Statement of George Truman Jones, Member, Pima Indian Tribe, Gila River Indian Reservation, Ariz.

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Senator Millikin. Mr. Jones, will you give your full name, your residence and your business to the reporter?

Mr. Jones. My name is George Truman Jones. I am a full-blooded Pima Indian. The Pima Indian Tribe is located on the Gila River Indian Reservation in the south central part of Arizona between Phoenix and Tucson. I have lived all my life on this reservation. I have always taken an interest in the affairs of our reservation and its people and was elected secretary of the first tribal council which was formed after our tribe organized under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

When Coolidge Dam was completed in 1929, and the Government appropriated certain sums of money for the reclaiming and rehabilitating of the Pima's land, I was employed by Pima Agency on that development job--

Senator Millikin. May I ask, please, how long has that area been a reservation?

Mr. Jones. I am afraid I cannot answer that question.

Senator McFarland. I believe he covered the answer, away back in the early days.

Mr. Jones. 1800-1880.

Senator Millikin. Before your time?

Mr. Jones. Something like that, quite a long time ago.

And after its completion have been employed in the irrigation department which operates the Indian portion of the San Carlos irrigation project. My position with the irrigation department is water-records clerk and it is my duty to record the water that is delivered to the different Indian farmers and other water users on the project.

The Gila River Indian Reservation contains 372,022 acres. There are 50,000 acres included in the Indian portion of the San Carlos project of which about 40,000 acres are prepared and ready for irrigation. The remaining 10,000 acres still are undeveloped. On our Indian project there are 1,172 farm units varying from 10 to 80 acres. The larger acreage is possible only by leasing among ourselves as we are allotted only 10 acres of irrigable land. There are no large land holdings on our reservation but total amount of farm products and livestock produced on this project during the fiscal year 1946 had a cash value of $575,000.

In my grandfather's day these farms were operated for subsistence purposes only but with the settlement of white communities surrounding our reservation the economy of the Indian has been changed from a subsistence economy to a competitive commercial economy which present conditions enforce upon Indian people. Our ponies are no longer an adequate means of transportation any more than our hand sickle is now an adequate method of harvesting our wheat. We have fully adopted the white man's civilization and, through the education with which our Government has provided us, we are trying to become good self-sustaining American citizens.

The Pimas have accepted the white man's social customs, his economy, and his religion to a greater extent than any other tribe in the Southwest and in so doing have contributed much toward the development of southern Arizona. We have always been friendly to the white man. There is no case on record where we have taken a white man's life, even during the turbulent times in our State's history when many other Indian tribes were hostile to white immigration. We have learned many things from our white neighbors and in turn we have enriched their culture with some things from our own. Among things our white neighbors learned from us is irrigation.

According to archaeologists our irrigation project is the oldest in America. Some of our lands have been under irrigation for nearly 14 centuries. At the beginning of the Christian era there was a race of people living along the Gila that we call Ho-ho-kam, which translated into your language means, ‘‘The people who went away.’’ By 600 A. D., the Ho-ho-kam had progressed in their primitive civilization to the point that they had learned to divert water from the Gila River onto the desert land and produce crops of corn, squash, and beans. Some of the old canals that these prehistoric people built have been excavated and it was found that some were as much as 10 feet deep and 20 feet wide and these were dug with stone tools and the earth carried out in baskets, for at the time they were dug there were no horses in America.

Along about 1300 A. D., another race of people known as the Salados came into our country. They were Pueblo people and lived with the Ho-ho-kam for about 150 years. Their greatest achievement probably was the building of the Casa Grande ruins which still stands as a monument to their thrift and ability. After their stay along the Gila they migrated back, presumably to the Pueblo country along the Rio Grande, and shortly thereafter the Ho-ho-kam too disappeared, and archaeologists have not found any reliable trace of where this entire race of people dispersed to. They do not know where they went but they are fairly well agreed on why they went away. It was because there was no water with which to irrigate their crops and they left in search of other lands where they could produce the simple necessities of life.

Then another race of people moved in along the Gila some time after the ancient race had gone away, and in 1694 Father Kino, a Spanish priest from Mexico, visited this tribe and he called them the Pima Indians and these people were my ancestors. Father Kino described them as ‘‘peaceful farmers subsisting themselves by means of irrigated agriculture.’’ They had rehabilitated some of the canals of the old Ho-ho-kam and built others of their own and were able to subsist themselves adequately so long as the water flowed in the Gila. Father Kino brought in livestock and farm crops and these greatly improved the economy of the Pima people. After his death in 1711 there was a period of more than 100 years during which very few white men came into the Pima country.

Senator Millikin. How many Pima Indians are there?

Mr. Jones. There are about 5,000.

Senator Millikin. Are you increasing?

Mr. Jones. Yes, sir.

