scouts tracked them down and attacked them without warming. The Yavapai were not given the option of surrender. While most of the Yavapai escaped, the soldiers burned all of their supplies and food.

Over a period of seven months in 1873, Crook’s soldiers killed more than 250 Indians.

In 1873, General George Crook, like most American officials, preferred to deal with a dictator rather than a democracy and therefore appointed Coquannathacka as head chief for all the Yavapai. Accustomed to a military and political hierarchy, Cook wanted to be able to deal with a single leader, preferably one chosen by him and loyal to the Americans rather than the Yavapai.

Unfortunately for the Americans, while Coquannathacka was a respected elder, he had little interest in cooperating with Crook. In addition, he was not much of a talker. When Coquannathacka declined the position, the Americans appointed Motha (later known as Mojave Charlie or Captain Charlie) as head chief. The Americans gave him an officer’s uniform, complete with a saber and black hat, as a symbol of his status as head chief. While Motha could parade about in his new uniform-which he did daily-he still did not and could not speak for or command the Yavapai people.

In 1874, as a part of his campaign to exterminate the Yavapai, General George Crook offered a reward for the murder of the Yavapai leader Delshe. He told his people to bring back Delshe’s head. Delshe responded to this by slipping into the Rio Verde Reservation and recruiting more followers.

In 1875, the Yavapai were force-marched nearly 200 miles to the San Carlos Apache reservation. This ended the primary military campaign against the Yavapai. However, army troops remained behind to hunt down any remaining Indian camps. A few miles east of Camp Verde, army scouts killed six Wipukepa Yavapai men and captured three women and seven children. Farther south, they killed four Tolkepaya Yavapai men and captured one woman and two children.

The Hopi Reservation

The Hopi had lived in their mesa-top villages in what is now northern Arizona for many centuries before the United States acquired the right to govern the area. They did not, however, sign a treaty with the United States and therefore did not reserve a portion of their homelands for themselves.  

The designation “Hopi” is a contraction of Hopi-tuh which means “peaceful ones.” While the United States has insisted on dealing with the Hopi as if they were a single tribe they are actually about a dozen independent pueblos.


The Hopi village of Walpi is shown above.

The Hopi reservation in Arizona was created in 1882 by executive order of President Chester A. Arthur. The Executive Order which created the reservation allowed the Hopi only the use of the lands and did not recognize their ownership of the lands.   The reservation was totally surrounded by the Navajo reservation and excluded the major Hopi village of Moenkopi. The Hopi were not consulted in the creation of their reservation and its boundaries ignored a larger area that was settled and claimed by the Hopi. The rather arbitrary boundary lines created by the American government did not please the Hopi. Their ancestral homeland had encompassed hundreds of miles of land and had ranged from near what is now the New Mexico-Arizona borderlands, west to the Grand Canyon, and south to the Mogollon Rim. The Hopi clan petroglyphs and religious shrines had demarcated this area for many centuries.

J. H. Fleming was appointed as the Indian agent for the Hopi. Regarding the Hopi ceremonial dances, he felt that-

“The great evils in the way of their ultimate civilization lie in these dances. The dark superstitions and unhallowed rites of a heathenism as gross as that of India or Central Africa still infects them with its insidious poison.”

There were at least 300 Navajo living in the area which was designated as the Hopi Reservation. They were not asked to leave.

During the 19th century, the United States government policies with regard to American Indians called for them to be totally assimilated into American culture and for any remnants of tribal culture to be eradicated. As a part of this assimilation policy, the United States built a boarding school for the Hopi at Keams Canyon in 1887. The federal government set quotas for attendance from each of the Hopi villages. However, the people in the village of Oraibi refused to send their children to the school.

Three years later, the Hopi in the village of Oraibi were still refusing to send their children to school. The Tenth Cavalry was sent in to “insure peace”. The military troops invaded the village and “captured” 104 children for the school.

At this time, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs arranged for Oraibi leader Loololma and other Hopi leaders to visit Washington, D.C. where they were encouraged to accept allotment, Christian missionaries, and American schools. Loololma returned to the Hopi supporting the American programs.

In 1890, representatives from the Indian Office met with the military at the boarding school at Keam’s Canyon, Arizona to discuss a quota system to force Hopi children to attend the school. The Army was to implement and enforce the program. In the Hopi village of Oraibi, Loololma supported the government program and was imprisoned in a kiva by those who opposed it. Federal troops invaded and released Loololma.

In 1891, the United States sent surveyors to the Hopi reservation to divide the land into individual parcels under the Dawes Act. However, under Hopi tradition land is owned by the clan rather than the individual and the Hopi rejected the attempt to implement the Dawes Act. At this time, the Hopi village of Oraibi was divided into two factions labeled the “hostiles” and the “friendlies” by the Americans. The Hopi “hostiles” pulled up the survey stakes as soon as the surveyors left and the federal government ordered the arrest of the outspoken chiefs at the village of Oraibi who had opposed allotment. The troops were met by armed “hostiles” and the Hopi made a formal, ceremonial declaration of war against the United States.

The soldiers called for reinforcements, including Hotchkiss machine guns. The soldiers took eleven prisoners (the war chief and ten other leaders). Five of the prisoners were taken to Fort Wingate where they were forced to tend the gardens of the American officers. The Hopi prisoners did not stand trial nor were they provided with any legal protections.

In 1893, the Mennonite Church sent Reverend H.R. Voth to establish a mission in the Hopi village of Oraibi. Voth proselytized in the streets and forced his way into the kivas.

In 1894, conservative Hopi in the village of Oraibi continued to voice opposition to the requirement to send their children to school. Federal troops were called in and 19 Hopi men were arrested and imprisoned at Alcatraz Island. Among those arrested and imprisoned was Lomohongyoma.  

The Western Navajo Reservation and Agency was established in 1900 by Executive Order. The new reservation includes Tuba City, Moenkopi, and Willow Springs. In addition to the Navajo, the new reservation includes both Hopi and Paiute whose presence in the area predates that of the Navajo.

To encourage tourism into the southwest, the Santa Fe Railway promoted the Hopi Snake Dance as a tourist attraction and in 1900 published a pamphlet on the dance written by a Smithsonian anthropologist, Walter Hough. In the pamphlet, Hough reassured the tourists that while the Hopi continued to perform their Snake dance, they were not dangerous. According to Hough, Indians were living examples of the childhood of man. While the Religious Crimes Code had made ceremonials such as the Snake Dance illegal, it was not enforced against the Snake Dance because the railroad promoted it and the tourists demanded to see it.

