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319 “Oliver O. Howard to Columbus Delano,” dated June 1872, Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1872, p. 153.
153 Florence, encompassing Adamsville as well. Again, Howard discounted this alternative due to the costs of reimbursing settlers for improvements they had made on the land.
Third, the federal government could construct two acequias upstream, one on each bank of the Gila, with a government agent ensuring a fair division of the water to all cultivators of the land. Howard dismissed this as noble but impractical, as few citizens favored the idea and it would be “too difficult of execution even with an honest and skillful agent.” The only viable option, Howard remarked, was to remove the Pima and Maricopa from the Gila River Valley. “If water continues to fail here,” the General concluded, “I recommend that steps be taken to place the Pimas where there is plenty of wood, water, and good land. It can be done either inside or outside of Arizona.320 Indian removal and consolidation of reservations were mainstays of federal Indian policy in the post Civil War years. Eastern humanitarians proposed removal of tribes to the Indian Territory where they would be introduced to “civilization.” More importantly, removal would open millions of acres of so-called surplus land. “Many tribes may thus be collected in the Present Indian territory,” Felix Brunot of the Board of Indian Commissioners explained. “The larger the number that can thus be concentrated the better for the success” of abolishing tribal status and providing for land severalty.”321 Removal became an obsession with Interior Secretary Columbus Delano. Delano hoped to concentrate all American Indians into the Indian Territory. According to his calculations, 172,000 American Indians were living on 96,155,785 acres of land—559 acres per capita. Another 60,000 Indians were residing on 44,154,240 acres within the
Indian Territory—or 630 acres per capita. “Could the entire Indian population of the country, excluding Alaska and those scattered among the states … be located in the Indian Territory,” Delano asserted, “there would be 180 acres of land, per capita, for the entire number, showing there is an ample area of land to afford them all comfortable homes.”322 Delano’s proposal, while sounding doable on paper, was actually nothing more than wishful thinking. Congress had abandoned removal as an official federal policy and, short of tribal nations consenting on their own accord to relocate, there was little hope of such policy being effected. Unless the Indians cooperated in these humanitarian endeavors, Delano warned, they would be crushed by the inevitable tide of white emigration. Howard’s proposal to remove the Pima to a location “either inside or outside of Arizona,” therefore, was hardly unusual.
At the completion of his visit to the villages, Howard urged Stout to persuade Pima headmen to visit the Indian Territory and see for themselves the abundance of water and the absence of “bad white men.” Tell them that the government intends to take all the Indians to the Indian Territory, Howard explained to Stout, “as fast as they get ready to go.”323 Stout and fourteen Pima and Maricopa chiefs and headmen met in council on May 11 to discuss sending a delegation to the Indian Territory.
The Pima were facing desperate times. Stout informed J.M. Ferris of the Dutch Reformed Church Board of Foreign Missions that the water crisis was so severe that
some of the Pima were living in their fields “eating their grain in a semi green state.” These circumstances moved Azul, who desired to ensure the welfare of his people. With some facing hunger, Azul told Stout, “If it is as you say we think we would like to live there.” The village chiefs and headmen, however, remained distrustful. “You say this new country is a good place and you say you have not been there, now how do you know it is a good place—if there is plenty of water there?” Azul asked.324 Azul’s comments point to another reality: intense pressure by Stout to persuade the Pima to consent to removal. The Indian Service, as evidenced by Delano’s mathematics and Howard’s attempt to resolve the crisis by removing the Pima rather than dealing with the root causes of water deprivation, searched for an expedient solution.
Stout, as the local government representative, was responsible for implementing this policy. Azul for his part consented to listening to any proposal both out of respect and from a position of increased dependency. Pima men and women were demoralized.
Desperate conditions required desperate and seemingly ignominious considerations.
Despite their cynicism, the Indians’ agreed to make the trip but only after Stout agreed to three conditions. First, the Pima wished to delay their departure until after the summer harvest but return before the advent of cold weather. Secondly, they demanded that Stout accompany them in order to ensure their safe return to Arizona. Finally, they requested the presence of their longtime friend, interpreter and agency farmer John D.
