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Quotations about the
Indigenous Peoples of Arizona



Welcome to my page of quotations about the true Arizona natives, who were here long before any of us transplants and long before Arizona was a territory or a state — from the prehistoric cultures of the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi), Hohokam, Mogollon, Patayan (Hakataya), and Sinagua, to all the contemporary tribes and peoples.  —ღ Terri


Long before the Wild West. Even before the extinction of saber-toothed cats and the mammoth. As far back as 12,000 years ago, indigenous cultures made their home in what, today, we affectionately call Arizona. ~“History & Heritage: American Indian Tribal Lands,” VisitArizona.com, 2020


Arizona is home to 22 tribes, each with its own rich history, culture, language and land base. ~“Arizona Indian Communities,” Heard Museum, www.heard.org, 2014


Could I but speak your tongue
      I would sing of pastel colored cliffs
      Where, under sapphire skies,
      The raincloud gently drifts.
      Of wondrous sunlit valleys wide,
      Timeless home of your clan — your tribe.
Could I but speak your tongue
      I would sing a prayer that in future days
      You would ever honor your ancient ways,
      And that the Gods of health and peace
      In their boundless blessings, never cease,
      To be generous to these children here below,
      These children of the Desert.
~C. J. Colby, “Song to the Indian,” Arizona Highways, August 1973, arizonahighways.com


You are between vast walls, that rise a quarter of a mile or less apart, made of brilliant red sandstone, the walls reaching up to the very stars... A thousand, two thousand, feet high, the walls surely must be. Wonderful. Awe-inspiring. Majestic. You see a Navaho camp-fire and dancers; the song you hear is a death chant, sung to aid the spirit on its long journey to the other world beyond. You are in the Canyon de Chelly, the home of the ancient Cliff-Dwellers and also of the present-day Navahos. ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917


      The Navajo Nation has a land base of 27,000 square miles, extending into the States of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. This area has a long history going back as far as pre-historic times and the subsequent arrival of Spanish and European settlers...
      Centuries before Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas in 1491, Navajos were already settled in the Four Corners area of the Colorado Plateau. However, Navajos weren’t the first inhabitants of the land. According to Anthropologists and historians, Ice-Age Paleo-Indian hunters (12,000–6,000 B.C.) roamed the Monument Valley area thousands of years earlier, followed by archaic hunter gatherers (6,000 B.C.–1 A.D.). Evidence of Anasazi in Monument Valley is still visible through their sites and ruins dating before 1300 A.D. But it wasn’t until 1581 that the first Spaniards made contact with the Navajo. ~“Navajo History,” Navajo Tourism Department, DiscoverNavajo.com, 2017


The Navajo people, the Diné, passed through three different worlds before emerging into this world, The Fourth World, or Glittering World. The Diné believe there are two classes of beings: the Earth People and the Holy People... It is believed that centuries ago the Holy People taught the Diné how to live the right way and to conduct their many acts of everyday life. They were taught to live in harmony with Mother Earth, Father Sky and the many other elements such as man, animals, plants, and insects. ~Ray Baldwin Lewis, “Navajo Beliefs,” Navajo Nation, DiscoverNavajo.com, 2017


Diné Bikéyah (pronounced as Din’eh Bi’KAY’ah), or Navajoland, is unique because the people here have achieved something quite rare: the ability of an indigenous people to blend both traditional and modern ways of life. The Navajo Nation truly is a nation within a nation. ~“Yáʼátʼééh: Welcome to the Navajo Nation!,” Navajo Tourism Department, DiscoverNavajo.com, 2017


The land of the Navajos is a big land. It is a land where the horizon dances seductively in the distance, a beckoning sorceress tempting with promises unfilled. The land of the Navajos is a big land, big enough for the wind to romp in and to get lost in, big enough for the sun to assume its regal role as a pompous dictator, which it does in royal and imperious splendor. It is a color-drenched, sun-drenched land whose intense coloration can be hard on the eyes but pleasing to the soul. It is a land worthy of the people who live in it — the Navajos as colorful as their land... ~Raymond Carlson, “Delano: Beauty in Navajoland,” Arizona Highways, August 1968, arizonahighways.com


The Hopi people trace their history in Arizona to more than 2,000 years, but their history as a people goes back many more thousands of years, making the Hopi one of the oldest living cultures in documented history. ~“Arizona Indian Communities,” Heard Museum, www.heard.org, 2014, hopi-nsn.gov


