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Pima desire for farm implements and beasts of burden was never sufficient to meet their demand, with the first signs of anti-social behavior appearing as their level of frustration over their inability to acquire these tools and animals rose. The Pima recognized the value of American technology and that it could benefit their economy without significantly altering their cultural values. While they might reject a mining economy, they saw American agricultural technology as compatible with their longentrenched agrarian culture and economy.
The fact that the first complaints of larcenous behavior were leveled against the Maricopa can be explained by their geographically disadvantaged location. Emigrants entered the Indian villages from the east, meaning they reached the Pima villages first.
The Maricopa had secondary access to the emigrant market and, as a result, received a lower quantity—and perhaps quality—of goods in trade. Durivage, for instance, wrote his company found the “Pima all that Colonel Emory had described them,” yet five days later when leaving the Maricopa villages he noted “a number of horses and mules were stolen.” Other emigrants were “much annoyed” (sic) by the Maricopa who “required much watching.” Hunter went so far as to note the Pima even condemned their western neighbors and allies for ignoring “the precept ‘thou shalt not steal.’”124 Emigrants increasingly noted they had to watch the Pima carefully. “You have to keep a sharp look out upon their movements, and your utmost vigilance will probably be insufficient to prevent their depredations,” Lorenzo Aldrich observed. Quaker Charles Pancoast was no kinder. “We had barely unyoked our Teams before a hundred or more Indians gathered around us, and a number of our tools (which we carried in straps outside of the wagon) were stolen so adroitly that in not a single instance could we detect the Thief. We lost so many tools we became alarmed.” When a yoke of oxen was stolen Wednesday morning, three emigrants—including Pancoast—paid Azul a visit to demand its return. The chief assured the emigrants “he would get them for us” and in the meantime urged the travelers to move their camp five or six miles away from the village “where his People would not be tempted so much to steal from us.” Three days later—
after the chief intervened—three Pima returned the missing yoke of oxen, having found it well south of the camp.125 More than 40,000 soldiers and emigrants traveled through the villages between 1846 and 1852, finding food, water and friendship from fewer than 4,000 Pima. The Pima response to this mass migration was tempered by several factors. Much like earlier Spanish missionaries and American mountain men who simply passed through the villages buying and trading for such items as they needed, the forty-niners were transients. As a result, the Pima—desiring access to new technology and innovation— saw agricultural trade and sale as the means of market enhancement. Furthermore, since the emigrants sought protection from the Apaches to the south and east of the villages and the Quechan, Yavapai and Mohave west of the villages, the Pima increased in stature. The Pima found it to their advantage to provide such protection, with their villages serving not only as centers of trade and respite but also as policing centers. Since the villages were the only places between Tucson and Warner’s Ranch where good food and forage could be purchased and water was available, they served a vital life-sustaining function. The Pima clearly understood they were the center of activity and their crops were in demand. For this reason they sought to leverage their position by upgrading technology to better provide for the emigrant market. As it was, by the early 1850s, Pima farmers lagged their American counterparts only in access to technology and in the technical skills required to engage in modern farming.126 Whereas they were once hesitant
to accept American coin, by 1850 they increasingly used it to purchase goods in Tucson markets.127 In 1854, the U.S. Government acquired the Gadsden Purchase from Mexico, bringing all the land and villages of the Pima under American administration. To connect the state of California with the rest of the nation, Congress issued federal subsidies to railroad and wagon road contractors, bringing the Pima into contact with thousands of Americans, some of whom now considered settlement in the fertile valleys of Arizona. In the following chapter, I examine the effects of the overland routes and increased traffic, as well as their effect on the creation of the Pima Reservation. The Pima exercised sovereignty over all their lands and resources, although their ability to do this was challenged by the newcomers. Federal laws, while rhetorically protecting Pima interests, facilitated the loss of Pima land and resources. The creation of the reservation in 1859 reflected this irony of federal policy. With the government encouraging settlement of the land and utilization of the riverine resources, settlers appropriated the land and water that legally belonged to the Pima. The Pima, poised to dominate the economy of the southwest New Mexico Territory, were undermined by federal policies that encouraged American settlement.
“ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE INDIANS?”
THE OVERLAND ROUTES AND THE ESTABLISHMENTOF THE PIMA RESERVATION, 1852-1860 Despite being located on the Mexican side of the Gila River, the Pima had strong economic ties to the United States. They also incorporated a number of technological changes, most notably adopting the Mexican technique of farming with checkbeds.128 Fields were not yet terraced and required drainage ditches to draw off excess water.129 Pima lands remained “better irrigated, their crops [were] larger, and the flour which they [made] from their wheat and maize” was better than any local growers.130 Despite assurances from federal officials, the Pima were anxious about their land and resources.
Since the introduction of the U.S. Army in 1846, the Pima had an official diplomatic protocol with the United States. The health of Antonio Culo Azul, head Pima chief since the 1820s, was failing, and Boundary Commissioner John Bartlett would be the last American to see Culo Azul, as he died in the winter of 1855. By the time William Emory surveyed the Gadsden Purchase boundary later that year, Culo Azul’s son, Antonio, had assumed the role of head Pima chief. Antonio Azul’s first official protocol ensued after the Pima villages were brought under American administration in the 128 John P. Wilson, “How the Settlers Farmed: Hispanic Villages and Irrigation Systems in Early Sierra County, 1850-1900,” New Mexico Historical Review, (63:4), October 1988, pp. 346-348. “John Walker to Honorable Charles Mix,” dated October 31, 1858, Tucson, New Mexico, RG 75, M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1881, (New Mexico Superintendency, 1858-1859), roll 549. “John Walker to James L. Collins,” dated December 31, 1860, Tucson Agency, New Mexico. RG 75, T21, Records of the New Mexico Superintendency, 1849-1880 (Letters Received from the Agencies, 1859-1860), roll 4.
