Pima Indians

Pima Indians. Signifying “no” in the Nevome dialect and incorrectly applied through misunderstanding by the early missionaries. Also called:

  • Â’-â’tam, own name, signifying “people,” or, to distinguish them from the Papago
  • Â’-â’tam â’kimûlt, “river people.”
  • Nashteíse, Apache name, signifying “live in mud houses.”
  • Paǐnyá, probably name given by Havasupai.
  • Saikiné, Apache name, signifying “living in sand (adobe) houses,” also applied to Papago and Maricopa.
  • Teχ-păs, Maricopa name.
  • Tihokahana, Yavapai name.
  • Widshi ǐti’kapa, Tonto-Yuma name.

Pima Connections. The Pima gave their name to the Piman linguistic stock of Powell, which is now recognized to be a subdivision of the great Uto-Aztecan stock, also including the Nahuatlan and Shoshonean families. The tribes connected most intimately with the Pima were the Papago (see above) and the Quahatika (q. v.), and after them the so-called Pima Bajo or Nevome of Mexico.

Pima Location. In the valleys of the Gila and Salt Rivers.

Pima Subdivisions. Formerly the name Pima was applied to two tribes called respectively the Pima Bajo and Pima Alto, but the former, living chiefly in Sonora, Mexico, are now known as Nevome, the term Pima being restricted to the Pima Alto.

Pima Villages

  • Agua Escondida, probably Pima or Papago, southwest of Tubac, southwestern Arizona.
  • Agua Fria, probably Pima, on Gila River Reservation.
  • Aquitun, 5 miles west of Picacho, on the border of the sink of the Santa Cruz River.
  • Aranca, two villages, location unknown.
  • Arenal, probably Pima, on the Pima and Maricopa Reservation, Gila River.
  • Arivaca, west of Tubao.
  • Arroyo Grande, southern Arizona.
  • Bacuancos, 7 leagues south of the mission of Guevavi, northwestern Sonora, Mexico.
  • Bisani, 8 leagues southwest of Caborica, Sonora, Mexico.
  • Blackwater.
  • Bonostac, on the upper Santa Cruz River, below Tucson.
  • Busanic, southwest of Guevavi, near the Arizona-Sonora boundary, latitude 31°10′ N. longitude 111°10′ W.
  • Cachanila, probably Pima, on the Pima and Maricopa Reservation, Ariz.
  • Casa Blanca, on the Gila.
  • Cerrito, probably Pima, on the Pima and Maricopa Reservation, Ariz.
  • Cerro Chiquito, probably Pima, on the Pima and Maricopa Reservation, Ariz.
  • Chemisez, on the Gila.
  • Chupatak, in southern Arizona.
  • Chutikwuchik.
  • Chuwutukawutuk, in southern Arizona.
  • Cocospera, on the headwaters of the Rfo San Ignacio, latitude 31° N., Sonora, Mexico.
  • Comae, on the Gila River, 3 leagues (miles?) below the mouth of Salt River, Ariz.
  • Estancia, 4 leagues south of the mission of Saric, which was just south of the Arizona boundary.
  • Gaibanipitea, probably Pima, on a hill on the west bank of the San Pedro River, probably identical with the ruins known as Santa Cruz, west of Tombstone, Ariz. Gutubur, locality unknown.
  • Harsanykuk, at Sacaton Flats, southern Arizona.
  • Hermho, on the north side of Salt River, 3 miles from Mesa, Maricopa County, Ariz.
  • Hiatam, north of Maricopa Station on the Southern Pacific R. R., southern Arizona.
  • Hormiguero, probably Pima, on the Pima and Maricopa Reservation, Ariz.
  • Huchiltchik, below Santa Ana, on the north bank of the Gila.
  • Hueso Parado, with Maricopa, on the Pima and Maricopa Reservation, Ariz.
  • Imuris, near the eastern bank of Rio San Ignacio, or Magdalena, latitude 30°50′ N. longitude 110°50′ W., in the present Sonora, Mexico.
  • Judac, on the Gila.
  • Kamatukwucha, at the Gila crossing.
  • Kamit, in southern Arizona.
  • Kawoltukwucha, west of the Maricopa and Phoenix R. R., in Maricopa County, Ariz.
  • Kikimi, on the Gila River Reservation.
  • Kookupvansik, in southern Arizona.
  • Mange, on the Gila.
  • Merced, northeast of San Rafael, in what is now southern Arizona.
  • Nacameri, on the east bank of Rio Horcasitas, Sonora, Mexico.
  • Napeut, on the north bank of the Gila.
  • Ocuca, in Sonora, Mexico, near the Rio San Ignacio, northwest of Santa Ana.
  • Oquitoa, on the Rio del Altar, northwestern Sonora, Mexico.
  • Ormejea, in southern Arizona.
  • Oskakumukchochikam, in southern Arizona.
  • Oskuk, on the Gila.
  • Peepchiltk, northeast of Casa Blanca, southern Arizona.
  • Pescadero, in northern Sonora, Mexico.
  • Petaikuk, in southern Arizona.
  • Pitao, on the Gila.
  • Baserac, and the frontier in Sonora, Mexico, but this was Opata territory.
  • Remedios, a mission on the San Ignacio branch of the Rio Asunción, in Sonora, Mexico.
  • Rsanuk, about 1 mile east of Sacaton Station, on the Maricopa and Phoenix R. R., southern Arizona.
  • Rsotuk, northwest of Casa Blanca, southern Arizona.
  • Sacaton, on the Gila, about 22 miles east of Maricopa Station and 16 miles north of Casa Grande Station on the Southern Pacific R. R:, Ariz.
  • San Andres Coats, near the junction of the Gila and Salado Rivers, Ariz.
  • San Fernando, 9 leagues east of the ruins of Casa Grande, near the Gila.
  • San Francisco Ati, west of the Santa Cruz River, Ariz.,
  • San Francisco de Pima, 10 or 12 leagues above the Rio Asunción from Pitic, about latitude 31° N., Sonora, Mexico.
  • San Serafin, northwest of San Xavier del Bac, southern Arizona.
  • Santan, on the north bank of the Gila, opposite the Pima Agency.
  • Santos Angeles, in Sonora, Mexico.
  • Saopuk, at The Cottonwoods, on the Gila River.
  • Sepori, south of the Gila River, Ariz.
  • Shakaik, on the north side of the Gila, northwest of Casa Blanca.
  • Statannvik, on the south bank of the Gila, between Vaaki (Casa Blanca) and Huchiltchik.
  • Stukamasoosatick, on the Gila River Reservation.
  • Sudacson, on the Gila River, Pinal County, Ariz., between Casa Grande and a point 10 leagues below.
  • Tatsituk, about Cruz’s store in southern Arizona.
  • Taumaturgo.
  • Tubuscabors, on or near the Gila River, southern Arizona.
  • Tucson, probably with Papago and Sobaipuri, on the site of modern Tucson.
  • Tucubavia, on the headwaters of Rio Altar, northern Sonora, Mexico.
  • Tutuetac, about 16 miles northwest of Tucson and west of the Santa Cruz River, in southern Arizona.
  • Uturituc, on the Gila and probably on the site of the present Sacaton.
  • Wechurt, at North Blackwater, southern Arizona.

