Edward S. Curtis, c. 1903]

Mohave and Mojave are both tribally accepted and interchangeably used phonetic spellings for a Native American people known among themselves as the "Aha macave". Their name comes from two words: "aha", meaning 'water', and "macave", meaning 'along or beside', and to them it means 'people who live along the river'.

Today, many of the surviving descendants of these indigenous old families live on or near one of two reservations located on the Colorado River. The Fort Mojave Indian Reservation includes parts of California, Arizona, and Nevada. The Colorado River Indian Reservation includes parts of California and Arizona and is shared by members of the Chemehuevi, Hopi, and Navajo nations.

The original Colorado River and Fort Mojave land reservations were established in 1865 and 1870, respectively. Both reservations include substantial senior water rights in the Colorado River, which are used for irrigated farming. Though the four combined groups of families sharing the Colorado River Indian Reservation function today as one geo-political unit, the Colorado River Indian Tribes, each continues to maintain and observe its individual traditions, distinct religions, and culturally unique identities.

The tribal headquarters, library and museum are in Parker, Arizona, about 40 miles (64 km) north of I-10. The National Indian Days Celebration is held annually in Parker, from Thursday through Sunday during the last week of September. The All Indian Rodeo is also celebrated annually, on the first weekend in December. RV facilities are available along the Colorado River.


Much of the pre-surrender history of the Aha macave remains to be revealed and written, since they used no written symbols for their native language nor any dictionary of Mojave words; their language was spoken only. They depended on oral communication, in the form of totemic clan names, ancient stories and songs, to transmit their history and their literature from one generation to the next. The impact of outside culture shattered their social organization and fragmented the Aha macave's stories and songs. They eventually learned to spell their own language phonetically according to the sounds and spellings of American English.

Now almost completely bilingual, their oral language is changing and the old wording of the stories and songs are not easily translated. Not only does the structure of the two languages differ, but the meaning of the words themselves, richly embedded with Mojave culture, idiom, and ancestral history, complicates non-native understanding.

As a prime example, their real tribal name has been spelled with over fifty variations, such as Hamock avi, Amacava, A-mac-ha ves, A-moc-ha-ve, Jamajabs, and Hamakhav. The resulting incorrect assumed meanings can be partly traced to a translation error in Frederick W. Hodge's 1917 "Handbook of the American Indians North of Mexico", which incorrectly defined it, "Mohave (from hamock, three, avi, mountain)." According to this source, the name refers to the picturesque mountain peaks called the Needles, located near the Colorado River a few miles south of the city of Needles, California. Mojaves call these peaks "Huqueamp avi" which means, 'where the battle took place' It refers to the battle in which the God-son, Mastamho, slew the sea serpent.

=Ancestral Lands=Ancestral Lands=

Before they surrendered to United States troops, their river holdings stretched from Black Canyon, where the tall pillars of First House of Mutavilya loomed above the river, past Avi kwame or Spirit Mountain, the center of spiritual things, to the Quechan Valley, where the lands of other tribes began. Translated into present landmarks, their lands began in the north at Hoover Dam and ended about one hundred miles below Parker Dam.


They believed in their creator Mutavilya, who gave them their names and their commandments, and in his son Mastamho, who gave them the river and taught them how to plant. They were mainly farmers who planted in the overflow of the untamed river, following the age-old customs of the Aha macave.


The Mojave language belongs to the River Yuman branch of the Yuman-Cochimí linguistic family. It consists of about ten languages and various dialects, with speakers ranging from Baja California and northern Sonora in Mexico, to southern California and western Arizona in the United States.


In mid-April, 1859, United States troops of the Expedition of the Colorado, led by Lieutenant Colonel William Hoffman, moved upriver into Mojave country, with the well-publicized objective of establishing a military post on the river to protect east-west emigrants from attack by Mojave Indians. By that time, white immigrants and settlers had begun to encroach on Mojave lands, sometimes violently, and members of the clans had been defending their territory similarly. Hoffman sent couriers among the tribes, warning that the post would be gained by force if they or their allies chose to resist. Instead, it was a bloodless occupation. The Mojave warriors withdrew as Hoffman's formidable armada approached and the expedition posted camp near what would later become Fort Mojave.