129 A.W. Whipple, “Report upon the Indian Tribes,” in “Reports of Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean,” Vol., VII, Part III, 33rd Congress, 2nd Session, Senate Executive Document No. 78 (Washington, DC: Beverly Tucker, Printer, 1856), p. 599.
130 Bartlett, Personal Narrative 2:233.
90 summer of 1855.131 In June, Azul led a delegation of six Pima, Maricopa and Papago chiefs to Emory’s camp at Los Nogales, 150 miles south of the Pima villages, where they asserted sovereignty over their land and resources.
Meeting on June 29, Emory informed the chiefs that all rights they held under Mexican administration were guaranteed by the United States. Azul and the other chiefs, however, remained concerned about their land and resources, “manifest[ing] much anxiety to know if the transfer of Territory would affect the grants of lands ceded them by Mexico, which they now cultivate with so much success.”132 Emory assured the men that all titles recognized by the Mexican government would be validated by the United States and issued a public call for American citizens to respect the authority of Azul and the sovereignty of the Pima.133 Emory recognized this sovereignty and informed the secretary of war that the Pima had “a just claim to their lands” and that if they were dispossessed, they would “make war on the frontier of a very serious character.”134 Emory—along with Lieutenant Nathaniel Michler and Antonio Azul—had much with which to be concerned. With Pima wheat ripening at the time of Michler’s visit to the villages in May, the men recognized the potential threat American settlement posed to Pima interests. Both Emory and Michler reported Azul’s regard for Pima rights and sovereignty.135
The conference at Los Nogales was underscored by a rapid and growing American presence. While the first railroad survey was well to the north of the Pima villages, a second survey passed directly through the villages. Led by engineer John G.
Parke, the expedition focused on potential railroad grades between the Pima villages and El Paso, Texas.136 Descending into Maricopa Wells, Parke’s geologist Thomas Antisell described an oasis environment well endowed with grass and water. More pertinent to Pima concerns was the message Parke sent back east: the middle Gila Valley was “susceptible of being made productive.” When Andrew B. Gray was hired by the Texas Western Railroad Company to survey yet another potential grade, Pima anxiety increased.137 Pima concerns over their land titles and water rights were further heightened when Congress authorized the exploration and survey of overland transportation routes for the express purpose of enticing “agriculturalists and laboring men” to the west.138 A southern route left El Paso (Franklin), Texas and stretched to San Diego, with the Pima villages included in any potential route due to the availability of “fine wheat and corn” within the villages. With a national road and a supply of food, emigrants would “feel some assurance” in settling in the valley, an area foreseen as “one of the most 136 “Report of Lieutenant John G. Parke, Corps of Topographic Engineers, upon the routes … and upon that portion of the route near the thirty-second parallel lying between the Rio Grande and the Pima Villages of the Gila,” in “Report of Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean,” Volume VII, Senate Executive Document 78 (Washington, DC: Beverly Tucker, Printer, 1855), 33rd Congress, 2nd Session, pp. 3-5.
137 Andrew B. Gray, “Southern Pacific Railroad: Survey of a Route for the Southern Pacific Railroad on the 32nd Parallel for the Texas Western Railroad Company” (Cincinnati: Wrightson and Company, 1856).
138 The Congressional Globe, Vol. 25, part 2, 34th Congress, 1st session (Washington, DC: John C. Rives, 1856), p. 1298.
92 productive” in the country.139 On October 1, 1858, Leach’s wagon road opened to the public (see map 5).
In June of 1857, the U.S. Post Office awarded the California Stage Company a four-year contract to deliver mail between San Antonio, Texas, and San Diego, California. To facilitate travel, the San Antonio and San Diego Mail Line constructed eighty-seven stations between its termini, with the largest and most important at Maricopa Wells, just west of the Maricopa village of Hueso Parado. While most stage
stops were mere camping grounds, Maricopa Wells supported an adobe building complete with stock corrals and was provisioned with food and forage from the Pima villages. In time, Maricopa Wells would offer amenities not found in Arizona outside of Tucson.140
Mail Company, which began service on September 16, 1858. This mail line followed the Southern Trail through the Pima villages and provided semi-weekly mail service between its eastern terminals in St. Louis, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee, and its western terminus in San Francisco, California (see map 6). The Overland Mail road intersected
paralleled the south bank of the Little Gila River before veering west to the Casa Blanca Station. Continuing another five miles the trail bifurcated around either side of Pima Butte before descending into Maricopa Wells. Here the Overland Mail Company constructed “a substantial group of adobe buildings and a large corral.”141 The organization of the overland mail lines and their selection of the Pima villages as a central stage and mail stop was no accident.142 Both companies were keenly aware of the services the Pima (and Maricopa) could provide, both in terms of food production and protection of the overland roads. The Pima asserted sovereignty over all of their land and resources, a proposition Isaiah C. Woods, general superintendent of the San Antonio and San Diego Mail Line, quickly discovered. Woods met in conference with the chiefs and headmen of the Pima and Maricopa on November 15, 1858, being informed that the land, grass, wood and water then being utilized by the stage line belonged to the Indians. In addition, Woods was told that he would have to pay for the protection the Indians provided the travelers and for the grass and water the mules and horses consumed at Maricopa Wells.143 While the arrival of the mail lines proved to be an economic boon to the Pima, they did not relinquish their sovereignty.144 John Walker, assigned as the first permanent Indian agent to the “Gadsden Purchase Indians” in 1857, informed Commissioner of Indian Affairs James W. Denver the following January that the Pima were doing well and that the “mail party has made a 141 Conklin and Conklin, 2:166-170.