Downtown Needles, CA: Over 100 people attended an event on the history of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe and the Chemehuevi Tribe at Palo Verde College’s Needles Center.

Downtown Needles, CA: Over 100 people attended an event on the history of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe and the Chemehuevi Tribe at Palo Verde College’s Needles Center.

Over 100 people came out to learn about the history of the Aha Macav (Fort Mojave Indian Tribe) and the Nuwu (Chemehuevi Tribe) on Thursday, February 15th, 2018 inside the Palo Verde College’s Needles Center in Downtown Needles, California.

** Live Broadcast: Presentations by Simon Garcia of the Aha Macav (Fort Mojave Indian Tribe): **

** Live Broadcast: Presentations by Matt Leivas of the Nuwu (Chemehuevi Tribe): **

The event was broadcast live at ZachNews on Facebook as the Needles Regional Museum and Palo Verde College’s Needles Center featured a presentations by Simon Garcia of the Aha Macav (Fort Mojave Indian Tribe) and Matt Leivas of the Nuwu (Chemehuevi Tribe).

Simon Garcia talked about life, history, and traditions of the Aha Macav (Fort Mojave Indian Tribe), including the stretch and spirit of the Aha Macav people, what man and woman warn and lived in back then, and what was done ceremonial to a person who passes away.

According to the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe website, Mojave Indians are Pipa Aha Macav — “The People By The River.” Mojave culture traces the earthly origins of its people to Spirit Mountain, the highest peak in the Newberry Mountains, located northwest of the present reservation inside the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

The Tribe’s spirit mentor, Mutavilya, created the Colorado River, its plants and animals, and instructed the Pipa Aha Macav in the arts of civilization. They were prosperous farmers with well-established villages and trade networks that stretched as far away as the Pacific Ocean.

In the 16th Century, the time the Spanish arrived in the territory, the Mojaves were the largest concentration of people in the Southwest.  With the ever-growing insurgence of non-Indian people to the region traditionally occupied by Pipa Aha Macav, a United States military outpost was established in 1859 on the east bank of the Colorado River to give safe passage to American immigrants traveling from east to west. Initially, this outpost was called Camp Colorado, but it was soon renamed Fort Mojave. After the military fort was closed in 1891, the buildings were transformed into a boarding school, which operated until 1930. Ruins of Fort Mojave still exist today as a reminder of the once-troubled historic relationship between Pipa Aha Macav and American civilization. The ruins are located on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River just south of the boundary of present-day Bullhead City.

The Fort Mojave Indian Reservation is located along the Colorado River in the vicinity of Needles, California.  The Reservation covers nearly 42,000 acres in the tri-state area of Arizona, California, and Nevada.  The land is divided into three major segments: 23,669 acres in Mojave County Arizona; 12,633 acres adjacent to Needles, California; and 5,582 acres in Clark County, Nevada.  Tribal headquarters are located in Needles, California.

According to the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, agriculture provides the basis for the Fort Mojave economy and 15,000 acres of land are under cultivation. Crops grown include staples like cotton, alfalfa and wheat.

The Mohave were among the few Southwestern nations that fished for their food. They did not make canoes like other tribes; instead they used rafts and poles to travel to different fishing spots. They utilized nets and baskets to catch the fish. Although the region was dry, the Mohave were able to develop irrigation systems which allowed them to grow crops of beans, squash, corn (or maize), and pumpkins. Even with their knowledge of how to use the land around them, they believed rain dances would help bring the rain they needed to crow their crops. The Mojave people did not wear much in the way of clothing. The men usually wore a simple loincloth. Women wore simple clothing made from animal skins like beaver and rabbit. Animal skin robes were sometimes worn on cool nights. The Mojave tribe differed from many other tribes in that they did not wear moccasins. They preferred to just go barefoot or wear sandals.Tattoos were popular among this tribe. They used ink from a blue cactus plant to adorn their bodies.

The jewelry they are most known for is their beadwork. They would create beaded collars with elaborate designs and patterns. These were valuable and often used in trading.

Mojave people built two different types of houses. One for the warm season and one for the cold season.In spring and summer when they were fishing near the Colorado River, the homes they built were raised on stilts in order to protect from flooding. These thatched huts or Wickiups were very simple homes which had wooden frames covered with grass or brush. Sturdier homes were built further from the river which they occupied during the colder months. These were usually made with clay which helped make the walls thick in order to keep the heat in.

The Mojave cremated their deceased and sang song cycles during the funeral. Wailing usually accompanied the bringing of the body and the cremation ceremony. If the deceased was a war chief or a warrior, they put on a ritualistic reenactment of the war. The Mojave believed that the spirit of the deceased remained with them for four days, at which time it went to join relatives in the spirit world. Spirits then went into a series of cremations and transformations. They believed that the spirit eventually ceased to exist.

