Pima-Papago - Orientation

Identification and Location. Aboriginally, the Pima-Papagos/Upper Pirnas occupied about forty thousand square miles of the Sonoran Desert of the present states of Sonora, Mexico, and Arizona, United States. This territory lies Between 30° and 33° N and 112° and 115° W. Today's Pima-Papago are the remnant and consolidation of that territory's earlier occupants whom the Spaniards called the "Upper Pirnas." During the nineteenth century, at the time of the U.S. entry into the region, a portion of the Upper Pirnas was called the "Gila River Pimas" and most others were called "Papagos." Although many historians and anthropologists have treated the two as separate peoples, we bring them Together because so much that is true of the one people is true of the other. Furthermore, in writing of the varieties of Pima-Papagos, we will frequently make use of a three-part division by settlement pattern, which pertains to the two peoples as follows: One Village (sedentary)—Pirnas; Two Villagers (seasonal oscillation between lowland field and highland well villages)—most Papagos; and No Villagers (completely migratory campers opposed to villagers)—a few Papagos. There were perhaps five thousand One Villagers, seven thousand Two Villagers, and five hundred No Villagers (the so-called Sand Papagos).

Linguistic Affiliation. These people spoke closely related dialects of Pima-Papago, a Uto-Aztecan language. In the late nineteenth century, the One Villagers spoke one dialect, the Two Villagers about five, and the No Villagers one.

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