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79 and other brightly colored cloth brought the most trade value by the fall of 1849—and in some instances was the only cloth accepted.113 As the Pima economy metamorphosed into more of a market economy, barter and trade lost its appeal and the Pima began demanding Mexican silver and American gold coins. Mexican silver had more of an immediate utility since Tucson was a Mexican military town that used silver coins as its medium of exchange. Since an array of manufactured items could be purchased in Tucson, it would be natural for silver to be accepted in exchange for Pima food supplies. While a limited number of gold coins were accepted, the Pima tried to exchange them with other American emigrants as quickly as possible. Hayes, for instance, explained Azul “was anxious to get silver for a ten dollar gold piece we gave him.” He also added he met eight Pima men en route to Tucson “to buy cattle.” Wood noted the Pima wished to exchange a $10 gold piece for “a new silver half dollar.”114 To insure a favorable rate of exchange and perhaps to inflate prices, the Pima brought only “small quantities” of food to exchange with emigrants. They recognized and seemed to understand a basic principle of economics: limited supplies artificially inflate prices on the open market. Such economic savvy added to the level of prosperity enjoyed by the Pima. Emigrants, equally cognizant of such tactics, remarked the Pima always looked to the end as justifying the means.
114 Eccleston noted in his journal that on Friday, November 16, his train met five or six Pima men en route to Tucson. The men stayed with the emigrants, camped more than a day’s ride from the Gila. Eccleston noted they were well armed and well mounted. It is probable the men were on the way to Tucson to use the coin acquired from the emigrants to purchase supplies they did not already enjoy. This may have included agricultural tools and other farming necessities. Diary of Robert Eccleston, pp. 206, 210, 213. Journal of Benjamin Hayes, p. 45. Recollections of Harvey Wood, p. 12. Diary of Judge Hayes.
80 was to make emigrants linger before the trading began. Hayes noted the Pima kept his party “waiting half an hour” before opening the market.115 With tens of thousands of emigrants passing through their villages, the Pima were aware of the economic opportunity facing them. While no quantitative data exist, emigrant journals support the theory that the Pima increased their agricultural output to accommodate the demands placed on them, perhaps cultivating as many as 12,500 acres of land by 1850.116 This is seen in Azul’s invitation to emigrants to forgo the California adventure and prospect locally for gold. Such an invitation was not lightly given but was proffered with a specific end in mind. “The Pima chief ineffectually solicited us to stop and mine a day or two’s journey up the Gila,” Harris wrote in the summer of 1849, “promising to furnish us a guard of fifty of his warriors with provisions, representing that gold could be dug there in paying qualities and adding that his object was to have introduced among his people trade and agricultural implements and methods from the United States.” Azul recognized emigrants had the technology and innovation his people needed to engage more efficiently in agricultural production. Eight months earlier, Couts explained Azul was “exceedingly anxious to see the white man come and live amongst them, to teach them how to make corn, big horses [houses?], and everything they did.” 115 Journal of Cave Couts, p. 66. Journal of H.M.T. Powell, p. 153. Diaries of Benjamin Hayes, p. 43.
116 The figure of 15,000 is roughly four times the number of Indians residing at the villages. Lieutenant A. B. Chapman estimated the population at 4,117 in 1858. See “Goddard. Bailey to Charles E. Mix,” dated November 4, 1858, pp. 207-208. Journal of Cave Couts, p. 67. Journal of Benjamin Harris, p. 82. I estimate perhaps 5,000 Pima and Maricopa living in 1849. Charles Olberg (“Report on the San Carlos Irrigation Project and the History of Irrigation along the Gila River, Appendix A” in Hearings before the Committee on
Indian Affairs, House of Representatives on the Conditions of Various Tribes of Indians, Volume 2—Appendixes, Washington, DC:
Government Printing Office, 1919, pp. 59-60), estimated the number of acres farmed by the Pima and Maricopa in 1850 at 12,450.
