Comeya Tribe

Comeya Indians. Apparently a collective name indefinitely applied to the Yuman tribes from San Diego eastward to the lower Rio Colorado. By many authors it has been assumed to be synonymous with Diegueno, which doubtless it was in part. Just what tribes it included can not now be told, but the term is here applied only to interior tribes, the Diegueno about San Diego being excluded. When visited by Anza, Garcés, and Font, in 1775, the “Quemayá” wore sandals of maguey fiber and descended from their own territory (which began at the mountains, in lat. 33 08 , some 100 m. to the N. w. of the mouth of New r. in N. E. Lower California, and extended as far as San Diego) to eat calabashes and other fruits of the river. They were described as “very dirty, on account of the much mezcal they eat; their idiom is foreign to those of the river” 1. They were also visited in 1826 by Lieut. Hardy 2, who found them on the Colorado just above the mouth of the Gila, and who described them, under the name Axua (which, he says, is their tribal name), as being very numerous and filthy in their habits; to overcome vermin they coated their hair with mud, with which they also painted their bodies, and on a hot day it is by no means uncommon to see them weltering in the mud like pigs. They were of medium stature, and were regarded by Hardy as excessively poor, having no animals except foxes, of which they had a few skins. The dress of the women in summer was a short bark skirt; the men appear to have been practically without clothing during this season. Both sexes practiced facial painting, from which they were likened to the cohra de capello. The practice of selling children seemed to have been common. Their subsistence was fish, fruits, vegetables, and the seeds of grass, and many of the tribe were said to have been dreadfully scorbutic. Their weapons were bows, arrows, a few lances, and a short club like a round mallet. Whipple described the Comeya in 1849 3 as occupying the banks of New River, near Salt (Salton) lake, and as distinguishable from the Cuchan (Yuma) “by an oval contour of the face.” The names of but few Comeya bands or rancherias are known. These are:

  • Hamechuwa,
  • Hatawa,
  • Hepow-woo,
  • Itaywiy,
  • Quathlmetha.

For Further Study

The following articles and manuscripts will shed additional light on the Comeya as both an ethnological study, and as a people.


  1. Garcés, Diary, 1775, 165, 197, et seq., 1900[]
  2. Hardy, Trav. in Mex., 368-372, 1829[]
  3. Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, II, 116, 1852[]

Comeya, Yuman,

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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