The Mojave were religious and very spiritual. They beloved in the afterlife and tribe members were often buried with their belongings and with gifts from those in mourning.

** Information Sources: **

Simon Garcia, burn in Needles, California and is half Mexican and half Mojave, gave his life story growing up on the Mojave Reservation and sang songs well his great-niece and great-cousin, Emilee Jaylene Mills and Peyton Riley Jackson, dance during his presentation.

Afterwards refreshments provided by members of the Needles Regional Museum, Matt Leivas spoke about the history of the Nuwu (Chemehuevi Tribe) and the importance of the water along the Colorado River.

According to the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe website, Nüw (The People) were very civilized, not prone to human or animal sacrifice. All things, particularly those in nature, were revered as gifts from the Creator, the Ocean Woman. All Her creatures and even inanimate objects were endowed with supernatural powers, particularly the Animals (The First People). Mouse and Woodrat, for example, were able to extract diseases from a person.

There were three ages of Nüw civilization though some non-Indian “experts” say there were two.When the Earth Was Covered with Water speaks of Creation, When the Animals Were People was the time of myth and magic, and When Wolf & Coyote Went Away began the age of man. In story-telling, a winter pastime, one always precedes his story with the appropriate phrase.

After Wolf & Coyote Went Away, man was on his own. The Creator’s two helpers left us with everything we needed to survive and rose to the sky to become the rainbow. Their colorful capes drape the earth after a rain.Religion was in no way ritualistic but more a personal and individual relationship between a person and the Creator.

The gods are called Huivarum Karur, which means “those who sit here” and, when said, the space beside one is always indicated. It was not until modern times that Chemehuevi accepted the Christian notion that the Creator was male and became known as a “he”. Prayers were said only to the Ocean Woman in times of trouble. When a child lost its first baby tooth, the tooth was thrown away with a prayer to Her that she replace it with a bigger and better one. Prayers to the departed (Spirits) were necessary to protect the living, especially children.

Religion and daily living were one and the same, so no aspect of life was dichotomized. Our nomadic forebears traveled in family groups and very often settled near relatives and became a virtual village. Chieftaincy was inherited, handed down from father to the eldest son, and these Clan Chiefs were outranked by the High Chiefs, who were revered almost as much as the shamans. Black- eyed beans were said to be the food of the High Chiefs as its properties gave them wisdom and courage.

Male and female children were treated the same. All learned to make weapons and tools, and hunt and prepare food because survival skills were paramount. As they neared puberty, they would begin to learn the differences between men and women, which, to the old ones, were few.

The roles of men and women were never defined or delineated because both had to do the same kind of work at some point. While parents were initially responsible for them, it was incumbent on sundry aunts and uncles to keep children in check; “it takes a village” certainly applied then. The sense of right and wrong began at an early age and usually came from stories (fables, if you will). Bad behavior invited unbearable gossip and public ridicule. The most extreme punishments were banishment or death.

Death was perhaps the more preferred because a banished person could never return or claim to be of the people who had driven him away. As in a death, his name could never be spoken again. He finished out his days as a non- person.

Harmony and respect were the way. A person with negative traits such as anger, meanness of spirit, jealousy and laziness was considered a liability. Having a good sense of humor was very important to Nüw.

While much of the culture is lost, a few remember the stories and language of their forebears. The Chemehuevi Tribe offers classes in Nüwü Ampagap (the People’s Language).

Nüw being a Southern Paiute, our language very closely resembles that spoken by the Moapa Paiutes. It is classified as Uto-Aztecan, and more precisely Numic.

Interesting “tidbits” When a female infant’s umbilical cord falls off, it is put in Packrat’s nest so that she will be a good gatherer.

A male infant’s is buried along a Deer trail so that he will be a good hunter.It is customary to offer the first bite to the Spirits when you eat outdoors because you are in their domain.

Nüw did not eat anything from the water because it was thought unclean. It is likely that this goes back to the Creator. When the Animals Were People, they gathered to discuss civilization.

When it was time to decide how many seasons there should be, only Owl answered by raising a foot, so the number of seasons is four.

** Information Source: **

The event was organized by the Needles Regional Museum and Palo Verde College’s Needles Center, and during the event, the Needles Regional Museum received items from Simon Garcia of the Aha Macav (Fort Mojave Indian Tribe) and Matt Leivas of the Nuwu (Chemehuevi Tribe).


The Needles Regional Museum is located at 929 Front Street near G Street in Downtown Needles, California and is opened Monday through Saturday from 10:00am to 2:00pm PT.

Great work to Simon Garcia, Matt Leivas, and staff at the Needles Regional Museum and Palo Verde College’s Needles Center.

** Live Broadcast and Pictures from ZachNews: **

%d bloggers like this: