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public safety. Both the agency farmer and experimental farmer characterized the closing “as an outrage.” Loss of this important water conduit caused more distrust, but it did not persuade the Pima to accept the pump scheme.528 In July, in response to continued Pima complaints, the Indian Service withdrew its preliminary allotment plan. “The Indians at Gila Crossing and Casa Blanca will be permitted to take allotments where they are now located,” Assistant Indian Commissioner C.F. Hauke informed Alexander. “But if they want allotments where water is now developed they can be allotted [at Santan]. Please make it clear to everyone that the place of allotment for each Indian is within his or her selection.” In a follow-up letter, Hauke stressed that wherever there were “settlements of Indians in large numbers enough and under favorable agricultural and irrigable conditions, every effort possible will be made to bring water to them where it can be done at a cost that would not be nugatory of all other efforts.”529 Valentine visited the Agency in October and promised to oppose any “plan to try to induce the Casa Blanca Indians to move over into the Santan District.” Herbert Marten, an outspoken advocate of Pima rights and financial clerk at the Pima Agency, played an important role informing Congress about irrigation matters on the reservation.
or soon would be provided with water, Marten informed the Committee that only about 800 Pima had access to water. Nearly 80% were yet without a supply of water.530 Furthermore, while $540,000 had already been appropriated for wells and electrical power, Marten estimated that another $1,000,000 would be needed to complete the Sacaton Project. Adding in the estimated $35,500 annual operating expense (estimated at $3.55 per acre) and the costs were staggering. “It will be a great hardship and it is believed a practical impossibility for the Indians to meet the annual payments for electricity alone.” When maintenance charges were factored in, “instead of being made self-supporting, as the government contemplates, [the Pima were] likely to be pauperized and ruined.” Cook estimated these consequences cost the Pima $380,000 per year.531 As to the groundwater scheme, Marten suggested the water was not only expensive but also “contain[ed] dangerous quantities of alkali.” If it were used exclusively, groundwater would “ruin the land” within a few years.532 Nelson, writing to Congressman John Stephens (D-TX), a member of the House Committee on Indian Affairs, asked why the Pima should be asked to experiment with groundwater “when the Gila River water, to which we are already entitled, would make experiment unnecessary.” Surface water, Nelson reasoned, “is in no way an impossibility, and we know that it is the best and most practical system.” The Pima will “some day stand side by side with our 530 Hearings before the Committee on Indian Affairs, House of Representatives on H. Res. 330, p. 15.
531 Cook’s First Record Book, p. 105. Cook determined losses as follows: 180,000 acres of land @ $1,000,000; pumping plants @ $600,000; Reclamation Service work to date, $50,000; running the pumps for five years, $50,000; damage to the land from well water, $1,000,000; loss to the Indians from lack of water, $1,000,000; and feeding Indians unable to support themselves, $100,000. The total was $3,800,000 over ten years or $380,000 per year. “At the end of 5 to 10 years they will be poorer than ever.” 532 Hearings before the Committee on Indian Affairs, House of Representatives on H. Res. 330, p. 9.
227 white brother in thrift and culture,” Nelson added. “To place us at a disadvantage now may mean the loss of hope, and when hope is dead the man is dead.”533 To support their assertion, the Pima contacted Professor W.H. Ross of the University of Arizona to conduct an analysis of the water. Ross concluded that “water containing 100 parts … of soluble salts per 100,000 parts of water would carry on to the land 8,167 pounds of salts per acre in one year.” Based on his analysis, groundwater would damage the soil in “a very few years.”534 Even as little as 68 parts per 100,000 could damage the soil. Two of seven wells tested exceeded this level, with the remaining five averaging 52 parts per 100,000.535 Could it be, Marten inquired, that the pumping scheme was more for the “interests of the [Salt River Valley] Water User’s Association than of the Government or Indians?” Besides, “It would have been equally feasible to have bought impounded water from the Roosevelt Reservoir for the Indians’ lands … as to have bought electricity.”536 Valentine was unconvinced and informed the House that the reports indicated the absolute safety of using groundwater. Hill admitted the groundwater was salty but safe for irrigation purposes, especially if mixed with floodwaters. By 1911, Valentine reported that over 4,500 acres were being irrigated on the north bank of the river in the Santan district and that “the main canals are now built above 10,000 acres.” The Reclamation 533 “Letter of Lewis D. Nelson, Representing the Pima Tribe of Indians, Sacaton, Arizona, to the Honorable Jno. H. Stephens, Chairman, Committee on Indian Affairs,” January 4, 1912, in Hearings before the Committee on Indian Affairs, House of Representatives on H. Res. 330, No. 2, pp. 26-27. The Board of Indian Commissioners reported in 1909 “the steady increase in solids in the water of the Government well at Sacaton alarms all who are watching the experiment of irrigating the Pima lands.” See Annual Report of the Board of Indian Commissioners, 1909, p. 10. See also Conserving the Rights of the Pima Indians, pp. 3, 32.
534 Timely Hints to Farmers, Pamphlet No. 30 (University of Arizona Agricultural Experiment Station, 1910).
535 Hearings before the Committee of Indian Affairs House of Representatives on H. Res. 330, pages 21-24. The seven wells tested contained 48.0, 53.8, 56.2, 52.1, 52.6, 76.0, and 69.0 part salt per 100,000. Six of the wells contained “medium to high salinity water.” Five of the wells contained medium sodium water.
536 Ibid, p. 6.
228 Service noted that while the Indians “with few exceptions refused to use well water” in 1912, they were using it with “remarkable success” by 1913.537 Use of the water restored some confidence, but while the Pima were forced to use groundwater, they continued to oppose it. Tribal leaders Kisto Morago, Lewis Nelson, Harvey Cawker and Jackson Thomas complained that they had no voice in the pumping scheme. “The water rights in the Gila River appear by consensus of legal opinion to be still ours, and such water would cost us nothing,” the men argued. A month earlier, 444 Pima signed a petition appealing to the Senate to restore “our river water.”538 Three months later, a House Subcommittee on Expenditures in the Interior Department launched its investigation of the reclamation activities in the Gila and Salt River Valleys. Besides implicating A.J. Chandler and a score of other Salt River Valley speculators, the Committee concluded the Reclamation Service had indeed gone “into the hands of big land speculators.” Leupp testified illness had robbed him of his memory and he could no longer recall any of the “thousands of details” pertaining to the scheme.539 Almost immediately, the Reclamation Service turned over its Indian Country activities to the Indian Irrigation Service.540 537 Hearings before the Committee on Expenditures in the Interior Department of the House of Representatives on House Resolution No. 103, No. 5, Part 5, p. 125 and part 15, pp. 628-29. “The Indians at first were not interested and objected,” Hill told members of the House Investigating Committee, “they did not like it, but after the water got pretty low in the river they saw it would be advantageous to get the water to their lands in order to save their crops and since then have been getting as much as they could.” Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1911, p. 17. There were 10 completed pumping stations “augment[ing] the flood waters of the river.” Reclamation Record (Washington, DC: Secretary of the Interior, United States Reclamation Service, July 1913) 4:7, p. 137.
538 “Letter of Kisto Morago, Lewis D. Nelson, Harvey Cawker and Jackson Thomas to the Members of the Committee on Indian Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives,” December 16, 1911, in Pima Indian Reservation: Hearing Before the Committee on Indian Affairs United States Senate on H.R. 18244 (Washington DC: 1912), pp. 16-17. See also “Petition of the Indians of the Pima Tribe of the Gila River, November 21, 1911,” in ibid, p. 15.
539 Hearings before the Committee on Expenditures in the Interior Department of the House of Representatives on House Resolution No. 103, Part 1, p. 92.
540 Briefs on Indian Irrigation and Indian Forests, Letter from Frederick H. Abbott to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on
Indian Affairs (Washington, DC: GPO, 1914), p. 43. See also Annual Report of the Indian Irrigation Service, 1913 (Washington, DC:
GPO, 1913), pp. 4, 16-19 and 44-47.
229 Marten also testified before the subcommittee, which listened as the Pima questioned the intent of the new Santan Floodwater Canal, which they believed was heading toward Chandler Ranch. From the Pima perspective, the $286,126 Santan Floodwater Canal was a waste of money unless it was designed to provide “a large supply of water” to Chandler Ranch.541 The Sacaton Contract was particularly scrutinized as it seemed “to render all of the reservation, with the exception of 10,000 acres, entirely valueless to the Indians so that they will in self-defense have to sell this excess.” To fulfill the contract would be a burden. Rather than testify, Code resigned from government work.
