Mojave Desert Indians -
Historic Desert Indian Territories Map:
There was chaos in the beginning, and from the earth and sky was
born the Great Spirit Matavilya. People sprang from Avi kwa' ame, the great mountain.
But, Matavilya was killed by his sister, Frog Woman, before he could teach the people
how to live. Little brother Mastamho took charge and with a willow stick he drew a line
in the sand and the line became the river. With the river came the ducks and the fish, and
Mastamho scraped the mud from the banks of the river and made the mountains.
The people knew nothing, and Mastamho showed the people everything, to know day from night,
to plant, to build a fire and a house for shelter. He showed them how to hunt and fish, how
to count and the four directions. And when the people learned to do these things, he gave
them all he had created. The river and everything along it -- it was theirs, they
were the Aha Macav, the people who live along the water.
Three groups, made up the Aha-Macav along the
mostly in the area
where the states of Nevada, Arizona and California come together.
The northernmost group was the Matha lyathum, who lived
in Black Canyon south to the Mojave Valley.
The Hutto-pah inhabited the central Mojave Valley.
The Kavi lyathum occupied the area south of the Mojave Valley to below
the Needles Peaks.
The dream world to the Mojave, was just as real as the physical world. Through dreams
they could travel back to the time of creation and learn the meaning of things. They
could learn of gifts they had been given. Powers and abilities certain men had been given
to heal or lead in battle. These people would fast for days and prove true to tests designed
to verify their talents and receive their visions.
The tall men would walk naked and cake their hair with mud, twisting it into shapes. The
beautiful women would wear rabbit and beaverskin capes. They practiced face tattooing and
painting. The spirit of a Mojave who died without face tattoos would go into a rat hole
in the ground and remain. They would tattoo their captives and slaves with marks of
The Colorado River
Their life centered around the river. They relied on annual overflow to irrigate their
crops of melon, corn, pumpkin and beans. They would gather mesquite beans as wells as other
wild seeds and roots. They would use traps and nets to take game and fish from the river.
They were traders, and would follow the trails as far as the Pacific coast
to obtain items that were not available to them in the desert.
Warriors in Battle
They could defend their territory with great fierocity. They were brave in battle. War parties
could travel hundreds of miles, living on chia seeds and water.
They fought with clubs, hitting the tops their enemy's heads driving them down, then swinging
up to crush their jaws. They would take scalps and prisoners. Captives would later be
sacrificed to serve fallen warriors in heaven. They would follow the warrior master's spirit
up Avi kwa' ame, the way to heaven, the Spirit Mountain. They would purify themselves before
returning home, so that dark spirits would be lost and not follow them.
For more complete information see;
ETHNOGRAPHY & ETHNOHISTORY
People by the Water - Ft. Mojave Indian Tribe
Edward Curtis Photo Callery
About the Mohave Indians:
Material Culture, Technology
Food Preparation and Acquisition
Trade, Exchange, Storage
The Military & Pioneers
World War II and Beyond
East Mojave Desert
Photo tours of Mojave Territory
Havasu WR Bird Lists
Fr. Fransisco Garces
Edward F. Beale
Bigelow Cholla Garden
Old Woman Mountains
Photos of Petroglyph Sites