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«Item type text; Electronic Dissertation Authors DeJong, David Henry Publisher The University of Arizona. Rights Copyright © is held by the author. ...»

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54 arrival of James Ohio Pattie on the Gila in the winter of 1826-1827 initiated a stampede of beaver trappers to the region, including Old Bill Williams, Pauline Weaver, Kit Carson and Ceran St. Vrain. The arrival of the fur trappers did not go unnoticed—by the Pima or Mexicans. To combat the number of illicit trappers in Mexico, all frontier presidios— including Tucson—were ordered to provide detailed reports on the activities of foreigners. When Williams and St. Vrain passed through the Pima villages in late October 1826, head Pima chief Antonio Culo Azul requested the men show proper identification or proceed to Tucson to report their activities. Finding the Americans friendly and open to trade, the Pima—not willing to let an opportunity slip by—initiated a brisk business of commerce. Passing through the Maricopa villages several days later, the trappers reveled in four days of gift exchange and trade with the Maricopa. 72 While trading with Mexican towns to the south (and through the annual trade fair on the Gila River), the Pima recognized the benefits afforded them by trade opportunities with Americans passing through their villages. While there is little record of trapping on the Gila River after 1827, trappers and explorers continued to follow the river west to California. Trade with villages to the south continued, although by 1840 the Pima were seldom visited by anyone except those who “in distress” visited the villages, where they were “generously furnished horses and food.” Apache raids at San Xavier resulted in

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Pima food crops becoming increasingly more important to Mexican and Tohono O’odham settlements in the Santa Cruz Valley south of Tucson.73 The advent of the Mexican War in 1846 ended Pima isolation. That fall, two U.S.

military detachments descended upon the Pima villages. In November, General Stephen Austin Kearny led U.S. troops down the Gila and through the Pima villages enroute to San Diego, California. Henry Smith Turner, one of one hundred twenty dragoons forming the column, welcomed the “hospitality and friendship” of the Pima. They were, Turner concluded, “more industrious than I have ever found Indians—they have all the necessaries of life in sufficient abundance, & all produced by their own industry.”74 The Army of the West camped eight or nine miles above the Pima villages on November 10, where it was met by a Maricopa man searching for his cattle. The man approached the troops in a “frank, confident manner,” Topographical Engineer and Lieutenant William H. Emory observed, a “strange contrast with that of the suspicious Apache.” Soon a half dozen or more Pima approached the camp ascertaining the purpose of the visit. After the Indians dispatched word to the villages regarding the friendly nature of the visit, it was only a matter of hours before the camp was filled “with Pimos loaded with corn, beans, honey and zandias (watermelons)” to trade. While a “brisk trade was at once opened,” when Army scout Kit Carson asked to purchase bread to sustain the dragoons, he was informed “bread is to eat, not to sell; take what you want.”75 73 Russell, p. 39; William H. Emory, “Notes of a Military Reconnaissance, from Fort Leavenworth, in Missouri, to San Diego, in California, including part of the Arkansas, Del Norte and Gila Rivers,” Senate Executive Document No. 7, 30th Congress, 1st Session (Washington, DC: Wendell and Van Benthuysen, 1848), p. 86; Officer, p. 120.

74 The Original Journals of Henry Smith Turner with Stephen Watts Kearny to New Mexico and California 1846-1847, Dwight L.

Clarke, ed. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1966), pp. 107-108.

75 House Executive Document 41, p. 82; “Report of A. R. Johnston, aide-de-camp to S. W. Kearny,” in ibid, p. 598.


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many good reports on the Pima and knew them to be an honest people, the chief invited the General to pass the day in trade “for such articles as [you] might require.” Turner noted the Pima “furnished supplies for [all] parties of strangers who may pass this way.” The ease and confidence by which they approached the military camp struck as unusual many of the troops. Quartermaster Major Thomas Swords erected an awning “under which to conduct the business” of trade, an event Emory described as a “perfect menagerie” of “Pimos, Maricopas, Mexicans, French, Dutch, English and Americans.”76

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nature of agriculture in the villages, including the draining of the water from the land.

“We were at once impressed with the beauty, order and disposition of the arrangements for irrigating and draining the land,” Emory noted. “All the crops have been gathered in, and the stubbles show they have been luxuriant.” Large fields were subdivided by earthen borders into smaller fields for convenience of irrigating. Fifteen miles downstream, the troops passed over a luxuriantly rich, cultivated soil. “The plain,” Emory estimated, extended “in every direction 15 or 20 miles.” The Indian farmers drew off the “whole water” of the Gila for irrigation, taking care to return the unused water to the river “with little apparent diminution in its volume.”77 As the troops pushed west on November 12, they came to the Maricopa villages, finding a “great deal of land” cultivated. “[A]ll that has been said of the Pimas,” Emory explained, “is applicable to them.” Maricopa men and women “came into camp at full

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speed, unarmed and in the most confident manner, bringing water melons, meal, pinole and salt for trade.” On the following day, a Maricopa chief met with Kearny and told him it was good to trade but if the Americans had arrived hungry and in need “it would have been his pleasure to give us all we wanted without compensation.” Before the troops moved on, head Maricopa chief Don Jose Messio offered Kearny many “expressions of peace and friendship.”78 The Pima were all that the Americans had heard and read. They were honest, industrious, confident and “perhaps better than some others we had seen.” They “surpass[ed] many of the Christian nations in agriculture,” Emory concluded, and were “little behind them in the useful arts, and immeasurably before them in honesty and virtue.” Their “high regard for morality” was evident in that no soldier reported any items stolen during his visit with the Indians. While initially suspicious of their motives, Emory soon “got an indifferent set of observations,” discovering “theft is seemingly unknown among them.”79 Aware of the long history of Pima fidelity and honesty, Kearny left ten or eleven travel weary mules and sundry supplies in the villages to be picked up by Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, trailing the Army of the West by six weeks. While difficult to acquire, Kearny managed to secure half a dozen oxen from the Pima. Before departing, the Colonel gave the Pima chief a letter “directing all troops that might pass [through the villages], to respect his excellency, his people, and their property.”80 On the twenty-first of December, three hundred forty tired Mormon troops arrived in the villages from the south, having spent twenty-six of the previous thirty-six hours on

