«Item type text; Electronic Dissertation Authors DeJong, David Henry Publisher The University of Arizona. Rights Copyright © is held by the author. ...»
river water for centuries, such as Sacate and Snaketown, were without water as the new canals and irrigation system were built. Families living in these traditional farming areas had little choice but to “go from place to place” looking for work. Nearly 7,000 acres of cleared allotted land was without water—and a crop—in 1922.566 Overall, the amount of land in production decreased 2,600 acres, a great source of discouragement to the Pima.567 Despite hardships, some 575 Pima and Maricopa farmers cultivated 11,860 acres of land using ground, flood and seepage water. Owing to drought conditions and new canals bypassing old fields, Pima farmers in Sweetwater, Bapchule, Sacate and Snaketown—once the heart of Pima agricultural production—“were unable to farm their land.”568 In Casa Blanca, 2,571 acres were planted but no crop grew due to insufficient water. While farmers in the Santan area managed to plant a crop, their grain yield was poor. In Santa Cruz, 1,500 acres of productive land was divided into 75 twenty-acre farms, but lack of water prevented its development, much to the chagrin of the Indians.569 By 1921, the economic structure of the reservation—already dynamic—had shifted considerably. Once in control of all their lands, the Pima now owned land in severalty. Pressure to farm using modern farming methods proved costly.
1914, when it recommended all eligible Indian land not farmed by the Pima be “leased to white farmers or otherwise farmed.” The Pima were strongly opposed to leasing their land for fear they would become vagabonds in their own homeland. Some allottees prophetically saw the day when “outsiders would one day farm [the] land because of our lack of financial resources.” Having survived the years of starvation, the Pima did not desire federal paternalism. They did not seek to abandon “habits of thrift” and they did not wish to drift into “indolence and crime” because of changing economics on the reservation.570 While the Pima were unified in their opposition to leasing their lands, powerful forces remained at work. A socio-political construct predicated on the Social Darwinian “survival of the fittest” mentality justified dispossession of Pima resources. If the Pima could adapt to this changing reality, they would survive. If they could not, Social Darwinism demanded that their resources be turned over to someone who could.
With thousands of settlers now living above the reservation, the Pima faced a monumental fight in protecting their water. After nearly thirty years of requests, the Indian Service finally agreed to quantify and assert Pima rights to water. While masked behind a thin veil of morality, this assertion of rights was in reality a ploy designed to further integrate Pima resources into the local and national economy. In the following chapter, I consider the federal proposal to quantify current and previous areas of Pima cultivation in order to quantify water the government might claim on their behalf.
The adjudication survey, as it came to be known, was the first official attempt to quantify water users along the Gila River, demonstrate the extent of Pima agriculture and analyze Pima claims to the water. Despite the 1908 affirmation by the U.S. Supreme Court of the doctrine of Indian reserved water rights, the Indian Service bowed to political pressures and avoided any conflict with non-Indian landowners. Consequently, the Indian Service subscribed to the legal theory that the Pima were subject to state prior appropriation laws and that protection of Pima water through actual use was the most
At the turn of the twentieth century, settlers were living above and adjacent to the Pima Reservation and, by the 1920s, cultivated 142,322 acres in the Salt River Valley, 35,000 acres between Florence and Casa Grande, and 18,000 acres in the Casa Grande Valley.571 Legislation enacted by Congress assisted these settlers in acquiring and developing the land and required them to make bona fide application of water in order to perfect their land titles. These federal requirements put settlers in direct competition with tribal nations over control and use of the waters of Western streams. In the end, the rights of tribal nations were rendered n’importe as politically well-heeled settlers, government bureaucrats and Congressional allies asserted control over the water.572 In the midst of these activities, the Indian Service made a belated, but ineffectual, attempt to assert the rights of the Pima. In 1914, an adjudication survey quantified Pima water use and irrigated lands in an attempt to protect Pima water. This assertion was in reality a ploy designed to use the Pima to benefit local non-Indian interests, as Congress tied support for Pima water rights and development directly to the broader policy of incorporating the Indians into the American polity. Not surprisingly, Congressmen such
as Carl Hayden (D-AZ) saw an opportunity to cultivate these sentiments to the benefit all farmers along the Gila River, especially those in Pinal County.573 In 1913, irrigation engineer Charles Olberg proposed surveying the reservation to determine the current and previous level of cultivation. This survey would quantify an amount of water the government might claim on behalf of the Pima. Confident Congressional sympathies would side with the Pima, Arizona’s Congressional delegation sought to use the survey to propose a legislative package that would extend the benefits of an irrigation system to settlers as well. The responsibility of conducting this survey fell to Charles H. Southworth, a young Indian Service engineer.
Southworth made this survey in 1914 using relatively simple technology: a field survey using the standard triangulation system, a visual analysis of the land and the oral testimony gathered from thirty-four Pima elders.574 Using this oral testimony and modern technology provides a qualitative and quantitative means of analyzing the adjudication survey. GIS technology provides a level of dissection not available to Southworth and not possible with a simple visual analysis of the maps. While not altering the general findings of Southworth, a modern analysis identifies specific crop patterns on the reservation that, when compared with those off reservation, illustrates the effect of water loss and aids in understanding the depth of deprivation and the adaptation the Pima were forced to make a century ago.
