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The Name Mojave

Mojave IndianThe name [Mojave] is composed of two Indian words, aha, water, and macave, along or beside. Aha denotes either singular or plural number. Mojaves translate the idiom "along or beside the water," or freely as "people who live along the water (river)."

For more than a century the name "Mojave," or its counterpart "Mohave," has been used as the name of an Indian tribe who lived - and whose survivors still live - along the Colorado River. It has come to be the name also of such geographic features as Mojave River, Mojave Desert, Mojave Mountains, Mojave Valley, Lake Mojave. Allegedly it is an Indian name, and supposedly the geographic features were named after the Mojave, Mohave Indian tribe. Indians who bear the name, however, say that it is a misnomer and not their real tribal name. They claim that their true Indian name always was, and is, Aha macave (pronounced aha makav, all a's sounded as the a in "father," the c as in "cool," the e silent). The one form, Aha macave, is both singular and plural.

Extract from Lorraine M. Sherer's definitive work, "The Name Mojave, Mohave: A History of Its Origin and Meaning" published in the Southern California Quarterly, Publication of the Historical Society of Southern California, March 1967.