Hopi Women's Dance

A Hopi women’s dance is shown above.

In 1900, Charles E. Burton became the Indian Agent for the Hopi. He ordered that all Hopi boys and men have their hair cut. Those who did not cut their hair voluntarily were to have it cut by force.

In 1901 Tawaqwaptiwa replaced Loololma as the leader of the “friendlies” in the Hopi village of Oraibi. Tawaqwaptiwa was the son of one of Loololma’s sisters.

In 1903, the Indian Agent for the Hopi with a number of heavily armed Navajo police raided the village of Oraibi during the pre-dawn hours searching for children who were not attending school. Men, women, and children were dragged from bed, some naked, some wearing little clothing, and forced to walk, many barefoot, through the snow and ice to the school. They were held in the school all day. The Indian agent told the Hopi that they were to have their children in school, every day, regardless of the weather conditions.

As a result of this raid and other abuses against Hopi children-lack of food, clothing, and medical care-Belle Axtell Kolp resigned as teacher and took the story to the media and to the Sequoia League.

In 1904, the Indian agent for the Hopi forced a number of men to have their hair cut. This was an act which disregards the ceremonial purpose of long hair. Long hair among the Hopi men was a symbol of the falling rain for which they prayed. For the Hopi, for a man to have his hair cut during the growing season was tantamount to asking that the corn stop growing.

In 1910, the federal government once again attempted to allot Hopi lands into small parcels of individually owned land. Once again the program fails. The Hopi do not share the American obsession with private property and farm land is clan owned.

In 1911, Leo Crane, the new superintendent for the Hopi reservation, requested a cavalry escort for a tour of the reservation. He found that four-fifths of the reservation had been taken over by Navajo and their sheep.  

In 1911, a detachment of Black troops under the leadership of Colonel Hugh Scott arrived at the Hopi reservation to help superintendent Leo Crane force the children of the village of Hotevilla to attend school. Colonel Scott went to Hotevilla to interview Youkeoma, the village chief. The troops stood by while Crane and his staff searched the village for children. Sixty-nine children were placed under guard to be taken to the boarding school at Keams Canyon.

Crane and the Black troops next stopped at Shongopovi where village leader Sackaletztewa opposed sending children to school. Using the troops as a way to intimidate the people, Crane searched the village and found three children.

In 1915, the Hopi boarding school at Keams Canyon was judged to be in dangerous condition and was closed. The children were enrolled in reservation day schools.

In 1917, a news service cameraman defied the Hopi rule against taking motion pictures of the Hopi Snake Dance. He was chased through the desert and his camera is confiscated. After reporting the incident to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, superintendent Leo Crane received the order that no photographs should be permitted. The ban on photography continues today.

When the Hopi reservation was created it was named the Moqui Agency, a term which was offensive to the Hopi. In 1917, the reservation superintendent recommended that the name be changed from Moqui to Hopi. In 1923, the name was officially changed.

In 1920, the non-Indian principal of the Oraibi School interrupted a Hopi ceremony when he saw a clown dancer with a huge artificial penis. In the words of the principal, he stopped the ceremony and told the dancer

“that if he ever did a thing like that again, I would put him in jail. He told me that he did not know it was wrong, that it was a Hopi custom.”

In 1921, Robert E. L. Daniel, the superintendent of the Hopi reservation, together with eight employees and seven policemen, all armed with pistols and buggy whips, went to the village of Hotevilla. The people were then forcibly stripped and dipped in sheep dip (black leaf 40). The superintendent wrote:

“We prepared their baths at the proper temperature, bathed them, and boiled and dried their clothes for them while they were being bathed. Yet they had to be driven or dragged to the tub, and forced into it like some wild beast, unblessed with human intelligence. Pure unadulterated fanatical perversity is the only explanation.”

Reports by others differ from that of the superintendent. In the words of Violet Pooleyama:

“They started putting our men and boys in it just as if they were sheep. They took the women and girls and put them in it, too. When the women fought with them they often threw them into the sheep-dip clothes and all. Sometimes they tore the clothes off the women and girls.”

According to the superintendent, the Hopi were dipped because they were “dirty” and they had lice. On the other hand, the Hopi feel that they were forced through this humiliating process as a form of punishment for refusing to send their children to school.

The government officials used baseball bats to club men who resisted and ten of the Hotevilla men were taken to jail in Keams Canyon for resisting. In one instance, they knocked a man out for two hours. When he came to, they handcuffed him, hung him from the saddle of a horse, and dragged him to Keams Canyon.

In 1922, word of the efforts of the Indian Office to prohibit Pueblo religions in New Mexico reached the Hopi. Several Hopi leaders decided to meet in Winslow, a non-Indian town which is located off of the reservation. They feared that if they were to meet on the reservation that the Indian Office officials would arrest them. Meeting with the Hopi was the distinguished writer James Willard Schulz.

Schulz heard the Hopi complain about threats from government if they continued their religion. One elder stated that he would rather be shot down by the government while doing his religion than try to live without it. The Hopi were determined to stand firm and to continue to observe their traditional ceremonial calendar.

Five Hopi visited Washington, D.C. in 1926 and presented four tribal religious dances before an audience of 5,000. The Hopi wanted to show people, including Vice President Charles Dawes and two Supreme Court justices, that their ceremonies were not cruel rites.

The Indian Office in 1930 decided that it was time for the Hopi and the Navajo to settle their differences by having delegates from both tribes meet in Flagstaff, Arizona. The Navajo had 11 delegates: 5 were Navajo from Hopi lands and 6 were Navajo from the western portion of the Navajo reservation. The Hopi had 13 delegates: 10 were from the 1882 reservation area and 3 were from Moencopi (a Hopi pueblo located outside of the reservation area). The arbitrator from the federal government told the delegates that this was an opportunity for the two tribes to resolve their land, grazing, and water problems. The conference, however, settled nothing.

In 1936, only 20% of the Hopi voted on tribal reorganization under the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. Less than 15% of the total population supported reorganization, but the act passed and the entire Hopi Reservation was reorganized. The Hopi who opposed the establishment of a single, overall tribal council simply abstained from voting on the issue, a traditional way of showing opposition. As a result, many traditional village leaders refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new tribal council.

The Commissioner of Indian Affairs appointed anthropologist Oliver La Farge to write the constitution and bylaws for the Hopi Tribe. The constitution called for a one-house legislature with a tribal chairman and a vice-chairman. LaFarge proposed the Hopi constitution because he was concerned about what he perceived as the fragmentation of Hopi culture. He apparently did not realize that a centralized government is foreign to Hopi tradition. Despite resistance to a unified Hopi government, a tribal council was established and all of the villages, with the exception of Oraibi and Hotevilla, sent representatives.


The Creation of the Fort McDowell Reservation

When the Yavapai came under the jurisdiction of the United States following the acquisition of what was to become Arizona, they were a loose association of locally organized groups speaking mutually intelligible but nevertheless distinct sub-dialects. Traditional Yavapai territory stretched from the San Francisco Peaks in the north, to the Pinal Mountains in the east, and to the confluence of the Gila and Colorado Rivers in the southwest. Following the discovery of gold in Yavapai territory in 1863, the American government and the Americans who settled in Yavapai territory began plotting the removal of the Yavapai from their traditional territory.  

The Colorado River Indian Reservation was established in 1865 by an act of Congress. While the reservation was initially settled by the Chemehuevi and Mohave, many Americans viewed this as a potential home for the Yavapai as well. Soon after the creation of the reservation about 800 Yavapai under the leadership of Quashackama settled on the Colorado River Indian Reservation. Quashackama was given papers attesting to the peaceful intentions of the Yavapai and an American farmer was appointed to help them with their planting. However, the land on which they were settled was land that none of the Americans wanted because the soil was sandy and alkaline and thus difficult, if not impossible, to farm.

Two years later, the number of Yavapai attempting to live on the Colorado Indian Reservation had dwindled to about 300. Under the leadership of Quashackama, Ohatchecama, Chawmasecha, Hochachiwaca, and Quacanthewya they were living on some beef, flour, and corn which they received from the federal government. They supplemented this by gathering mesquite beans in the late summer and harvesting whatever crops they were able to grow. Some did occasional wage work, including prostitution.

In 1867, a group of about 50 Kwevkepaya Yavapai under the leadership of Delshe visited Camp Miller. The army commander of Camp Miller was building a road deep into the Tonto Basin region of Yavapai territory. In discussions with the commander, the Yavapai agreed to take up farming along Tonto Creek once the road was completed.

In 1871, Yavapai leaders Delshe and Eschetlepan met with an army officer to discuss peace. Delshe requested a reservation in the Yavapai homeland, close to the mountain resources which his people exploited, and far from their traditional enemies, the Pima and Maricopa.

At this time, Vincent Coyler, a member of the U.S. Board of Indian Commissioners, visited with the Yavapai and Tonto Apache for the purpose of establishing a reservation for them. Unfortunately, Coyler did not understand that the Yavapai and the Tonto Apache were distinct peoples. In addition, he failed to realize that there were four distinct bands of Yavapai. He envisioned the creation of a single reservation for all of these groups and selected the Verde Valley as the best site for the reservation. While the leaders from the Yavapé and Wipukepa Yavapai bands convinced him that this would be a good location, he never actually talked with the leaders of the Kwevkepaya Yavapai and Tonto Apache bands.

Following Coyler’s recommendations, Fort McDowell and Camp Date Creek were established as temporary asylums for the Yavapai where they would be fed, protected, and cared for by the army. Nearly 600 Yavapai received food and handouts and the army reported that American travelers in the area were now safe. Conditions on the new reservation, however, were less than desirable for the Yavapai: food rations provided too few calories, and U.S. officers treated some Yavapai men to leg irons or confinement in the guardhouse.

In 1871, the Rio Verde Reservation was established for the Yavapai. The army ordered that all “roving Apache” (the army thought that the Yavapai were an Apache group) be on this reservation or be considered hostile. The following year, reservation life for the Yavapai on the Rio Verde Reservation became stricter with the arrival of a new Indian agent. The Indians were now required to attend muster once a day and none of the Indians were allowed to leave the reservation without his written permission. Men on the reservation were required to wear metal tags identifying them by assigned numbers. Men who violated reservation rules were sent to the guard house: some were sentenced to a month of hard labor and some were forced to wear a ball and chain.

A delegation of Indians from Arizona-Yavapai, Pima, Apache, and Tohono O’odham-travelled in 1872 to Washington, D.C. and met with President Ulysses S. Grant. At the White House, each of the delegates received $50, a document which proclaimed him to be a “chief”, and a medal with Grant’s likeness. The Yavapai members of the delegation-Pakota (later called José Coffee) and Takodawa (later called Washington Charley)-were neither leaders nor headmen: they were simply two men who volunteered to go to Washington.

Grant expressed a desire for peace throughout the land. He told the delegates that if their people remained on their reservations and became full-time farmers, they would receive rations and education and they would have no further troubles with the army. While the Indian leaders who were listening to Grant desired peace, the greed and rabid ethnocentrism of Indian-hating citizens of Arizona would make this almost impossible.


In 1873, the Yavapai who were living in the Date Creek area were informed that they were to be moved to the Rio Verde Reservation. The move was being made without their consent. Chawmasecha, who had been an advocate of reservation life, refused to leave the familiar region. He led 240 Tolkepaya Yavapai west to the Colorado River Indian Reservation. While General O.O. Howard had said that the Yavapai could settle on the Colorado River Indian Reservation, General George Crook ordered them to be removed. U.S. Troops along with Pai scouts marched them back to the Rio Verde Reservation.

In 1873, an army surgeon on the Rio Verde Reservation doled out his entire supply of quinine to the sick Yavapai. When a new supply arrived, the Yavapai besieged the doctor for more as it had proved to be effective. This new medicine did not compete with older Yavapai healing practices. The medicine men (basemachas) would chant and dance over their ailing patients and then administer quinine and other drugs which they had obtained from the doctor (who was often in attendance). The army surgeon, Dr. Corbusier, was accepted by the basemachas as a fellow healer and was often presented with gifts of gratitude and invited to sit among them at ceremonials.

