Memorial in Re-Investigation of Pima Indians, Arizona.
Sir: In further reference to the alleged need of investigation of the affairs of the Pima Indians, in Arizona, upon which subject I addressed you on the 9th instant, I inclose a letter dated July 19, 1911, from the Rev. Chas. H. Cook, forwarding a petition of the Salt River Band of Pima Indians urging protection of their rights in the lands of their reservation. Additional letters and other data are also inclosed bearing directly upon Pima interests.
The Indians of Santa Clara Pueblo, N. Mex., are seeking correction of alleged wrongful conditions existing within their pueblo seriously affecting their interests. This is shown by the inclosed affidavit executed by their governor, Santiago Naranjo, and the chief men of the pueblo, before Mr. P. R. Wadsworth, special Indian agent.
There appear to be many abuses in administration in connection with the administration of the Pueblo Indians, as the additional inclosures indicate. These conditions should be corrected without further delay.
The Pimas living there at this time have no lands or water to spare. But this does not deter the grafters and some Government officials from attempting to rob them of their homes and farms. (Deuteronomy xxvii, 17, and other like scripture passages are evidently not considered binding to Mormons and other grafters.)
The Indians in the Salt River Valley sent me a copy of the inclosed, hoping that I may be able to find some Government officer or other persons who will try and deliver them out of the hands of the Mormons and other grafters, who I am afraid have the Salt River Water Users' Association and Mr. W. H. Code to aid them.
With best regards, yours, truly,
The Pima Indians, members of the Salt River Reservation of Arizona, whose names follow, respectfully and urgently petition the United States Government to allow them to hold the whole amount of land on which they live, and which has been set aside for their home, and while it is their wish to be perfectly fair and just to the Government, they strongly protest against having any of the land from the resources of which they must earn their living taken from them.
Juan Andreas, chief; Jose Kisto, Jose Anton, Jose Joseph, Jacob Morre, counsel; Arthur Williams, John G. Carlise, Jose Juan, Juan M. Luke, Jirsta Nona, John Robinson, Manuel Juan, William Andrew, John Antone, C. Emerson, S. Havier, David Watesma, Thomas Adams, Joseph Rea, Thomas Murphy, Booker Johnson, Pual Juan, John Andreas, John Baptisto, Juan Andreas, Lewis Enos, Miguel Andreas, Jose Narcia, Herbert Smith, Tom. Morgan, Domingo Baptisto, Baetistic Juan, Jose Watson, George Head, Luke Mansfield, Charles Roberts, Juan Wawages, George Howard, John Holmes, John Chiago, Edward Moore, Manuel Steward, San Antone, Andrew Smith, Mark Burke, Miguel Antone, Ventura Joe, Pedro Jose, Herbert Hays, Juan O. Williams, Arthur Williams, John Collins, Havier Collins, S. Kisto, Jose Thomas, Juan Miguel, Havilino Joscinto, Jose Juan, Black Eagle, Frank Xavier, Louis Manuel, San Anton, J. W. Pancho, Charlie Andrews, Joseph Wellington, Clarence Wellington, Cyrus Burke, Andrew Sampon, Jose Santo, Joseph Manuel, Jacob Moorre, Jose Joe, Enoch Mayfield, Earnest Morre, Peter Moorse, William Scott, Thomas Goodwin, Moses Anton, Juan Enas, C. Ellis, P. Pavilo, Henry George, James Cocaple, John Morris, Miguel Antone, Jose Domingo, Jose Manuel, Frank Tomona, Havier Hiscina, Jose Anton, Old Juan, Enas Juan, Juan Lascis, Kisto J. Anton, Loid Vavajoe, Andrew Enas, Juan Santo, Step Jacop, Juane Enas, Eagle Hand, H. Albert T. Cut, Pablo Pavilo, Jose Fox Spotted, Charles Juan, Juan Eagle, Tough Tail, Thomas Morgon, Easchief Jose, House Holder, Steven Jones, K. David, Kisto Brown, Louis Gane, Ben Blackears, Francisco Louis, Yuma Forehead, Juan Jones, Osnife Higher, Betr Gange, Vavaches Buck, William Loggo, Henry Black Patt, John Baptisto, Juan Miguel, Young Tullo, W. Visock Minson, Easter Stanely, Joseph Saneka, Harry Saneka, Aakle Pastle, Samuel Liggaka, James Value, Robert Lee, Lase Hayes, Juan Enas, Stode Hat, Standing Charly, Osarla Lorlae, Louis Cactus Cat, Elk L. Chiago, He. Joseph, Nellif Qua, Jones Wavecis, Bay Louis Face, Vavake Stale Head, Barnes Vavack, Millard Great, Andreas Great, N. Moses, Hap a Thomas, Harry Smith, John Jose, Joe Josee, Apach Starsely, Easchief Charla, Lewis Skin, Carl Juan, Wallace Ancheas, Havier Anton, Parilo J. Jose, John Anton, Willie Joe, Mark Moore, H. Albert Large, Henry Smith, Josiahu Williams, Thomas Williams, Solomath Cyrus, Robert Cyrus, Juan P. Cyrus, Jose Andreas, Ersa Jose Anton, Jose Miguel, Jose Henry, Henry Chiago, Mark Anton, members.
