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Piman Family

 Native American Nations | Linguistic Families                    

  • Pima, Latham, Nat. Hist. Man, 898, 1850 (cites three languages from the Mithridates, viz, Pima proper, Opata, Eudeve). Turner in Pac. R. R. Rep., III, pt. 3, 55, 1856 (Pima proper). Latham in Trans. Philolog. Soc. Lond., 92, 1856 (contains Pima proper, Opata, Eudeve, Papagos). Latham, Opuscula, 356, 1860. Latham, El. Comp. Phil., 427, 1862 (includes Pima proper, Opata, Eudeve, Papago, Ibequi, Hiaqui, Tubar, Tarahumara, Cora). Gatschet in Mag. Am. Hist., 156, 1877 (includes Pima, Névome, Pápago). Gatschet in Beach, Ind. Misc., 429, 1877 (defines area and gives habitat).

Latham used the term Pima in 1850, citing under it three dialects or languages. Subsequently, in 1856, he used the same term for one of the five divisions into which he separates the languages of Sonora and Sinaloa.

The same year Turner gave a brief account of Pima as a distinct language, his remarks applying mainly to Pima proper of the Gila River, Arizona. This tribe had been visited by Emory and Johnston and also described by Bartlett. Turner refers to a short vocabulary in the Mithridates, another of Dr. Coulter’s in Royal Geological Society Journal, vol. XI, 1841, and a third by Parry in Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes, vol. III, 1853. The short vocabulary he himself published was collected by Lieut. Whipple.

Only a small portion of the territory occupied by this family is included within the United States, the greater portion being in Mexico where it extends to the Gulf of California. The family is represented in the United States by three tribes, Pima alta, Sobaipuri, and Papago. The former have lived for at least two centuries with the Maricopa on the Gila River about 160 miles from the mouth. The Sobaipuri occupied the Santa Cruz and San Pedro Rivers, tributaries of the Gila, but are no longer known. The Papago territory is much more extensive and extends to the south across the border. In recent times the two tribes have been separated, but the Pima territory as shown upon the map was formerly continuous to the Gila River.

According to Buschmann, Gatschet, Brinton, and others the Pima language is a northern branch of the Nahuatl, but this relationship has yet to be demonstrated.75

Principal Tribes
Northern group:


Southern group:


Population.—Of the above tribes the Pima and Papago only are within our boundaries. Their numbers under the Pima Agency, Arizona,76 are Pima, 4,464; Papago, 5,163.

Indian Linguistic Families of America North of Mexico, 1891

Linguistic Families


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