In 1874, the Office of Indian Affairs decided to close the Rio Verde Reservation and to move the Yavapai and Tonto Apache about 200 miles southeast to the San Carlos Apache Reservation. By eliminating this reservation, the Office of Indian Affairs would be able to open up the land to non-Indian settlement. Not only would the Americans be able to have the land, but they would also benefit from the irrigation system which had been put in for the Indians. At this time, the Indians on the reservation were well on their way to agricultural self-sufficiency and to being able to produce a surplus to sell.

The decision to move the Yavapai and Tonto Apache came about through the lobbying of government contractors. A self-sufficient, honestly administered reservation would mean a significant loss of business for them. On the San Carlos Reservation, a hotter and drier area with unfavorable farming conditions, the Indians would have to continue to receive government rations supplied, of course, by the government contractors.

Prior to their removal, the Yavapai and Tonto Apache headmen met with the special commissioner sent by the Indian Office to supervise the move. They explained the reasons why they did not want to go to San Carlos, but the special commissioner was drunk and often incoherent. U.S. officers, including the army surgeon, strongly suggested that the Indians be taken around the mountains by road so that wagons could be used to carry the elderly, the young, and the supplies. The special commissioner responded:

“They are Indians, let the beggars walk.”

In 1875, the Yavapai and the Tonto Apache were removed from the Rio Verde Reservation and forced to march some 200 miles through the mountains to the San Carlos Apache Reservation. In February, 1,476 Yavapai and Tonto Apache began their walk to San Carlos under military escort. They walked, climbed, crawled, and waded through the snow, mud, and streams of 180 miles of very cold and extremely rugged mountain ranges. They carried all their possessions on their backs and one man carried his wife in a large basket the entire way.

Twenty-five babies were born on the March of Tears and 1,361 Yavapai and Tonto Apache arrived at the San Carlos Reservation. This suggests that 140 did not complete the trip (taking into account the 25 babies born enroute). Some died along the way while others turned back, unwilling to face life in an unknown land.

Some Yavapai and Tonto Apache families stayed in the mountains to escape the March of Tears.  However, army troops remained behind to hunt down the remaining Indian camps. A few miles east of Camp Verde, army scouts killed six Wipukepa Yavapai men and captured three women and seven children. Farther south, they killed four Tolkepaya Yavapai men and captured one woman and two children.

At the San Carlos Apache Reservation the Indian agent met with the newly arrived Yavapai and Tonto Apache and told them that they must surrender all of their arms. All of the Indians leapt to their feet and dashed back to their camps. However, the Indian agent refused to issue rations until the weapons were surrendered.

Shortly after arriving, a group of about 25 Tolkepaya Yavapai left the San Carlos Apache Reservation without permission and visited the Pima and Maricopa settlements. When they returned, they told the Indian agent that they had friends among the Pima and wanted to settle there. A little while later, a group of 27 Tolkepaya Yavapai left the reservation heading for the Pima settlements. This time the agent sent the Indian police after them. The Yavapai, even though they outnumbered the police, offered no resistance and were escorted back to the reservation.

In 1876, a small band of Yavapai under the leadership of Miraha left the San Carlos Apache Reservation without permission. They walked back across the Tonto Basin, passing north of the upper Verde Valley, and set up their camp just west of the Bill Williams Mountain. This high plateau area had traditionally been an unoccupied buffer between the Yavapai territory and Pai territory. The Yavapai set up their uwas (wickiups) and began to reestablish something of a pre-conquest lifestyle. From the American viewpoint, the Yavapai who left the reservation were considered hostile and in rebellion against the United States. Even though they may have had non-violent intentions, they were to be shot on sight. If possible, women and children were to be taken alive.

In 1877, the army’s Tonto Apache scouts captured a Yavapai woman and child. Her husband soon surrendered at Camp Verde. Using this prisoner as a guide, the army was able to locate Miraha’s Yavapai camp near the Bill Williams Mountain. Without offering the option of surrender, the army attacked the camp, killing seven men and taking three women and four children as prisoners. Five uwas (wickiups) were destroyed. The prisoners were marched back to the San Carlos Reservation.

In 1877, an Indian Office inspector reported that the tensions between the Tolkepaya Yavapai and the Apache on the San Carlos Reservation were disturbing the general harmony of the reservation. Yavapai spokesmen told the inspector that they would like to leave the reservation and were willing to live among the Pima or on the Colorado River Reservation. The inspector recommended that the Yavapai be allowed to leave.

By 1878, a number of Yavapai who had left the San Carlos Apache Reservation without permission had returned to their traditional territory and were living near Wickenburg where American residents employed them for farm work and domestic tasks. Takodawa (also known as Washington Charley as a result of his 1872 trip to visit President Ulysses S. Grant in Washington, D.C.) confronted a Tolkepaya Yavapai woman in the Wickenburg house where she was working. When she refused to leave with him, he then declared that “his heart has gone bad” and left, supposedly to incite other Yavapai in nearby camps. The residents of Wickenberg, fearing the worst, then detained the seven local Yavapai and requested troops be sent from Camp Verde. As a result, 17 more Yavapai were rounded up and taken back to San Carlos.

In 1885, U.S. Army officers took over the management of the San Carlos Reservation and used their powers to interfere with traditional Apache and Yavapai healing practices. The officers felt that the traditional beliefs and practices regarding healing were ignorant and dangerous.

Two years later, the Yavapai leaders on the San Carlos Reservation were able to meet with General Nelson Miles who had been called to the reservation to investigate a recent religious uprising. The Yavapai told Miles that they wanted a reservation in their old homelands. Miles instructed the Yavapai leaders to tour their old homelands and then to meet with him in Los Angeles. While General Miles did not have the authority to relocate the Yavapai on the traditional lands, his recommendations for this action brought sympathetic attention from federal officials.

When the American settlers living near Camp Verde heard that General Nelson Miles was recommending that the Yavapai be returned to a reservation on their old homelands, they sent a flurry of letters and petitions to the Secretary of the Interior, President Grover Cleveland, and other government officials. In their petition to the President, they asked for protection against the Indians and stated:

“Their only ambition is to murder, steal, and plunder.”

The President replied that he was sympathetic to their cause and would not allow the Yavapai to return home.  

In 1901, Camp McDowell, an abandoned military reservation, was set aside for Indian use by Executive Order of President Theodore Roosevelt. Congress, however, rejected a bill that would create a Yavapai reservation because American squatters in the area objected.