Hoffman immediately ordered the Mojave men to assemble at the armed stockade adjacent to his headquarters and two days later, on April 23, 1859, clan leaders came as ordered to hear Hoffman's terms of peace. Hoffman gave them the choice of submission or extermination. They chose peace. At that time, the Mojave had an old culture that had been passed down the centuries unadulterated by the few parties of white men who had traveled through their country. Twenty-two totemic clans existed then among a Mojave population estimated to be about four thousand in number.

During most of the period of military occupation, the Fort Mojaves were technically under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior. "Legally" they belonged on the Colorado River Reservation after it was established in 1865. However, they refused to leave their ancestral homes in the Mojave Valley, the War Department declined to try to force them onto the reservation, and the Indian Agent there was unable to supervise them. Whatever actual supervision or control they had came from the commanders at Fort Mojave. As long as Fort Mojave was garrisoned by the War Department, the Fort Mojaves, if peace abiding, were relatively free to follow their old tribal ways unmolested. This state of affairs came to an end in the midsummer of 1890 when the War Department withdrew its troops and transferred the post to the Department of the Interior.

Beginning in August, 1890, the Department of the Interior forced native children living on reservations into reservation schools to learn to speak, write, and read English. Fort Mojave was converted into a boarding school for Fort Mojave and other "non-reservation" Indians. Until 1931, forty-one years later, all Fort Mojave boys and girls between the ages of six and eighteen were compelled to live at this school or attend an advanced Indian school remote from Fort Mojave.

This was the era of de-Indianizing Indians, breaking up tribal ties, rooting out Indian beliefs, customs and native tongue, and civilizing them after the patterns of white men. At the school the children and youth were transformed, outside, into facsimiles of white children of their day—haircuts, clothing, habits of eating, sleeping, toiletry, manners, industry, language, and so on. They were forbidden to use their own language, as with most other native ways which were also prohibited and punished. Five lashes of the whip was the penalty for the first offense of speaking in their native tongue. Corporal punishment of children scandalized Mojaves who did not discipline their children with whips and straps.

Their English names were assigned to them by the administrators of the reservations' school systems. These names were registered with the Department of the Interior as members of two tribes, the Mojave Tribe on the Colorado River Reservation and the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe on the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation. This arbitrary naming and division was done for purpose of appropriating and reallocating their ancestral lands. It does not reflect the old Mojave family system. The word 'tribe' itself, similarly, is not an Aha macave word, but some modern Aha macave do use it to describe their family.

By 1965, their number had diminished to approximately one thousand and only eighteen old clans still survived.


Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. "(See Population of Native California.)" The Franciscan missionary-explorer Francisco Garcés estimated the Mohave population in 1776 as 3,000 (Garcés 1900(2):450). Alfred L. Kroeber (1925:883) also put the 1770 population of the Mohave at 3,000.

Kroeber estimated the population of the Mohave in 1910 as 1,050.

Sherer's research revealed that in 1963, the population of Fort Mojaves was 438 and that of the Colorado River Reservation approximately 550


Mohave names are typically only capitalized on the first word, with the following words all in lowercase. Therefore a Mohave joke name would be rendered, for example, "My leg is made out of yellow pine" and not "My Leg Is Made Out Of Yellow Pine" as in the European / Westernized tradition. This was the name of a Mohave man, Hoalye-ime, who lived around 1844: he once saw a "beaver eater" ("white man") with a peg leg, and he was so amused that he pretended to also have a wooden leg.

A Mohave "joke name" (roughly analogous to nicknames) was one that a Mohave would assign herself or himself, or a friend would assign to someone. "Face like a horse" would be one example; "Kicked in the head by the sun" another. Some joke names are not funny at all, but were teasing and abusive, but a Mohave was socially bound to put up with it.

Mohave Behavior

No aspect of social life is more elusive and less amenable to systematic study than are so-called "good manners" as distinct from basic personality traits. Yet information of this sort is an indispensable part of anthropological study. The present study deals chiefly with the etiquette of ordinary social relations, since the etiquette of courtship has already been described elsewhere. (1)


Mohave men had two traditional sitting positions, both of which may still be observed among the older members of the tribe. Men who sat on the ground usually leaned their backs against a wall or a tree, and extended their legs in front of them. They were free to cross their legs, if they chose to do so. Men who preferred to sit on their heels, in a kneeling posture, rested the dorsal surface of one foot on the sole of the other foot.