Assuming each Pima and Maricopa consumed five bushels of wheat and five bushels of corn per year (Castetter and Bell, p. 55) the Indians would have grown about 2,500 acres in wheat and 2,083 acres in corn in 1849. This totals 4,583 acres. Considering smaller amounts of cotton, melons, pumpkins and squash were grown—say 1,500 acres total—then the Indians would have farmed around 6,000 acres for their own use, meaning of course they doubled their production to provide for the emigrant demand. Sylvester Mowry wrote the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in November 1859 that the Pima and Maricopa had increased their production that year to 15,000 acres. Trade continued with emigrants, Mexican towns in Sonora and with two new parties—army posts and the Overland Mail lines. See “Sylvester Mowry, Report to A. B. Greenwood, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, dated Los Pimos, October 6, 1859,” in Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1859 (Washington, DC: George W. Bowman, Printer, 1860) pp. 360-361 81 While none of the emigrants permanently remained in the villages at this time, Azul’s invitation is intriguing as it provides a glimpse into the mind of the chief as he contemplated the future economy of his people.117 Clearly this vision included education for the Pima so that they might better provide for the demands of the emigrant market.
As their perceived level of importance increased and their recognition of the value of money heightened, the Pima’s demand for coin as the medium of exchange increased.
An emigrant visiting the villages in the latter part of 1849 noted the Pima knew “the value of money” while another remarked they “asked high prices in money (emphasis in original).” Eccleston noted the Pima were well supplied with clothing and wore only “the most flashy colors,” suggesting the Indians’ demand for such trade goods may have already been—or was nearly—saturated. When he attempted to buy some ponies, Eccleston was told the Pima would accept cash only, no trade. When he bought corn from the Maricopa a few days later he paid “a big price” in money. 118
with either the Pimos or Maricopas.” Extravagance may have been a relative concept that might not have matched the true nature of the emigrants, who dumped goods along the trail to lighten the burden on their worn and weary animals. To the Pima mind the emigrants had a dazzling array of technology, such as metal tools and better quality and more colorful cloth. These goods far surpassed the available supply of goods from poverty-stricken soldiers and settlers in Sonora, including those in Tucson. Because the emigrants carried with them the products of industrial America, the Pima—lacking such goods—would have concluded that the Americans were a wealthy people. As a literate people—with many keeping or reading journals and making drawings—the emigrants impressed the Pima, who were intrigued with the written word and hand drawn pictures.
When the perceived waste of the emigrants is factored in—the emigrants (especially Graham’s column in 1848) discarded wagons, left behind scores of dead or stray animals, littered the trail with a variety of manufactured items such as wheels, crowbars, blacksmith bellows, carpenter’s tools, stoves, chairs, tents, washing machines, guns, powder, chains, saddles, harnesses, trunks of clothing, cooking utensils and a vast assortment of tools—the Pima must have concluded the Americans were wealthy and wasteful. “You can name nothing that was not lost on this road,” one emigrant wrote.
Another commented that his mother would scold him if she could see “us give our shirts away[,] cut up our drawers, & destroy all we have left… but so it is everything must be left & we will do well if we get there [California] with a whole skin.”119 119 Audubon’s Western Journal, p. 156. Letters from California, p. 256. Strentzel noted that many emigrants littered the land with equipment, articles and clothing just west of the Maricopa villages. “The road was strewn with dead animals, and wagons and property of every kind were left on the road all the way through the desert,” creating “great alarm amongst all the emigrants.” Journal of Robert Green, p. 68. Eccleston (Journal of Robert Eccleston, p. 215) also writes the trail west of the villages was littered with wagons, wheels, ox yokes, staples and rings, boxes, barrels, tubs and chains. Durivage, (Diary of John Durivage, p. 219) notes, for example, he 83 Another part of the perceived emigrant extravagance can be attributed to “a want of small change” that compelled emigrants to “frequently pay more for an article than we would if we could make the change.” Part can also be attributed to the conscious decision of the emigrants to give more in trade than the purchased foods were worth. While some emigrants burned or dumped into the river everything they left behind, others traded it away, giving far more in trade value knowing it would otherwise be lost and of no value or profit. Candee noted his train traded extravagantly with the Pima because “we must dispose of it at any rate.” As a result, emigrants traded “a good garment for a water melon” that under different circumstances they would not have exchanged. Whatever the reason, by the time John Bartlett came through the villages in 1852, most goods were sold for coin.120 As the Pima recognized the value of American gold coins and their relative value to Mexican silver, they shifted their economy to one largely based on the gold standard.
