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Mohave

A Native American tribe many of whom live on or near the Colorado River Indian Tribes[?], Chemehuevi[?] and Fort Mojave Indian Reservations[?] on the Colorado River in California and Arizona. The tribe also shares hundreds of thousands of acres of reservation land with a few Hopi and Navaho. Established in 1865 the reservations have water rights[?] in the Colorado River that is used for irrigated farming. In addition to a marina, there are opportunities for boating, fishing, hunting and swimming.

The tribal headquarters, library and museum are in Parker, Arizona, about 40 miles north of I-10[?]. The National Indian Days Celebration is held in Parker Thursday through Sunday, the last week of September. The All Indian Rodeo is held the first weekend in December. RV facilities are available along the Colorado River.

The Mojave "Indians" call themselves "the Pipa a'ha macave," which means (roughly) "The people who live by the water." The word "macave" is pronounced "ma-cahv," the "e" being silent. Mojave names are typically only capitalized on the first word, with the following words all in low-case. Therefore a Mojave joke name would be rendered, for example, "My leg is made out of yellow pine" and not "My Leg Is Made Out Of Yellow Pine" as in the European / Westernized tradition. (And yes, this was the name of a Mojave man who lived in 1844: he once saw a "beaver eater" ("white man") with a peg leg, and he was so amused that he pretended to also have a wooden leg.)

A Mojave "joke name" (roughly analogous to nick names) was one that a Macave would assign herself or himself, or a friend would assign to someone. "Face like a horse" would be one example; "Kicked in the head" another. Some joke names were not funny at all, but were teasing and abusive: which a Macave was socially bound to put up with.

The following was published in the mid-1950s by the United States Government, and is thus in the Public Domain. It applied to pre-1990s Macave: much no longer applies.

Mohave Etiquette

No aspect of social life is more elusive and less amenable to systematic study than are so-called "good manners" as distinct from basic personality traits. Anthropological literature is almost devoid of information of this kind, and it is doubtful whether relatively brief field-trips enable one to observe the manifold and subtle nuances of courtesy. Yet information of this sort is an indispensable part of the fieldworker s equipment. The present study deals chiefly with the etiquette of ordinary social relations, since the etiquette of courtship has already been described elsewhere. (1)

GENERAL- BEHAVIOR

SITTING. -Mohave men had two traditional sitting positions, both of which may still be observed among the older members of the tribe. Men who sat on the ground usually leaned their backs against a wall or a tree, and extended their legs in front of them. They were free to cross their legs, if they chose to do so. Men who preferred to sit on their heels, in a kneeling posture, rested the dorsal surface of one foot on the sole of the other foot. The traditional sitting position of women was described by Kroeber (1,4) as follows: "Women at rest stretch their legs straight out, and sometimes cross their feet. At work, a Mohave woman tucks one leg under her, with her other knee up . . . When she pleases, the Mohave woman also sits with her legs folded in oriental style." The Mohave specified that women were careful to arrange the tassels of their fiber-skirts in such a manner as to avoid exposure. Hence, whenever the thighs were spread, some of the tassels were made to hang down between the legs. Male berdaches sat like women and observed the same proprieties. Tcatc distinctly remembered that a male berdache carefully arranged the tassels of his skirt whenever he sat down in her presence. (2)

Only close relatives of opposite sexes, or else husband and wife, were permitted to share the same bench or wagon or auto- mobile seat. Once, when my female interpreter drove us some- where in a car converted into a pickup truck, my old informant, the shaman Hivsu: Tupo:ma, preferred to sit on the open platform of the truck, rather than share the front seat of the car with interpreter. When the late M. A. I. Nettle, M. D., drove my female interpreter, my male informant Hivsu: Tupo:ma and myself to view some petroglyphs, I sat with Dr. Nettle in the front seat, while interpreter and informant shared the comfortable back seat of the car. I found out later that both interpreter and informant were somewhat embarrassed by this arrangement, despite the fact that interpreter, a highly educated woman, was known to be devoted to her husband, and despite the fact that informant was an elderly man and a close friend of interpreters family.

