Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert
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Mojave Ethnography & Ethnohistory

Social Structure

The Mojaves are said to be a tribe in a more traditional sense of the word than most California Native Americans. They thought of themselves as a national entity, and of their traditional territory as a country. Within this larger entity, they had patrilineal clans, in which only the women bore the clan names-all in the clan having the same clan name, which was followed by a nickname to distinguish one from another. Men were called by the clan name only in ceremonies. Ordinarily the men were known by nicknames.

The Mojaves had hereditary great chiefs belonging to the Malika clan, except that a great chief was chosen from another clan when the Malika clan had no one whom the people trusted. There were three sub-groups within the Mojave nation: the northern, central, and southern. Each had one or more chiefs. In 1859, the central group, which occupied Mohave Valley, had five chiefs. In addition to these chiefs, there were military leaders who had a great deal of prestige. Dreaming as a means of acquiring power was even more important among the Mojave then among other California groups (Sherer 1965, 1966, and 1967).

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Mosa, Mohave - E. Curtis (1903)
Mojave Indian girl photo by Edward Curtis, 1903
"It would be difficult to conceive of a more thorough aboriginal than this Mohave girl. Her eyes are those of the fawn of the forest, questioning the strange things of civilization upon which it gazes for the first time."
~ Curtis

ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - glossary
ghost towns - gold mines - parks & public lands: wilderness - native culture - history - geology: natural features - comments

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