Dear Mr. Brosius: The Southern Pacific Railroad Co. has made application to the Secretary of the Interior for the canyon along the course of the Gila River, known as the ‘‘Box Canyon’’ (the same which the Casa Grande Valley Water Users' Association want to get for a reservoir site), the Southern Pacific Co. claiming that their railroad would be of greater benefit to the country than would a reservoir.
But, as a matter of fact, it is well known that there are two routes through the canyon which are both perfectly practicable for a railroad line. One is called ‘‘the upper route,’’ because it is at an elevation above the greatest possible height of the proposed reservoir, and should the railroad company use this upper route it would not prevent the construction of the proposed reservoir.
The other is called ‘‘the lower route,’’ because it follows closely along the bed of the Gila River through the Box Canyon, and if the railroad should be built along this route, no reservoir could be built, because the impounded water would rise above the level of the track and engulf it.
The cost between the building of the line along the lower route would be somewhat less than if it should be built along the upper route; but the difference is said to be slight. It appears that the railroad company are still pulling for the canyon to be given to them exclusively. Then what they will do is to put their track along the upper route and make a reservoir out of the canyon, the same as the Casa Grande landowners want to do.
Neither one is going to give the Pimas any water out of the reservoir, if they can help it, nor recognize their water rights to the water in the Gila River, but probably terms could be made with the farmers more easily than with the Southern Pacific Co. and with less fighting. The Government ought itself to retain the ownership of the canyon, or, rather, the reservoir site in the canyon, and go to work on it the same as they did on the Roosevelt Reservoir.
At first the Government engineers recommended the site as perfectly good and the dam as feasible, and then later there was some tall political chicanery pulled off and another report made that the construction of the dam was not practicable, and so the site of the first reservoir constructed in these parts was switched off from San Carlos, on the Gila River, to Roosevelt, on the Salt River. Now, competent engineers, who have been engaged to look over the ground, say that the construction of the dam is an easy matter--the same as the Government engineers said in the first instance before they were prevailed on to contradict themselves.
If the Government fails to retain the ownership of the reservoir site and fatuously gives it away, as seems likely to happen, then some proviso should be made by which the Pimas will be allowed a certain amount of water to flow down to them through the reservoir perpetually.
There is an important point in this connection which we must not overlook. It is possible that those settlers who first took the water (part of the entire flow only) may by this time have obtained a right to it, the question having been in abeyance for a period of years. There may be a statute of limitations which would apply to water rights. But it certainly is not the case with those water users above the Pimas who have lately or recently taken the last remainder of the natural flow of the Gila above the Pimas. These have no more right to it now than they ever had. Some of the water undoubtedly belongs to the Pimas, and the giving of the reservoir site to private interests should be deferred until this question can be decided.
Very truly, yours,
P. S.--It is more than likely that if you succeed in bringing this matter to the attention of the Secretary, one of the first points which the opposition will present will be to the effect that no part of the natural low-water-mark flow of the Gila River will be impounded, but only flood waters. This may be a fact, or not. But the said low-water-mark flow of the Gila will be claimed by the white robbers above the Pimas, who are even now laying claim to this low-water flow as having prior right to it. If it is actually let pass through the dam and down the river bed to the Pimas's points of diversion in the bed of the Gila River, it will be grabbed by the whites long before it reaches the Pimas, as is now the case, unless it is distinctly understood and provided for in an agreement to be made between the Government and the recipients of the reservoir site that the said water belongs of right to the Pimas, and is to go down to them. They used to say that to enforce such an order troops would have to be called out. This could not be the case if the reservoir were to be constructed, because the whites could then get all the water they wanted by paying for it, and nobody would be ruined by loss of water. They would simply have to buy it in place of stealing it, and they could be made to do this without anything more than the ordinary methods of procedure.
