Indian Tribe


     The Southwest Region Native American tribe that is discussed in the
following focuses on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The

Pima-Maricopa Indians have struggled and endured a constant hardship of events
in its background, history, and location. Thomas Dobyns, the author of The Pima
and Maricopa stated, "they have suffered through their worst years at the
hands of ruthless investors and land grabbers, and the fight to undo the damage
will never end. Descendants of the region’s original inhabitants are, however,
gaining skills in law, business, farming, and community organization that they
are utilizing to win back the water and land that was once theirs." The Salt

River Pima-Maricopa Indian community is in-fact two Indian tribes, made up of
the Pima tribe and the Maricopa tribe. According to the Gale Encyclopedia of

Native American Tribes, these two tribes joined together between 1740 and 1780
in a federation and would be governed by a single tribal council, although they
would follow their own tribal traditions. Although speaking distinctly different
languages the Maricopa and Pima have since dwelled in harmony. The Pima Indian
tribe is believed to be the ancient ancestors of the Hohokam. The Hohokam were a
farming tribe that mysteriously vanished centuries ago. The Pima attributed
their decline to the rapacity of foreign tribes, who came in three bands, and
killing or enslaving many of their inhabitants destroying their pueblos,
devastating their fields, and killing or enslaving many of their inhabitants. It
is speculated the Hohokam people may have suffered from plague and disease after
physical contact with the Spaniards. The ancient Hohokam villages can still be
seen today at different archaeological sites in the southwest. The Pima had
abundance of water from the Gila River that gave the Pima a distinct
agricultural advantage over other Indian communities. Therefore they had less
need to wander in search of wild foods and were able to live a settled life in
villages near the river. Pima translates to "Akimel O’Odham," which means
river people. They developed irrigation systems that channeled water to their
fields; this promoted a more abundant supply of food. They also benefited from
the Spanish, whom introduced them to wheat. Wheat being a winter crop allowed
them to double their productivity, this resulted in a surplus of grains and
allowed the Pima to engage in an increased amount of trading and commerce. The

Pima remained neutral during the Mexican-American War, which took place from

1846 to 1848. Shortly after the Mexican-American War the land the Pima dwelled
on became U.S. territory. During the California gold rush of 1849 the tribe
thrived on agriculture, bartering food and livestock for guns and shovels to

U.S. troops and prospectors passing through. They also protected them from

Indian raids on the white-man. The Maricopa joined the Pima, whose language they
did not understand, for mutual protection against their enemies. They were at
war with the Mohave and Yavapai Indians as late as 1857 near Maricopa Wells,

South Arizona. The result was 90 of the 93 Yuman warriors gave their lives in
battle, after this disaster for the Yumans they never wandered further up the

Gila River. The years preceding 1871 were devastating for the tribe due to a
shortage of water from the Salt River attributable to the recent non-Indian
settlements. The Pima were unable to reclaim their water rights, causing the
failure of crops and before long famine that would diminish the population of
the tribe significantly. Today the Pima tribe resides in Southern Arizona along
the Gila and Salt rivers, near Phoenix, Arizona. The Spanish estimated there
were approximately 2,000-3,000 members of the tribe in 1694, and a 1989 census
showed a joint population of about 16,800 members. Evidence shows that the

Maricopa Indians originated in Southern California. Prior to the fifteenth
century they dwelled near the shores of the Salton Sea, approximately fifty
miles east of San Diego. The Maricopa migrated east towards the Colorado River
basin. The Maricopa tribe lived among other Yuman language speaking tribes.

Living among other tribes caused constant fighting because of the scarcity of
available resources. By the early 1600’s the Yuman speakers were divided on
the lower Colorado River Valley into three distinct groups. The Mohave had
settled in the Mohave River Valley northward along the Colorado. The Quenchan
had settled at the junction of the Gila and Colorado Rivers. And the

Cocomaricopa settled between the Mohave and Quenchan tribes. By the mid 1700’s
the Maricopa were being victimized by both the Mohave and the Quenchan. They
were forced upstream with their rancherios extending about 40 miles along the

Gila from the mouth of the Hassayampa to the Auguas Caliente. Later, that same
decade, they made their historic alliance with the Pimas for mutual protection
against their kindred. The Maricopa tribe was at war with the Mohave and Yavapai

Indians as late as 1857 near Maricopa Wells in southern Arizona. The result was

90 of the 93 Yuman warriors gave their lives in battle. After this disaster for
the Yumans they never wandered further up the Gila River. Two years later the

United States Congress created the Gila River Reservation on which they still
live today. In 1775 the Maricopa population was estimated at 10,000, and only

200 in 1986.

Bibliography

Dobyns,

Henry F. The Papago People. Phoenix: Indian Tribal Series, 1972. Furtaw, Julia

C. Native Americans Information Directory. Detroit: Gale Research Inc, 1993.

"Maricopa". Handbook of North American Indians. 1979 ed. Myers, John. The

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indians. Phoenix: Life’s Reflection, 1988.

"Pima". Handbook of North American Indians. 1979 ed. "Pima-Maricopa

Indians." 25 February 1999. On-line. Internet. *http://www.thememall.com/tribes/pima.htm*