"There were in the camp a number of Yuma indians."
Illustration of Quechan indians (1857)
Public DomainIllustration of Quechan indians (1857) - Credit: William H. Emory
Quechan mother and daughter (c. 1890)
Public DomainQuechan mother and daughter (c. 1890) - Credit: walnutsantiques

The Yuma (properly known as Quechan, meaning ‘those who descended’) are a Native American tribe who live on the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation on the lower Colorado River in Arizona and California.

Although initially friendly towards the Spanish explorers who made contact in 1774, subsequent Spanish settlement among the Quechan did not go smoothly. In 1781, the tribe rebelled and killed 4 priests and 30 soldiers, and damaged the Spanish mission settlements San Pedro y San Pablo de Bicuñer and Puerto de Purísima Concepción.

The tribe retained control of the area until the early 1850s when the territory was annexed by the United States following the Mexican-American War. Conflicts with the U.S. Army and other tribes, such as the Cocopah and Maricopa, took a severe toll on the tribe and by 1857 the Quechen were no longer a military power.