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Field Division of Education
Material Culture of the Pima, Papago, and Western Apache
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The Pima and Papago are closely related physically and are of unusually tall statue for American Indians. The Pima average 171.8 cms. and are probably the third tallest group of American Indians. They are markedly dolicocephalic or narrow headed as are the Papago. The Papago average 170.9 cms. in stature. (Hrdlicka, 1908, 132.) Both tend to a heavy build or corpulency and are notably dark in skin color in contrast to some of the surrounding tribes. The Pima and Papago resembles most closely the ancient peoples of southern Utah, a few of the Pueblo tribes, the Utes and Paiutes, and the peoples speaking related languages to the south of them in Mexico, particularly Tarahumare, Yaqui, Aztecs, and also the Tarascan speaking peoples. They show less resemblance to their near neighbors of Yuman speech and the Apache. (Hrdlicka, 1908, 10;13.)

The Apaches are of a radically different type, not resembling either their neighbors or the ancient inhabitants of the Southwestern area. The average male statures of the western group very somewhat as follows: White Mountain, 171.1 cms., San Carlos, 169.6 cms. They are remarkably brachycephalic. An unusual degree of homogeneity exists among them, despite the earlier assumption that they had been much modified by the inclusion among them of Mexican captives and other peoples. They differ somewhat from their nearest linguistic relatives, the Navaho, the closest resemblance being with Lipan, Havasupai, and Talapai. (Hrdlicka, 1908, 8; 13; 123-3.) Many more detailed statistics are given by Hrdlicka (1908).

Museum Display

Face masks or busts of a man and a woman for the Pima or Papago and the Apache should be shown. These might be supplemented by pictures. (For Pima and Papago pictures see: Hrdlicka, 1906, plate 34; Lensmore, various plates; Russell, 1908, plates 2, 17, 36-38; 42-48; Hodge, 1910, 251; Dorsey, 1903, 181-3; 186; 188; 190. For the Apache see Bourke, 1891, 49; 240; 304; 416.) There exist numerous photographs and pictures of noted Apache such as Geronimo and the Bureau of Ethnology report for 1912 mentions the taking of Apache photographs. (Annual report 34:28)

Possibly a chart of comparative statures and head shapes might be represented for the region. If this seems desireable, the data may be found in Hrdlicka (1908).


Pima and Papago speak closely related dialects. Pima scarcely differs from Pima Bajo, spoken in central Sonora, and the separation of the two groups must have taken place in recent times. The linguistic affiliations are interesting. Pima is closely allied to Tepehuan, less close to a group which cuts across between Tepehuan and Pima including Yaqui-Mayo, Tarrahumare, Opata, and Concho, all of which are in turn related to Aztec or Nahuatl and form part of the larger grouping known as Uto-Aztecan, which includes the Shoshonean tribes of the Great Basin, southern California, Hopi, and Commanche. (Thomas and Swanton; unpublished data from A. L. Kroeber.)

The Apache are members of the great Na-Dene family from which they are separated by hundreds of miles. The various bands of Apache and the Navaho speak closely related languages, showing they came from the north in a group. Linguistic studies afford the principal evidence for their late arrival in the Southwest.

Museum Display

If anything at all is shown, the distribution of the two great linguistic stocks should be indicated. The base map illustrating Sapir's re-classification which is available in the Field Educational Headquarters, at Berkeley, should be used. More detailed data on interrelations within the stocks should be secured from Prof. A. L. Kroeber of the Department of Anthropology of the University of California at Berkeley and Prof. Edward Sapir at Yale University.

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Last Modified: Mon, Dec 24 2001 10:00:00 am PDT