Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cocopah Museum & Cultural Center

The Cocopah (Kwapa)--the River people-- have lived in this area for over 3,000 years. On Wednesday Bob and I visited the Cocopah Museum in Yuma, AZ to learn more about these indigenous people.

The museum is set in a beautiful park landscaped with Sonoran Desert cacti, shrubs, and trees.

Outside is a traditional dwelling, open in the front to catch any breeze and built of Cottonwood poles with a straw roof. To the right is a winter home constructed over an excavated pit to provide protection and insulation from the cold nights.
A beautiful mural welcomes visitors to the museum 
Dolls dressed in clothing typical of the era of European goods. Prior to this time, the Cocopah women wore willow bark skirts and feather bundles, while men wore loincloths. Body painting, tattoos, and shell necklaces were common for both men and women.
Elaborately beaded women's capes are displayed here. Just beautiful!
Woman's costume, complete with beaded cape and necklace of jaw harp (also called Jew's harp, mouth harp, or juice harp.) This ancient instrument is held between the teeth and struck with a finger to make musical sounds.

We spent some time in the gift shop talking with a Cocopah man who was happy to share his culture with us. I learned that the Cocopah have no weaving culture except for some very simple and utilitarian baskets used for storing grain. I did also see what appeared to be a finger-woven band, very simply woven without pattern, used to bind a child to a cradle board. It may have been an item taken in trade, however. Our host had no knowledge of this type of band. 

Bob and I ended our outing by picking up a large bag of roasted Spanish Peanuts from the Peanut Patch. We look forward to going here every year to stock up!

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