Colorado River Agency in 1890

Report of Special. Agent Walter G. Marmon on the Indians of Colorado River reservation, Colorado River agency, and the non- reservation Indians, Chimejueves and Hualapais, Yuma County, Arizona, January, 1891.

Names of Indian tribes or parts of tribes occupying said reservation: (a) Hwalapai, Kemahwivi (Tantawait), Koahualla, Kokopa, Mohavi, and Yuma.

The unallotted area of this reservation is 300,800 acres, or 470 square miles. The out boundaries have been surveyed, and it is partially subdivided. It was established, altered, or changed by act of Congress approved March 3, 1865 (13 IT. S. Stats., p. 559); executive orders, November 22, 1873, November 16, 1874, and May 15, 1676.

Indian population June 1, 1890: 640.

The Mohaves

The Mohaves are apparently decreasing in numbers. Those on the Colorado River reservation, as reported by special enumeration, number at present 640; those off the reservation, according to the regular census, about. 420. They are physically fine looking, good workers, readily adopt the white man’s dress, and are anxious to learn his methods of industry.

In seasons of flood, which occur every 4 or 5 years, portions of the valley in which they live are overflowed, and they are able to raise wheat, corn, beans, pumpkins, squashes, and melons. Their principal food is the screw and mesquite beans, which grow in great abundance, and are gathered by the women and placed on elevated platforms for further use. These beans are also used-for feeding the agency stock instead of corn or other grain. The Mohaves own but little stock-a few horses and burros and some chickens. Their custom of killing animals when the owner dies keeps them very poor in this respect.

The Mohaves on this reservation have lived, in the region where they are now located since the advent of the whites; those at The Needles either at The Needles or where the reservation is; those at Fort Mohave, in the neighborhood of Fort Mohave or on the reservation, passing back and forth, being of the same tribe and having one common chief (Hook-a-row, or Hookevado), who always lived where the reservation is.

The Chimejueves

No separate census of the Chimejueves has been taken. They were taken in the regular census. They are supposed to number about 200, and are apparently decreasing. Ten or more families, engaged somewhat in farming, live about 40 miles south of The Needles, in the Chimejueve valley, which lies on either side of the Colorado River, and has an area of arable land not exceeding one township. They build good houses, dress as a rule better than the Mohaves, speak a little Spanish and English, and. the men work on the railroad and in other pursuits. They are a branch of the Southern Piutes, who formerly ranged north as far as Utah, and properly belong to the Colorado River agency. A long time ago they settled in the Chimejueve valley, 30 miles above the Colorado River reservation. For several years the Chimejueves were on this reservation. They are reduced in number.

The Hualapais

The Hualapais are located in the mountains near Kingman, and work in the mines and on the railroad. They are in destitute circumstances, and do little or no farming. They number about 630, enumerated in the regular census. In 1872, 1,100 were placed on the Colorado River reservation, where they remained 2 years. They then left of their own accord and went back to the mountains; north, at where the town of Kingman now is, on the line of the Atlantic and Pacific railroad, where they are now located.

The Hualapais are all under one chief, but divided into different bands. They formerly lived in the mountains near Beals Springs, Arizona.-GEORGE A. ALLEN, United States Indian, agent.

Colorado River Reservation

Mojave Indian School Boys
Colorado River Agency, Arizona, 1888
Mojave Indian School Boys

This reservation has an area of 300,800 acres, the Colorado River running through it from north to south. The bottom land, which is all arable, and of the best quality, has an area of fully 50,000 acres, covered with mesquite and screw bean trees and brush, with some cottonwood-abundant wood for fuel and fences. All kinds of grain, fruit and vegetables, and cotton do well.

The agency buildings are of adobe, without stone, foundations. Many of the walls are cracked and ready to fall. The present agent has cleared off about 15 acres of land and fenced it on the line of the old canal, ready to put in crops when the water comes down the ditch, and is doing the best he can to improve the surroundings.

The hospital building, situated about 100 yards from the agency proper, is in much the same condition as the other buildings. The agency physician has gained the confidence of the Indians. The number of his patients is increasing.

The health of those living on the reservation is generally good. About 30 of the Indians have been treated during the year for syphilis, rheumatism, and lung troubles. The sanitary condition is much better than that of many tribes with which I am acquainted. There is no evidence of disease among the school children.

The climate is very equable, temperature never excessively hot and seldom below freezing; elevation about 300 feet. The agency stock consists of 2 horses, 4 mules, 1 bull, and 6 cows and calves. The value of the agency buildings does not exceed $10,000.


The agency school seems to be in a prosperous condition, 24 girls and 31 boys being in attendance, the full capacity of the building. The girls are taught sewing and other household duties. No industrial work is being done by the boys.


The Mohaves are a sober, industrious, and peaceable people, who live in better houses than mere nomads, adopt the white man’s dress, and seem anxious to better their condition. They cremate their dead in the following manner: a trench 5 feet 6 inches wide and 2 feet deep is first dug and filled with some inflammable wood; over this trench, upon a bier 4 feet high, built of cottonwood logs, is placed the dead body, wrapped in a sheet or blanket. The household goods of the dead are piled upon the body, and a fire kindled; any stock owned by the family of the deceased is led up and killed, the friends meantime keeping up a wailing lamentation until the body is consumed, after which the trench is covered.

Fort Mohave

This is now a government Indian school, situated 18 miles north of The Needles, on the Arizona side of the Colorado river. It is a beautiful location; the buildings are well arranged, in good condition, and can accommodate 200 pupils. The school has an attendance of 42 boys and 14 girls, principally Mohaves, with a few Chimejueves and 2 Hualapais.


Mojave Indian School Girls
Colorado River Agency, Arizona, 1888
Mojave Indian School Girls

The Colorado River reservation has a sufficient area of tillable land to give every Mohave, Chimejueve, and Hualapai a good farm. No better soil can be found anywhere. Crops will grow the year round, and all fruits, from the apple to the orange, will grow there. For miles in every direction beyond this reservation the country is a barren waste, no place for settlers, making it a natural reservation, if isolation is a requisite. The Indians say: “The first thing to be done is to put water on the land; then, with proper management, the rest will follow. Give us water, so that we can plant, and we will all go to the reservation. We want to live as the white man does.”

Hookevado, the Mohave chief, and his people complain that citizens living at Ehrenberg have been trespassing upon the southern part of the reservation, and it was claimed that the corners on the south boundary had been destroyed by white men. The Indians say they would be glad to build a fence of pickets on that line if they were allowed. In the vicinity of Lapaz a number of the Mohaves have cultivated fields, but the settlers’ stock is continually doing damage.

Department of the Interior. Report on Indians Taxed and Indians not Taxed in the United States, Except Alaska at the Eleventh Census: 1890. Washington DC: Government Printing Office. 1894.

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