the Moapa Paiutes

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Moapa Bands of Paiutes, Background :

Although the Moapa people have preserved a number of legends, songs, and dances, cultural disruption during the 1800's and early 1900's all but destroyed traditional life. Early Spanish and New Mexican Priests and traders provide a scanty written record of the Moapa Paiute Bands who lived and farmed in the Moapa valleys.

The Nuwuvi were noted for their resourcefulness and their initial friendliness towards newcomers. While certain leaders achieved prominence, the bands were communally governed. We were a culturally well-adapted people who combined farming with hunting and gathering and used the resources of the land with great ingenuity.

Most of our domestic objects were various forms of intricately designed basketry, including water jars, winnowing and parching trays, cradle boards, cooking baskets, and seed beaters. We had great skill in the use of animal skins and plants. Cliffrose bark and Yucca as well as leather were used for clothing and shoes. Members of our tribe recall early uses of many plants...some unique to our area such as the Fan Palms which grow in Warm Springs -(a traditional Moapa Sacred Area )- a few miles west of main residential settlement on the current reservation property. Our Knowledge of the nutritional and medicinal uses of plants was extensive. Elder Moapa people were told by their grandparents that the Palms have always been in Moapa and the whites did not bring them.

The People were animists who believed that all of Nature is alive and that the elements and animals could be both allies and tricksters of the people.

The history of the Moapa following white contact (dating from the 1830 opening of the Old Spanish Trail,) is a tragedy. A peaceful people saw their land and water seized, their homes frequently raided by spanish Slave traders or those working for Spanish Slave traders.

They were often caught in conflicts among Mormon settlers, the New Mexicans and the increasing numbers of emigrants. Our own numbers diminished rapidly as we contracted new diseases, especially tuberculosis an measles. Insurrection and raiding for survival were punished brutally and severely by federal troops and white settlers.

The Moapa Paiutes became an "armed" people. John Fremont records in 1844 an encounter in the Moapa Valley:

"With each bow, each man carried a quiver of 30 to 40 arrows, partially drawn out. Besides these, each held in his hand two or three arrows for instant service. Their arrows are barbed with a very clear translucent stone, a species of opal nearly as hard as the diamond and shot from their long bows, and are almost as effective as a gunshot."

However, such defiance was not enough to stop the intrusion of the Whites into Moapa. The People were forced to flee into the desert. With their farming disrupted by unrestricted passage through the valley and White squatting on the best farm lands, the Moapa People had no choice but to live as low-paid laborers dependant on Mormon settlements.

In 1873, 39,000 square miles were set aside for Tribal lands by the federal government. In 1875 this was reduced to a meager 1000 acres of the most "un-desirable" portions. This incredible reduction of their homelands was followed by over 60 years of neglect and corrupt practices by white agents along with almost total eradication of the old ways.

White imported Diseases occurred periodically during the 1920's and 1930's, greatly adding to the distress of the People.

In 1941, A consitution and By laws were drawn up and the Tribal Business council was established as the governing body. Because the individual allotments of the once cummunal land were too small to farm economically, the tribe also voted to restore the once "family owned" plots to Tribal ownership, and to attempt to farm cooperatively. However because of water problems, a shortage of money, a lack of modern equipment, and the difficulties of managing a cooperative, the Tribe became discouraged and eventually agreed to lease the farmland to a White-owned Dairy company. This was a demoralizing situation that was not to be undone until 1968 when the Tribe refused to renew the 10 year lease on their arable land to non-members.

In 1951, the Southern Paiute Tribes filed a suit with the Indian Claims commission. In 1965, the Claims commission granted a judgement to the Tribes, including the Moapa Paiutes, who used 60% of the monies awarded to establish a perpetual capital fund for improvements and economic development. This money amounted to a discouraging twenty eight CENTS per acre compensation for all the land originally Confiscated from them without any remuneration earlier in the 1860's. The portion of this land making up the Southern Valley in and around Overton Nevada easily comprises some of the most expensive land in southern Nevada today. Even in the 1970's some residential land near Overton was selling for $40,000 and up for less than a quarter of an acre.

Portions of the above summary are based on the well researched book by the Inter-Tribal council of Nevada entitled: "Nuwuvi: A Southern Paiute History."

Who are the Moapa Bands of Paiutes?