The rule that unrelated persons of the opposite sexes should not share the same car seat can be readily linked with the Mohave belief that thoughts or daydreams about traveling with a member of the opposite sex induce amorous desires.'

WALKING - A woman who is walking home alone should not talk to men whom she happens to meet on the way. A "good woman" does not walk with men, nor does she ride with them in a wagon or in a car, unless the man happens to be her husband or a close relative.

SWIMMING - A woman may swim either alone or else in the company of her husband or close relatives. If a man happens to be already swimming at the spot where she had intended to swim, she is supposed to look for another place. Should she violate this rule, she will expose herself to criticism and to gossip. This rule is frequently violated, however.' DANCING - Women are permitted to dance at gatherings where good singers sing their songs. They must, however, dance "in a decent way" and must not attract attention through cocky talk or through impish and showy behavior. "One should avoid the appearance of evil."

EATING - A woman may cat from the same dish only with her husband, her ascendants, descendants, siblings, and first cousins, i.e., only with persons who are so closely related to her that no one would suspect them of '(carrying on. ) ) 5 Should a woman wish to share a fruit with a man who is neither her husband nor a close relative, she must divide the fruit and give the man his share before biting into it.

The Mohave are most hospitable. Should a visitor arrive while a meal is being prepared or eaten, he will be invited to share the food. A failure to extend such an invitation is as deliberate an insult as is a refusal to accept hospitality.

The Mohave are great eaters and are pleased when their guests eat heartily. It is permissible to belch and to pick one's teeth.

CHEWING GUM - The Mohave call chewing-gum halyak. In aboriginal times this term designated a certain native chewing substance which was prepared as follows: The cup-shape base of pumpkin-leaves was torn off and was filled with the milky sap of a vine called halyak. This conical cup was then stopped up ("corked") with a plug of wood and was toasted in the fire. After it was suitably parched, the substance was ready for chewing. Halyak had no narcotic or stimulating effect. Halyak chewing-plugs are no longer made. American chewing gum is moderately popular with adults, and rather popular with school children. Anyone is permitted to chew. Partly chewed halyak or modern chewing gum was never shared, as a token of affection, either with members of one's own sex or with persons of the opposite sex. When I de- scribed to them the Malay custom of passing on the half- chewed betel-plug, the Mohave declared it to be a disgusting habit. It is not improbable that this strong reaction to the thought of sharing a half-chewed wad of gum has its roots in the Mohave Indian's conscious awareness of sibling-rivalry for the maternal breast. (8) On the other hand anyone may offer fresh chewing gum to his friends or guests. The Mohave do not seem to chew plugs of tobacco.

TOBACCO - The Mohave of both sexes are very fond of cigarettes. Anyone who takes out a pack of cigarettes is expected to offer a cigarette to all those who happen to be present, before helping himself. Should one fail to do so, one exposes oneself to a reprimand or to a jeer. One day, owing to a severe cold and a sleepless night, I chanced to be ill and absentminded, and thus forgot to offer a cigarette to my octogenarian friend, Mrs. Tcatc. She upbraided me in no uncertain terms, and laughingly pretended not to believe my explanation that my oversight was due to the fact that I was ill and sleepy.

It should be pointed out, however, that Mohave smoking etiquette is based on the principle of reciprocity. Hence they do not beg for cigarettes, nor do they arrogantly demand cigarettes from any chance-met White, the way some Pueblo Indians do. Least of all do they simply pocket a pack of cigarettes which is passed around in a group. Only those Mohave, who felt certain that I would not hesitate to ask for a cigarette, ever asked me outright for a smoke. In f act they sometimes insisted that it was my turn to smoke one of their cigarettes.