Walker to advise them as to the quality of the land in the Indian Territory. Azul told Stout that when the government was prepared to send a delegation of headmen to the Indian
Territory, they would be prepared to go. Nonetheless, Azul told Stout “If the President could come here, he would see what we need.” The chief preferred to speak directly to the President and “tell him [what we need] ourselves.” When three months passed with no word from Washington, the Pima and Maricopa chiefs again gathered in council and petitioned Stout to lead a delegation to the Indian Territory.325 “We have not raised enough grain to keep us through the year,” Azul cried, “and we are afraid we will not raise as much next year.” The chief complained of unscrupulous traders, such as William Bichard, who introduced whiskey to his people and abused Pima women through prostitution. Stout immediately urged Indian Commissioner Francis Walker to initiate removal. “As it is the intention of the Government to make all of its Indians independent, they should be afforded every reasonable facility to that end. Walker, aware that American settlers were conspiring to withhold the flow of the Gila from the Pima, agreed with Stout’s recommendation. But first he cautioned the Pima would have to be influenced to desire change before any “authority or appropriations” for removal was sought from Congress.326 Land and water were not the only reasons the government sought removal.
Cloaked in the prevailing humanitarian principles, removal was viewed as a practical solution to the legal problems besetting the U.S. Government, which continued to encourage settlement of the land at the expense of the Pima. The federal government had created a crisis on the Gila River and then proposed a self-serving solution. The social 325 “Report of a Council of the Chiefs and Headmen of the Pima and Maricopa Indians at the Gila River Reservation, Arizona Territory, held at the Agency building August 27, 1872,” (Stout Letterbook, AZ 119).
326 “Herman Bendell to Frances Walker,” dated Prescott, Arizona Territory, September 11, 1872, RG 75, M734, Roll 8. Bendell told Walker that Pima water rights were “paramount to every other condition respecting the progress and well-being" of the Indians.” For Walker’s letter to Delano see “Report of Francis A. Walker to Columbus Delano,” November 1, 1872, Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1872, p. 57.
157 and political forces of the Indian Service effectively disenfranchised the Pima and reduced them to poverty. The assumption of federal policy makers that Pima poverty was a natural or inevitable response to liberal economic forces is specious. The Pima repeatedly demonstrated a desire and ability to adapt their economy to new forces; all they requested was a level playing field. Pima deprivation and poverty did not result from a natural disposition on the part of the Pima but were a direct response to government policy. The removal policy was simply a symptom of a broader effort to disenfranchise the Pima from the national and local economy.
Some Pima (principally those with families) left the reservation on their own accord to gain an honest living. Others, however, refused to give up their birthright.
Lacking water to grow crops, many young Indians who remained on the reservation were idle and fell prey to the whiskey peddler. Prostitution—unknown among the tribe just a decade earlier—rivaled the effects of alcohol. Stout believed that these evils arose out of “a poverty not known within the last few years.” Political expediency called for a single solution: removal “beyond the reach of these contaminating influences.”327 Meanwhile, some Pima discovered their own solution to the water issue.
