The Kamia of Imperial Valley

The Kamia of Imperial Valley

The Kamia of Imperial Valley

The Kamia of Imperial Valley

Excerpt

The Kamia were the inhabitants of the Imperial Valley in southeastern California. At times they resided on the west bank of the Colorado River in Yuma territory. Their earlier sojourns there were probably during periods of low water in Imperial Valley. At any rate, the west bank of the Colorado near Algodones and Diegueños, Lower California, was evidently regarded as theirs, to visit whenever they pleased, although it was Yuma territory.

Linguistically, the Kamia, are probably only subdialectically distinguishable from the Diegueño. Culturally, they are intermediate between the Diegueño and the Yuma, with a heavy preponderance of traits shared with the Yuma. It is assumed that they are a people of Diegueño, origin, who moved down into Imperial Valley and came under the influence of the Yuma, from whom they adopted agriculture. How long the process of acculturation has been going on, there seems no definite way to tell. It would seem that a few hundred years would be ample to account for the Yuma traits which have been adopted. Indeed, there seems no inherent reason why a century would not be ample. The closeness of Kamia friendship with the Yuma is indicated by Whipple's statement that Pablo Cochm, "grand chief of the Cuchans"1 (Yuma) in 1849, was a Kamia born on New River, probably about 1800.

The apparent overlap of Kamia and Eastern (Southern) Diegueño territory, the latter mapped by Spier2 and said by him to extend to "the hills on the eastern border of the Imperial Valley,"3 is not real. Spier's Eastern Diegueño informant evidently enumerated the Kamia gentes which he knew, along with the Eastern Diegueño ones. Indeed, he would seem to have regarded the Kamia as his kinsmen.

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