Native Amerian Indians have always facinated those of us of European descent. The contrast between traditional Western civilizaton and cultures of the "new world" has been interesting to laymen and archeologist alike. The average person,however,sometimes finds it difficult to differentiate among the mulitude of Indians tribes which live on the North American continent. While some tribes have become famous in the history books,others have remained obscure. The difference between tribes has been little appreciated by the average American. The history of the individual tribes may be unknown to most Americans. The Southwest American Indian,of course,has been portrayed many times in the western movies produced by Hollywood. However it has been the larger,more aggressive tribes that have been featured and then,usually in a stereotypic fashion. You will find the Comanches or the Apaches, but where are the:
These were, in fact,some of the Indian tribes living in the Southwest along the great Colorado River. They also have a place in history and a unique culture of their own. They also had confrontations with the early white settlers of European descent and,in many cases,these encounters altered forever the history of the Southwest.
They lived in the narrow flatlands of the Lower Colorado River valley. Because of the very fertile land available, caused by the periodic flooding of the river,they became involved with farming. Individual farms were owned by clans or families and guarded careflly,an early example of free interprise. a fight easily result if a non-clan member trespassed on anothers property.
The leader of each tribe usually recieved his title as a result of hereditary considerations,but his athority was only advisory. There were two other leaders of importance as well. Brave Man was a leader in war, a pastime these particular Indians enjoyed, and Scalp Keeper,because scalp taking was considered very important;a source of super-natural power. Perodic warfare would errupt to acquire scalps or land and monthly dances were held to celebrate the accumulated collection of scalps.
The Yumans were very interested in warfare,enjoyed it emmensely,and had a wepon of which they were particularly proud---one they used with awesome skill. this was a short club with a very thick end,which could be used to bash in a man's head with a handle ending in a spike which could be used to stab him. This required,of course,close hand to hand fighting; a technique which the Yuman tribes perfected and of which they were very proud.
The Cocomaricopas, Yumas, Cocopas and Mohaves were all hostile to one another. Warfare was very formal. Battles were announced. There were official Ceremonies.
There were duels between important leaders on both sides. Formal lines of warriors would be drawn up,and the fighting would be open to the public. Captives were often taken. They were either kept as slaves or killed,depending on the circumstance.
The first contact between Europeans and the Yumans appently occured in 1540 when Hernando de Alarcon,leading one arm of Coronado's famous expedition sailed into the lower Colorado River and encountered the Indians living there. Relations were friendly betwen them at the time. Juan de Onate,another leader of a Spanish expedtionary force,visited the Yumans in 1605,also without incident. The first intensive contact between the Europeans and the Yumans came in 1698 when Father Eusebio Kino visited them. Again relations were friendly,and Father Kino visited them on many occasions.
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