Southwest Tribes Cultural Area

The Southwest Culture Area is a culturally diverse area. Geographically it covers all of the Southwest Tribes of Arizona and New Mexico and includes parts of Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Texas as well as parts of the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua.

Much of this area is semi-arid; part of it is true desert (southern Arizona); and part of it has upland and mountain ranges which support conifers. Culturally, the area can be divided into four basic cultural traditions: Pueblo, Athabascan, Piman, and Yuman.

In northern Arizona and New Mexico there are several Indian tribes who have traditionally lived in compact villages. The Spanish used the word pueblo which means “town” in referring to these people.

The Pueblo people are not a single cultural tradition, but are in fact several distinct cultures. They share some features – farming, housing – and are very different in others.

Around 1400 CE a new group of people began to enter the Southwest. These Athabascan-speaking people – the Navajo and the Apache – migrated from the area north of Edmonton, Alberta.

The Sonoran desert of Arizona and Sonora is the home of a number of Piman-speaking groups, primarily the Tohono O’odham (Papago) and Akimel O’odham (Pima.

The area along the Colorado and Gila Rivers was the traditional home to a number of Yuman-speaking tribes.

Southwest Pottery

The pottery traditions of the Southwestern Pueblos are well-known to museums, art collectors, and others. For many centuries, Pueblo people have made and used a wide variety of pottery containers, including bowls, jars, cups, ladles, and canteens.

Pueblo pottery is traditionally formed with a coil technique in which coils of clay are circled around the base of the pot to form the walls of the vessel.Perhaps the best known Pueblo potter is María Martínez of San Ildelfonso Pueblo.

Southwestern Basketry

All of the Indian nations in the Southwest produced basketry.

Southwest Carvings

During the past century, the carving of katsina “dolls” has become a major art form which is well-recognized in the art world.

These are carved by relatives of little Indian girls and presented to these children at Katsina dances to teach the children the features and meaning of the Katsinas.

Traditional carvers feel that those who carve the katsina “dolls” should be able to speak Hopi because knowledge of the language is required to truly participate in Hopi ceremonies.

Without full participation in Hopi ceremonies, the carvers cannot know the true spiritual intent of the katsina.While the term “kachina” is more commonly used, the tribe prefers the designation “katsina.”

Southwest Tribes

Location: Arizona | Nevada | New Mexico | Parts of Utah and Colorado
Terrain: Arid Desert, Mountains, Plateaus

  • Ak Chin, Arizona
  • Southern Athabaskan
    • Apachean (Also see Plains Indians)
      • Aravaipa
      • Chiricahua Apache, New Mexico and Oklahoma
      • Jicarilla Apache, New Mexico
      • Lipan Apache, Texas
      • Mescalero Apache, New Mexico
      • San Carlos Apache, Arizona
      • Tonto Apache, Arizona
        • Northern Tonto
        • Southern Tonto
      • Western Apache (Coyotero Apache), Arizona
      • White Mountain Apache, Arizona
    • Navajo, (Diné), Arizona and New Mexico
  • Aranama (Hanáma, Hanáme, Chaimamé, Chariname, Xaraname, Taraname)
  • Coahuiltecan, Texas, northern Mexico
  • Cocopa, Arizona, northern Mexico
  • Comecrudo Texas, northern Mexico
  • Cotoname (Carrizo de Camargo)
  • Genízaro Arizona, New Mexico
  • Halchidhoma, Arizona and California
  • Hualapai, Arizona
  • Havasupai, Arizona
  • Hohokam, formerly Arizona
  • Karankawa, Texas
  • Kavelchadhom
  • La Junta, Texas, Chihuahua
  • Mamulique, Texas, northern Mexico
  • Manso, Texas, Chihuahua
  • Pima, Arizona
  • Pima Bajo
  • Pueblo peoples, Arizona, New Mexico, Western Texas
    • Ancestral Pueblo, formerly Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah
    • Hopi-Tewa (Arizona Tewa, Hano), Arizona, joined the Hopi during the Pueblo Revolt
    • Hopi, Arizona
    • Keres people, New Mexico
      • Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico
      • Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico
      • Kewa Pueblo (formerly Santo Domingo Pueblo), New Mexico
      • Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico
      • San Felipe Pueblo, New Mexico
      • Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico
      • Zia Pueblo, New Mexico
    • Tewa people, New Mexico
      • Nambé Pueblo, New Mexico
      • Ohkay Owingeh (formerly San Juan Pueblo), New Mexico
      • Pojoaque Pueblo, New Mexico
      • San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico
      • Tesuque Pueblo, New Mexico
      • Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico
    • Tiwa people, New Mexico
      • Isleta Pueblo, New Mexico
      • Picuris Pueblo, New Mexico
      • Sandia Pueblo, New Mexico (Nafiat was the name for the Bernalillo pueblo)
      • Taos Pueblo, New Mexico
      • Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (Tigua Pueblo), Texas
      • Piro Pueblo, New Mexico
    • Towa people
      • Jemez Pueblo (Walatowa), New Mexico
      • Pecos (Ciquique) Pueblo, New Mexico
    • Zuni people (Ashiwi), New Mexico
  • Quems
  • Solano, Coahuila, Texas
  • Tamique
  • Toboso
  • O’odham/Pima/Papago
    • Tohono O’odham (Papago), Arizona and Mexico
    • Qahatika, Arizona
  • Tompiro
  • Ubate
  • Walapai, Arizona
  • Yaqui (Yoreme), Arizona, Sonora
  • Yavapai, Arizona
    • Tolkapaya (Western Yavapai), Arizona
    • Yavapé (Northwestern Yavapai), Arizona
    • Kwevkapaya (Southeastern Yavapai), Arizona
    • Wipukpa (Northeastern Yavapai), Arizona