The traditional sitting position of women was described by Kroeber (1,4) as follows: "Women at rest stretch their legs straight out, and sometimes cross their feet. At work, a Mohave woman tucks one leg under her, with her other knee up . . . When she pleases, the Mohave woman also sits with her legs folded in oriental style." The Mohave specified that women were careful to arrange the tassels of their fiber-skirts in such a manner as to avoid exposure. Hence, whenever the thighs were spread, some of the tassels were made to hang down between the legs. Male Two-Spirits sat like women and observed the same proprieties.

Only close relatives of opposite sexes, or else husband and wife, were permitted to share the same bench or wagon or automobile seat. This is not an inflexible rule, though it is usually broken with some embarrassment on behalf of those involved. The rule that unrelated persons of the opposite sexes should not share the same car seat can be readily linked with the Mohave belief that thoughts or daydreams about traveling with a member of the opposite sex induces amorous desires.


A woman who is walking home alone should not talk to men whom she happens to meet on the way. A "good woman" does not walk with men, nor does she ride with them in a wagon, unless the man happens to be her husband or a close relative.

A woman may swim either alone or else in the company of her husband or close relatives. If a man happens to be already swimming at the spot where she had intended to swim, she is supposed to look for another place. Should she violate this rule, she will expose herself to criticism and to gossip. This rule is frequently violated, however.

Women are permitted to dance at gatherings. They must, however, dance "in a decent way" and must not attract attention through cocky talk or through impish and showy behavior.

A woman may eat from the same dish only with her husband, her ascendants, descendants, siblings, and first cousins, i.e., only with persons who are so closely related to her that no one would suspect them of 'carrying on'. Should a woman wish to share a fruit with a man who is neither her husband nor a close relative, she must divide the fruit and give the man his share before biting into it.


The Mohave are most war like. But when they weren't fighting they were most hospitable. If a vistor should come while a meal was being eaten or prepared, the vistor be invited to join the meal. If they didnt, the tribe would be very embarrassed.


The Mohave are great eaters and are pleased when their guests eat heartily. It is permissible to belch and to pick one's teeth.

The Mohave call chewing gum halyak. In aboriginal times this term designated a certain native chewing substance which was prepared from a vine called halyak.

The Mohave did have a wonderous appetite for ariel. They shared it when unweary guests were visiting.


The Mohave do not seem to chew plugs of tobacco.

The Mohave of both sexes are very fond of cigarettes. Anyone who takes out a pack of cigarettes is expected to offer a cigarette to all those who happen to be present, before helping himself. Should one fail to do so, one exposes oneself to a reprimand or to a jeer. It should be pointed out, however, that Mohave smoking etiquette is based on the principle of reciprocity. Hence they do not beg for cigarettes, nor do they demand cigarettes from any chance-met stranger.

A Mohave man is not supposed to light the cigarette of a woman who is neither a wife nor a close relative.

The Mohave do not inhale while lighting their cigarettes. This habit may be due to the fact that the first matches to reach the Mohave were made with sulfur. They hold the cigarette in one hand and the match in the other hand, and toast the tip of the cigarette until it is lit. Only then do they bring the cigarette to their lips. As a rule only men appear to inhale the smoke, while women, as well as male transvestites, seem to refrain from doing so.

The Mohave Indians also smoke small clay-pipes, and are much impressed with the skill of certain people who manage to smoke an entire pipe in four puffs.


Mohave custom demands that the body as well as the property of the dead should be cremated. (7,13,15) The preservation of photographs would be an especially offensive violation of this rule, since it preserves "the shadow," i.e., soul (1) of the dead. Hence the Mohave are very reluctant to be photographed and resent any attempt to photograph them by stealth.

Human Relations

The Mohave are an emotional people, and the sharing of emotions is an important feature of social relations.

The Mohave differentiate between "laughing with" and "laughing at" (4) people, and are quite sensitive to ridicule. On the other hand shared laughter is believed to be an expression of good-fellowship and of a friendly disposition. Unlike the Yuma (12) they believe that men and women laugh alike, except for the fact that the laughter of men has a deeper pitch. They also differentiate between laughter and provocative giggling.