A Mohave man is not supposed to light the cigarette of a woman who is neither a wife nor a close relative. So long as I was merely a stranger, Mohave women permitted me to light their cigarettes "because you didn't know any better," but as soon as they began to think of me as a friend, I was told to conform to the Mohave pattern. Mohave men simply strike a match and then hand it to a woman, or else they offer her a fresh match.

The Mohave do not inhale while lighting their cigarettes. This habit may be due to the fact that the first matches to reach the Mohave were made with sulfur. They hold the cigarette in one hand and the match in the other hand, and toast the tip of the cigarette until it is lit. Only then do they bring the cigarette to their lips. As a rule only men appear to inhale the smoke, while women, as well as male transvestites, seem to refrain from doing so. This pattern is a rather explicit one. In 1932--33 I was often teased about being a berdache, because I smoked without inhaling. This habit of mine seemed so peculiar to them that, on the occasion of my second field trip (1935), one or two of my old friends commented on the fact that I had finally learned how to smoke like a man. A great deal of importance is attached to inhaling the smoke. "Should a man accept a cigarette and fall to inhale the smoke, people may never again offer him a cigarette." This statement may perhaps be a slight exaggeration.

The Mohave Indians also smoke small clay-pipes, and are much impressed with the skill of certain people who manage to smoke an entire pipe in four puffs. "They seem to swallow the smoke, and after a while they belch it out in a thick stream." Whenever someone like an elderly man named Lousetongue, who was known to be able to perform this trick, happened to be present, people urged each other to "give him some tobacco and let him show his tricks The Mohave do not seem to chew tobacco.

PHOTOGRAPHY - Mohave custom demands that the body as well as the property of the dead should be cremated. (7,13,15) The preservation of photographs would be an especially offensive violation of this rule, since it preserves "the shadow," i.e., soul (1) of the dead. Hence the Mohave are very reluctant to be photographed and resent any attempt to photograph them by stealth. On the other hand they hate to refuse a favor. A minor informant who had permitted me to photograph her hands, but not her face, in order to show how a cat's cradle should be held, was very grateful when I showed her the pictures which, as agreed, displayed only the central portion of her body and her hands. On the other hand my closer friends were quite pleased to have me photograph them. The case of my old friend Mrs. Tcatc is a particularly interesting one. Since I knew her to be rather conservative in her outlook, I never presumed to ask her to sit for her picture.

Shortly after my last field trip she decided that she would probably die be- fore I had a chance to return to the reservation. Hence she asked a young friend of ours to photograph her in all her finery, and instructed him to send me the photograph, so that I would not forget her. Apparently her friendship for me enabled her to rationalize the very human desire to live forever to a sufficient extent to enable her to violate a stringent tribal taboo.

It should be added that the Mohave examined with the utmost interest photographs of Mohave Indians published by Kroeber, (1 4) and that the young boy who photographed Mrs. Tcatc had wanted a camera for many years and was very happy when he finally obtained one as a premium for having sold a certain amount of mail-order goods.

HUMAN RELATIONS

THE SHARING OF EMOTIONS - The Mohave are an emotional people, and the sharing of emotions is an important feature of social relations.

The Mohave differentiate between "laughing with" and "laughing at" (4) people, and are quite sensitive to ridicule. On the other hand shared laughter is believed to be an expression of good-fellowship and of a friendly disposition. Unlike the Yuma (12) they believe that men and women laugh alike, except for the fact that the laughter of men has a deeper pitch. They also differentiate between laughter and provocative giggling. "Women should avoid the appearance of immodesty. They should not make themselves conspicuous by loud laughter or by giggling, or through provocative behavior."

Shared grief is likewise an expression of good-fellowship. The Mohave are ready to share the grief of their friends, and men do not consider it below their dignity to shed a few tears. The recital of some of my financial difficulties brought tears to the eyes of my old friend, the shaman Hivsu: Tupo:ma.

A refusal to allow one's friends to share one's troubles is resented. I was severely reprimanded by my Mohave friends for not asking their assistance at a time when I was "broke."

