«Item type text; Electronic Dissertation Authors DeJong, David Henry Publisher The University of Arizona. Rights Copyright © is held by the author. ...»
Many tribal members objected to removal on the grounds that the Indian Territory was too cold and distant from their present home. Tribal elders were concerned that the new country might be unhealthy or that they might die en route; removal would also
mean living among strangers, far from their burial and traditional grounds. These sites intertwined the sacred nature of the spiritual landscape with the Pima conception of the cosmos, which was central in determining the physical and spiritual health of the people.
This was especially reflected in the sacred mountains surrounding the villages, which aided the Pima in maintaining proper health, reinforcing a unique Pima identity and providing them with sense of place anchored in the land.340 Younger men, influenced by the stories of the traders, feared that they would either freeze to death or be killed by hostile neighbors. More alarming, were concerns that once the Pima and Maricopa had given up their reservation in Arizona, the government would renege on its promise of land in the Indian Territory. Stout remained optimistic. “Should the Department continue its offer of removal,” he informed Smith, “I believe that some of the Indians will go next year, and that that number will be augmented from time to time, until the entire tribes have been removed.”341 Despite Stout’s optimism, the San Francisco Bulletin and the Arizona Weekly Citizen both dismissed the prospect of removal.342 The Bulletin reported on December 30, 1873, that the members of the Pima and Maricopa delegation had declared their present reservation “far preferable to any which they visited during their trip.”343 The Citizen likewise speculated that the Pima were unlikely to consent to the move.344 340 Russell, The Pima Indians, pp. 206-208; Donald M. Bahr, Juan Gregorio, David I. Lopez and Albert Alvarez, Piman Shamanism and Staying Sickness (Tucson: University of Arizona Press. 1974), p. 43.
341 “John Stout to E.P. Smith,” Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1874, p. 294. “John Stout to Edward.P. Smith,” Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1875, p. 214. Stout estimated the costs of removal and subsistence for one year at $100 per capita. “John Stout to E.P. Smith,” dated May 12, 1874, RG 75, M234, Roll 9 342 Both publications were antagonistic to the Grant administration and Peace Policy; they largely reflected the views of the Indian traders and departmental provisions contractors.
343 Reprinted in the Arizona Weekly Citizen January 10, 1874, (4:14).
344 Arizona Weekly Citizen, dated Tucson, Pima County, January 3, 1874, (4:13). The Citizen exaggerated the costs of the trip by reporting the expense to be $50,000, with stops in New York and other prominent eastern cities (November 4, 1873, 3:52).
162 Notwithstanding Stout’s assertion that some Indians were willing to emigrate, Commissioner Smith notified Delano that he had been unable to secure the consent of the tribe—“or any portion of it”—to remove to the Indian Territory. He went on to point out that previous removals had been effected through compulsion or affected only those tribes residing in states bordering the Indian Territory. Since the Indian Service contemplated the voluntary removal of all tribes—indeed, it was in the process of removing the Pawnees from Nebraska and seeking the consent of the Arikarees from Dakota Territory—Smith was concerned that the consent of the tribes would not be secured. He feared that “the prospect of inducing any large number of Indians (to) voluntarily... settle in the Indian Territory is not encouraging, and cannot safely be made the basis of any general plan for future relief or civilization of Indians.”345 The winter of 1873-1874 witnessed a three-fold increase in precipitation over the previous year (fiscal year 1874 brought 16.83 inches versus 4.86 inches in fiscal 1873).
With the abundance of rain, many of the Pima who had left the reservation seeking employment or relocated to the Salt River returned to tend to their crops.346 The fall harvest produced 50,000 bushels (3,000,000 pounds) of wheat, 4,000 bushels (240,000 pounds) of barley and 500 bushels (30,000 pounds) of corn. With the sudden return of prosperity, the Pima lost interest in abandoning their farms along the Gila.
Smith then proposed that the Interior Department either recognize Pima water rights or remove them to the Colorado River Indian Reservation, the latter of which was
endorsed by Territorial Governor Safford.347 “This latter course is deemed entirely practical,” Smith informed Delano, “if consent of the Indians can be obtained, and such legislation can be procured as will secure a fair compensation for their present reservation and afford the means necessary to establish them comfortably on the Colorado River reserve.”348 The Pima water supply continued to be sufficient until the summer of 1875. In June, the river failed and by the end of the month it slowed to a trickle and on the west end of the reservation had gone dry. More ominously, the recent discovery of high grade copper east of the reservation increased the diversion of water from the river system. It would be only a matter of time, Stout warned Smith, before “the greater portion of the water of that stream will be used up by the whites, and the Indians will become dependent on the Government for support.”349 In Smith’s view, rather than adopting the moral position of protecting Pima water by enforcing their rights, the mineral discoveries upstream compounded the urgency of removal.350 Diminished rainfall beginning in the summer of 1875 continued through 1883, adding to the hardships. By 1876, over 200 Indian families were living in the Blackwater district above the reservation. In May, reports of crop failures across the reservation lead to discussions of administratively adding the Blackwater lands to the reservation as the “easiest solution of the vexed question of ‘water supply’.” Agent Charles Hudson believed the measure would be necessary only “until these Indians form a more
intelligent view of what is for their real good, and may be induced to consent to removal.”351 In August, a Presidential executive order attached the 9,000 acre Blackwater district to the reservation protecting the head of the Little Gila River and the Blackwater spring.352 Despite meager precipitation and increased diversions, the Pima cultivated “an excellent article of wheat” on 7,000 to 8,000 acres of land. The summer of 1877, however, turned into one of the warmest and driest in decades. Writing in August, Stout lamented to commissioner Ezra Hayt that it was already too late for rain to help summer crops. “What has been planted has already dried up,” he observed, “and the Indians will make no further attempt this season.”353 With the near complete failure of summer crops, Pima grain sales ended. As the drought worsened, Stout sought permission to take twelve or fifteen of the “best practical farmers” among the Pima and examine the Colorado River Reservation.354 The exodus from the reservation increased as the drought and water crisis deepened. By 1877, 500 Pima were supporting themselves on “good land and plenty of water” in the Salt River Valley. Alarmed residents petitioned the Indian Office and Congress to remove the Indians to the Gila River reservation. When Hayt urged Stout to comply, the agent objected that to do so would cause “great suffering.” Instead, Stout asked to settle the off reservation Indians on unclaimed public land under the provisions 351 “Charles Hudson to John Q. Smith,” dated Pima Agency, August 31, 1876, Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1876, pp. 7-8.
352 “John Q. Smith to Columbus Delano,” Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1877, p. 236. The 1876 Executive Order did nothing for the Maricopa, leading Captain Juan Cheveria to remove his village—Bone Standing Village—to an area on the Salt River, five miles upstream from its junction with the Gila. The new site was well off the 1859 reservation.
353 “John Stout to Ezra A. Hayt,” dated August 31, 1877, Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1877, p. 32.
354 “John Stout to Ezra Hayt,” dated Pima Agency, December 15, 1877, RG 75, M234, Roll 19.
165 of an 1875 law that applied to Indians who abandoned their tribal relationship. Doing so, Stout asserted, would protect them in their property rights.355 When the winter rains failed again in 1878, less than one-quarter of the Pima’s fields was irrigated, with no harvest projected below Sacaton. Most of the Pima crowded onto the eastern end of the reservation where some water was available and the rest sought Stout’s permission to move to the Salt River Valley, where they promised to cause no trouble.
Stout informed Hayt that unless the Indian Office allowed the move, it would have to feed between 1,000 and 1,500 Indians—at a cost of approximately $25,000. The Pima, however, wished to remain self-sufficient, as evidenced by their movements off the reservation where they took up irrigable lands to cultivate. Their consolidation on the east end of the reservation further illustrated their desire to maintain an agrarian economy.
Stout acknowledged this in a letter to Hayt. “The Indians do not wish to become dependent. If they are but given a chance,” Stout stressed, they would remain selfsufficient.356 Ezra Hayt’s appointment as Commissioner of Indian Affairs in the administration of Rutherford B. Hayes infused new life into the removal issue. The commissioner urged the immediate removal of all tribes from Colorado and Arizona. “The government has been paying between eight and ten cents per pound for the transportation of flour and other necessaries to feed the Indians,” Hayt noted, “and the total cost of maintaining the Indian tribes of Arizona for the past three years has been $1,084,000.” Furthermore, Hayt viewed the Indians as “uneasy and restless” and “constantly moving about,” on and off
the reservation.357 The government’s objective was two-fold. By consolidating tribes in the Indian Territory, Hayt could reduce the number of agencies and the expense of maintaining the Indians. Furthermore, removal and consolidation would also “protect” the Indians’ personal and property rights. Moreover, the sale of vacated lands would defray the costs of removal, with enough left over to relieve Congress of “direct appropriations” for the Indians’ future support.358 As a start, Hayt drafted a bill to remove the northern tribes to the Indian Territory and sent it to the House Committee on Indian Affairs.
The commissioner also urged Interior Secretary Carl Schurz to submit to
be used to purchase agricultural implements. The proposal gained momentum when the Territorial Assembly memorialized Congress to compel the Pima to “be removed from said Salt River” and returned to their reservation on the Gila, where they should be “forced to remain.”360
In March of 1878, Hayt dispatched Indian Inspector E. C. Watkins to the Pima Reservation to make recommendations. Now facing the pangs of hunger, the Pima did not ask for handouts and watched the unfolding crisis with “despondent hearts.” “They have never been fed by the Government and do not ask for it. But they do ask ‘How are we to maintain our families’?” Many Pima men had taken up wage labor in Phoenix or Florence while others worked in the mines or on ranches, where they were praised for their “willingness and capacity for labor.” Watkins concluded that “to insist upon a strict enforcement of the policy of the government by confining these Indians to their reservations, would, under existing circumstances, be an act of inhumanity, unless they were furnished regularly with rations.”361 That same month, Stout convened another council to obtain Pima and Maricopa consent to immediate removal. With almost half of the estimated 5,000 Indians residing off the reservation due to insufficient water resources, the agent believed the time had come for a solution to the water crisis.362 “Their only hope of salvation from a speedy extinction,” Stout argued, “lies in their early exodus to the Indian Territory.” Still the Indians hesitated. Several suggested that two or three tribal citizens should be sent ahead to “prospect” the land, a request Stout was inclined to grant. The visit would be “timely and reasonable” and, in view of the growing crisis, the agent urged the government to take every practical step to bring about the removal.363 Hayt agreed and approved of the also petitioning the Indian Office, seeking to force the department to compel the Indians to stay on their reservation. See “H. Oury to Territorial Delegate Hiram S. Stevens,” dated January 20, 1876, RG 75, M234, Roll 15, and “J. A. Parker to Commissioner J.Q.
Smith,” dated April 15, 1877, RG 75, M234, Roll 16.
361 In Hayt’s report to Schurz, Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1878, p. 39.
362 Stout reported that approximately half of those residing off the reservation—some 1,200—were living in the Salt River Valley, where they took up unoccupied and unclaimed land. “John Stout to Ezra Hayt,” Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1878, p. 3.
363 “John Stout to Ezra Hayt,” dated March 6, 1878, RG 75, M234, Roll 19. Stout estimated the cost for the delegation at $1,500.