The USGS continued evaluating both the physical location of the San Carlos reservoir and the maximum acreage it could support. In 1909, M. O. Leighton, chief hydrographer of the USGS, turned the idea of reclamation upside down, suggesting the factor that determined the feasibility of an irrigation project was not the “abundant but the scarce years of water supply.” Leighton did not recommend a project be built to irrigate more land than the average irrigated acreage during the drought of 1900 to 1904.
Anything beyond this would risk insufficient water. With the average water use on the middle Gila River during these years just 140,200 acre-feet, Leighton recommended no more than 40,000 acres of land be irrigated from San Carlos. Engineer F. E. Herrmann cautiously concluded the actual safe yield was just 24,000 acres of land.542 541 Report in the Matter of the Investigation of the Salt and Gila Rivers—Reservations and Reclamation Service, p. 171 and 174. It was reported (hearsay) that Chandler wanted floodwater to mix with the groundwater he was pumping. Outside of the delivery area of the Salt River project, Chandler only had rights to electrical power to pump groundwater. Floodwater would dilute the alkaline rich groundwater.
542 Report of M.O. Leighton, February 8, 1910, in San Carlos Irrigation Project, Arizona: Report to the Secretary of War of a Board of Engineer Officers, United States Army, under Indian Appropriation Act of August 24, 1912, on San Carlos Irrigation Project, Arizona, House Document 791, 63-2 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1914), p. 16. Leighton’s estimates for irrigation were between 32,200 and 43,000 acres. The former was based on 4.355 acre-feet of water per acre, while the latter was based on a 25% margin of non-productive land 230 While the Geological Survey adopted a conservative approach to reclamation, consulting engineers James Schuyler and H. Hawgood did not. In dry years, when storage water was low, Schuyler argued, groundwater pumping could supplement the reservoir supply.543 Other studies supported a maximum water use of 260,000 acre-feet and no more than 65,000 acres. Most of these studies assigned the Pima one-third of the water, since “there is known to be a copious supply of underground water” on the reservation.544 The government continued to assume that beneficial use of the water by non-Indians had preempted Pima rights. Nonetheless, the USGS concluded that the Sacaton Project, which utilized groundwater and floodwater (when available), could irrigate 12,000 acres, with approximately 21,500 additional allotted acres irrigated with stored water, bringing the potentially irrigated lands on the reservation to 33,500 acres.545 Schuyler was of the opinion that the Florence Canal could convey a maximum of 108,000 acre-feet of water seven years out of ten, enough to irrigate just 12,000 to 25,000 acres of land.546 When the Army Corps of Engineers was directed by Congress to evaluate the San Carlos site in 1912, it concluded that a 180-foot tall dam could impound 709,626 acrefeet of water at a cost of $2,104,000.547 The Corps calculated the average annual discharge at San Carlos at 346,568 acre-feet. A low volume of 99,936 acre-feet occurred within the project (for roads, transmission lines, corners, poor lands, etc.). See also Report of F. E. Herrmann, in ibid, p. 16. Hermann assumed 4 acre-feet at the field and 7.5 acre-feet released from the dam, the difference being lost in transit.
543 Report of J.D. Schuyler and H. Hawgood, dated September 27, 1910, in ibid. p.17.
544 Report of J. H. Quinton, September 11, 1909, in ibid. Quinton estimated 46,000 acres could receive three acre-feet of water per year and that an additional 50,000 acres might receive 1.5 acre-feet per year (enough for one crop). In 1912 he further revised his estimates. See also Report of J.H. Quinton, September 3, 1912, in ibid, p. 17. See also “Reservoir site at San Carlos: Report of William H. Rosecrans,” 1912 in ibid, pp. 18-19.
545 William H. Rosecrans, Irrigation of the Pima Indian Reservation, Gila River Valley, Arizona, January 4, 1912, in ibid, p. 19.
546 J.D. Schuyler, Water Supply and Proposed Irrigation Works of the Pinal Mutual Irrigation Company of Florence, Arizona, December 5, 1911, in ibid, pp. 19-21. This led credence to the need for a reservoir upstream and a diversion dam downstream.