Ak Chin Arizona
Apache Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma

Mescalero Apache

Western Apache (Coyotero Apache), Arizona

San Carlos Apache

Western Apache

Cochimi Baja California
Cocopa Arizona

Comecrudo, Texas, northern Mexico
Cotoname (aka Carrizo de Camargo)

Genízaro, Arizona, New Mexico

Havasupai Arizona
Hohokam, Arizona
Hopi Arizona


Los Luceros
Pericu Baja California
Pueblo People, New Mexico
Waicuri (Guaicura) Baja California
Yavapai see Yavapai-Apache Nation

Yavapai-Prescott Tribe Arizona  (often confused with Tonto Apache and Mojave)
Yavapai, (Mojave-Apache) see Yavapai-Apache Nation,

Yuma – See Quechan

ArcticCaliforniaNortheastGreat BasinGreat Plains
NW CoastPlateauSoutheastSouthwestSub Arctic



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Southwest Indian Wars

The Southwest Indian Wars included the Navajo Wars, Yuma War, Mohave War, Apache wars, Black Hawk War (1865–1872) and Apache-Mexico Wars.

The acquisition of Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo México from Mexico at the end of the Mexican American War in 1848, and the Gadsden Purchase in 1853, brought about conflicts with native peoples that spanned from 1846 to 1895 in this large geographical area. The first conflicts were in New Mexico Territory and in California and Utah Territory during and after the California Gold Rush.

The tribes or bands in the southwest had been engaged in cycles of trading and fighting each other and foreign settlers for centuries prior to the United States’ purchasing their region from Mexico in 1848 and 1853.

These conflicts with the United States involved every non-pueblo tribe in this region and often were a continuation of Mexican–Spanish conflicts.

The Navajo and Apache conflicts are perhaps the best known. The last major campaign of the U.S. military against native Americans in the Southwest involved 5,000 troops in the field, which caused the Apache Geronimo and his band of 24 warriors, women and children to surrender in 1886.

However, a few skirmishes continued into the 20th century, such as:

1907, near Four Corners, Arizona: Two troops of the 5th Cavalry from Fort Wingate skirmished with armed Navajo men. One Navajo was killed and the rest escaped.

1911, in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico: A company of cavalry went from Fort Wingate to quell a possible uprising by Navajo.

January 9, 1918, in Bear Valley, Arizona: The Battle of Bear Valley was fought in Southern Arizona. United States Army forces of the 10th Cavalry engaged and captured a band of Yaquis, after a brief firefight.

Some time in 1924 both the Renegade Period and the Apache Wars ended which had begun decades earlier and brought the American Indian Wars to a close 302 years after the Jamestown Massacre of 1622.