National Geographic : 1898 Aug
PAPA G UERIA the leading branch of the Piman stock or linguistic family. Ac cording to several authorities, the Piman is related to the Na huatlan of Mexico, the great and highly advanced stock of the Montezumas. Besides the Papago, the Piman group includes the Pima tribe of southwestern Arizona, the Opata of the border, and four or five tribes altogether in Mexico. The Opata have been assimilated by the Mexicans, and the Pima Indians are largely gathered on reservations; the Papago remain distinct, and while a small number are domiciled on the reservation at San Xavier (near Tucson) the greater part of the tribe retain their independence and essential autonomy. The Papago population within the limits of the United States in 1890 was 5,163, according to the census of that year. These figures were based largely on estimates. The population esti mate for the entire tribe made during the explorations by the Bureau of American Ethnology in 1894 and 1895 was 4,000, of whom ten to forty per cent, according to the season, are in Mexico. Papagueria is perhaps the most arid region on the continent. The surface slopes southwestward from the imposing Sierra Madre with its subordinate ranges, and is relieved by many lesser ranges generally trending parallel with the main chain. As the vapor-laden air drifts from the Pacific and the gulf over the sun parched land it is heated to dryness ; but about midsummer and again about midwinter the air is chilled again as it drifts over main or minor crests, and fierce storms occur in the mountains and occasionally sweep into the plains. The annual precipita tion along the margin of the Sierra is recorded as 15 inches, and in the higher portions it probably reaches 20 inches; but it quickly diminishes westward to 10 inches, to 5 inches, then to a trifling or unmeasurable amount representing the product of local storms, perhaps separated by intervals of years, the average rain fall throughout Papagueria probably falling short of 5 inches. Thus the greater part of the district is practically a desert, although, as in most other American deserts, vegetal and animal life maintains a feeble existence. The high Sierra is scantily clothed with pines, and at lower levels gnarled, scrubby, and thorny oaks and chaparral thickets occur sparingly. In the val by the tribe in their dealings with their neighbors, and so came into use among the Spanish priests and settlers; and in time the Mexican users of the term lost the soft final and then emphasized the terminal vowel and, when they came to write it, strength ened the vowel sound still further by introducing the semi-silent but sub-guttural g of the Andalusian. This orthography has been adopted by Americans and the pronuncia_ tion modified to fit, though the local Mexican pronunciation is hardly distinguishable from that of the Indians themselves.