«Item type text; Electronic Dissertation Authors DeJong, David Henry Publisher The University of Arizona. Rights Copyright © is held by the author. ...»
Despite additional land, the Pima continued to suffer from a shortage of water. In the summer of 1879, Indian Inspector William Hammond reported the Gila was dry and dusty. “[E]ven the increased Reservation will not prevent suffering because the laws of the Territory give the water to the oldest ditch. There is no water for the old Indian ditches.”387 Despite McDowell’s plea for justice, Pima water rights remained in jeopardy and Damoclean sword was raised over the heads of Arizona officials.
Congress, meanwhile, continued debating the removal of the Southwestern tribes.388 In December of 1878, Congressman James Throckmorton (D-TX) introduced an amendment to the Indian appropriation bill to prohibit the removal of any tribes from Arizona and New Mexico.389 The amendment passed by a vote of seventy-one to sixty and in February the bill became law.390 Three years later, President Chester A. Arthur added lands south and west of the Gila River to the Pima Reservation. The following year, he issued another executive order, doubling the size of the reservation from 180,000 to 360,000 acres. However well-intentioned, the government’s belated actions failed to address the longstanding concerns of the Pima. It was water more than land the Indians needed.391 387 “William Hammond to Ezra Hayt,” dated September 13, 1879, RG 75, M234, Roll 21.
388 The bill was attached to the 1880 Indian Appropriation Act and called for “Collecting and subsisting Apaches and other Indians of Arizona and New Mexico: For this amount, to subsist and properly care for the Apache and other Indians of Arizona and New Mexico who have been or may be collected on reservations in New Mexico and Arizona, $320,000.” See “House Debate on Removal of Southwest Indians,” December 19, 1878, Congressional Record (45th Congress, 3rd Session), pp. 311-325.
389 Ibid., p. 311. The Indian Service had removed a number of tribes to the Indian Territory without Congressional approval, i.e. the Modocs and Nez Perce in 1877. The Indian Service also sought the removal of the Sioux in 1877.
390 20 stat 313. The bill was enacted into law on February 17, 1879.
391 In January of 1886, Senator Bowen submitted a resolution to the full Senate urging the Committee on Indian Affairs to “inquire into the expediency of removing all the Indians in the United States to the Indian Territory.” No action was taken on the resolution.
Senate Miscellaneous Document 32, 49th Congress, 1st Session.
176 Federal land and resource policies after 1877 required non-Indian settlers to utilize the water of the Gila River or risk losing their land. In the following chapter, I consider the effects of these policies on the Pima and how they ushered in the years of starvation. Attempting to remain self-sufficient, the Pima resorted to cutting and selling mesquite for the purpose of providing for their families. While individual families still maintained fields and each village still operated irrigation ditches, there was no water with which to irrigate. Pima farmers continued to reject charity. While Upper Gila Valley diversions continued, the death knell of the Pima was the completion of the Florence Canal. The latter decades of the nineteenth century proved to be even more challenging to the Pima. Government neglect of their water rights grew more pronounced. The Pima
with many Pima families lacking even domestic water. As a result, half of the Indians moved off the reservation to work in order “that they might not hear their women and children cry for bread.” Indian Agent A. B. Ludlam reported in 1880 that for the first time the U.S. Government purchased wheat for “destitute Indians.”392 Sixty-seven year old Pima elder Chir-Purtke reflected on these difficulties, noting the Pima were unable “to irrigate all our fields. We were forced to abandon them little by little, until … we were left high and dry.”393 The Pima had “ample lands” but lacked water. Despite their understanding of agriculture and hydrology, the water crisis, Pima elder William Wallace murmured, was destroying “our pride as independent and self-supporting people.”394 The Pima dealt with a variety of challenges in the latter years of the nineteenth century, including dishonest agents, scandalous traders, and political feuds between federal employees and missionaries. Foremost among these challenges were trespassers “who refuse[d] the Indians the use of water.”395 Agent Claude Johnson opined that 392 “Letter from John Stout, Agent, to Commissioner of Indian Affairs Ezra Hayt, dated Pima Agency, August 15, 1878,” in Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1878 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1879), p. 3. “Ludlam to Hayt, dated Pima Agency, September 5, 1880,” in Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1880, p. 4.
