Quechan (American Indians Ready Reference)
The Quechan, or Yuma, tribe is one of the few that have never been relocated away from their ancestral land. Quechan territory lies around the confluence of the Gila and Colorado rivers. The Quechan came to this area between 1540 and 1700. (Although “Yuma” is essentially synonymous with Quechan, the term “Yuman” applies to a language group and to a number of tribes, including the Quechan, Maricopa, and Cocopa.)
The Quechan derived their subsistence from cultivating the rivers’ floodplains and from gathering wild fruits, nuts, and seeds. A popular wild food was mesquite, which they ground into flour for cakes or fermented to make an intoxicating beverage.
Apart from shamans, the spiritual leaders, there was a kwaxot, or civil leader, and a kwanami, or war leader. The primary leader was probably the paipataxan, or “real person,” who made the majority of decisions about issues that affected the tribe.
The Quechan were occasionally in conflicts with the Cocopa, Maricopa, and Pima. Sometimes the Quechan would ally themselves with the Mojave and Sand Papago (Tohono O’odham) tribes. Attacks were initiated to steal supplies and obtain captives that could be traded for horses and other necessities. In the 1770's, Europeans and Mexicans attempted to control the area where the Gila and Colorado rivers join by trying to “civilize” the Quechan. Eventually, the Quechan tired of their new allies’...
(The entire section is 402 words.)
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