Pima History

According to native tradition, the Pima originated in the Salt River Valley and spread later to the Gila River. They attribute the large adobe ruins in their country, including the Casa Grande, to their ancestors, and tell stories of their occupancy of them, but the connection is still in doubt. The Nevome and Opata of the Altar, Magdalena, and Sonora Rivers are said to have sprung from Pima colonies. They claim that their old manner of life was ended by three bands of foreigners from the east, who destroyed their pueblos, devastated their fields, and killed or enslaved many of their people. The rest fled to the mountains, and when they returned they did not rebuild the substantial adobe structures which they had formerly occupied, but lived in dome-shaped lodges of pliable poles covered with thatch and mud. Russell (1908) considers it unlikely that Coronado encountered the Pima, but in 1694 Father Eusebio Francisco Kino reached the Casa Grande and undoubtedly met them. Under his inspiration, an expedition was sent to the Gila in 1697 to ascertain the disposition of the tribe. In 1698 he again visited them and between that date and 1702 entered their country four times more. In 1731 Fathers Felipe Segresser and Juan Bautista Grashoffer took charge of the missions of San Xavier del Bac and San Miguel de Guevavi and became the first permanent Spanish residents of Arizona. Padre Ignacio Javier Keller visited the Pima villages in 1736–37 and in 1743, and Sedelmayr reached the Gila in 1750. The first military force to be stationed among the Pima was a garrison of 50 men at Tubac on the Santa Cruz. The presidio was moved to Tucson about 1776 and in 1780 it was in-creased to hold 75 men. Between 1768 and 1776 Father Francisco Garc4s made five trips from Xavier del Bac to the Pimas and beyond. In 1851 parties of the Boundary Survey Commission passed down the Gila River, and J. R. Bartlett, the American Commissioner, has left an excellent description of the Pima Indians (Bartlett, 1854). After the California gold rush began, the Pima frequently assisted parties of explorers and travelers who were making the southern route, and they often protected them from the Apache. In 1853 the Gadsden Purchase transferred the Pima to the jurisdiction of the United States. Surveys for a railroad through Pima territory were made in 1854 and 1855, but it was not constructed until 1879. In the meantime the Pima were subjected to contact with White outlaws and border ruffians of the worst description, and White settlers threatened to absorb their supplies of water. In 1857 the first United States Indian Agent for the territory acquired by the Gadsden Purchase was appointed. In 1871 the first school among them was opened.

Pima Population. Mooney (1928) estimates that there were 4,000 Pima in 1680. In 1775 Garces placed the number of those on the Gila River at 2,500. In 1906 there were 3,936 in all; in 1910, according to the United States Census, 4,236; and in 1923, according to the Report of the United States Indian Office, 5,592. The 1930 census returned 4,382. The Indian Office reported 5,170 in 1937.

Connections in which the Pima Indians have become noted. Pima County, Ariz., and a post town in Graham County, Ariz., preserve the name of the Pima, which has also been made familiar to ethnographers and geographers by the use to which it has been put in the Powell classification to cover a supposed linguistic stock. There is little doubt, however, that this supposed stock is merely a part of a much larger stock, the


Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top