The ancestors of the Mohave are believed to have migrated to the Mohave Valley from the Mohave Desert well before European contact, perhaps as early as A.D. 1150. First White Contact was with Spanish explorers in 1604, but from that time until the 1820s the Mohave remained relatively free from and unchanged by European influences. In the 1820s European-American trappers and traders entered the Mohave country, and their encounters with the Mohave were sometimes violent. In 1858 the Mohave attacked a wagon train of White settlers in response partly to intrusions into their territory. A year later they were dealt a disastrous defeat by federal troops. They subsequently were relocated to the Colorado Indian Reservation, established in 1867, and the Fort Mohave Indian Reservation, established in 1880.
The Mohave were allies of the Quechan and Yavapai, but enemies of the other River Yuman peoples, the Halchidhoma, Maricopa, and Cocopa. The Pima and Papago were also counted as traditional enemies. During the nineteenth Century the Mohave engaged in a long period of warfare with their enemies, which came to an end when they were defeated by the Pima and Maricopa in 1857.