Our territory passed from Spanish control to Mexican control during that period and it was not until 1846 that we had any contact with the American Government. In that year Captain Kearney at the outbreak of the Mexican War led a military expedition into our country. This expedition was not against us for the white people have always been friendly to us as we have been to them. Our country was then a part of Mexico and remained so until after the Gadsden Purchase in 1854. We were able to furnish Captain Kearney food for his soldiers and his horses, and in the years following the stage route that was established across the Southwest passed through our villages because we gave not only food but protection against hostile tribes to all travelers who came our way.

During the Civil War we sold thousands of bushels of wheat to the Union Army--wheat that had been produced from seed brought in by Father Kino more than a century before. In the unsettled period following the war when it became difficult for the small population of Arizona to cope with the law and order problem in the State, we formed Company C Arizona Volunteers and were the first Indians in our State to wear the uniform of the American Army.

After the Civil War there was a flood of white migration through our country and many white people settled on the river above us and practiced our way of farming by diverting water from the stream. In a matter of a few years the river along our fields and villages was dry and for a period of 40 years we experienced severe hardships through a shortage of water with which to irrigate our lands. We sustained ourselves by cutting wood from the mesquite thickets along the river and from labor in the white communities that surrounded us.

Then in 1929 the Coolidge Dam was completed and water was restored to our land, so we thought. The dam which was to impound 1,200,000 acre-feet has never filled and for the past several years the run-off into our reservoir has been far below normal. Precipitation this year has been only 23 percent of normal and our reservoir is now dry. Our allocation of water is 0.85 of an acre-foot per acre, which means that we can farm only one out of every four acres of our small farms. Our allotments are 10 acres each, which means that I can only farm 2 1/2 acres of land to subsist myself and those dependent upon me. That amount is only possible because the white man with his engineering ability has located nearly 50 irrigation wells on our reservation and it is from these that we are getting our water. How long the underground reservoir from whence this water comes will supply water for our lands we do not know, nor has any of our white neighbors an answer to that question. But when that underground supply does fail, we no doubt will be in the same condition as the Ho-ho-kam and the Salados who preceded us but we will have no place to go, for there are no longer vast domains that may be had for the taking.

Our lands are our only resources--we have no oil, no timber, no industries. We are still farmers like Father Kino found us 2 1/2 centuries ago and we still depend on our little 10-acre farms to provide ourselves and our families with the necessities of life. We were glad to join with our white neighbors in presenting our plea to you for the building of Coolidge Dam and with them we labored for that development, thinking that with it our future would be assured. There evidently were things that neither the white men nor the Indian knew about rainfall on the watersheds above that dam, for it has not achieved what either of us had expected.

Now our white friends and neighbors have developed another idea that will provide the supply of water which we both need and we are glad to have the opportunity to work with them in this cause. We are pleased to have the privilege of joining with them, as we have throughout the history of our contact with our white neighbors, in working for the common good of both. Our white neighbors represent the fourth civilization which has depended upon this land for their subsistence. The first two of those civilizations were destroyed because of lack of water with which to irrigate their lands. Our civilization survived through the aid of the white civilization that had come in among us. Now we believe that the survival of both our white neighbors and ourselves is still dependent upon water with which we may irrigate our land and we believe that the central Arizona irrigation development is the only dependable source from which that water can be obtained.

Senator McFarland. No questions.

Senator Downey. No questions.

Senator McFarland. Mr. Jackson has a short statement.


Senator Millikin. Will you state your full name, your residence, and your business to the reporter?

Mr. Jackson. My name is Alfred Jackson and I am a member of the Pima Indian Tribe of Arizona. I was born in the village of Sacaton and have lived on the reservation all my life. I attended school in Tucson and later went to Phoenix Indian School from where I graduated in 1915. Since leaving school I have taken an active part in the social, religious, and economic life of our little community. I might add that our family have for many generations been interested in the improvement and development of our people and their reservation.. My colleague, Mr. Jones, has given you the history and background of our irrigation project and I, in turn, will tell you something about our social and economic life--the way we live, the kind of homes we build, the crops we grow, and other facts about our people.

I might say that we have been the connecting link between the prehistoric man of the Stone Age and the white man who has come into our country and created what we call the machine age. Our people did not make stone implements. Our ancient farmers planted their crop with the aid of a sharpened stick with which they opened the soil and after dropping in the seed they tamped the earth about it with their foot. Their women and children guarded the growing crop against destruction from birds and wild animals and the men themselves defended their harvest with their war clubs against marauding bands who came to steal it from them.