Shared grief is likewise an expression of good-fellowship. The Mohave are ready to share the grief of their friends, and men do not consider it below their dignity to shed a few tears. A refusal to allow one's friends to share one's troubles is resented.

The Mohave sometimes disguise their sadness under an appearance of "being cross." Unemotional people are believed to be insensitive and lacking in human feelings.

Generosity is taken so much for granted that it must be thought of as a basic personality trait (4) rather than as a form of etiquette. The charge of stinginess is the most damning accusation that can be leveled at a person.

Loyalty to one's friends is a pivotal point of Mohave social ethics. It is an unforgivable sin to speak ill of one's friends and associates behind their backs, and disloyalty is one of the things that will cause a person to be known as "worthless" or as "a bad person." Wanton indiscretion, especially about love affairs, is likewise condemned, and is said to be characteristic only of psychopathic prostitutes (kamalo:y). (10)

The Mohave are eager for praise and freely praise those whom they like. "A good person" is a term of high praise. The highest praise that can be given to an alien is, "He is just like a Mohave." This form of praise has been reported as far back as the XVII Century." The Mohave often express their friendship and approval by mercilessly "razzing" the person they happen to like. If a woman slanders a man and refers to his dead relatives, the man feels certain that the woman loves him.

Mohave Indian courtesy does not partake of the elaborately ritual character of, for example, Chinese etiquette. It is, with a few small exceptions, chiefly the etiquette of good sense and of the heart, which is the foundation of all real courtesy. The terms "a good man" or "a good woman" also imply good manners. In brief, Mohave courtesy is completely characterized by a line in a play by Alfred de Musset: "Polite indeed! My coachman is polite! In my time, men were courteous." The essence of Mohave courtesy is identical with that of the early Renaissance concept of "cortesia" - it is the considerateness of kind and fair minded people.'

External links

* [ Colorado River Indian Tribes Public Library/Archive]
* [ History of the Mohave from a National Park site]


* [ NPR audio documentary about Creation Songs of the Mohave people]


* Devereux, George. 1935. "Sexual Life of the Mohave Indians", unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of California.
* Devereux, George. 1937. "Institutionalized Homosexuality of the Mohave Indians". "Human Biology" 9:498-527.
* Devereux, George. 1939. "Mohave Soul Concepts". "American Anthropologist" 39:417-422.
* Devereux, George. 1939. "Mohave Culture and Personality". "Character and Personality" 8:91-109, 1939.
* Devereux, George. 1938. "L'envoûtement chez les Indiens Mohave. "Journal de la Société des Americanistes de Paris" 29:405-412.
* Devereux, George. 1939. "The Social and Cultural Implications of Incest among the Mohave Indians". "Psychoanalytic Quarterly" 8:510-533.
* Devereux, George. 1941. "Mohave Beliefs Concerning Twins". "American Anthropologist" 43:573-592.
* Devereux, George. 1942. "Primitive Psychiatry (Part II)". "Bulletin of the History of Medicine" 11:522-542.
* Devereux, George. 1947. "Mohave Orality". "Psychoanalytic Quarterly" 16:519-546.
* Devereux, George. 1948. The Mohave Indian Kamalo:y. "Journal of Clinical Psychopathology".
* Devereux, George. 1950. "Heterosexual Behavior of the Mohave Indians". "Psychoanalysis and the Social Sciences" 2(1):85-128.
* Devereux, George. 1948. "Mohave Pregnancy". "Acta Americana" 6:89-116.
* Fathauer, George, H.. 1951. [ "Religion in Mohave Social Structure"] , The Ohio Journal of Science, 51(5), September 1951, pp. 273-276.
* Forde, C. Daryll. 1931. "Ethnography of the Yuma Indians". "University of California Publications in American Archeology and Ethnology" 28:83-278.
* Garcés, Francisco. 1900. "On the Trail of a Spanish Pioneer: The Diary and Itinerary of Francisco Garcés". Edited by Elliott Coues. 2 vols. Harper, New York. [ (on-line)]
* Hall, S. H. 1903. "The Burning of a Mohave Chief". "Out West" 18:60-65.
* Hodge, Frederick W. (ed.) "Handbook of the American Indians North of Mexico" (2 vols., Washington, D.C., 1917), I, 919
* Ives, Lt. Joseph C. 1861. "Report Upon the Colorado River of the West". 36th Cong., 1st Sess., Senate Exec. Doc. Pt. I, 71. Washington, D.C.
* Kroeber, A. L. 1925. "Handbook of the Indians of California". Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin No. 78. Washington, D.C.
* Sherer, Lorraine Miller. 1965. "The Clan System of the Fort Mojave Indians: A Contemporary Survey.". Southern California Quarterly 47(1):1-72. Los Angeles, California.
* Sherer, Lorraine M. 1966. "Great Chieftains of the Mohave Indians". Southern California Quarterly 48(1):1-35. Los Angeles, California.
* Sherer, Lorraine M. 1967. "The Name Mojave, Mohave: A History of its Origin and Meaning". Southern California Quarterly 49(4):1-36. Los Angeles, California.
* Sherer, Lorraine M. and Frances Stillman. 1994. "Bitterness Road: The Mojave, 1604-1860". Ballena Press. Menlo Park, California.
* Stewart, Kenneth M. 1947. "An Account of the Mohave Mourning Ceremony". "American Anthropologist" 49:146-148.
* Whipple, Lt. Amiel Weeks. 1854. "Corps of Topographical Engineers Report". Pt. I, 114.
* White, Helen C. 1947. "Dust on the King's Highway". Macmillan, New York.
* Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1890-1891, II, vi
* Reports of the Secretary of the Interior, 1891-1930, containing the annual reports of the superintendents of the Fort Mojave School from 1891 through 1930.