Concurrently, the Pima (and Maricopa), perhaps frustrated by their inability to acquire new tools from the emigrants, grew desirous of American technology, particularly metal tools. Furthermore, mules and oxen were in demand, suggesting a shift from an economy based on manpower to one based on horsepower. Powell recorded the Pima “did not like to part with their horses,” although they offered “to give a horse for a yoke of oxen.”121 showed Azul the picture Emory drew of the chief. “He was much delighted,” Durivage wrote. Samuel E. Chamberlain, My Confession (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1956), (hereafter Diary of William Chamberlain), p. 287, notes he was in demand to draw pictures of the Pima, who were impressed with his “abilities as an artist.” Hunter (Journal of William Hunter), p. 166, notes wagons, wagon parts, spare axles, doubletrees, chains, bolts and other wagon paraphernalia littering the road.
120 Diary of Judge Hayes. Noted by Dr. J. G. Candee in Journal of Captain Marcy, p. 328. Bartlett, 2:226, 259.
121 Journal of H. M. T. Powell, p. 153. Eccleston remarked that the Pima warned him “to lookout for our cattle” as the Apaches had driven off a horse and several oxen a day to two before. “They are on lookout day & night,” Eccleston wrote about the Pima, “one of their watch towers being a large cottonwood near us.” Diary of Robert Eccleston, p. 209.
84 Throughout the first year of emigrant traffic journals bespeak of the honesty and integrity of the Pima, although there were isolated instances of pilferage. When Harvey Wood passed through the Pima villages, a member of his company lost a buffalo robe to theft, although Azul managed to secure its return after admonishing his people to respect the property of the emigrants. Wood was impressed with the effect. “Had the thief been a white man,” the emigrant opined, “talking would hardly have restored it.” Harris noted Azul specifically informed the emigrants they “need fear no pilfering, as the ‘Pimas do not steal.’” Chamberlin adds that Azul “took dinner with us” and inquired regarding how the Pima “behaved towards us.” If his people were caught stealing or misbehaving, the chief explained, the emigrants were to inform him and he “would punish them accordingly.” Passing into the Maricopa villages a day later, Chamberlin had a vastly different perception. “We found them to lie and cheat and steal” having “degenerated greatly within a few years.”122 By 1850, Azul was informing emigrants “his men are not all honest[.] they will steal [having] learned to do so by the Appachees.” Consequently, Green opined, “From the account given of these injuns they must have improved very much since Mr Emory was through the country for he represents them as having all the virtues of the whites without any of the vices. The only virtue I saw among them was raising corn & wheat to sell to the emigrants at high prices.” Regarding the Maricopa, Green was less kind. “Why
Mr Emory has given them so good a character I cant tell unless he was very hungry & Esau like sold his words for a mess of pottage.”123 New stresses and demands placed on the Pima resulted from market forces— which were more pronounced as the Pima economy grew and shifted. These stresses are partially demonstrated in increased larcenous behavior. The fact that emigrants were neither soldiers under restrictive military authority nor missionaries under strict religious influence points to the beginnings of destabilizing influences in the villages. When stymied in their attempts to acquire goods—and the education that would enable them to efficiently utilize this technology and when continuing to witness the jettisoning of a wide variety of goods—the Pima’s view of integrity was modified and pilfering increased. This is observed in the loss of authority that Azul exhibited over his people.
While once able to admonish his people to respect the property of the emigrants—and even able to secure the return of stolen goods through persuasion—Azul could no longer do this by 1850.