Beginning in 1870, a number of Pima settled in the Blackwater district, south and east of the reservation where an alluvial spring provided water when the surface flow of the Gila diminished or disappeared. Movement away from the Gila River—and traditional villages—to areas where seepage water was available continued with the settlement of Gila Crossing in 1873 and Maricopa Colony in 1887 (the latter two sites were added to
the reservation by executive order in 1879).328 During the summer of 1873, 300 Pima and Maricopa moved to the Salt River Valley and settled on what later became the Salt River Reservation. By August of that year, 1,300 Indians were residing off the reservation.329 Local settlers greeted each successive move off the reservation with a chorus of protest. In 1873, residents complained that whiskey made the Pima “troublesome and dangerous neighbors,” that the reservation could not support the Indians and that the Pima were constantly at war with the Apaches. A decade earlier, the Pima were praised for their military maneuvers against the Apache; now they were condemned. Settlers demanded immediate removal of the Pima. Disavowing any “selfish motives,” the settlers pointed out that the reservation lands were among the poorest in the territory and “would not be occupied for years to come if the Indians were removed.”330 The Arizona Weekly Citizen ominously warned that if the Indians continued to bother settlers, they would have to “do it over their dead bodies.”331 In 1873, the Board of Indian Commissioners joined other officials favoring relocation of the Pima and Maricopa.332 That summer, Commissioner Smith authorized Stout to take a delegation to inspect the Indian Territory. “Much interest has been shown by the Indians in the question of their removal,” Stout reported.333 The Pima had, in fact, frequently debated the proposition over the winter. Antonio Azul eloquently expressed their dilemma when he asked Stout: “If we cannot go to the Salt River Valley (to grow
crops) then what? We have no food and you cannot feed us.”334 Nonetheless, Stout persisted. If the Pima were satisfied with the appearance of the territory and if favorable terms of removal could be agreed upon, would they prepare to emigrate? Several factors continued to influence the Pima: inadequate rainfall (just 4.86 inches of precipitation fell during fiscal year 1873), continued upstream diversion of water and cries of hunger from Pima children.335 Although Stout sought to take a delegation to the Indian Territory that spring, he was denied permission due to insufficient funding. When Delano approved funding in June, Smith authorized Stout to take five Pima and Maricopa headmen, rather than the fourteen the Indians requested.336 Anticipating an early August departure—and arrival in the Indian Territory during “its grain producing condition,” rather than when it was cold and barren—Stout and the Indians were again disappointed when the necessary funds for the trip were not available until mid-September.
On September 23, 1873, Stout accompanied John D. Walker and a delegation of five Pima and Maricopa leaders, including Azul, to the Indian Territory. There the group “prospected” a new reservation west of the Iowa and Sac and Fox agencies in central Indian Territory (see map 9).337 Stout reported the delegates were “much pleased with the 334 “John Stout to Oliver O. Howard,” dated Gila River Reservation, March 17, 1873, (Stout Letterbook, AZ 119). Stout noted that he had secured the return of all the Indians to the reservation and that the Salt River Valley settlers had in no uncertain terms informed him that no more Indians would be allowed in the valley.
335 The 1873 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs (p. 281) noted that the “settlers living above this reserve on the Gila River are all complaining of the lack of water.” The Arizona Weekly Citizen also reported inadequate rainfall had harmed non-Indian fields (November 3, 1873, 4:4). Nonetheless, Pima and Maricopa farmers were facing near starvation on some parts of the reservation, particularly the western end.
336 “John Stout to E.P. Smith,” dated Gila River Reservation, July 1, 1873, (Stout Letterbook, AZ 119). Stout estimated the cost of transporting fourteen delegates at $9,500, an amount rejected as much too high by Delano and Smith. The secretary approved of the trip after Smith convinced Delano that it would be wise to take one third of the tribe now and the remainder in a few years, at which time the reservation could be sold and the proceeds used to defray the cost of removal. “E.P. Smith to Columbus Delano,” dated Washington, D.C., June 4, 1873, RG 75, M348, Roll 23.
337 The delegation went to the Indian Territory by way of San Francisco, meeting Kansas Superintendent Enoch Hoag in Lawrence.
Hoag suggested that the delegation prospect west of the Sac and Fox Agency in the “unoccupied lands” of western Indian Territory.
160 visit, and entirely satisfied with the appearance of the country.” After selecting a “suitable reservation” the delegates returned to Arizona. Back home the following year, Stout reported that removal “had not been as generally discussed by the two tribes as would be supposed.” Abundant rainfall that winter dampened the Indians’ enthusiasm for abandoning their homeland.338 Flooding that winter destroyed much of the Pima’s small grain crop, compounding the situation.339