      The Hopi Tribe is a sovereign nation located in northeastern Arizona. The reservation occupies part of Coconino and Navajo counties, encompasses more than 1.5 million acres, and is made up of 12 villages on three mesas.
      Since time immemorial the Hopi people have lived in Hopitutskwa and have maintained our sacred covenant with Maasaw, the ancient caretaker of the earth, to live as peaceful and humble farmers respectful of the land and its resources. Over the centuries we have survived as a tribe, and to this day have managed to retain our culture, language and religion despite influences from the outside world. ~“Loloma (Hello): Welcome to the Hopi Tribe,” hopi-nsn.gov, 2010


The Hopi–Tewa (also Tano, Southern Tewa, Hano, Thano, or Arizona Tewa) are a Tewa Pueblo group that resides on the eastern part of the Hopi Reservation on or near First Mesa in northeastern Arizona... The Hopi–Tewa are related to the Tewa communities living in the Rio Grande Valley, such as Santa Clara Pueblo and Ohkay Owingeh. ~“Hopi–Tewa,” Wikipedia.org, 2013


The Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community is a sovereign tribe located in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The Community is made up of two distinct tribes: the O'odham (Pima), or River People, and the Piipaash (Maricopa), or "People Who Live Toward the Water." Centuries ago, the Pima's ancestors, the Hohokam, farmed the Salt River Valley and created elaborate canal irrigation systems. The Maricopa originally came from the lower Gila and Colorado Rivers. In the 1800s, the two tribes began to combine their forces for protection against settlers and other tribes. ~VisitArizona.com, 2020, DiscoverSaltRiver.com


      The Gila River Indian Community is an Indian reservation in the U.S. state of Arizona, lying adjacent to the south side of the city of Phoenix, within the Phoenix Metropolitan Area in Pinal and Maricopa counties... The community is home for members of both the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and the Pee-Posh (Maricopa) tribes. Since before the arrival of the Bearded Ones (Spanish) the waters of the Gila River has provided for the Akimel O’otham. The Spanish gave these desert farmers a name which is still used today PIMA...
      Historically, the Akimel O’otham and Tohono O’odham were some of the world’s premier basketmakers, and the Tohono O’odham remain very active in this field. Among the Akimel O’otham, basket weaving is an art undergoing revival... The Maricopa Tribe is known for their red clay pottery work. ~Gila River Indian Community, GilaRiver.org, 2015


      The Tohono O’odham Nation... Our origins are linked to our homeland, the Sonoran Desert. Thousands of years ago, our predecessors, the Hohokam, settled along the Salt, Gila, and Santa Cruz Rivers. The Hohokam were master dwellers of the desert, creating sophisticated canal systems to irrigate their crops of cotton, tobacco, corn, beans, and squash. They built vast ball courts and huge ceremonial mounds and left behind fine red-on-buff pottery and exquisite jewelry of stone, shell, and clay...
      Historically, the O’odham inhabited an enormous area of land in the southwest, extending South to Sonora, Mexico, north to Central Arizona (just north of Phoenix, Arizona), west to the Gulf of California, and east to the San Pedro River. This land base was known as the Papagueria and it had been home to the O’odham for thousands of years...
      The division of O’odham lands has resulted in an artificial division of O’odham society. O’odham bands are now broken up into four federally recognized tribes: the Tohono O’odham Nation, the Gila River Indian Community, the Ak-Chin Indian Community, and the Salt River (Pima Maricopa) Indian community. Each band is now politically and geographically distinct and separate. The remaining band, the Hia-C’ed O’odham, are not federally recognized, but reside throughout southwestern Arizona. All of the groups still speak the O’odham language, which derives from the Uto-Aztecan language group, although each group has varying dialects. ~Tohono O’odham Nation, tonation-nsn.gov, 2016


The Ak-Chin Indian Community is nestled into the Santa Cruz Valley of Southern Arizona. The Community lies 35 miles south of Phoenix in the northwestern part of Pinal County. Ak-Chin is an O'odham word translated to mean "mouth of the wash" or "place where the wash loses itself in the sand or ground." It refers to a type of farming that relies on washes created by winter snows and summer rains. The Ak-Chin Indian Community is composed mainly of Akimel O'odham and Tohono O'odham as well as some Hia-Ced O'odham members. We currently have just over 1,100 tribal members. ~Ak-Chin Indian Community, ak-chin.nsn.us, 2020


