Early American Indian Conflicts:

Nearly 10,000 years of Indian interactions have followed the exploration and occupation of the Americas. More is known of the more Southerly civilizations of the Inca, Aztec and Mayans and their interactions with the Spanish conquistadores. As human densities increased, so did the competition for critical resources and thus conflicts.

The early human migrant’s habit of pursuing and depending on Big Game for much of their food supply appears to have led to the forced cultural change to a more sedentary life style of Agricultural food production. The Western Hemisphere’s Native Big Game species were not accustomed to being hunted by man and a majority of these species became extinct, especially in the Southern hemisphere.

American Indians of Arizona:

A good example of this life style change to a stronger dependence on farming practices is the Hohokam culture that is said to have moved into Arizona from the South. 

 The Casa Grande ruins are associated with many river diversion canals for irrigation of field crops in the dessert areas near Phoenix. The Athapaskan language groups include the Navajo and the Apache; both were among the later migrants from Northern Canada and Alaska, arriving in Arizona some 500 to 600 years ago. These groups were more strongly tied into the hunting & gathering type life style.

Early Pueblo groups: The Hopi & Zuni and Sinagua of Northern Arizona were more farming oriented. The Yuman groups were distributed along the lower elevation river systems. The Quechan at Yuma and the Mohave (Hualapai & Havasupai) were found further North along the Lower Colorado River. The Pima and the Maricopa were found along the Salt & Gila rivers had adapted to more of an agricultural life style.

Conflicts and wars between tribal groups were not unheard of, but were not well documented among the North American Indians. The Pima are reportedly one of the more peace loving Tribes.  The Apaches were probably the most aggressive and liked mobility and aren’t known for their agricultural inclinations. The Yavapai’s appear to have been the primary occupant of the Central Arizona highlands during the European settlement of Yavapai County.

When the “world” of the American Indians was invaded from the outside by Spain in the 16th century and by European settlers in the 17th & 18th centuries; their war technology left them at a distinct disadvantage. New diseases were introduced and soon became a serious health factor for the American Indians.

Both of these later cultures were able to recruit Indian Scouts and fighters to aid in the capture of those that resisted this new invasion.

Seasonal movements

In the West, seasonal movements of the various Indian tribes from the higher mountain elevations such as “The Colorado Plateau” to milder winter sites occurred, after making harvests of locally grown summer food crops and then the gathering of available native foods such as mesquite beans, pinon nuts and prickly pear in route to milder sites to spend the winter. [The earliest “Snowbirds”]

Skull Valley, at about 4300 feet elevation, located on the West edge of the Bradshaw Mountains was one of these seasonally occupied sites. No cave or cliff dwellings or pueblo ruins have yet been found in this immediate area to support the idea of year round residency.  That could have occurred occasionally by use of teepee) or some other form of brush shelters.

This area was climatically favorable for such use and it had ample sources of fresh water in several locations.

One site [Indian trash dump] was identified here in Skull Valley, but no excavation was undertaken. One dig is reported to have been undertaken in the Copper Basin area to the East of Skull Valley.



Evidence of local Indian occupancy includes a pit  house site with monos, metates, scrapers, pottery, arrowheads, figurines, beads, shell, and a bone needle. The hill top rock fort. Indian artifacts are abundant in various locations . A few graves sites have been uncovered during construction operations.

The Overtons used to spend long hours searching the local low hills surrounding the Valley for such artifacts. The entryways into many of the local residences used to be lined with a variety of Indian artifacts. An all-white mono grinding stone found locally was unusual and quite handsome. The most common ones are made from dark volcanic stone. Some are made of Granite.

The Indian fort contains old broken metates (or mealing stone) and grinding stone as well as pottery. There is evidence of a few smaller rooms, in addition to the perimeter walls of the fort. This may indicate early conflicts over the seasonal harvesting and or “wintering” rights of the Valley.


A low stone barrier stretching across the lower foothills south of the Hilltop fort begs the question of who built it and for what purpose. Big Game drift fence, Boundary demarcation? A few petroglyphs sites are known in the Valley.


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