California Colorado River Macro-Culture

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Ethnies Chemehuevi, Halchidhoma, Kohuana, Mojave, Yuma, and some western Arizona  and northwestern Mexico ethnies
Transitional Ethnies Kawaiisu, Tubatulabl
Shared Elements
Economy Capitalistic
Government Hereditary chiefs
Shamanism Male singers, divine powers; may be killed for failures or famine
Housing Sunken earth or pit house with wood frame, thatched, and covered with dirt
Marriage Informal
Ceremonies Dream songs
Creation Story Motif Quarreling brothers
Basketry Poor irregular plain twining and open-stitch coiling
Primary Foods Corn, squash, and beans
Disposition Bellicose


     The ethnies of the Colorado River macro-culture were the only farmers in California.  Its bellicose warriors, particularly of the Mojave and Yuma ethnies, traveled great distances across the southwestern deserts to raid other cultures.  This practice was continued well into the seventeenth century, and their belligerence deterred White migration across the Colorado River.

     Dreams were the basis of everything sacred to this macro-culture.  Their stories, their songs, even their individual identities were the product of dreams.  Datura, or toloache, was often used.  They practiced a "Dream Song" series that included "Bird Songs", though these songs were different from those of the Southern California macro-culture.  However, they shared the quarreling brothers motif of their creation stories with the inland ethnies of the Southern California macro-culture.

     Art was not important in the Dream macro-culture.  They had an informal social structure in which funerals were by far the most important rite of passage.  Wailing often occurred once death was certain even before the person died.

     Inhabitants of the Colorado River region did not live in village per se.  Rather, individual houses were spread out over long stretches of the river's shore.