Apache–Nde (The People) are a culturally rich Nation with heritage tied to Mother Earth, evident to this day our existence is steeped in thousands of years of lineage in descending knowledge passed down generational since time of creation... ~Apache Nation Chamber of Commerce, sancarlosapache.com, 2006


The San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation spans Gila, Graham and Pinal Counties in southeastern Arizona, and stretches over a landscape that ranges from alpine meadows to desert... Over one-third of the community’s land is forested or wooded. As a result, the reservation is a habitat for many wildlife species including elk, mule deer, turkeys, black bears and mountain lions. The Apaches are believed to be descendants of the Athabascan family who migrated to the Southwest in the 10th century. ~“Arizona Indian Communities,” Heard Museum, www.heard.org, 2014, sancarlosapache.com


The Tonto Apache Tribe is located adjacent to the town of Payson (originally named Te-go-suk, Place of the Yellow Water), in northwestern Gila County... The Tonto Apache are the direct descendants of the Tontos who lived in the Payson vicinity long before the advent of the Anglo. The large Rio Verde Reserve, near Camp Verde, was established in 1871 for the Tonto and Yavapai Indians. The Reserve was dissolved in 1875 when they were forcibly moved to the San Carlos Apache Reservation. Some Tontos gradually returned to Payson after 20 years of exile to find white settlers had taken much of their land. Today, legislation is pending which will provide them trust title to the land upon which they reside. Tribal members are well known in the art community for their outstanding bead work and basketry, which have won them national recognition and can be purchased on the reservation. ~Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, itcaonline.com/member-tribes/tonto-apache-tribe, 2020


“Dagot’ee”— Hello and welcome to the White Mountain Apache Tribe! Our home is in eastern Arizona, where we have lived for thousands of years. We believe that we come from the Earth, and that we belong to the Earth. Our beautiful home was given to us by our Creator and is rich in tradition, resources, wildlife, and outdoor recreation. Our home is very unique. It starts at about 2,600' above sea level on our southwest side, and ranges all the way up to 11,400' on the peak of Mt. Baldy on our eastern border, our most sacred mountain, providing year round recreation activities... Today, the People proudly retain their culture through language, songs and dance, and their ceremonies. ~White Mountain Apache Tribe, whitemountainapache.org, 2018


Apaches have been known since time immemorial for being resilient and having the will to survive in tough circumstances. In the face of many challenges, our fore fathers from long ago gave us these bloodlines that still remain today. The Tribal member of today has the ability to adapt and survive in the 21st century. With strong family values we embrace our past and look forward to future challenges together. ~White Mountain Apache Tribe, whitemountainapache.org, 2018


This land that is now the White Mountain Apache Reservation is the core of our homeland. We were placed here in the White Mountains by our Creator since time immemorial. In this land our ancestors learned to be N’dee — The People — and we have learned from them. There are many different nations of Apache people. We are Western Apaches, closely related to the people of San Carlos, Payson, and Camp Verde. Though there are differences in language, history, and culture, we are also related to the other Apache nations: the Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarrilla, Lipan, and Kiowa-Apache peoples. ~White Mountain Apache Tribe, whitemountainapache.org, 2018


The Yavapai–Apache Nation is located in the Verde Valley of Arizona and is comprised of five tribal communities: Tunlii, Middle Verde, Rimrock, Camp Verde and Clarkdale... The Yavapai–Apache Nation consists of two distinct people, the Yavapai and Apache. The Yavapai refers to themselves as Wipuhk’a’bah and speak the Yuman language, while the Apache refer to themselves as Dil’zhe’e and speak the Athabaskan language. ~Yavapai–Apache Nation, yavapai-apache.org, 2013


The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation is a 950-member Native American tribe which calls Central Arizona’s upper Sonoran Desert home. Our tribe, which once roamed over 12 million acres, now owns just 24,000 acres in northeastern Maricopa County 35 miles from Phoenix. The Fort McDowell Yavapai, the “Abaja” — “the people” are one of three Yavapai tribes in Arizona. The Yavapai are among the Yuman-speaking peoples, which also include the Hualapai, Havasupai, Kumeyaay, Pai Pai, Cocopah, and other Southwestern tribes. Our people have lived and worked in Central Arizona for thousands of years. ~Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, www.fmyn.org, 2014