The Mohave sometimes disguise their sadness under an appearance of "being cross." In 1933 my informant Hivsu: Tupo:ma assured me that my interpreter was "cross" partly because she felt saddened by my impending departure, and partly because she was sitting up most of the night making a bead-belt as a farewell gift to me.

Unemotional people are believed to be insensitive and lacking in human feelings.

INTRUSION - Although they are less aggressive about it than are the Pueblo Indians, the Mohave do not like Whites to intrude in their ceremonies. On the other hand a friend is always welcome. In 1933 1 happened to reach Parker at nightfall, and heard that my interpreter's father-in-law, whom she al- most worshipped, and whom I sincerely liked and respected, had just died and that the family was holding a "cry"" over him. I promptly drove down to the reservation and-having heard that interpreter had moved-stopped the first Mohave who happened to be driving a car and asked him to direct me to interpreter s house. This man, whom I did not know personally and who did not recognize me in the dark, replied rather gruffly that this was no time to call on interpreter, adding that he himself was on his way to her house to participate in the "cry." I thereupon asked him to relay to interpreter the information that I had just arrived and asked him to convey to her my condolences. As soon as I mentioned my name, the man began to urge me to come along, since he felt certain that interpreter would wish to see me. I agreed to follow this man's car to interpreter s house, but insisted on remaining in my car while he went in to inform interpreter of my presence. A minute later interpreter came running and begged me to join the family in the house, adding, "If any- thing could cheer me up at this time, it would be your arrival." I spent much of the night with the dead man's family and shared in their funeral meal.

PERSONAL QUESTIONS - Like all human beings, the notoriously gossipy (9) Mohave Indians are quite eager to safeguard their privacy against unwarranted intrusions. On the other hand they are perfectly willing to give confidence for confidence. Eight years after my last field-trip my interpreter told Dr. Kenneth M. Stewart that "the Mohave would tell that fellow anything-they would tell him things they wouldn't tell to anyone else." The reason for this frankness was stated on a previous occasion by one of my informants: "You tell us everything, so we tell you everything. You consult us, so we consult you."

It is discourteous to question persons about their physical disabilities. (11)

The rules prohibiting the indiscrete questioning of twins were reported elsewhere. (6)

GENEROSITY is taken so much for granted that it must be thought of as a basic personality trait (4) rather than as a form of etiquette. The charge of stinginess is the most damning accusation that can be leveled at a person.

FRIENDSHIP - Loyalty to one's friends is a pivotal point of Mohave social ethics. It is an unforgivable sin to speak ill of one9s friends and associates behind their backs, and disloyalty is one of the things that will cause a person to be known as "worthless" or as "a bad person." Wanton indiscretion, especially about love affairs, is likewise condemned, and is said to be characteristic only of psychopathic prostitutes (kamalo:y). (10)

UNSUITABLE ASSOCIATIONS - The Mohave feel that decent persons should not associate with "worthless" ones. A person who, for any reason whatsoever, associates even casually with a worthless person and who, as a result, is slandered, will be pitied, but at the same time will also be criticized for having spoken to someone despicable."

AVOIDANCE PATTERNS - The Mohave have no real avoidance patterns, though people who do not like one another usually manage to find some suitable reason for not associating with one another.

PRAISE. - The Mohave are eager for praise and freely praise those whom they like. "A good person" is a term of high praise. The highest praise that can be given to an alien is, "He is just like a Mohave.'-' "You are not really a White-you are a Mohave."' This form of praise has been reported as far back as the XVII Century." Like Whites, the Mohave often express their friendship and approval by mercilessly "razzing" the person they happen to like. My usual conversation with Mrs. Tcatc or with Hivsu: Tupo:ma alternated between expressions of warm friendship and affectionate insults. If a girl slanders a man and refers to his dead relatives, the man feels certain that the girl loves him.