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt sent his personal agent to investigate the situation of the Yavapai in the Verde Valley. The agent reported that there were more than 500 Yavapai living in the area. The agent recommended buying the squatters’ claims to Fort McDowell lands and this land be made available to the Yavapai. One concern expressed by the agent was that the Yavapai who lived close to the American communities would be demoralized by the gambling and drinking saloons. On the other hand, many of the Americans in the area argued that their children’s morals would be corrupted by having the Yavapai in the area.

In 1903, the Fort McDowell Reservation was created for the Yavapai by executive order of President Theodore Roosevelt. Under the order, all lands which were not legally claimed by Americans were to be turned over to the Yavapai who were living in the area. This action represented the culmination of four decades of efforts by the Yavapai to obtain a reservation in their homelands.

A Yavapai Messiah

When cultures are under stress, particularly when that stress is coming from forced change outside of the control of the people in the culture, a messiah or prophet may emerge who will provide a religious solution to the problems. In 1875, the Yavapai were forced by the United States government to walk from their homelands to the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona, a distance of nearly 200 miles. San Carlos had been established as a reservation for the Apache and the United States mistakenly believed that the Yavapai were an Apache band. Once on the reservation, their freedoms were reduced as the United States sought to impose cultural genocide on them.  

The pressure for the Yavapai to change intensified in 1885 when the U.S. Army officers took over the management of the San Carlos Reservation. The army officers in charge of the reservation increased interference with the traditional Apache and Yavapai healing practices. The officers felt that the traditional beliefs and practices regarding healing were ignorant and dangerous.  

In 1887, the noted Yavapai healer Echawamahu began to spend his days wandering away from his San Carlos Reservation camp. He muttered to himself and looked skyward. He returned in the evening, carrying flowers, and then was gone again in the morning. He went to another world, but the Great Spirit sent him back to tell the people about coming changes.

Echawamahu called a number of Yavapai and Apache to his camp and gave them specific instructions. His instructions called for people from four camps to approach his camp from the four cardinal directions. They were then to be seated in rows. The people were to select four young women to come dressed in white, wearing eagle feathers in their hair. These chosen women would sprinkle dust on each of the seated participants, and then the entire crowd, one by one, would sprinkle dust on Echawamahu. If the people believed and did as they were told, Echawamahu told them, then the Great Spirit would restore their lands.

According to some stories, the Americans were to be struck by a great plague and the government buildings would sink into the ground. If the people would come to a certain place and then dance through the night, then they would be able to return to their homelands. When a large earthquake struck the reservation many Yavapai and Apache were convinced that Echawamahu was speaking the truth. More than 1,000 Indians gathered at a spring known as Coyote Hole for nightly dancing.

The dancing did not bring about the destruction of the Americans: there was no plague, the reservation buildings continue to stand, there was no great fire, the Americans continued to suppress the people. However, the Americans noticed the dancing, did not look favorably upon it (American Indian religious activities were not to be tolerated so that Indians could learn about American religious freedom), and called for a military investigation of the movement.

While Echawamahu’s religious movement was relatively short-lived among the Yavapai, it did set in motion the glacially-fast bureaucratic movement which would return them to their homeland. General Nelson Miles was the army officer called in to investigate this new, illegal, religious movement on the San Carlos Reservation. While the movement was essentially over by the time he arrived, he did interview a number of Yavapai leaders. Coquannathacka, Pakota, Paguala, Eschetlepan, and Snook pled for a return to their homeland. Miles told them that he did not have the authority to order their relocation, but that he would make recommendations to high-level officials in the government. This marked the beginning of their journey home.  

The Yavapai and Initial Contact with the Americans

In 1851, the U.S. Army sent out an exploratory party into northern Arizona. The Yavapai response to this party was to flee and stay out of sight. In one instance, the American scouts surprised a Yavapai party gathering piñon nuts. The Indians immediately fled and then watched from a distant hill as the invaders plundered their camp. When the Americans encountered a second abandoned camp, they left a tobacco offering instead of looting it.  

Two years later, an American group which was invading Yavapai territory was ambushed. While the Yavapai attackers had the advantage of numbers, their clubs and arrows were no match for the defenders’ Colt revolvers. The Americans reported that they killed 25 Yavapai.

In 1863, representatives from the United States met with the leaders of a number of tribes at Fort Yuma in order to negotiate a treaty of peace. Among those attending was Quashackama, a prominent Yavapai leader.

The purpose of the treaty was to promote safe travel in tribal territories by the Americans. The tribes also promised to help the Americans in their war against the “Apache Tribes.” The treaty was not ratified by the Senate.

About the time when the treaty was being negotiated, gold was discovered at Lynx Creek in Yavapai territory. As with gold discoveries in other parts of Indian country, this brought an influx of miners who had little concern for either Indian rights or Indian lives. The miners disrupted the traditional Yavapai subsistence cycle and began a genocidal war against the tribe.

A group of 38 gold miners using the guide services of Mohave leader Iretaba followed the Hassayampa River into Yavapai territory. A party of 30-40 Tolkepaya Yavapai men stopped the miners. The miners told them that they had come in peace, that their only interest was in finding gold, but they would hunt humans if they met with any resistance. The Yavapai told the miners that if they turned back they would not be molested. Iretaba attempted to persuade the Americans to go west to the Colorado River. The miners, however, were not persuaded and were convinced that there was gold farther north on the Hassayampa. The Yavapai, unwilling to test the miners’ firepower, left. The Mohave guides took the miners’ entire supply of tobacco and then slipped away at night to head home. The miners continued into Yavapai territory, found gold, and staked out mining claims.

American teamsters murdered a Yavapai man they claimed to have caught stealing from their wagon train. Prospectors killed two Yavapai near the Weaver mines. A mining party lost four burros and in retaliation the miners killed about 20 Yavapai. The miners later found that their animals had simply wandered away from camp. In order to deal with the increasing violence-meaning, to reduce the possibility of American deaths-the U.S. Army established Fort Whipple in Yavapai territory.

In 1864, Yavapai headman Quashackama and other Yavapai leaders went to La Paz to meet with the American Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Representatives from the Quechan, Mohave, Chemehuevi, and some of the Pai bands are also present. The Superintendent proposed the establishment of a 75,000 acre reservation along the Colorado River. The Indian leaders agreed to confine themselves to this new reservation and to give up claims to all other lands. In exchange for this, the federal government agreed to provide an irrigation canal to ensure successful crops each year. However, no treaty was signed.