Fort McDowell is also the birthplace of one of the first known advocates of human rights, Dr. Carlos Montezuma (Wassaja, Yavapai). ~“Arizona Indian Communities,” Heard Museum, www.heard.org, 2014


Greetings from the Yavapai–Prescott Indian Tribe. Our Tribe and our ancestors have lived in central and western Arizona for centuries. Today, the Tribe consists of 159 members and occupies a reservation of 1,395 acres of gentle, rolling hills adjacent to Prescott, Arizona. ~Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe, www.ypit.com, 2002


      “Hualapai” means “People of the Tall Pines.” The Hualapai Tribe’s reservation encompasses about one million acres along 108 miles of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River. Occupying part of three northern Arizona counties: Coconino, Yavapai, and Mohave, the reservation’s topography varies from rolling grassland to thick forests to rugged canyons. Elevations range from 1,500 feet at the Colorado River to over 7,300 feet at the highest point of the Aubrey Cliffs...
      The Hualapai Tribe has thrived at the Grand Canyon West Rim for centuries. As one people in unity, these Native Americans rely on each other to survive, using song to share their journeys through life. The Hualapai Tribe’s culture is steeped in the belief that the universe and the earth are connected in a circle with no beginning or end...
      The songs and dances the Hulalapai Bird Singers perform have survived hundreds of years through traditions carried on for generations. Today’s Tribesmen recall years gone by when their grandfathers would rise before the sun to sing and dance in their own homes — the songs a gift to the universe and the earth, as they sang their blessings that they had lived another day. They sang about what they have learned from the past and how they look toward the future that will bring happiness and a good life. ~Grand Canyon Resort Corporation, Hualapai Tribe, grandcanyonwest.com, 2020


      For over 1,000 years the remote village of Supai, Arizona, located eight miles hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon, has been home to the Havasu Baaja, People of the Blue Green Waters, or as they are known today, the Havasupai Tribe. Just above the village, a hidden limestone aquifer gushes forth the life sustaining blue green waters that have nourished the fields of corn, squash and beans which have allowed the Havasu Baaja to thrive living in the harsh desert landscape deep in the Grand Canyon for centuries... Everything must make the 8 mile trek in and out of the village either by foot, on horseback.
      The Havasupai tribe's reservation is at the end of Route 18 off historic Route 66. It consists of 188,077 acres of canyon land and broken plateaus abutting the western edge of the Grand Canyons South Rim... The tribe is known for its location, traditional cultural life and beautiful arts and crafts. ~Havasupai Tribe, theofficialhavasupaitribe.com, 2017


The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe is a sovereign Tribal Nation located in the Tristate area (Arizona, California, and Nevada). We are a proud of our rich culture and traditions and aspire to achieve great things for our future... Mojave Indians are Pipa Aha Macav — “The People By The River.” Mojave culture traces the earthly origins of its people to Spirit Mountain, the highest peak in the Newberry Mountains, located northwest of the present reservation inside the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The Tribe’s spirit mentor, Mutavilya, created the Colorado River, its plants and animals, and instructed the Pipa Aha Macav in the arts of civilization. They were prosperous farmers with well-established villages and trade networks that stretched as far away as the Pacific Ocean. ~Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, fortmojaveindiantribe.com, 2019


The Colorado River Indian Tribes include four distinct Tribes — the Mohave, Chemehuevi, Hopi and Navajo. There are currently about 4,277 active Tribal members. The CRIT Reservation was created in 1865 by the Federal Government for “Indians of the Colorado River and its tributaries,” originally for the Mohave and Chemehuevi, who had inhabited the area for centuries. People of the Hopi and Navajo Tribes were relocated to the reservation in later years. The reservation stretches along the Colorado River on both the Arizona and California side. It includes almost 300,000 acres of land, with the river serving as the focal point and lifeblood of the area. ~Colorado River Indian Reservation, crit-nsn.gov, 2020


The Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation is located on the Arizona Strip, about 50 miles north of the Grand Canyon... The reservation spans semi-arid to alpine lands, dominated by pinyon pine and juniper, with many natural springs and several ephemeral washes that feed into the Colorado River. The reservation hosts five tribal villages. The non-Indian community of Moccasin, and Pipe Spring National Monument are also located entirely within the reservation boundary. ~Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, kaibabpaiute-nsn.gov, 2011


As San Juan Southern Paiutes, we are a distinct tribe and our traditional territory is in southeastern Utah and north central Arizona... Southern Paiute culture is unique and rich. Our language is a different dialect of the Southern Paiute–Ute language group and our People are known for their basketmaking skills. ~San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, sanjuanpaiute-nsn.gov, 2020


Eighty-one years before the European pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, the Zuni people were the first to encounter Europeans. In 1539, the Zuni came into contact with Spanish explorers, hoping to find gold and wealth. Many ancestral sites remain, including villages built into the side of cliffs that tell the story of Zuni history and culture. The Zuni Pueblo is brimming with artists creating authentic works of art and where you will find genuine hospitality. While a small portion of the reservation is located in Arizona's Apache country, the majority of their tribal lands are located just across the state line in New Mexico. ~VisitArizona.com, 2020, zunitourism.com


The Zuni Pueblo is nestled in a scenic valley, surrounded by the enchanting mesas, located about 150 miles west of Albuquerque. The main reservation, is located in the McKinley and Cibola counties in the western part of New Mexico... The tribe has land holdings in Catron County, New Mexico and Apache County, Arizona, which are not adjoining to the main reservation. Zuni jewelers are known worldwide for their intricate inlay work and no visit to Zuni Village is complete without visiting both the many trading posts in town and the Zuni Mission. ~“Arizona Indian Communities,” Heard Museum, www.heard.org, 2014, zunitourism.com


Best known for their deer dances and cultural paintings, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe descends from the Uto–Aztecan people who occupied a large area of the Southwest and Mexico. Today the tribe has eight communities in southern Arizona spanning across richly vegetated and scenic desert lands. ~VisitArizona.com, 2020, pascuayaqui-nsn.gov


Descendants of the ancient Toltecs who once ranged from northwestern Mexico upwards to southern Colorado and California, the Pascua Yaqui migrated to the United States in the late 19th century. Today, many Yaquis live in a village called Pascua Village, which was annexed into the City of Tucson in 1952. Another group resides in Guadalupe, close to Tempe and Phoenix. ~“Arizona Indian Communities,” Heard Museum, www.heard.org, 2014, pascuayaqui-nsn.gov


Home to the Quechan (Kwatsáan) Indians, the Fort Yuma–Quechan Tribal lands are located along both sides of the Colorado River near the western Arizona city of Yuma. Formerly known as the Yuma American Indians, the Quechan Tribe is well known for their distinct language, which is the native tongue of southeastern California and southwestern Arizona — only a few hundred people are believed to speak it today. ~VisitArizona.com, 2020, quechantribe.com


The Cocopah Indian Tribe, known as the River People, have lived along the lower Colorado River and delta for centuries, maintaining their traditional and cultural beliefs throughout many political and environmental changes. Descended from the greater Yuman-speaking people who occupied lands along the Colorado River, the Cocopah had no written language, however, historical records have been passed on orally and by outside visitors. ~Cocopah Indian Tribe, cocopah.com, 2018


Can we give a true picture by describing a typical, or average, Arizonan? No, for there is no such person... When one speaks of an Arizonan, does he mean one of the 46,000 Indians whose ancestors were here first? Does he mean one of the 145,000 Mexicans, who may be descended from seventeenth century invaders or have crossed the international line only yesterday as an immigrant? Does he mean a grizzled pioneer... or those who have come in the last decade from every other state in the Union and from almost every country on the face of the earth? ~Arizona: A State Guide, compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Arizona, 1940


You know you're an Arizona native when you were here  BEFORE  Marcos de Niza, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, Eusebio Kino, Tubac, Brigham Young, James Gadsden, Jefferson Davis, Jack Swilling, and Phoenix! ~Terri Guillemets, 2004  [My unofficial addendum to Don Dedera's 1993 (and otherwise hilarious) book You Know You're an Arizona Native, When...  Robert Orben bonus quote (1983): "Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian." –tg]





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Page Information:
Original post date 2016 Apr 25
Revised 2020 Mar 3, 2021 Jul 11
Last saved 2021 Jul 11 Sun 19:13 PDT
www.quotegarden.com/arizona-indigenous.html