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Havasupai Tribe

Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Arizona,Native American | No Comments

Havasupai Indians (blue or green water people). A small isolated tribe of the Yuman stock (the nucleus of which is believed to have descended from the Walapai) who occupy Catract canyon of the Rio Colorado in north west Arizona.  Whipple[1] was informed in 1850 that the “cosninos” roamed from the Sierra Mogollon to the San Francisco mountains and along the valley of the Colorado Chiquito. The tribe is a peculiarly interesting one, since of all the Yuman tribes it is the only one which has developed or borrowed a culture similar to, though less advanced, than that of the Pueblo peoples; indeed, according to tradition, the Havasupai (or more probably a Pueblo clan or tribe that became incorporated with them) formerly built and occupied villages of a permanent character on the Colorado Chiquito east of the San Francisco Mountains, where ruins were pointed out to Powell by a Havasupai chief as the former homes of his people. As the result of war with tribes farther E., they abandoned these villages and took refuge in the San Francisco Mountains, subsequently leaving these for their present abode. In this connection it is of interest to note that the Cosnino caves on the upper Rio Verde, near the north edge of Tonto basin, central Arizona, were named from this tribe, because of their supposed early occupancy by them. Their present village, composed of temporary cabins or shelters of wattled canes and branches and earth in summer, and of the natural caves and crevices in winter, is situated 115 miles north of Prescott and 7 miles south of the Grand canyon. The Havasupai are well formed, though of medium stature. They are skilled in the manufacture and use of implements, and especially in preparing raw material, the buckskin. The men are expert hunters, the women adept in the manufacture of baskets which, when lined with clay, serve also as cooking utensils. Like the other Yuman tribes, until affected by white influences during recent years, their clothing consisted chiefly of deerskin and, for the sake of ornament, both men and women painted their faces with thick, smooth coatings of tine red ocher or blue paint Prepared from wild indigo; tattooing scarification for ornament were also sometimes practiced. In summer they subsist Chiefly on corn, calabashes, sunflower Heeds, melons, peaches, and apricots, which they cultivate by means of irrigation, and also the wild datila and mescal, In winter principally upon the flesh of game, which they hunt in the surrounding uplands and mountains.  While a strictly sedentary people, they are unskilled in the manufacture of earthenware and obtain their more modern implements and utensils, except basketry, by barter with the Hopi, with which people they seem always to have had closer affiliation than their Yuman kindred.  Their weapons in war and the chase were rude clubs and pikes of hard wood, bows and arrows, and formerly slings; but firearms have practically replaced these more primitive appliances. The gentile system of descent or organization seems to be absent among the Havasupai, their society consanguineally being patriarchal, They are polygamists, the number of wives a man shall have being limited apparently only by his means for supporting them. Betrothals by purchase are common, and divorces are granted only on the ground of unfaithfulness. The Havasupai occupy a reservation of about 38,400 acres, set aside by Executive order in 1880 and 1882. Their population was 300 in 1869, 233 in 1902, 174 in 1905.

Footnotes

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  1. Whipple , Pac. R.R. Rep., III, pt, 1, 82, 1856

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