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271 The Weekly Arizona Miner, March 23, 1867, p. 3; April 6, 1867, p. 3; and May 4, 1867, p. 3. “Davidson to Cooley,” dated January 12, 1866. In June 1863, the Army—possibly due to White’s purchase of Pima vouchers and moldy tasting flour—awarded a contract to supply grain to John B. Allen, who set up shop at Maricopa Wells, then outside of the reservation. A contract to supply grain for.3 cents per pound in exchange for exclusive trading privileges for one year was approved for Allen, although Poston overturned the agreement and restored the monopoly White enjoyed, arguing the military had no authority to engage in trade without a federal license. Miller, pp. 26-27; Constance Wynn Altshuler, Poston and the Pimas: The “Father of Arizona” as Indian Superintendent, Journal of Arizona History (18:1, 1977), p. 31. Enmity existed between the military and Poston. In April 1864 Poston halted sales of Pima wheat to the Army purchasing agent, who purchased Pima wheat and delivered it to the depot in Tucson. Poston halted the shipments under the pretense of sending the grain to the Yuma Indians. He ordered Allen removed from his trading post, relieved Indian agent Abraham Lyon and restored White’s monopoly; White was also appointed Pima Indian Agent in 1864, giving him the exclusive right to trade with the Pima and Maricopa. “Poston to Honorable Wm. P. Dole,” dated Pima Villages, Arizona, March 10, 1864, in RG 75, M234, Roll 3.
272 The Weekly Arizona Miner, May 4, 1867, p. 3 and June 1, 1867, p. 3. The US Army alleged that traders fleeced the Pima and Maricopa by buying grain for one or two cents per pound in trade goods while selling it for six or seven cents per pound in coin.
Rusling, Across America: or the Great West and the Pacific Ocean, p. 370.
138 American settlers who commenced cultivating the fertile valleys.273 In the process, they began appropriating for their own use the water belonging to the Pima and Maricopa. In October 1863, Inspector General Colonel S. A. Lathroop warned Commissioner of Indian Affairs William Dole of “placer diggings and the copper and silver mines” in the southern portion of the territory that were attracting new prospectors. Additional deposits of gold were also uncovered near Prescott.274 Miners needed wheat and corn, which the Pima provided and the traders processed into flour. Prospectors required the protection of the military, which constructed posts in Apache country. The taming of the Apaches opened the door for farmers and merchants who sought out safety in the Gila and Salt River valleys. This set the settlers on a collision course with Pima water interests. Not surprisingly, Poston warned Dole that “the rapid influx of miners from California and elsewhere into the country occupied by these Indians necessitates immediate attention by the Government and the good policy of aiding them in agricultural pursuits by a liberal supply of seeds and agricultural implements.”275 Despite his shortcomings, Poston foresaw the growth of the Gila and Salt River valleys in south-central Arizona. He also understood what this settlement would mean to the Pima. In another letter to Dole, Poston warned about the rapid growth of the territory, especially the lands above the Pima villages. Any settlement here—with a diminishment of their supply of water—would produce discontentment.276 The establishment of Fort McDowell and the re-garrisoning of other military posts, such as Fort Breckinridge,
encouraged settlement by non-Indians.277 White, while agent for the Pima and Maricopa, also speculated in land above the reservation, where he owned a ranch. In 1864, he helped establish Adamsville, the first non-Indian community above the Pima villages.
While composed mostly of Mexican settlers, Adamsville quickly grew into a major town in the territory, with Bichard opening a second mill there in 1869. In May 1866, Pima agent Levi Ruggles founded the town of Florence eight miles above the reservation.
Gaining a sense of security from their proximity to the Pima Reservation, more settlers began arriving and irrigating land above the reservation, protected from hostile Apaches “by the vigilance and bravery of the Pima and Maricopa.”278 Ruggles soon became the largest private landowner in the area. In the meantime, former Confederate Lieutenant Jack Swilling was attracted to the Salt River Valley and the agricultural markets at forts McDowell and Whipple. By 1871, Swilling’s development efforts in the Salt River Valley led to the cultivation of 2,200 acres of barley, 1,200 acres of wheat and 700 acres of corn.279 In September 1866, the trouble foretold by Mowry, St. John and Poston appeared.