The violence between the Yavapai and the American miners continued in 1864. The Yavapai killed three miners along the Hassayampa River. The killings were in response to the murder of several Yavapai by miners in the past year. In response, soldiers from Fort Whipple attacked two Yavapai camps. Fourteen Yavapai were killed and seven wounded.

American aggression continued when an American rancher led an Indian-hunting expedition into Yavapai territory. The expedition encountered a large group of Yavapai and Tonto Apache who had gathered in four separate camps to gather agave and hunt in the Fish Creek area. When the Yavapai and the Tonto Apache saw the Americans, they held council among themselves. Some reported that there were some Maricopa warriors in the expedition who had called to them and assured them that the Americans had come in peace. Delshe, a Yavapai headman, cautioned that it might be foolish to assume that the Maricopa, their traditional enemies, had suddenly become their friends. After some discussion, a party of Yavapai and Tonto Apache approached the Americans in friendship. The Americans invited them into their camp, seated them, and offered them presents of tobacco, clothing, and piñole. The Americans then opened fire, killing 24 of their guests, including 3 young women.

Following this event, the American Indian-hunting expedition attacked a number of Yavapai camps, killing 30 Yavapai in one attack. Indian-hunting was supported materially and financially by the U.S. Army, the Arizona territorial government, and private contributions. It represented the vanguard of American settlement in central Arizona.

In related events, the territorial governor led an Indian-hunting expedition from Fort Whipple into the Verde Valley where they destroyed a Yavapai camp and killed five Yavapai. In other instance, the California and New Mexico Volunteers raided Yavapai camps and killed at least 30 Yavapai.

In 1865, soldiers from Fort Whipple attacked a Yavapai camp and killed 28 men, women, and children. Among those killed was Hoseckrua, a noted headman.

After 1865, American policies regarding the Yavapai were split between forcing them onto a reservation in some area which could not be used by American farmers and miners, and/or extermination through military action.  

The Migrations of the Yuman-Speaking Tribes

The Yuma-speaking tribes live in the desert and semi-desert area along the Colorado and Gila Rivers in what is now Arizona, California, Sonora, and Baja California Norte. This is an area that is nearly all desert or semi-desert, but the annual flooding along the Colorado River and along the Gila River made agriculture possible. Thus, there are agricultural oases with a fairly dense population.  

The Yuman-speaking tribes include:

Cocopa: this is from the Mohave name for the tribe, Kwi-ka-pa whose meaning is unknown.  

Mohave: this is a corruption of their native name Aha-makave which means “beside the water.”

Maricopa: this is the Spanish version of the O’odham name for the tribe. Their own name is Pipa’ or Pipatsje which means “men” or “people.” They originally lived along the Colorado River near present-day Parker, Arizona, but later moved up the Gila River away from the Colorado River.

Maricopa Curtis

Shown above is a Maricopa portrait by Edward S. Curtis.

Yuma: this is from the O’odham name, lum, for the tribe. Their own name is Quechan which is in reference to the trail they followed in leaving the sacred mountain.

Hualapai: this is a corruption of their native name Hah-wah-lah-pai-yah which means “pine tree people.” In English the name is also spelled Walapai. The Walapai were divided politically into three subtribes: Middle Mountain People in the northwest, Yavapai Fighters in the south, and Plateau People in the east.

Hualapai Curtis

Shown above is a Hualapai portrait by Edward S. Curtis.

Hualapai Winter Camp

Shown above is a Curtis photo of a Hualapai winter camp.

Yavapai: this may be derived from En-ya-va-pai-aa which means “people of the sun,” or from Yawepe which means “crooked mouth people.” The Yavapai were not a single political or linguistic entity, but rather they were a collection of locally organized groups speaking mutually intelligible but distinct sub-dialects.

Yavapai Shelters

Shown is a Curtis photo of some Yavapai shelters.

Yavapai Basket

Shown above is a Yavapai basket.

Havasupai: this is from their native name Havasuwaipaa which means “Blue Water People.”


The Yuman-speaking people, according to their oral history, were created at Avikwame (now designated as Mount Newberry). It was here that Mastamho (also known as Mustamxo and Kumastamxo) brought forth the different people and sent them to live in the different regions along the Colorado River.  

Havasupai oral tradition tells of a migration from Moon Mountain, near present-day Blythe, California, on the Colorado River. The people settled for a while near present-day Peach Springs, Arizona. However, a dispute broke out and the groups who were settled there scattered to new homes. One group, the ancestors of the present-day Havasupai, came to Havasu Creek where they remained for many generations. When the population became too great for the canyon, a large group under the leadership of Mud Head left and continued their migration east.

There is another Havasupai oral tradition which tells that the people once lived near the Little Colorado River. However, conflicts with the Whaje (Apache) drove them from their home and they crossed the desert to the San Francisco Mountains. They did not find peace here, so they continued their journey westward. They came to a canyon that cut across their path and they worked their way down to the floor where they found an oasis of green cut by a stream of blue water.

Yavapai oral tradition tells that the people first emerged from the underground through a large hole called Ahagaskiaywa. Today this hole is identified as Montezuma’s Well. After some time, water flooded from the hole and destroyed all of the people except for a single woman who found refuge in a hollow log.

Traditional Yavapai territory stretched from the San Francisco Peaks in the north, to the Pinal Mountains in the east, and to the confluence of the Gila and Colorado Rivers in the southwest.

Some archaeologists feel that the Patayan culture which developed along the Colorado River about 1,300 years ago was ancestral to the Yavapai. These scholars suggest that about 700 years ago, some Patayan groups began leaving the Colorado River area and moving east into the highlands of Arizona. These groups then evolved into the Yavapai.

The Yavapai have a number of oral traditions describing how they separated from the other people who emerged from the Ahagaskiaywa. Some stories tell of a children’s game that turned into a quarrel which then escalated into hostilities among the adults. As a result, the Yavapai drove the Pai people out of their homeland and the two became enemies.  

