California: Chemehuevi


About the Chemehuevi: 
Within the Great Basin region, the Chemehuevi were nomads of the Mojave Desert’s mountains and the Colorado River shoreline for thousands of years. They are the southernmost branch of the Southern Paiute Natives. 
History of the Reservation: 
In 1853, the U.S. government declared the Chemehuevi’s land as public domain. Most of the Chemehuevi people were relocated to the Colorado River Reservation where the tribe remains to this day. But, by 1885, a few hundred of them reunited in the Chemehuevi Valley, and by 1907 Federal authorities established the Chemehuevi Valley Reservation, reinstating their precious homelands.   

Soon after, however, their land was once again taken – this time to be used for the Parker Dam Project. With this, they began 30 years of persistence to gain federal recognition, and it was approved on June 5, 1970.  
Today: The Chemehuevi Indian Reservation comprises about 30,650 acres of trust land, including 30 miles of Colorado River frontage. The Chemehuevi have hydroelectric, oil and uranium resources available to them. The tribal land along Lake Havasu provides nearly all the employment and income for residents of the reservation. 

The tribe has approximately 700 enrolled members, with 300-400 living on the reservation. Strongly influenced by Mojave beliefs, including the power of dreams to cure illness and spiritual imbalances, the Chemehuevi follow traditional wedding and burial traditions. 

 The tribe operates a community recreation center, cultural center, education programs and a conservation project. Their Lake Havasu casino and resort provides most of the local employment and tribal income, though 33% of tribal members live below the poverty line. Health care is provided by Indian Health Services, with a wellness center and a health clinic on the reservation.