DISPRAISE. - The dialectics of Mohave insults are rather complicated ones, and are so rich in unconscious implications that they cannot be discussed in this context. Two kinds of insults have been discussed elsewhere. (8) REWARDS AND PUNISHMENT - Like many other rules of good behavior, the above represent an ideal pattern rather than a day-to-day reality. Those who comply with, the rules of etiquette are praised, while most violations of these rules are simply ignored, unless there is some special reason for making an issue out of it. The reason for "making a fuss" may be merely a wish to create an amusing situation. Thus, the only reason why Mrs. Tcatc reprimanded me for my failure to offer her a cigarette was that she wished to "get even" with me for having teased her the day before about being my sweetheart. People who misbehave seriously will be criticized and gossiped about, and in extreme instances, might even be shunned by all and sundry. Physical violence on the other hand is used almost exclusively against witches' and against particularly obnoxious psychopathic prostitutes."

EXPECTATIONS OF GOOD MANNERS - The Mohave complain that young people are about as ill mannered and bad as Whites. "We expect little or no manners from Whites." On the other hand, once they decided that I was "not really a White, but a Mohave," they expected me to conform to the most recondite standards of Mohave courtesy, and saw to it that I learned them "by example, by precept, and by bawling you out" as my interpreter once put it.

SUMMARY - Mohave Indian courtesy does not partake of the elaborately ritual character of Chinese etiquette. It is, with a few small exceptions, chiefly the etiquette of good sense and of the heart, which is the foundation of all real courtesy. The terms "a good man" or "a good woman" also imply good manners. In brief, Mohave courtesy is completely characterized by a line in a play by Alfred de Musset: "Polite indeed! My coachman is polite! In my time, men were courteous." The essence of Mohave courtesy is identical with that of the early Renaissance concept of "Cortesia" - it is the considerateness of kind and fair minded people.'

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Devereux, G. Mohave Soul Concepts. American Anthropologist, n. c. 39: 417-4220 1939.

2. Devereux, G. Institutionalized Homosexuality of the Mohave Indians. Human Biology, 9: 498-527, 1937.

3. Deveretix, G. L'Envoiltement chez les Indiens Mohave. ,Ioztrnal de 7a Societe' des Americanistes de Paris, n. s. 29: 405-4129 1938.

4. Devereux, G. Mohave Culture and Person@ality. Character and Personality, 8: 91-109, 1939.

5. Devereux, G. The Social and Cultural Implications of In- cest Among the Mohave Indians. Psychoanalytic Quar- terly, 8: 510-533, 1939.

SOUTHWEST MUSEUM LEAFLETS

6. Devei-eux, G. Mohave Beliefs Concerning Twins. American Anthropologist, n. s. 43: 573-592, 1941.

7. Devei,etix, G. Primitive Psychiatry. (Part II.) Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 11: 522-542, 1942.

8. Devereux, G. Mohave Orality. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 16: 519-546, 1947.

9. Devereux, G. Heterosexual Behavior of the Mohave Indians, in Roheim, G. (ed.), Psychoanalysis and the Social Sciences, Vol. ii.

10. Devereux, G. The Mohave Indian Kamalo:y. Joitrizal of Clinical Psychopathology. (In press.) 11. Deveretix, G. Mohave Pregnancy. (In press.)

12. Forde, C. D. Ethnography of the Yuma Indians. University of California Publications in American Archeology and Ethnology, 28: 83-278, 1931.

13. Hall, S. H. The Burning of a Mohave Chief. Out West, 18: 60-65, 1903.

14. Kroeber, A. L. Handbook of the Indians of California. Bii,rcait of American Ethnology, Bulletin '18, 1925.

15. Stewart, K. M. An Account of the Mohave Mourning Ceremony, American Anthropologist, n. s. 49: 146-148, 1947.

16. Whitep H. C. Dust on the King's Highway. New York, 1947.

External Links


Mohave (also Mojave) is also the name of a desert in Southern California. See Mohave Desert.



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