The Fort Mojave Indian Reservation straddles the Colorado River, and the State line of both California and Nevada.
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.
In the 16th Century, the time the Spanish arrived in the territory, the Mojaves were the largest concentration of people in the Southwest. With the ever-growing insurgence of non-Indian people to the region traditionally occupied by Pipa Aha Macav, a United States military outpost was established in 1859 on the east bank of the Colorado River to give safe passage to American immigrants traveling from east to west.
Initially, this outpost was called Camp Colorado, but it was soon renamed Fort Mojave. After the military fort was closed in 1891, the buildings were transformed into a boarding school, which operated until 1930. Ruins of Fort Mojave still exist today as a reminder of the once-troubled historic relationship between Pipa Aha Macav and American civilization.
The ruins are located on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River just south of the boundary of present-day Bullhead City.
The Fort Mojave Indian Reservation is located along the Colorado River in the vacinity of Needles, California. The Reservation covers nearly 42,000 acres in the tri-state area of Arizona, California, and Nevada. The land is divided into three major segments: 23,669 acres in Mojave County Arizona; 12,633 acres adjacent to Needles, California; and 5,582 acres in Clark County, Nevada. Tribal headquarters are located in Needles, California.
The Tribe’s upbeat economy provides job opportunities for thousands of people through casino gaming, a championship golf course, agriculture, a tribal power company and generating station, residential subdivisions and a new indoor multi-use arena, Mojave Crossing Event Center located in Arizona.
Recreation opportunities abound, whether it is gambling at one of the two tribal casinos on the reservation, boating or fishing along the Colorado River, staying at the Avi Resort & Casino’s full-service hotel, hitting the links at the Mojave Resort PGA Championship Golf Course or enjoying the comforts of home away from home in the RV parks, adjacent to either casino.
In terms of ethnicity, one-fourth (25.2%) of Fort Mojave Indian tribal members identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino. Occupancy on Fort Mojave Indian Reservation lands, unlike that of many other Indian reservations in Arizona, is less than 50% Native American. The Mohave people have leased much of their land to cotton, corn, and soybean farming companies, which employ a large population of resident white people and Mexican Americans.
Housing and Households
In 2010, there were 370 households in the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, with an average household size of 2.7 persons and an average family size of 3.1 persons as well.
A “household” is a person or group of people who occupy a housing unit. The “householder” is a person in whose name the housing unit is owned, being bought, or rented. A “family household” consists of a householder and one or more people living together in the same household who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption — it may also include people unrelated to the householder.
The median household income for members of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe is $33,424, less than both the County ($39,785) and the State ($50,448), thus tribal members are more likely to have lower household incomes than either the State or the County. In fact households are more likely to have incomes of less the $20,000 (24%) than are residents of the State (17%) or the County (21%).
Tribal members are also more likely (34%) to have household incomes between $20,000 and $40,000 than the State (22%) and the County (29%). Correspondingly, one fifth (21.7%) of tribal households have incomes over $60,000, compared to the State (42%) and the County (29%).
Per capita Income on the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe ($15,706) is less than the per capita income for Mohave County ($21,523) or the State ($25,680). Correspondingly, the median earnings for workers ($20,500) are lower than the County ($22,472) and the State ($29,573).
The poverty rate on the Fort Mojave Reservation (39%) is more than twice as high as the State (15%) and the County (16%). More than half (58%) of all children under 18 years of age are considered to be living in poverty, while two-fifths (40%) of tribal members between 18 and 64 also live in poverty. However, tribal members over 65 years of age (1%) are far less likely to live in poverty, than are those of their age group in the State (8%) and the County (7%).
The Census Bureau uses a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is poor. If a family’s income is less than a family’s threshold, then that family and every individual in it, is considered poor. Further the ratio of income to poverty can be used to measure the degree or depth of poverty. The ratio of income to poverty compares a person’s income with their poverty threshold, and expresses the comparison as a fraction.
For example, a poverty ratio of 1.0 (income at 100% of poverty level) means a person is living right at the poverty line; a ratio of 0.5 (income at 50% of poverty level) would mean that a person is living in a household making only half the income designated as the poverty threshold. The Census Bureau describes those with family incomes below one half of their poverty threshold as being “severely poor.” People with incomes at or above their threshold but below 125 percent of their threshold are classified as “near poor.”
More than one-third of all households (39%) on the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe have a poverty ratio of between .5 and .99 or what the Census classes as “severely poor,” a rate that is twice that of the State rate (15%) or the County (16%). A further 10 percent of tribal member are classified as “near poor” with poverty ratios between 1.00 and 1.24, lower than State (5%) or County (7%) rate. The data indicates that 39 percent of households are stuck in the severely poor poverty rate.
The birth rate for women between the ages of 15 and 50 years is lower for the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe (4%) than for the State (6%) or the County (6%). The proportion of unmarried women giving birth in the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe (0%) is lower than the State (5%) and the County (4%).
The population density of the Fort Mohave Indian Reservation is 28 people per square mile.