The United States and the Pueblos

When the United States acquired what is now New Mexico and Arizona in 1846, a number of Pueblos were brought under American rule according to the Discovery Doctrine. The Pueblos created a few problems for the Americans, however, as they did not conform to the stereotype of nomadic Indians whose lives centered around hunting. There were, in fact, debates about whether or not the Pueblos should actually be considered as Indian tribes. It would take thirty years until the Supreme Court would issue a ruling on this question.  

A second problem faced by the new American rulers was religion. As a Christian nation, United States policies regarding Indians required their conversion to Christianity, preferably Protestant Christianity. The Pueblos, when under Spanish rule, had nominally become Catholics. While American policies actively discouraged Indian pagan practices, the Americans at this time did not care much for Catholicism either. The American government, therefore, found itself supporting Protestant missionaries to the Catholic Pueblos. Under Spanish and Mexico rule, the Pueblos had adopted Catholicism and had combined this with their own religious practices without any loss of the basic fabric of their life. With the Americans, however, they were faced with proselytizing Christians who sought to destroy Pueblo culture.

In 1847, the New Mexico territorial legislature passed an act entitled “Indians” which recognized the Pueblos as political and corporate bodies. According to the act, the Pueblos were living in towns and villages on lands granted to them by the Spanish and Mexican governments. In effect, the territorial legislature enacted a fantasy which did not recognize the Pueblos as the original owners of the land, but claimed that their occupancy rested on grants of land by foreign governments.

In 1850, James S. Calhoun, the first Indian agent in New Mexico, negotiated a treaty between the United States and the Pueblos of Santa Clara, Tesuque, Nambe, Santo Domingo, Jemez, San Felipe, Cochiti, San Ildefonso, Santa Ana, and Zia. The treaty stated that the boundaries of each Pueblo

“shall never be diminished, but may be enlarged whenever the Government of the United States shall deem it advisable.”

In addition, the treaty stated that the Pueblos shall be governed by their own laws and customs. The treaty was never ratified by the United States Senate. However, the treaty was understood by the Pueblos as the standard for governing their relations with the federal government.

In 1850, a delegation of Hopi from Arizona visited Agent James S. Calhoun to determine what the policies of the United States were toward them and to complain about Navajo raids. From the Hopi, Calhoun learned that the Hopi pueblos were autonomous. He reported:

“From what I could learn from the Cacique, I came to the conclusion, that each of the seven Pueblos, was an independent Republic, having confederated for mutual protection.”

In 1851, 12 New Mexico Pueblo tribes met with the American Indian agent and expressed their desire to maintain their traditional customs and usages. There is no indication of the response by the American government to this desire.

In 1852, five leading men from Tesuque-José María Vigil, Carlos Vigil, Juan Antonio Vigil, José Domingo Herrera, and José Abeyta-traveled by horseback, steamboat, and train to Washington, D.C. where they met with President Millard Fillmore. The purpose of the delegation was to argue for the rights promised in a Pueblo treaty signed in 1850. The delegation spent six weeks in Washington and was taken to all of the standard destinations, including the Smithsonian Institution. In their meeting with the President, Fillmore indicated that he personally would look into the matter of their treaty.

In 1852, a delegation from Santa Ana Pueblo traveled to Santa Fe to meet with the American superintendent to raise the issue of infringements on their land. The superintendent, however, was not present and the Americans simply dismissed their complaints as “trifling” and “no business of any consequence.”

The New Mexico territorial legislature passed a law in 1853 prohibiting the sale of liquor to Indians and declared that “Indian” did not include the Pueblo Indians.  

In 1855, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs asked Congress to repeal the law which defined the Pueblos in New Mexico as corporate entities which could sue and be sued in local courts. He explained that the Pueblos had suffered greatly from this law because most suits were filed by non-Indians with an interest in obtaining Pueblo land. However, Congress did not act on this recommendation.

An 1858 Congressional act confirmed the Spanish land grants to several New Mexico Pueblos: Acoma, Jemez, Chochiti, Picuris, San Felipe, San Juan, Santo Domingo, Zia, Isleta, Nambe, Pojuaque, Sandia, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Taos, and Tesuque.  The Spanish land grants to Indians had been superimposed upon Indian aboriginal rights dating from time immemorial. It would now seem that the Pueblo Indians should be claiming rights both under the land claims and under their original rights as first owners of the land.

In 1864, the Pueblo governors were given “Lincoln canes” as symbols of their office and authority. Engraved on the silver head of each cane is the name of the Pueblo, the year, and “A. Lincoln.” The canes originally cost $5.50 each.

The United States issued land patents in 1864 for Nambe, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Picuris, Zia, Sandia, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, Pojuaque, San Juan, Santa Clara, Taos, Tesuque, and Santo Domingo Pueblos in New Mexico.

In 1867, the territorial chief justice in United States v Ortiz  ruled that the Pueblos were not Indians under the definition of the Trade and Intercourse Act of 1834. The Pueblos protested the decision. The Indian agent for the Pueblos, noting that the federal government had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, asked the government to protect the Pueblos.

The United States officially established an Indian Agency for the Hopi in 1869. However, the agency was located in Fort Wingate rather than near the Hopi pueblos in Arizona. In addition, the agency was officially named the “Moqui Pueblo Agency,” a name which the Hopi felt was insulting. Two years later, the agency was moved from Fort Wingate to Fort Defiance. In 1873, the agency was moved from Fort Defiance to Keams Canyon which is about 13 miles away from the Hopi pueblo of Walpi.

In 1869, in the case of United States versus Lucero, Chief Justice Watts characterized Indians as “wild, wandering savages”, but noted that this description did not hold for the Pueblos who, he claimed, have been cultivating the soil for three centuries. The judge’s comments seem to imply that the Pueblos learned agriculture from the Spanish and appear to reflect ignorance regarding many centuries of Indian agriculture prior to the Spanish arrival in the Americas.

In 1869, a special inspector for the Indian Office recommended that the Pueblos be declared citizens and required to pay taxes on their crops, herds, and orchards.

Congress in 1869 passed legislation which formally recognized the Santa Ana Pueblo land grant in New Mexico.

In 1871, the Indian agent for the Pueblos reported that holdings by non-Indian squatters on Pueblo lands were of such great value that the United States government could not afford to compensate them if they were forced to move. Instead, he recommended that the Pueblos sell their lands to these squatters.

Congress authorized the extension of federal services to New Mexico’s Pueblo Indians in 1872.

