The Cohonina peoples inhabited the north-western area of Arizona, to the west of the Grand Canyon in the United States.[1][2] First identified in 1937 by Lyndon Hargrave, surveying pottery for the Museum of Northern Arizona, they are named for the Hopi term for the Yuman, Havasupai, and Walapai peoples who inhabited the area and are thought to be descended from the Cohonina.[3] They in turn have lent their name to Coconino County, Arizona.[4] They are thought to have lived between 500 and 1200,[1][5] evolving alongside the Anasazi and enjoying a period of fertility, producing "significant" amounts of pottery,[6] before worsening weather conditions - arid soils and rain erosion - forced them from their homelands. Several lines of evidence led to a theory that a climate change episode caused a severe drought in the region from 1276 to 1299, forcing these agriculture-dependent cultures to move on.[7] Archaeological evidence of the Cohonina disappears beyond this period.[8]

Regions with significant populations
United States United States
(Arizona Arizona)
Related ethnic groups
Yuman, Havasupai, Walapai

Archaeological evidenceEdit

The majority of the archaeological evidence that does exist consists of agricultural remnants and pottery.[6][7] Pueblo I Era period pottery, often decorated, has been found alongside evidence of maize cultivation. These pieces are largely constructed using "paddle-and-anvil" methods, with black and grey illustrations, and are found west of the San Francisco Peaks, east of Aubrey Cliffs, and south of the Grand Canyon.[4]

The area was largely pine forest, and the Cohoninia may have utilised wild plants are the mainstay of their agriculture. They also used obsidian to construct arrowheads and for trade.[4]


According to research by the Anthropology Department at the Northern Arizona University, the Cohonina underwent three distinct periods of construction. Between 700-900, their homes consisted of "deep timber-lined pit houses with rooftop entry and ventilator shafts."[4] Often these structures differed in material depending on the season. Between 900 and 1100, large walls of stone surrounded Cohonina forts, and masonry has been found in housing dated from this period.[4]

Between 1100 and 1250, residences utilised masonry and San Francisco Mountain Gray Ware stone, though production of this stopped after 1275.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Tufts, Lorraine Salem (1994). Secrets in the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon National Parks. North Palm Beach, Fla: National Photographic Collections. p. 12. ISBN 0-9620255-3-4.
  2. ^ "Kaibab National Forest". USDA Forest Service. Retrieved 2007-01-04. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ McGregor, John Charles (1951). The Cohonina culture of northwestern Arizona. University of Illinois Press. pp. 1–7.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Cohonina, Prescott, Patayan". Anthropology Department. Northern Arizona University. Retrieved 5 July 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Malotki, Ekkehart; Weaver, Donald Edgar (June 2001). Stone chisel and yucca brush: Colorado Plateau rock art. Kiva Publishing. p. xv. ISBN 978-1-885772-27-5. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b Schwartz, Douglas Wright (October 1989). On the edge of splendor: exploring Grand Canyon's human past. School of American Research. p. 36.
  7. ^ a b Paul Vucetich; Letitia Burns (1992). The Grand Canyon. [S.l.]: Beaux Arts Editions. p. 16. ISBN 0-88363-969-6.
  8. ^ Hirst, Stephen (2006). I am the Grand Canyon: the story of the Havasupai people. Grand Canyon Association. pp. 35–38. ISBN 978-0-938216-86-5.