393 Charles Southworth, “Statements By Pima Indians Regarding Irrigation on the Gila River Indian Reservation,” (hereafter Southworth interviews) A 0690 in the Arizona State Museum Library, Tucson, Arizona, June 1914, statement of Juan Manuel (Chirpurtke), p. 73.
394 “P. McCormick, United States Indian Inspector, to Cornelius Bliss, Secretary of the Interior, dated Sacaton, Arizona Territory, April 4, 1897,” p. 3, in Reports of Inspections, Roll 36. Southworth interviews, statement of William Wallace, p. 6. “Report of Elmer A. Howard to Commissioner J.D.C. Atkins,” in Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1887, p. 4.
395 For trespassers see “Gardner to Teller dated March 3, 1885,” 2, in Reports of Inspectors, Roll 35. For dishonest agents and scandalous traders see “William Junkin, United States Indian Inspector, to John Noble, Secretary of the Interior, dated Pima Agency, September 30, 1890,” p. 2 in Reports of Inspections, Roll 36. For a discussion of the friction between federal Indian agents and Presbyterian missionary Charles Cook see “Report of R. Pearsons on Pima Agency Investigation of Charges against Agent Wheeler, 178 “considering the vast surrender of national wealth made by these Indians … the best aid that can be given to [them] … is the extension of their irrigation facilities.”396 Johnson asked that an engineer evaluate the prospects for an irrigation system for the Pima.
(Source: “Gila River Priority Analysis, Water Distribution Chart # 3,” United States Indian Service, Irrigation, January 20, 1926) By the turn of the century, Agency Superintendent John B. Alexander echoed the concerns heard so often before. “The reservation contains good irrigable lands but lacks the chief essential—water.”397 One of the reasons for the lack of water was the construction of the Florence Canal in 1886, which diverted nearly all the remaining surface flow of the Gila River above the reservation (see map 11). Upper Valley users in Safford and Solomonville placed increasingly high demands on the waters of the river, as shown in table 2.398 dated Pima Agency, December 31, 1885,” in Reports of Inspections, Roll 35. Agent J.B. Alexander (1902-1911) was actually indicted and tried in the Territorial courts for defrauding the Pima and the United States. He was acquitted of all charges. See Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Indian Rights Association, 1912 (Philadelphia: Office of the Indian Rights Association), pp. 21-23. See also Annual Report, 1911, pp. 12-18.
396 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1888, pp. 4-5.
397 Survey of Conditions of the Indians in the United States, Part 17, Arizona (Washington, DC: GPO, 1931), p. 8236.
398 See, for example, Annual Report of the Board of Indian Commissioners, 1897 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1897), p. 11. “Walter Graves, United States Indian Inspector, to Ethan Allen Hitchcock, Secretary of the Interior, dated Pima Indian Reservation, Arizona, September 8, 1900,” in Reports of Inspections, Roll 35.
179 Inspector Robert Gardner informed Interior Secretary Henry Teller in 1886 the Florence Canal “should not be built [to] benefit a few speculators to the loss and detriment of four or five thousand Indians.”399 Teller then asked the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to evaluate the situation, with the USGS concluding “if the agriculture of the Indians now on the reservation is to have normal growth (the) greater part, and perhaps the whole of the waters of the Gila will be necessary therefore.” The federal agency admitted “the construction of a dam by the Florence Canal Company … will give the control substantially of all the water of the Gila River [to the canal company] and if the owners of the dam carry the water right also, they can deliver the water to the reservation or not, as best suits their plans.” If the waters of the Gila River were cut off, Pima lands “would become uninhabitable.”400
amount of water currently used by the Indians. Both the USGS and the U.S. Attorney 399 The canal, which was twenty-six feet wide at the bottom, “may lessen the quantity of water heretofore required by the Indians for their use; and in the event of such an happening the Indians would consider themselves sorely aggrieved and serious trouble might arise.” “Robert S. Gardner, United States Indian Inspector, to H.M. Teller, Secretary of the Interior, dated Pima and Maricopa Agency, September 2, 1886,” p. 1, in Reports of Inspections, Roll 35 and “Franklin Armstrong, United States Indian Inspector, to Lucius Q.C.
Lamar, Secretary of the Interior, dated Pima Agency, February 26, 1887,” 1, in Reports of Inspections, Roll 35.
400 Copy of Minutes of the Florence Canal Company Board of Directors, November First, A.D. 1887, in “Report of C.C. Duncan, United States Indian Inspector, to the Honorable Secretary of the Interior Michael H. Smith, dated Pima Agency, November 23, 1894,” Reports of Inspectors, Roll 36.
180 agreed to this but did not quantify the area farmed or the amount of water used. Without this data, it was impossible to determine Pima water rights. In the meantime, the USGS admitted the natural flow of the Gila was “all appropriated now by the white settlers above” the reservation.401 Interior Secretary Lucius Q.C. Lamar asked the U.S. Attorney General to “take such steps under the Federal or Territorial laws as might be necessary to protect the Indians in their rights.” The U.S. District Attorney for Arizona Territory, however, recommended litigation not be brought against the Florence Canal Company until data on acreage and water flow was quantified. Bureaucratic ineptitude delayed the question of data gathering until 1904, and it was another decade before data was actually gathered.
Rather than litigating Pima water rights, Superintendent Alexander recommended that the twenty to thirty thousand dollars to prosecute Pima rights was too steep to warrant the effort. Commissioner of Indian Affairs William Jones concurred and notified the Attorney General that the Indian Service would pursue no further legal action.402 A policy of malicious neglect followed. Since the reservation remained in communal ownership, the federal government was in no hurry to protect water rights for the tribe, desiring instead to allot land and appurtenant water rights in severalty. Without an adequate and assured supply of water to irrigate the land and make it productive, however, the reservation could not be allotted. The Indian Service furthermore operated under the theory that reservations—particularly non-treaty reservations such as the Pima
Reservation—would be dissolved within a few years as its lands were divided in severalty. At such point, American Indians would take their place in the American polity as citizens without any special right that may have been encumbered while in tribal status. In the meantime, more farmers in the upper valleys—encouraged to acquire public domain lands under the Desert Land Act and required to make them productive with the waters of the Gila River—diverted additional water, increasing their take of the river from 13.57% to 41.3% of the flow between 1878 and 1910. The Pima were on the brink of social and economic displacement, seeing their share of river water decline 62% between 1866 and 1910.403 Scores of Pima farms were abandoned. Others were “only partially cultivated, yielding scant and uncertain returns.”404 Pima farmer George Pablo bemoaned how some of the Pima “had to leave our farms and move up the river” where seepage water was available.405 To the north of the reservation, settlers in the Salt River Valley organized the Salt River Valley Water Storage Committee to resolve water rights conflicts, identify potential dam sites and lobby Congress.406 In 1901, the Maricopa County Board of Water Storage Commissioners was established to identify ways of floating county bonds to 403 “Graves to Hitchcock.” Graves wrote many of the non-Indian settlers in Florence had “abandoned their farms and have left the country…. Neither the Florence canal, nor the land owners, have any claims on the waters of the Gila River, that are not subordinate to those of the Pima Indians, and had there been any provisions in the General Statutes, or any method of legal procedure, whereby the rights of the Indians could have been established and protected at the proper time, the settlers under Florence canal, and also the settlers of the upper Gila valley, might have been prevented from diverting and appropriating these waters to the injury of the Indians, but in the absence of such legal provisions, and no steps having been taken at the proper time, and the settlers having been permitted without interference to establish homes, and create improvements of great valuation, and acquire vested rights, it is well-nigh impossible now to remedy the wrong, by undoing what has been done.” See also Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1904, 7. Commissioner William Jones devoted fourteen pages of his annual report to the discussion of Pima water abuses. “Gila River Priority Analysis, Water Distribution Chart # 3,” United States Indian Service, Irrigation, January 20, 1926, in the archive files of the San Carlos Irrigation Project (hereafter SCIP files), Coolidge, Arizona.
404 “Graves to Hitchcock, dated Pima Agency, Arizona, January 19, 1899,” p. 5, in Reports of Inspections, Roll 36.
405 Southworth interviews, statement of George Pablo, p. 29.