Sir: On July 6 last we addressed you at some length regarding the exigency believed to exist in the affairs of the Pima Indians in Arizona, and in view of the alleged conditions we urged that an officer not connected with the Indian Bureau nor the Reclamation Service be directed to make an investigation thereof.
No reply has been received to the foregoing communication. The writer was called into a brief conference with the honorable Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Mr. F. H. Newell, of the Reclamation Service, and Mr. W. H. Code, chief engineer of irrigation for the Indian Bureau, on July 17 last, at which certain changes were agreed to favorable to the contentions of the Pima Indians, but no written report of those concessions has been received by the writer.
Since addressing you on July 6 we have received numerous statements of alleged conditions affecting the land and water rights of the Pima Indians, as well as other important data, including a petition from the chiefs and head men of the Pima tribe of Indians requesting an investigation of their affairs. A portion of this information has been printed by order of the chairman of the Indian Committee of the House of Representatives and is contained in a pamphlet, of which I inclose you a copy, entitled Letters and Petition with Reference to Conserving the Rights of the Pima Indians of Arizona to the Lands of Their Reservation and the Necessary Water Supply for Irrigation.
Your special attention is called to the petition of the Pimas, to be found on pages 4 and 5 of the pamphlet, which presents many of their grievances and urgently requests an investigation by your department. It will no doubt be plain to anyone upon a careful perusal of the pamphlet that the Pima interests are endangered at this time; that while the Indians were resting under the assurances of the Secretary of the Interior, made by letter to the tribal representatives on May 7, 1908 (see pp. 16 to 18 of pamphlet), that they would be given opportunity to be heard in important matters affecting their lands before any action was determined upon, most important action was taken without their knowledge directing that allotments of 5 acres to heads of families be made in the San Tan district of their reservation, under conditions which have caused the Pimas great alarm. In fact a former well-defined plan of allotting their lands agreed to between the Pimas and Allotting Agent Carl Gunderson seems to have been changed and abrogated without the Indians' knowledge, and an altogether different plan of allotment promulgated without consulting the Pimas at all.
These conditions indicate to the Pima mind as well as to the minds of their friends that there may be a well-defined plan to cause the settlement of the Indians in the San Tan district of their reservation and provide for the sale of some 180,000 acres of their reservation lands which were promised to them in allotments of irrigated and grazing lands, under the plan outlined to them by Allotting Agent Carl Gunderson. We submit to you whether or not under all the circumstances of the case there is not just ground for a strong suspicion that such plans were being clandestinely carried out. We respectfully refer you to admissions made by Engineer W. H. Code during the conference above noted, had on July 17 last, wherein he stated, as recalled by the writer, that he had kept certain information regarding proposed allotments, wells, etc., from the knowledge of the Indians, fearing that the Pimas would not agree to the plan of action contemplated by the Government. Reference is also made in this connection to statements appearing on pages 19, 38, and 40 of the pamphlet inclosed.
Mr. Herbert Marten, whose criticisms appear in the pamphlet, charges that the lands contained in the Chandler Ranch, located immediately north of the Pima Reservation, were secured in an unlawful manner from the Government. This is a serious charge, and merits your immediate consideration. (See pp. 40, 41, and 45.) We have had very much to do with statements heretofore made by Mr. Marten and have found him to be very reliable.
In view of the importance of protecting the rights of the Pima Indians to the low watermark water of the Gila River, in any negotiations looking to the disposition by the Government of the San Carlos reservoir site, together with the important matters dwelt upon in the inclosed pamphlet, we again most respectfully urge that a thorough investigation be made by your direction of the Pima land and water interests. We further request in this connection that neither Mr. S. O'Fallon, Mr. W. M. Tipton, nor Mr. James McLaughlin be delegated for the task. We suggest that, in view of his knowledge of Pima affairs, and his resourceful methods, that Inspector E. B. Linnen will be satisfactory to us in event you are disposed to nominate him for this important work.
The people of this valley are just as earnestly interested in having the Southern Pacific Railroad Co. extend its line down the Gila Canyon from San Carlos as is the company itself, and will lend all assistance within their power to expedite the construction of that extension. But they are just as vitally interested in having the railroad company construct said line 143 feet above the mean bed of the Gila River at the San Carlos dam site in order to save the San Carlos reservoir to this valley. The preservation of this reservoir site means the reclamation of 200,000 acres of land in this valley and the making of homes for 40,000 people, besides the creation of sufficient power to meet the requirements of all the great mines in the Globe district and all the great mines lying east of Florence, in Pinal County, hence said reservoir is of inestimable value, not only to the people of Pinal and Gila Counties, but also to the people of Arizona as a whole, as it will, eventually, if preserved from destruction by the railroad, add $50,000,000 to the total property value of Arizona.
