Monday, December 28, 2009

Going to (happy) extremes

Meanwhile, on its own, the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society (ASHPS) had come up with an astounding idea, and in November met with President Taft, urging him to extend the Monument by proclamaion to include almost all of the Grand Canyon. And I do mean "all". Here is an approximate boundary, courtesy of a Google terrain map:

When, during the 1960's dam fight, we in the Sierra Club decided to put forth the alternative, damless, future of a National Park that included the entirety of the Canyon, we thought we were the first. Yet our concept of gathering in all the Canyon drainage from the Paria to the Grand Wash Cliffs is here, as of 1910, anticipated -- in spades. Life jackets, climbing ropes, and backpacks off, ladies & gentlemen, in salute. 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pre-state (Arizona) Park proposals

By the time TR left the Presidency, the idea of a National Park for the Grand Canyon had been put forth in and outside of government for over a quarter century. His proclamation of a Monument pushed the idea along, not least because Monument status was seen as a strait-jacket on all kinds of development & exploitation. Park legislation would be a chance to "open it up", as the exploiters like to say. The Taft administration was of great importance first because in 1912, Arizona became a state, with two Senators and a single Representative. The latter was Carl Hayden, a man essential in much of Grand Canyon history for the next six decades, and a dedicated, if often quiet, toiler for the whitefolk and economic development. 

The Taft years were the scene for several Park proposals. Along the line of having fun with maps, here are three from 1909-11. The base map is the township grid for Grand Canyon National Forest, particularly showing the 1908 National Monument boundary. It is the solid black line drawn along section lines that is closest to the rim and inside the magenta lines. Some of the GCNF lines also show, with a gray cast next to the black.

The magenta lines represent an approximation of a proposed boundary sent by the Secretary of the Interior to GLO for information about private claims in December 1909. The description is also along section lines, which I have approximated by the diagonals. On the north and south, the proposal almost matched the existing Monument. However, right at the railroad terminus, bits were taken out to help the Santa Fe.The proposal did add in most of Kanab Canyon, up to Snake Gulch, (much as Park advocates convinced the House of Representatives (but not the Senate) to do in 1974). Adding lower Marble Gorge is the other notable difference from the Monument. There seems to be an attempt to stretch out toward more significance

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How easy it was

I came across a speech given by one of the early national park advocates; an influential man who knew all about the levers of power. This quote seems to answer a couple of my questions, and Im only sorry that the simple world he inhabited has been replaced by the complicated intertwining of interests we are so used to see blunt and derail good intentions.

J. Horace McFarland, President, American Civic Association; