«Item type text; Electronic Dissertation Authors DeJong, David Henry Publisher The University of Arizona. Rights Copyright © is held by the author. ...»
Several scholarly works examining Indian agriculture have been helpful in forming a theoretical basis for this research. Carlson considered Indian agriculture in light of the passage of the General Allotment Act, theorizing that severalty policies hastened the demise of Indian agriculture rather than promoted tribal economic advancement. Using a quantitative framework, he argued that the economic theory of land ownership spelled out in the Allotment Act was a disincentive to Indian farmers. As Lewis, Hoxie and Moore (1993) point out, federal Indian and general federal land and resource policies marginalized American Indians from the national economy rather than allowing them to participate in it. McConnell (1991) documented the drastic real estate
Few scholars have written on Pima agriculture (Bahr 1983; Castetter and Bell (1942); Ezell and Fontana (1994); Hackenberg 1983; Rea 1997; Russell 1975). Of these, the classic scholarly study is Castetter and Bell, who recorded specific crops and plants cultivated by the Pima, although they did not include a Pima voice. Russell adds to this list but makes no analysis of Pima agriculture or water issues. The most useful scholarship is Ezell and Fontana’s, which posits that, left to their own accord, the Pima would have maintained an agricultural economy on par with that of non-Indians. In fact, Ezell and Fontana assert the Pima actually surpassed their non-Indian neighbors in farming and that the only factors restricting their continued agricultural growth were water and access to modern agricultural technology. As Ezell theorized in 1957, the Pima were in control of their own destiny until water deprivation led to social and economic shifts. Rea provides a definitive and emic perspective of Pima ecology, including cultivated crops.
There have been fewer scholarly works on specific Pima water and water rights matters. Ezell (1961) examined the Hispanic acculturation of the Pima and hypothesized that the Pima successfully adapted to Spanish agriculture (wheat, etc.) because they already practiced irrigated agriculture, had a desire for peaceful relations and were located geographically along the Gila River. Other works (Bolton 1916, 1919, 1930, 1936; Dunne 1955; Galvin 1965; Karns 1954; Matson and Fontana 1977; Treutlein 1949) provide ethnographic descriptions of the Pima, Pima farming practices and water uses.
Wilson (1995; 1997) provides further ethnographic material related to Pima agricultural
With limited scholarship on historic Pima water uses, only a few studies were consulted (Dobyns 1989; Ezell and Fontana (1994); Shaw 1974; Webb 1959; Wilson 1997). In addition, I utilized the wealth of archival material found in the National Archives, much of it available on microfilm. This archival material from the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and Laguna Niguel, California, as well as records from the San Carlos Irrigation Project in Coolidge, Arizona, the Charles Cook Theological School library in Tempe, Arizona, Government Document libraries at the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University, and the Labriola Collection at Arizona State University were useful for building a strong evidentiary case for both the extent and success of Pima agriculture and the severity of water deprivation among and the economic destruction of the Pima. In addition, I gathered secondary source material from various institutions and libraries as well as from the special collection holdings of the Arizona State Museum library in Tucson and the Special Collections Library at the University of Arizona. Additional local water resource material was found at the Pinal County Historical Society in Florence, Arizona. Material from the Pima’s Indian Claims Commission dockets (Hackenberg 1955; 1974) was also useful.
The theoretical framework I adopted for the present study builds on that of Ezell and Fontana (1994), Fontana (1983) and Hackenberg (1983). Ezell and Fontana assert the Pima were extraordinary farmers and traders before non-Indian settlers disrupted their economy. They also posit that the Gila (and Salt) River was the lifeblood of the Pima
adapted to changing conditions. Fontana described the Gila River as the “anchor” of Pima social and cultural existence. Hackenberg examined Pima and Papago agriculture and argued that, while the latter adapted a “mini-max” economic philosophy towards agriculture, the former—relying on the Gila River—adopted a “maximum” approach, growing large amounts of crops on as large an area as possible. While water has more value to the Pima than simple economics (Russell (1975); Underhill 1951), my focus is almost exclusively on water as an economic tool.
This framework is also influenced by recent studies on national conceptions and economic theories governing the latter half of the nineteenth century. In the decades before the Civil War, a shift occurred in American social thought regarding the national conception of democracy, a change that would have profound implications for American Indians. This shift was rooted in the romanticism of antebellum America and influenced by the unfolding acceptance of naturalism in the latter nineteenth century. The emerging concept of democracy was reflected “in the goodness of majority rule, a minimal government supposedly beneficial to all alike, and to free enterprise.”26 In other words, governmental liberalism was the underlying philosophy of American social action. This was nowhere more evident than in federal policies related to land and resource development and American Indian access to and protection of their water.
Economic liberalism facilitated the settlement of the West and the development of its resources, but came at the great social and economic expense of displacing American Indians and reducing them poverty. Nineteenth century Americans were encouraged to
avail themselves of the opportunities presented in the West because “they supposedly could.” In the West, class privilege was theoretically removed and replaced by the ideological self-made man. If an individual did not find economic success in the West it was a result of his own deficiencies. Economic liberalism offered the opportunity;
individual man was responsible for acting on it. “Freedom of opportunity under [economic] liberalism had as its [main] goal the freedom to become unequal in wealth and position.”27 Economic liberalism, of course, was but one response to the new democracy.
Born in the age of enlightenment, economic liberalism became the guiding principal for national expansion. Minimal government interference placed the duty of responsibility on the individual. Continental expansion gave birth to the idea of manifest destiny, infusing new meaning into the concept of individualism. Americans needed more than freedom of choice to be free; they also demanded “the opportunity to develop their natural talents to the fullest,” a belief that could be realized in the vast and seemingly unlimited potential of the West.28 Such social policies gave birth to rugged individualists who adhered to the theory that limited government was the most prudent course of action.
Moreover, the frontier represented the symbolic importance of upward mobility via land acquisition and resource exploitation. In fact, the frontier provided a new sense of respectability to the immigrant based on the prevailing ideas of democracy and the emerging theory of scientific racism, which provided settlers with the justification to appropriate the land and water resources of the Indians. As the second half of the
nineteenth century unfolded, these ideas found expression in the self-help and selfreliance of the American individualist, about whom in 1893 historian Frederick Jackson Turner wrote perpetrated “all the manifest evils that followed from lack of highly developed civic spirit.”29
When Lewis Henry Morgan outlined his seven stages on the civilization-savagery continuum in 1877, he aided the imperial plans of the nation by relegating the American Indian to the low end of savagery.30 At the center of this continuum was the acceptance of the social adaptation of Darwinian evolution. This national transformation of the American Indian was complete when these ideals were institutionalized by the American scientific academy between 1876 and 1915. This characterization was poignantly symbolized at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, where James Earle Fraser’s “The End of the Trail” served as a not so subtle metaphorical representation of American Indians.31 The unique American conception of democracy, liberalism and individualism, combined with the embracement of scientific racism justified continental expansion, displacement of Indian nations and the appropriation of their land and resources. If the Indians were unable to adapt to these changing times, popular sentiment asserted, it was their own lack of ability and moral ineptness—not government culpability—that was at fault. The philosophical transformation of the age-old “Indian problem” could now be rationalized and used to justify appropriation of Indian resources.
29 Frederick Jackson Turner, The Frontier in American History, (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1920), pp. 30-33. “The frontier,” Turner added, “is productive of individualism.” 30 Henry Lewis Morgan, Ancient Society: or Research in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery through Barbarism to Civilization (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1877).
31 Frederick E. Hoxie, A Final Promise: The Campaign to Assimilate the Indians, 1880-1920 (Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp.
29 Concurrently, and despite federal rhetoric to the contrary, Indian water rights were virtually ignored until well into the twentieth century, particularly on non-treaty reservations such as the Pima Reservation. Western water disputes in the nineteenth century pitted tribal nations against non-tribal agricultural and mining interests. The cause of this dichotomy was the separate and competing legal doctrines upon which Indian and non-Indian rights to water were predicated. The historic federal Indian relationship rooted tribal water rights in federal law and the doctrine of reserved rights, which holds that tribal nations and/or the U.S. Government in its fiduciary capacity impliedly and implicitly reserved sufficient water to make reservations a permanent homeland for Indian people. These reserved rights are based not only on the past and present needs of tribes but they also extend into the future, meaning as tribes develop their reservations into economically and socially viable homelands, their future water needs are protected. These rights are limited only by the practicably irrigable acreage of a reservation and/or the completion of a water settlement.
Conversely, non-Indians are governed by a different set of laws based on state statutes. These laws reward senior water users who file lawful claims to the use of water with rights that supersede junior users. In other words, “first in time, means first in line.” The key to prior appropriation is that the water must be beneficially and continuously used or the right after five consecutive years of non-use is forfeited. Consequently, Indian water rights have not only pitted powerful state interests against tribes and the federal government but because of their future-oriented nature, have also been viewed as casting
This study covers the historic backdrop of the 2004 Gila River Indian Community Water Settlement Act by examining the origins of the Pima water struggle from the midnineteenth century through the completion of the Florence-Casa Grande Project (FCGP) in 1924. At the center of this project was a federal adjudication survey to determine the status of Pima agriculture in 1914. My central thesis is that had Pima farmers not been deprived of their rights and access to the waters of the Gila River they would have continued their highly successful adaptations to a commercial economy that ultimately would have placed them on par with and part of the national economy. As their economy expanded, so, too, did their level of social and political organization.32 Irrigated crops demanded a highly sophisticated and organized socio-political structure. This is reflected in the marvelous adaptations the Pima made in their political economy prior to 1900.
More specifically, Pima farmers would have equaled, and possibly surpassed, their non-Indian neighbors had they not been handicapped by economically liberal federal land and resource policies. Convenient scholarly assumptions that American Indians were inherently unfit for or overwhelmed by unfamiliar Western economies are specious. In the case of the Pima, it was not a matter of the triumph of Western Civilization that displaced their economy as much as it was federal and territorial laws that prevented them from continuing their extraordinary economic success. The result of these liberal policies was the marginalization of the Pima economy and the rapid realization of a vicious cycle of poverty.
As a pre-eminent agricultural people, the Pima did not passively respond to the events of a century ago. Rather, they proved remarkably adaptive to water shortages, demonstrating their resourcefulness in important ways. In response to the water crisis, the Pima reduced the amount of land they cultivated. For much of the period between 1846 and 1880 they increased their acreage and, while facing periodic water shortages, were creative in finding ways to keep land in production. Further, as the water crisis deepened, particularly after the mid 1870s, the Pima abandoned their least productive lands, seeking against great odds to maintain an agricultural economy. In the midst of this deprivation they relocated (or abandoned) a number of their villages and scores of fields in an attempt to maintain an agricultural way of life. To make the most of their diminishing water resources, they grew small grain crops, such as wheat and barley. While these crops were not new to the crop rotation, the Pima increasingly relied upon them as they required considerably less water than other crops.