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См. также в других словарях:

  • Mohave —   [məʊ hɑːvɪ], Mojave [məʊ hɑːvɪ], den Yuma sprachverwandter nordamerikanischer Indianerstamm, lebt heute im unteren Coloradotal (Südostkalifornien und Westarizona), in und nahe der Fort Mojave Reservation (700 Mohave) und mit den Chemehuevi in… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Mohave — [mō hä′vē] n. [prob. self designation < ? ] 1. pl. Mohaves or Mohave a member of a North American Indian people living along the Colorado River in Arizona and adjacent areas 2. the Yuman language of this people adj. of the Mohaves or their… …   English World dictionary

  • Mohave — (span. Mojave, spr. mochāwe), nordamerikan. Indianerstamm der Yuma am untern Colorado, etwa 4000 Köpfe stark. Die zivilisierten M. bauen Weizen, Bohnen, Mais und Melonen, die übrigen schweifen unstet umher, bewohnen während des Sommers Hütten aus …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Mohave — ou Mojave (désert) rég. désertique des È. U., au S. E. de la Californie …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Mohave — Reservate der Mohave und benachbarter Stämme im Südwesten der Vereinigten Staaten Die Mohave, auch Mojave geschrieben, sind Yuma sprechende Indianer aus der Hoka Sprachfamilie und lebten in der Mojave Wüste am Unterlauf des Colorado Rivers in… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mohave — /moh hah vee/, n., pl. Mohaves, (esp. collectively) Mohave, adj. n. 1. a member of a North American Indian tribe belonging to the Yuman linguistic family, formerly located in the Colorado River valley of Arizona and California. adj. 2. of or… …   Universalium

  • mohave — o mojave Indígenas norteamericanos que viven mayoritariamente en Arizona, EE.UU. El idioma mohave es de la familia de lingüística yuma. Su territorio tradicional era el desierto de Mohave a lo largo del curso inferior del río Colorado. Este valle …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Mohave — noun 1. a member of the North American Indian people formerly living in the Colorado river valley in Arizona and Nevada and California • Syn: ↑Mojave • Hypernyms: ↑Hokan, ↑Hoka 2. a desert area in southern California and western Arizona • Syn:… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Mohave — /moʊˈhavi/ (say moh hahvee) noun 1. a Native American people belonging to the Yuman linguistic family, formerly situated on both sides of the Colorado river. 2. (plural Mohave or Mohaves) a member of this people. –adjective 3. of or relating to… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Mohave — Mojave Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Le peuple des Mojaves ou Mohaves est une tribu d Amérindiens. La langue mojave est la langue amérindienne qu ils pratiquent. On a nommé en leur… …   Wikipédia en Français

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