In 1873 the Bureau of Indian Affairs considered relocating the Hopi from their Arizona pueblos to land along the Little Colorado River or to Oklahoma. The Hopi vowed to resist any relocation as their ancient contract with the Great Spirit Massauw makes removal from the land impossible. After discussions with the Hopi, the Indian Agent recommended that a separate Hopi reservation be established.

The United States Supreme Court, in the 1876 United States versus Joseph, declared that the Intercourse Act of 1834 was not applicable to the Pueblos of New Mexico. The Court viewed the Pueblos as having a settled, domestic existence and therefore were not subject to laws which were passed for the protection and civilization of “wild Indians.” Furthermore, the Court asserted that Pueblo land titles were given to them by the Spanish government. As a result, 3,000 non-Indians settle on Pueblo lands.

The Supreme Court ruling denied the Pueblos the protection of the federal government and placed them within the jurisdiction of the local courts and officials. The Court did not define the Pueblos as citizens, and thus they did not have the right to vote, nor did they have the right to hold public office. While the Court excluded the Pueblos from participation in political life, it opened up the way for their lands to be appropriated for private enterprise by non-Indians.

The Pueblos

When the United States acquired what is now New Mexico and Arizona in 1846, a number of Pueblos were brought under American rule according to the Discovery Doctrine. The Pueblos created a few problems for the Americans, however, as they did not conform to the stereotype of nomadic Indians whose lives centered around hunting. Actually, very few Indian nations in the United States resembled this stereotype, but the American government has never let the realities of Indian cultures interfere with imaginary descriptions.  

Like many other Indian nations, the Pueblos were settled agriculturalists who had been raising corn, beans, squash, cotton and other plants for many centuries. Unlike the other Indian nations, however, the Pueblos lived in rather substantial villages with a central plaza. Their houses were multi-story structures constructed from stone. When the Spanish first encountered these villages, they called them Pueblos (Spanish for town) and unfortunately this term was, and still is, used to group a number of distinct peoples together.

The Indian people grouped together as Pueblos speak six mutually unintelligible languages and occupy more than 30 villages in a rough crescent more than 400 miles in length.


Village Names:

Most of the pueblos have been given European names: some of these are Spanish corruptions of their own names while others are purely Spanish names which are unrelated to their native names. The common names of some of the pueblos are listed below.

Acoma: from Akome which means “people of the white rock.”


An Ansel Adams photo of Acoma is shown above.

Cochiti: the Spanish version of Katyete whose meaning is unknown.

Isleta: the native name for this Tiwa-speaking pueblo is Teui which means “town.”

Jemez: this is the Spanish spelling of hemis which means “Hemis people.” The native name for this Towo-speaking pueblo is Walatowa which means “the people in the canyon.”

Laguna: this pueblo carries the Spanish name for lake. The native name for this Keresan-speaking pueblo is Kawaik whose meaning is unknown.

Nambe: this is the native name for the Tewa-speaking pueblo and means “pueblo of the mound of earth.”

Picuris: this is the Spanish version of Pikuria. The native name for the Tiwi-speaking pueblo is Piwwetha which means “pass in the mountains.”

Pojoaque: this is a Spanish corruption of the native name Posunwage which means “drink water place.”

San Juan: the native name for this Tewa-speaking pueblo is Oke whose meaning is unknown.

Sandia: the pueblo carries the Spanish name for watermelon. The native name for this Tiwa-speaking pueblo is Nafiat which means “a dusty or sandy place.”

San Felipe: the native name for this Keresan-speaking pueblo is Katishtya whose meaning is unknown.

San Ildefonso: the native name for this Tewa-speaking pueblo is Pokwoge which means “where the water cuts down through.”

Santa Ana: the native name for this Keresan-speaking pueblo is Tamaya whose meaning is unknown.

Santa Clara: the native name for this Tewa-speaking pueblo is Ka’po whose meaning is unknown.

Santo Domingo: the native name for this Keresan-speaking pueblo is Kiuwa whose meaning is unknown.

Taos: this is the Spanish version of Tua which means “houses” or “village.”

Taos 2


Taos Pueblo is shown above.

Tesuque: this is a Spanish corruption of the native Tewa name Tatunge which means “dry spotted place.”

Zia: this is from the native Keresan name Tseja whose meaning is unknown.

Zuni: this is the Spanish corruption of the Keresan word Sunyi. The native name for the pueblo is A’shiwi which means “the flesh.”


Zuni 1850

Zuni Pueblo is shown above.

Zuni Exhibit

A Zuni Exhibit is shown above.

The Hopi villages are in Arizona and the name “Hopi” is a contraction of Hopi-tuh which means “peaceful ones.” While the United States has insisted on dealing with the Hopi as if they were a single tribe rather than independent pueblos, not all of the Hopi villages recognize the authority of the Hopi Tribal Council. The Hopi villages (pueblos) are listed below:

Walpi which means “place of the gap.”

Walpi 2

Walpi 1

Walpi Pueblo is shown above.

Sichomovi which means “place of the mound where wild currents grow.”

Hano is actually a Tewa village whose name is derived from anopi which means eastern people.

Shungopovi which means “place by the spring where the tall reeds grow.”

Michongovi which means “place of the black man.” The name comes from Mishong, the leader of the Crow Clan who brought his people from the San Francisco peaks to Hopi in 1200 AD.

Shipaulovi which means “the mosquitos.”

Oraibi which means “place of the rock called Orai.”

Kiakochomovi which means “place of the hills of ruins.”

Hotevilla which means “skinned back.”

Bakabi (Bacobi) which means “place of the jointed reeds.”

Moenkopi which means “place of running water.”  


The pueblos tend to be multi-storied with the second story set back from the first which provides a terraced effect. Originally, the first floor was reached through a hatchway and ladder from the second floor. Small openings high in the walls were covered with selenite which allowed sunlight to filter through and provide some lighting to the residence.

In some pueblos, such as Cochití, the first story of the houses are built using stone blocks and the upper stories are made with adobe.

Among the Hopi, town sites were determined by two factors: (1) the proximity to water, and (2) the desire for security. To provide security, the Hopi villages tend to be located on the tops of mesas. With regard to water, drinking water for the Hopi villages was provided by springs. The Hopi clan histories talk about the abundance and reliability of the water supply in the springs at the mesas where they located their villages.