We reiterate here the declaration that requiring the railroad company to carry its line 143 feet above the mean bed of the river at the San Carlos Dam site would inflict upon it no injustice or hardship, as its bridge and track above San Carlos is on this grade line, as well as the fine roadbed it has already constructed up the west end of the Gila Canyon to the mouth of Deer Creek. Its only purpose in dropping down from this grade line to a low line through the San Carlos Dam site is to save a small amount on construction cost, which would be insignificant in comparison with the benefits that would accrue to the railroad company through the building of the San Carlos Reservoir and the reclamation of this great valley. We are astounded at the shortsightedness of the railroad company, but we will be still more astonished should the Government display the same shortsightedness, permit the wanton destruction of the San Carlos Reservoir site and thus cause the largest and most fertile body of fruit and agricultural land in Arizona to remain in a desert state, and cause to return to a desert state the 45,000 acres of land that has been patented to homeseekers and for which the Government has received its price. If we were asking the Government to both preserve the site and build the San Carlos Reservoir there might be some excuse for indifference to our prayer. But we are not asking it to expend a dollar on that storage project. We only ask that it preserve the reservoir site and give us an opportunity to build the dam and reclaim, at our own expense, 150,000 acres of land the title to which still rests in the hands of the Government--land that is now utterly valueless and must remain forever valueless if the San Carlos Dam site should be destroyed. We are also asking the opportunity to construct this great reservoir project to preserve our homes and the productive capacity of the land we have already acquired from the Government in good faith and reclaimed and made profitable through years of toil and hardship. Could we possibly ask less of our Government, which we have been taught to believe was created to secure the greatest good to the greatest number and to protect its citizens in the enjoyment of equal rights and opportunities?
The present opinion of the Geological Survey relative to the feasibility of the San Carlos Reservoir site has no bearing upon the present controversy, or at least should not have. We know that the original reports and recommendations of that organization, based upon most thorough engineering investigations, declared the San Carlos to be the most feasible and desirable reservoir site on the Pacific coast, capable of reclaiming a larger and richer body of Government land than any other storage project known, and that for years the chiefs of that department and Secretary Hitchcock persistently demanded of Congress a special appropriation for its construction. We know also why this same Geological Survey has reversed itself in this matter, but this is immaterial at present. Suffice it to say that the Geological Survey was either utterly incompetent in the first or is thoroughly dishonest in the last instance. There is no getting away from this fact. But we, who have lived here for a third of a century and during all that time have carefully studied the habits and conditions of the Gila River, with a view to water storage and irrigation, know that the first reports and recommendations were correct. Be this as it may, their own engineering investigations and years of experience on the Gila River are the basis of the confidence our people have in the possibilities of the San Carlos Reservoir and their determination to build it at their own expense if the Government will only save it to them by forcing the rallroad company to keep their line above the 143-foot contour line of the said reservoir.
The Southern Pacific Railroad is asking the Interior Department for a right of way through the Box Canyon of the Gila River in Arizona. The floor of the canyon is asked for, though engineers agree that the rails should be laid 40 feet above in order to secure the best grade. Once in possession of the canyon floor, the railroad is expected to erect a dam and develop an irrigated section. Practically all of the good irrigable land under this dam site is within the reservation of the Pima and Maricopa Indians. Naturally, the railroad wants this land. Long ago white homesteaders stole the water of the Gila River above the reservation and forced the Pima Indians--self-supporting for generations--to appeal to the Government for relief. When it came, relief was not restoration of water rights, but a proposal to supply from wells as much water as had been stolen. Seven years ago the first well was completed--to-day the land that has been watered from that well is spotted with rank alkali. Well irrigation is not successful. Nevertheless, it is now proposed to dig more wells, and to spend half a million dollars in building pumping plants and a transmission line for electric power from the Roosevelt Dam. It is proposed to move all of the scattered groups that are getting from the Gila River at different points water enough to irrigate some 5,000 acres, to the corner of the reservation where the where the wells are slowly ruining the land. To meet the cost of this change, it is proposed to sell 180,000 acres of the Indian lands, now designated as desert land. Now it happens that this 180,000 acres of desert Indian land constitute the choicest tract of land that can be watered from the reservoir in the Box Canyon. Decision on the railroad's application has been postponed by the Interior Department until next month. For the protection of four thousand Indians who have already suffered shamefully, the Government should investigate this matter thoroughly.