That month, Major Andrew Alexander was dispatched to the reservation with a detachment of soldiers to quiet a land and water dispute between the settlers and the Pima. In the coming months, the dispute increased and tensions elevated. As more settlers arrived, confrontations increased.280 Forty-two individuals filed Homestead entry claims for 160 acres of land each, with Florence claiming 218 residents and nearby Adamsville
having 400.281 By 1868, it was apparent that the economic landscape of the Pima was rapidly changing due to the miners and farmers now pouring into central Arizona. NonIndian grain production soon surpassed that of the Pima and Maricopa, with over 7,000,000 pounds grown in 1867. Over 1,000 acres of land was now cultivated above the Pima Reservation.282 In 1872, a colony of Mormon settlers arrived in the upper Gila River Valley and founded Safford, with settlements in Thatcher, Pima and Duncan following in rapid succession. Each wave of settlement further strained the water supply of the Gila River. While the army and first emigrants looked upon the Pima and Maricopa as allies and friends—with one settler commenting that “When [the Pima and Maricopa] are around one can feel a degree of safety not otherwise felt”—by 1869, public opinion was shifting against the Indians.283 While the Interior Department reserved an additional 69,120 acres as reservation, in 1866, settlers continued to arrive and occupy land just above the 1859 reservation, adding to the level of tension. In March 1869, the Pima and Maricopa told Colonel Thomas Devin that the land settlers were appropriating was “inalienably theirs [as well as] the waters of the Gila.” If these resources were not protected they would “clean out” the settlers above the reservation.284 By fall, Superintendent George Andrews concluded the tension along the Gila was primarily due to settlers depriving the Pima and Maricopa of their water.285
By 1869, demands to remove intruders from the reservation and Indians from areas outside the reservation were placed on military authorities. Reports of settlers in Florence purposefully wasting “large quantities” of water in the desert in order to deprive the Pima were devastating.286 Lieutenant Colonel Roger Jones informed Commissioner of Indian Affairs Ely Parker in 1869 that during the prior two years settlers above the reservation had “opened large acequias for the purpose of irrigation. Instead of [the water] being returned to the river after it has served its purpose, it is allowed to run waste, thereby greatly diminishing the volume of water before it reaches the Pima and Maricopa reservations.”287 Such action demonstrated that the settlers saw the Pima as economic competitors and that the federal government would not intervene in the matter. This liberal federal economic policy was designed to settle the land with American citizens, not hold it for a tribal nation.
learned first hand of their complaints. Azul explained that the cutting of the mesquite above the reservation was a loss to the Indians that rivaled that of taking the water. “We have only a few acequias filled,” Azul added, “and cannot cultivate all our land.” He was also tired of traders that took advantage of the Indians, preferring to be paid in money for their grain so the Pima could “suit ourselves and buy where we please and what we please.” Maricopa chief Juan Cheveria agreed and demanded more traders, not less, be available so that his people would be better compensated for the sale of their goods. The leading men were in agreement that the Pima and Maricopa had every right to cultivate
land in the Gila and Salt River Valleys, where they had always farmed.288 Still, no relief arrived.
The Civil War initiated the end of an era in Pima history and the beginning of another that, in coming years, dramatically affected the economic landscape of the reservation. Control of the waters of the Gila River and the Pima reputation as industrious, friendly and hospitable cultivators slipped from their grasp. While the Indian villages had once been “the granary of Arizona” this, too, was slipping away. By the end of the decade, the overall well-being of the Indians was threatened by declining river flows caused by upstream diversions and the failure to extend the reservation before settlement occurred above it. Over the course of one decade, the Pima found themselves losing control of their own destiny. At the center of this battle was the diminishing stream flow in the Gila River.