They grew corn, beans, squash, and cotton. Their native corn was not like that grown in the Iowa Corn Belt. It grew only a few feet in height and the small ears with their irregular rows of small round kernels seldom yielded more than 10 bushels per acre. For several centuries we have grown a little bean that we call Teppery. Some are white, some are brown, and even today they are still a favorite with our people and we grow a lot of them for our personal use. Often when the summer rains were short our corn did not mature and the quicker growing bean provided our only source of food. Our pumpkin-like squash was cut in strips and dried and stored for winter use very much as I understand the early white farmers did a century ago. From our native cotton we wove material for our breechcloth and other clothing for our women and children. When our fields did not produce the simple necessities of life for us because of lack of rain, we turned to the desert for our subsistence. We gathered the fruits of different cactus plants and dried them and stored them away. We gathered the beans from the mesquite tree, the palo verde, the catclaw, and other seeds and berries that grew along the desert washes. The early Spanish padres brought in horses, cattle, wheat, and other farm crops that we found would grow on our lands. Wheat soon became the most important item in our diet. We did not have any flour mills but we ground the whole kernels on a flat stone which we called a metate, and from this coarse flour and a little grit we made a thin cake which we cooked on coals and called tortilla. Also we placed some live coals in an earthen pot and sprinkled wheat over these coals and parched it, then ground it into fine meal which we called piñole. We mixed this into a thin uncooked gruel which we drank and it gave us great strength. When our warriors went out to battle, a little bag of piñole tied to their belt took the place of the field kitchen in a modern army.

With the coming of American farmers into our country all these things changed. They brought in many other crops, and today we are growing alfalfa, barley, sudan grass, sorghum grains, wheat, and cotton, along with many vegetables and fruits, the same as any white farmer in our area may grow. Last year we sold 40,000 bushels of wheat, 55,000 bushels of barley, and 80,000 bushels of sorghum grains. This latter grain has taken the place of corn in the Southwest, since it yields much more per acre than corn. We no longer grow the short-fibered wild cotton that our forefathers grew, but the Department of Agriculture has developed a variety of cotton at the Sacaton Experimental Station that is known as Pima long-staple cotton, and is used all over the world. We have not been able to plant cotton this year because of lack of water. We have 3,500 acres of wheat and barley that are now ready for harvest, and it has required all of our allotment of water to mature those crops, so our cotton and summer grain sorghum will be short this year. For the past two seasons it has only been possible for us to operate about 25 percent of our land.

Senator Millikin. Are your young people staying on the reservation?

Mr. Jackson. Yes; pretty well.

Our homes are built from native materials we find close at hand. We use adobe, ribs from the giant cactus, mesquite, and cottonwood poles from along the river, and we thatch our roofs with a thick mat of arrowweeds that grow in the bottom land, and over this thatch we lay a heavy layer of earth that not only keeps out the rain but some of the heat from our Arizona sun. Our houses are quite different from the beautiful homes I have seen in Washington on my first visit to this city, but for us they are home, and we are comfortable and happy in them. I will not say we are content, for we are not. We want a house like our white neighbor has. We want an electric refrigerator and a radio and modern farm machinery like he has. We are thrifty, and we want to work and earn these things. Our climate is good, and our lands are fertile, but we have one great need, and that is water, and unless you have felt the thirst of the desert as we have it is hard to realize how great that need is.

We realize that our lands represent only an insignificant part of the wealth of southern Arizona, but to us they represent all that we have. They are our last heritage. The large commercial farms, the citrus groves, the date orchards, and the vast fields of winter vegetables that the white men have represent an immense commercial investment, while our lands mean our subsistence, our only way of making a living. We appreciate the interest of our white neighbors and the opportunity they have given us in presenting our case to you, for we want our children to share along with theirs in the benefits and the advantages that the central Arizona project will bring to both.

Senator Millikin. Mr. Jones and Mr. Jackson, we are honored to have you here with us.

I think they have brought us a very eloquent and colorful sweep of present problems. We are indeed honored to have you here with us.

Senator McFarland. Now, Mr. Chairman, in order to comply withthe wishes of the Chair, we are going to ask permission to introduce a number of people who are here and ask that their statements be placed in the record. Part of them will be here. We will have sufficient number of people here that if there are any questions that the chairman, or any members of the committee, or Senator Downey may have we will answer them later on, and if not by these witnesses then by others.

I want to first introduce Mr. L. G. Galland, discussing the situation from the standpoint of the National Farm Loan Association, who has prepared a brief paper.

Mr. Galland is in charge--what is your official position, Mr. Galland!

Mr. Galland! I am secreatary-treasurer of the Phoenix National Farm Loan Association, serving--we have about 2,400 customers--and the Arizona Farmers Production Credit Association, serving on short-term loans throughout central Arizona.

Senator McFarland. We would like to have his statement placed in the record.

Senator Millikin. His statement will be placed in the record. And we are glad that you have come, Mr. Galland.

(Mr. Galland submitted the following paper:)

Up: Documents List Previous: San Carlos Irrigation Project Next: Salt River Indian Irrigation Project Expansion: Statement of Paul J. Smith, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community Council, Arizona: Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations, FY75, Part 3

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