The Indian Irrigation Service assembled a set of plain table maps illustrating the current and previously irrigated lands on the reservation as a precursor to both the passage of federal legislation authorizing the Florence-Casa Grande Project (FCGP) and the anticipated adjudication of Gila River water rights. Using data extracted from these maps, the Indian Service intended to protect water for the Pima under the local doctrine of prior appropriation. With a conservative population estimate of 3,500 adults, the Indian Service anticipated ten-acre irrigable allotments per capita, or 35,000 acres with water rights.575 Table 4: Mean Field Size of Abandoned and 1914 Cultivated Pima Lands
With the survey, the Indian Service also instituted an action encouraged by the Army Corps of Engineers. A bill in Congress contemplated a federal project to restore Pima rights “to the use of the [Gila River] water.” This project was predicated on a jointuse system would benefit all farmers and integrate the reservation economy with that of Pinal County.576 A corollary measure was to facilitate the final allotment of the reservation. From a political and practical perspective, Pima tribal water rights would have little relevance following land severalty since the federal consensus supported the theory that Indian water rights would follow the doctrine of prior appropriation. Scarcity
of water materially reduced the number of Pima farms, as shown in table 4, which indicates 33.6% of all Pima fields were abandoned in 1914 (36.7% of all acres).577 The mean abandoned fields were 21% larger than the mean 1914 fields.
In 1912, two years before the adjudication survey, the Pima had cause for optimism when Congressman John H. Stephens (D-TX) introduced into Congress a bill authorizing federal action on Pima water rights. Assigned to the House Committee on Indian Affairs, the bill had the support of a number of eastern “friends of the Indians” who could expend political capital on Indian causes without fear of voter insurgency.
Some members of Congress, including Stephens, Senator Joseph Robinson (D-AR) and Senator Carroll Page (R-VT), were familiar with the Pima’s long-standing grievances.
Western politicians, having voting constituents competing with Indians for federal reclamation development, generally opposed Indian irrigation projects. Carl Hayden, a member of the House Committee on Indian Affairs, was no exception. Litigation, the first year Congressman and son of a former trader on the Pima Reservation argued, would not provide Pima lands with “as much moisture as was to be found in the ink of the signature of the judge who would sign such a decree.” A judge could not make it rain and no judge could stop the river from flooding. Besides, Hayden reasoned, the loss of Pima water was “not due in any great measure to diversions” but resulted from environmental changes within the Gila watershed.578 Hayden convinced the committee to kill the bill and instead worked to gain support for a joint-use reclamation project on the Gila River that would 577 Hearings before the Committee on Expenditures in the Interior Department of the House of Representatives on House Resolution No. 103 to Investigate the Expenditures in the Interior Department, (hereafter Hearings before the Committee on Expenditures) June 5, 1911, (Washington DC: GPO, 1911), pp. 135, 193. Conserving the Rights of the Pima Indians, pp. 11, 17.
578 The Pima Indians and the San Carlos Irrigation Project: Information Presented to the Committee on Indian Affairs, House of Representatives in Connection with S. 966 An Act for the Continuance of Construction Work on the San Carlos Federal Irrigation Project in Arizona and for other Purposes (Washington, DC: GPO, 1924), 58-59.
246 rival Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River. With the bill dead in committee, Hayden secured legislation authorizing the Corps of Engineers to conduct a feasibility study of the San Carlos dam site.
Heavy flooding along the Gila River in the spring of 1912 destroyed the brush diversion dams used by the Pima to divert what natural flow remained in the river. By the time the necessary repairs were made, the floodwaters had receded and the Pima again lacked water. Special Indian Agent Charles E. Ellis wrote Commissioner of Indian Affairs Robert Valentine suggesting the efficacy of building an inexpensive diversion dam on the east end of the reservation to harness floodwater. If water was not restored soon, the Pima might not “ever regain their past confidence.”579 Each successive flood further deepened and widened the river channel, making limited water flows less accessible for irrigation by the Indians. Without protection of their water, Olberg opined, the Pima would be unable to “cultivate as much land as they formerly did.”580 After 1912, Indian water cases overwhelmed the U.S. Justice Department. Wellpublicized suits from the Ft. Belknap Gros Ventre-Assiniboine in Montana, Pyramid Lake Paiute in Nevada, Yakima in Washington, Uintah and Ouray Ute in Utah and the Gila River Pima dominated Congressional Indian affairs committees. Nevertheless, challenges remained in prosecuting these cases. Indian Service Chief Engineer Wendell Reed complained to Commissioner Cato Sells in 1913 that the Justice Department 579 “Charles E. Ellis, Special Agent, to Robert G. Valentine, Commissioner of Indian Affairs,” dated April 10, 1912, Letters Received, Indian Division, Office of Indian Affairs, RG 75 (National Archives, Washington DC). For Pima Agency supervisor in charge Graves Moore’s report see Annual Statistical Report, Narrative Section, Pima Agency, Sacaton, Ariz., dated May 28, 1912, 2, 33 (hereafter Annual Statistical Report), in “Superintendents Annual Narrative and Statistical Reports, 1907-1938,” Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, RG 75, Microcopy 1011, rolls 104-105.
580 “Olberg to Valentine,” Annual Report of the United States Indian Irrigation Service, District 4, (hereafter Annual Report of the Irrigation Service) fiscal year 1913, 44, RG 75, Records of the United States Indian Irrigation Service, Annual District and Project Records, Box 4.
247 litigated Indian cases but it did not “get out and secure the evidence” needed to prosecute successfully such claims. It “simply fights with the ammunition that is brought to [it].” Opponents of the Indians hired “good lawyers” and “leave no stone unturned” in gathering the evidence needed to support their position. While the Justice Department assigned two water rights attorneys to handle Indian cases, it did not provide any resources to research Indian water claims.581 Such unresponsiveness forced the Indian Service to change its tactics. To protect Indian water rights and provide the Indians with an equal chance to succeed in the local and national economy, the Indian Service needed data that would substantiate tribal claims. This took on enhanced meaning with land severalty in arid regions such as Arizona.