Pima

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Related to Akimel O'odham: Tohono O'odham, Pima Indians

Pima

(pē`mə), Native North American tribe of S Arizona. They speak the Pima language of the Uto-Aztecan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic family (see Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
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). There are two divisions, the Lower Pima and the Upper Pima. Before the mission period, the Pima and the Tohono O'OdhamTohono O'Odham
or Papago
, Native North Americans speaking a language that belongs to the Uto-Aztecan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock (see Native American languages) and that is closely related to that of their neighbors, the Pima.
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, who spoke variations of the same language, called themselves the People—River People (Akimel O'Odham, the Pima) and Desert People (Tohono O'Odham). Archaeological evidence shows their probable ancestors to have been the HohokamHohokam
, term denoting the culture of the ancient agricultural populations inhabiting the Salt and Gila river valleys of S Arizona (A.D. 300–1200). They are noted for their extensive irrigation systems, with canals over 10 mi (16 km) long that channeled water to
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, who built a network of irrigation canals for farming. Many of the ruined pueblos in the Pima territory have been attributed to an ancient Pueblo tribe. Tradition further states that increased population caused the Pima to spread over a larger territory, but invading hostile tribes (probably Apache) forced them to consolidate. Thus in 1697, when visited by Father Eusebio KinoKino, Eusebio Francisco
, c.1644–1711, missionary explorer in the American Southwest, b. Segno, in the Tyrol. He was in 1669 admitted to the Jesuit order. A distinguished mathematician, he observed the comet of 1680–81 at Cádiz, publishing his results in his
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, the Pima were living on the Gila River in S central Arizona.

Although the Pima were warlike toward the Apache, they were friendly to the Spanish and later to the pioneers from the E United States; the Pima villages were a stopping place for pioneers who took the southern route to California. The Pima were sedentary farmers of the Southwest area; they farmed corn, squash, beans, cotton, and wheat (introduced by the Spanish). They lived in dome-shaped huts built of poles and covered with mud and brush. Women performed much of the labor, including basket making; their baskets are noted for their beauty. The Pima were expert with the bow and arrow and had war clubs and rawhide shields. The Pima numbered some 2,500 in 1775, but their population was increased when the Maricopa joined them in the early 19th cent. The Pima now live, together with the Maricopa, on the Gila River and Salt River reservations and, with the Tohono O'Odham, on the Ak-Chin reservation, all in Arizona. They earn their income from agriculture, crafts, and leasing land for mineral development. In 1990 there were over 15,000 Pima in the United States.

Bibliography

See P. H. Ezell, The Hispanic Acculturation of the Gila River Pimas (1961).

Pima

 

an American Indian tribe that in the 16th century lived along the Gila River and in the foothills of the Sierra Madre, in what is now the state of Arizona. The Pima language is related to the Sonoran group of the Uto-Aztecan language family. The basis of the Pima economy from ancient times was land cultivation; the Pima practiced irrigation and grew maize, beans, squash, and cotton. From the Europeans they adopted stock raising and the plow, which they used to cultivate.

In social relations, the Pima stood on the threshold of a class society; the basic social units were the large patriarchal family and the community of neighbors. Irrigation work was directed by a community council headed by an elder and a chief. In the late 16th century, Pima lands were declared Spanish possessions, and in 1848 the Pima became wards of the US government. They were deprived of their best lands and irrigation canals, and their thriving economy came to an end. The modern Pima (approximately 7,000 persons in the 1960’s) live on the Gila River and Salt River Indian reservations in Arizona. They work as hired hands.