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a forced march from Tucson. Hot, thirsty and hungry, the troops were met by a cadre of mounted Pima eight miles from the villages. They came with “sacks of corn, flour, beans, etc.,” Henry Standage recalled. They were “glad to see us, running and taking us by the hand.” Upon meeting the “singularly innocent and cheerful people,” Cooke was given the letter Kearny had left behind listing the “broken down mules and two bales of Indian goods.” He then traded “every spare article for corn” mustering twelve quarts per animal for the trip to California. The “wonderfully honest and friendly” Pima eagerly traded and sold food crops “for bleached domestics, summer clothing of all sorts, showy handkerchiefs, and white beads.” So industrious were the people, Sergeant Daniel Tyler opined, “our American and European cities would do well to take lessons in virtue and morality from these native tribes.”81 When the troops prepared to leave the Pima villages the following day, they were met by “groups of men, women and children” wanting to trade all sorts of “eatables, including watermelons,” and wanting only “clothing or cotton cloth and beads” in exchange. The menagerie described by Emory reminded Cooke of a crowded New Orleans market, with more than two thousand Indians in camp, “all enjoying themselves very much.” Before departing, Cooke told Azul the Pima were “the happiest and most prosperous” Indians he had ever seen. If they continued to hold to the “principles of industry, honesty, peace and cheerful content,” they would remain so. The Colonel then presented the chief with a gift of three ewes with young. From the Maricopa, Cooke 81 “Report from the Secretary of War, communicating a copy of the official journal of Lieutenant Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, from Santa Fe to San Diego, etc.,” Senate Report No. 2, 30th Congress, 1st session (Washington, DC: Wendell and Van Benthuysen, 1849), p. 49; Frank Alfred Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion Taken from the Journal of Henry Standage (New York: The Century Company, 1928), p. 198. Philip St. George Cooke, “Report of Lieutenant Colonel P. St. George Cooke of His March from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to San Diego, Upper California,” in House Executive Document 41, 30th Congress, 1st Session (Washington, DC: Wendell and Van Benthuysen, 1848), pp. 254-255.

59 picked up Kearny’s abandoned mules. Impressed with the nature of farming in the desert, Cooke prophetically suggested to his officers “this vicinity would be a good place for exiled saints [Mormons] to locate.”82 The Mexican War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, with all land north of the Gila River now under American administration. While the Pima villages on the south bank remained under Mexican rule, they would have little contact with the Mexican government to the south after the war. Their intercourse with the Americans traversing their land en route to the California gold fields increased. These travelers looked forward to visiting and trading with the Pima, aware of their friendly and hospitable disposition from the many reports left by Spanish, Mexican and early American explorers.

By the early nineteenth century the Pima economy shifted in important ways.

First, the Pima increased the amount of land over which they practiced irrigated agriculture, a venture that resulted in increased raids from the Apache. Second, as Apache raids intensified, the Pima villages shifted to the south where they were established in the open away from the Gila River. Canals and ditches surrounded their villages and since fields were enclosed, fences encased villages as well. Third, as villages’ consolidated and agricultural production increased, Pima military authority was concentrated in the hands of a central tribal leader. While the villages remained autonomous in civil matters, they were united under the authority of a single military leader. Such protection enhanced 82 Philip St. George Cooke, The Conquest of New Mexico and California: An Historical and Personal Narrative (Chicago: the Rio Grande Press, Inc., 1964 reprint), pp. 159-165. In a 1929 article published by the Mormon Church, it is alleged that the Mexicans attempted to bribe the Pima into taking sides in the war but were unable to do so. See Harold G. Clark, “The Pima Indians and Western Development,” The Genealogical and Historical Magazine of the Arizona Temple District (Vol. 6, No. 4, October 1929), p.

28. The Autobiography of Christopher Layton, with an Account of his funeral, a personal sketch, etc., and genealogical appendix, John Q. Cannon, ed. (The Deseret News: Salt Lake City, Utah, 1911), pp. 83-84; Turner, p. 108; Senate Report No. 2, p. 50.

60 agricultural production and trade, making the Pima the most economically powerful tribe in the region.

In the years immediately following the Mexican War, the Pima adapted to a new and dynamic economic system and recognized the value of American technology. In the four years between 1846 and 1850, their economy—with irrigated agriculture as its fulcrum—doubled, with fewer than 4,000 Pima providing food, forage and hospitality for more than 40,000 emigrants and soldiers. In the following chapter, I demonstrate the Pima desire to enhance their own economic well-being and increase their role in the emerging economy of the region. Already an industrious and hospitable people, the Pima were tested by their inability to acquire new technology and innovation as rapidly as they desired. This covetous eye sparked an increase in purloining and the adoption of certain American vices that were fueled in part by the Pima perception of emigrant waste and wealth. The Pima welcomed the emigrants, recognizing they were both the source of their new wealth and part of the necessary means of acquiring the technology that would enable them to more efficiently grow crops and expand their economy. While emigrants and access to new technology were essential to the Pima economy, these influences

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