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Havasupai Indian Fact Sheet

Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Havasupai Indian tribe for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students and teachers to visit our Havasupai language and culture pages for in-depth information about the tribe, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with Havasupai pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages.

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   Havasupai Tribe

How do you pronounce the word "Havasupai"? What does it mean?
Havasupai is pronounced "hah-vah-soo-pie." It means "people of the blue-green water."

Where do the Havasupais live?
The Havasupai are natives of northwestern Arizona, near the Grand Canyon.

How is the Havasupai Indian nation organized?
The Havasupais live on a reservation in Arizona. An Indian reservation is land that belongs to a tribe and is under their control. Each reservation has its own government, laws, police, and services, just like a small country. However, the Havasupais are also US citizens and must obey American law.

In the past, each Havasupai band had its own chief or headman. Havasupai chiefs were looked to for leadership, but they did not make decisions for the tribe. When there was a political decision to make, the chief would call a tribal meeting, and every member had to agree before the tribe could act (this is called consensus.) Sometimes this could take a long time, but the Havasupai people really value harmony, so this was an important system for them. Today, the Havasupai tribe is led by a tribal council elected by the citizens, and the council members still work by consensus much of the time.

What language do the Havasupai Indians speak?
Almost all Havasupai people are bilingual. They speak both English and their native Havasupai language. Havasupai is a complex language with many long words. If you'd like to know a Havasupai word that's not too hard to say, "gam'yu" (sounds like gahm-yoo) is a friendly greeting in Havasupai.

What was Havasupai culture like in the past? What is it like now?
Here is the homepage of the Havasupai Tribe. On their site you can find information about the Havasupai people in the past and today.

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How do Havasupai Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?
They do the same things all children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Havasupai children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play in their daily lives, just like colonial children. But they did have dolls, toys, and games to play. Havasupai children liked to swim and compete at footraces. After Europeans introduced horses to the Americas, Havasupai kids enjoyed horseback riding as well. A Havasupai mother traditionally carried a young child in a basket-woven cradleboard on her back. Here is a website with pictures of cradleboards and other Native baby carriers.

What were men and women's roles in the Havasupai tribe?
Havasupai husbands and wives worked together to farm their fields. Havasupai women did most of the cooking and child care, and men did most of the hunting. Both genders took part in storytelling, music and artwork, and traditional medicine.

What were Havasupai homes like in the past?
Most Havasupai Indians lived in wickiups. Wickiups are small round or cone-shaped houses made of a willow frame covered with brush and dirt. These are very simple houses and Havasupai people really only used them to sleep in. When they were resting, socializing, or working on crafts, Havasupai people sat outside-- it was rarely cold or rainy in the climate where they lived. Here are some wickiup house pictures.

Havasupai people do not live in these old-fashioned dwellings today, any more than other Americans live in log cabins. Havasupai families live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.

What were Havasupai clothes like? Did the Havasupais wear feather headdresses and face paint?
Most Havasupai people wore clothes made from buckskin. Since the Havasupai tribe often traded with Hopi clothmakers, some traditional Havasupai clothing was made of cloth instead. Havasupai men wore breechclouts, leggings, and long-sleeved shirts. Havasupai women usually wore long dresses. Some Havasupai people wore Indian moccasins, while others wore sandals made of yucca fiber. Here are some photos and links about Native American clothing styles in general.

The Havasupais did not wear Sioux war bonnets like the Plains Indians. Havasupai men usually wore cloth headbands tied around their foreheads instead. Men and women both wore their hair long, and women also wore long bangs. The Havasupais wore traditional tattoos and also painted their faces and bodies for special occasions. They used different colors and patterns for war paint, religious ceremonies, and festive decoration. Native silver jewelry such as earrings, necklaces, and concho belts were very popular among Havasupai people, and still are worn today.

Today, Havasupai people wear modern clothes like jeans instead of loincloths... and they only wear traditional regalia for special occasions like a dance.

What was Havasupai transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?
No--the Havasupai Indians weren't coastal people, and rarely traveled by river. Most often they just walked. There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe. Once Europeans brought horses to America, the Havasupais could travel more quickly than before.

What was Havasupai food like in the days before supermarkets?
The Havasupais planted crops of corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers. Havasupai men hunted deer, rabbits and small game , while women gathered nuts, fruits, and herbs. Favorite Havasupai recipes included baked beans, cornbread, and soups. Here is a website with more information about Native American traditional food.

What were Havasupai weapons and tools like in the past?
Havasupai hunters used bows and arrows. The Havasupais did not go to war often, though Havasupai warriors did sometimes have to defend their territory against the Spanish and other tribes. When this happened, they normally fired their bows or fought with spears. Here is a website of Native American Indian weapons.

What other Native Americans did the Havasupai tribe interact with?
The Havasupais were close friends of the Hualapai and Hopi tribes. These tribes traded frequently, helped each other during famines, and invited each other to religious festivals. The Havasupai were not warlike people, but they sometimes did fight with some of their neighbors. The Yavapai and Apache tribes were frequent enemies.

What are Havasupai arts and crafts like?
Havasupai artists are famous for their fine woven baskets and Indian pots. Here is a website of Havasupai basketry.

What kinds of stories do the Havasupais tell?
There are lots of traditional Havasupai legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the Havasupai Indian culture. Here is a Havasupai story about the origin of the human race. Here's a website where you can read more about Havasupai legends.

What about Havasupai religion?
Spirituality and religion were important parts of Havasupai life, and some people continue to practice traditional beliefs today. It is respectful to avoid imitating religious rituals for school projects since some Havasupai people care about them deeply. You can read and learn about them, however. You can visit this site to learn more about Havasupai religion or this site about Native American spiritual beliefs in general.

Can you recommend a good book for me to read?
You may enjoy And It Is Still That Way, a book of legends from various Arizona Indian tribes including the Havasupai tribe. If you want to know more about Havasupai culture and history, two good choices are I Am The Grand Canyon and Havasupai: People of the Blue Water. You can also browse through our reading list of books by Indian writers. Disclaimer: we are an Amazon affiliate and our website earns a commission if you buy a book through one of these links. Most of them can also be found in a public library, though!

How do I cite your website in my bibliography?
You will need to ask your teacher for the format he or she wants you to use. The authors' names are Laura Redish and Orrin Lewis and the title of our site is Native Languages of the Americas. We are a nonprofit educational organization working to preserve and protect Native American languages and culture. You can learn more about our organization here. Our website was first created in 1998 and last updated in 2020.

Thanks for your interest in the Havasupai Indian people and their language!

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Learn More About The Havasupais

Havasupai Indian Tribe
An overview of the Havasupai people, their language and history.

Havasupai Language Resources
Havasupai language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Havasupai Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Havasupai tribe past and present.

Havasupai Indian Words
Havasupai Indian vocabulary lists.

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