Until the late 1860s, the Pima had “much confidence” in and an “unbounded friendship” for the Americans. But during the 1870s, this friendship and admiration turned to distrust and cynicism. As their water supply diminished, the Pima found themselves growing more dependent on the benevolence of the federal government to protect their rights, the same government that was encouraging the settlement of the land surrounding the reservation. While the federal government encouraged the Indians to continue their farming endeavors, and provided additional farm implements for their agricultural pursuits, Pima water rights were left unprotected. As more settlers arrived in the Gila River Valley, the matter of water and water rights grew increasingly acute.
In the following chapter, I describe that Pima water rights did not simply evaporate but that the federal government actually supported non-Indian interests in settling the land and utilizing the water resources. At the same time, the United States eroded the sovereignty of the Pima. Continued emigrant waste of water exacerbated the situation and ultimately encouraged a federal policy of disenfranchising the Pima and then proposing their removal to the Indian Territory where allegedly socially enlightened
As the 1860s drew to a close, the Pima had cause for concern. Government Indian agents Ammi White and Levi Ruggles each cornered the Pima wheat market and speculated in land above the reservation.289 Federal law encouraged settlement in the Gila Valley without protecting Pima water. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas C. Devin warned that water was rapidly being diverted from the Gila River and that if a dry season should occur the Pima would be without water for their fields. Furthermore, a bad class of white men and Mexicans entered the reservation and demoralized the Indians with whiskey and theft. In a letter to Commissioner of Indian Affairs Ely Parker, Colonel George Andrews noted the Pima were worse off under Ruggles than they had been two years earlier.290 Tension escalated as more settlers irrigated along the Gila River.291 Responding to Pima complaints of diminishing river flow, Major General E. O. C.
Ord, commanding the Department of California, recommended that all the land above the reservation—including the improved lands in and around Florence—be set aside as an addition to the Pima Reservation.292 Devin warned that if the Pima failed to receive sufficient water to irrigate their fields, they might well drive the settlers out of the valley.
Superintendent George W. Dent notified the commissioner of Indian affairs that “if
crowded to the wall” the Pima would “fight for their rights.”293 Despite his concern, Dent did nothing to alleviate the shortage of land and water to sustain Indian crops.294 Parker then replaced Dent with Brevet Colonel George S.
Andrews and appointed Frederick E. Grossman as Pima agent.295 Upon his arrival in October, Grossman found serious discontent between the Indians and the American and Mexican settlers above the reservation.296 Much of the discontent arose from the plans of White and Ruggles to develop the Gila River Valley, each receiving official backing from territorial Governor Richard C. McCormick, who recognized settlers in the valley would be safe from Apache raids.297 Federal officials recognized the close proximity of the Pima Reservation to Florence rendered such land “far more valuable to settlers than other lands throughout the territory.”298 Lieutenant Colonel Roger Jones, Assistant Inspector General for the U.S. Army, raised the specter of war if Pima water concerns were not addressed. Jones predicted that in a dry year Pima crops “would be ruined for want of water.” The continued waste of river water above the villages by settlers in Florence would “inevitably result in a collision.” The Pima regarded the water “as much their property as the land they cultivate,” Jones reminded Inspector General Randolph B. Marcy, and they watched the 293 “George W. Dent to Nathaniel Taylor,” dated La Paz, Arizona Territory, April 15, 1869, RG 75, M734, Roll 3. “They are brave, fearless and accustomed to arms and warfare,” Dent wrote, “and are capable of throwing us into an harassing and expensive war.” 294 “Levi Ruggles to George W. Dent,” dated Pima villages, June 20, 1867, RG 75, M734, Roll 2.
295 “Ely Parker to George W. Andrews,” dated Office of Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C., August 4, 1869, RG 75, M734, Roll 3.
296 “Frederick Grossman to George W. Andrews,” dated Pima villages, Arizona Territory, October 31, 1869, RG 75, M734, Roll 3.
Prior to the arrival of Grossman, there were at least six unlicensed traders purchasing Pima wheat at fixed prices—paying in shoddy goods rather than in cash. Grossman initiated the practice of licensing traders. He also established the first government buildings in Sacaton.