The Moapa Bands of Paiutes or Nuwuvi (A branch of Uto-Aztecan linguistic stock ) are part of the Southern Paiute Nation which includes others like the the Kaibab, Shivwitz, Santa Clara and Chemehuevi bands of Paiutes. These bands Traditional lands covered an area which is now known as Southern Nevada, southern Utah and Northern and Western Arizona and Portions of California. The Moapa bands are a smaller group of 'bands' which is now mostly limited to regions of southern Nevada. The Tribe's Mission statement defines it's goals:

Our Mission is to advance the Moapa Bands of Paiutes and preserve our homeland by building an independant and self-governing community that provides an opportunity for all peoples who have made a commitment to this mission."

Who are the Leaders?

The Moapa Business council also known as the Tribal Council consists of Chair-person, Rosalyn Mike, Vice-Chairperson Eugene tom, Secretary Robert Daboda, Members: Lalovi Miller, Ural Begay and Gregory Anderson. Council members serve staggered three-year terms with two council people elected every year.

How Big is the Reservation?

The reservation was created by President Grant's Executive Order in 1873 with a total of 2,000,000 acres. In 1875, it was reduced (by whites) to 1,000 acres due to political pressure. In 1981 over one hundred years later, congress restored 70,565 acres to the reservation. The original area included the Sacred Springs of the Moapa, or "Moapa Warm Springs" and the valley around it. This area has been sacred to the Moapa for 1000 years and probably much longer. These were all owned by White ranches by the time the 20th century rolled around and were never returned to the Moapa Bands. Today the acreage totals: 71,954 acres.

How many people live on the reservation?

There are 287 enrolled Tribal members. Approximately 180 members live on the reservation. It is estimated that the total reservation population is 425 residents.

What are Tribal Resources?

The Moapa Tribal Enterprises contributes approximately 90% of the Tribes revenues. The Tribe operates a loarge store on Interstate 15 North of Las Vegas about 45 miles or so on the Exit to the Valley of Fire State Park and Overton. They sell mostly fireworks and tobacco as well as drinks, souvenirs, food items and sundries. There are a few slot machines at the Store as well. There is a Tobacco store on the North Las Vegas portion of the reservation and a Small convenience store at the Moapa Reservation just west of the Hidden Valley (west of Glendale and Moapa .)

There is also an Indian Center in Las Vegas which is a resource for information, helpful programs and other sources of special Native American concern.

When the reservation was reduced to 1,000 acres, the majority of the land was utilized for farming. Currently, the tribe has approximately 460 acres under cultivation with alfalfa being the major crop.

Economic Development on the 70,000 restored acres is a long range goal of the Tribe. The present location affords the Tribe the potential for industrial, commercial and recreational development. The reservation straddles a major highway, Interstate 15, with several off-ramps. The Union Pacific Railroad crosses the reservation, providing access to a spur.

In terms of Human Resources, the education level of the tribal members continues to rise. In the last ten years, 97% of our students graduated from High School. More students are taking advantage of higher education scholarships and vocational training funds. It's estimated that the unemployment rate is 30%, which in Indian country is considered relatively low. The tribe is the major employer of Tribal members, with the Nevada power Company coming in second and the outside gaming industry third.

What are the services provided by the Tribe ?

As a svereign tribal entity, the Tribe provides a variety of services including Social Services, Higher Education Scholarships, A learning center for school age children, Tribal court system, Daycare, Law Enforcement, Headstart, Health Services, as well as Administrative Services necessary to operate a Tribal Government.

What are current Tribal Projects ?

Construction of a gymnasium/multipurpose building is currently underway. Plans with a major development company to develop a five phase project to include a core golf course, residential community, RV park, and an additional 18 hole golf course are being negotiated at the Valley of Fire off-ramp site.

Land use planning is important to the tribe to make use of natural resources. A planner will be hired to assist the Tribe in this endeavor.

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[ FULL MOAPA PALM REPORTS 100 pages with footnotes, 6 parts ]
[ THE Condensed Moapa Palms Report (10 pages) | Petroglyphs & Palms |
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[ The Moapa People | Moapa Indian Memories of Palms | Moapa Tribal Information ]
[ The Cahuilla of Palm Springs ]


[ Desert Fan Palms -Evidence supports Relict Status ]
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