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ETHNONYMS: Cocomaricopa, Papatsje

The Maricopa are an American Indian group whose two hundred or so members live with members of the Pima tribe on and near the Gila River Indian Reservation and the Salt River Indian Reservation in Arizona. In the late 1700s the Maricopa numbered about three thousand and were located along the middle Gila River in south-central Arizona. The Tribal government at Gila River consists of a seventeen-member popularly elected tribal council governed by a constitution adopted and approved in accordance with the Indian ReOrganization Act of 1934. The Maricopa language is classified in the Yuman group of the Hokan language family.

Tribal income is primarily from agricultural and business leases and tribal farming operations. They grew maize, beans, pumpkins, and cotton, gathered beans, nuts, and berries, fished, and hunted rabbits in communal drives. Clans were patrilineal, clan exogamy was practiced, and polygyny, particularly of the sororal type, was allowed. The tribe was led by a chief who lived in the strongest village and whose position was sometimes inherited through the male line. According to custom, the dead were cremated and a horse was slain to enable the deceased to ride westward into the land of the dead.


Ezell, Paul H. (1961). The Hispanic Acculturation of the Gila River Pirnas. Menasha, Wis.: American Anthropological Association.

Spier, Leslie. (1933). Yuman Tribes of the Gila River. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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