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Hualapai Indian Fact Sheet

Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Hualapai Indian tribe for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students and teachers to visit our Hualapai 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 Hualapai pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages.

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   Hualapai Tribe

How do you pronounce the word "Hualapai"? What does it mean? Is the correct spelling "Hualapai" or "Walapai"?
Hualapai is pronounced "wah-lah-pie." The spelling Hualapai comes from Spanish, which has no letter "w," and the spelling Walapai comes from English. Both are used today, although the tribe officially uses the spelling Hualapai. This name means "people of the pines" in their own language.

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

How is the Hualapai Indian nation organized?
The Hualapais 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 Hualapais are also US citizens and must obey American law.

In the past, each Hualapai band had its own chief. Hualapai 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 Hualapai people really value harmony, so this was an important system for them. Today, the Hualapai 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 Hualapai Indians speak?
Almost all Hualapai people speak English today, but some of them also speak their native Hualapai language. Hualapai is a complex language with many long words. If you'd like to know a Hualapai word that's not too hard to say, "gam'yu" (sounds like gahm-yoo) is a friendly greeting in Hualapai.

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


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How do Hualapai 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 Hualapai 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. Hualapai children liked to swim and compete at footraces. A Hualapai mother traditionally carried a young child in a basket cradleboard on her back. Here is a website with cradleboard pictures.

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

What were Hualapai homes like in the past?
Most Hualapai 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 Hualapai people really only used them to sleep in. When they were resting, socializing, or working on crafts, Hualapai people sat outside-- it was rarely cold or rainy in the climate where they lived. Here is a website with brush house pictures.

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

What were Hualapai clothes like? Did the Hualapais wear feather headdresses and face paint?
Hualapai men wore breechcloths, leggings, and long-sleeved shirts. Hualapai women usually wore long dresses made of deerskin. Some Hualapai people wore buckskin moccasins, while others wore sandals made of yucca fiber. Here are some photos and links about traditional Indian clothes in general.

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

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

What was Walapai transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?
No--the Walapai 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 Walapais could travel more quickly than before.

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

What were Hualapai weapons and tools like in the past?
Hualapai hunters used bows and arrows, and fishermen used nets. In war, Hualapai men fired their bows or fought with clubs. Some Hualapai warriors used leather shields to protect themselves from enemy archers. Here is a website of American Indian weapon pictures.

What other Native Americans did the Hualapai tribe interact with?
The Hualapais were close friends of the Havasupai tribe. These two tribes traded frequently, helped each other during famines, and invited each other to religious festivals. The Hualapais traded regularly with other tribes of the Southwest as well. They also fought wars with some of their neighbors. The Mojave and Yavapai tribes were frequent enemies.

What are Hualapai arts and crafts like?
Hualapai artists are known for their twined Indian baskets and pots. Here is a website with pictures of Hualapai baskets and pottery.

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

What about Hualapai religion?
Sorry, but we cannot help you with religious information. Religions are too complicated and culturally sensitive to describe appropriately in only a few simple sentences, and we strongly want to avoid misleading anybody. You can visit this site to learn more about Hualapai beliefs or this site about Indian religion 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 Hualapai tribe. If you want to know more about Hualapai culture and history, two good choices are Hualapai Native Americans and The Hualapai of California and Arizona. .You can also browse through our reading list of recommended Native Indian books in general.

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 2015.

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

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Learn More About The Hualapais

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

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

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

Hualapai Indian Words
Hualapai Indian vocabulary lists.



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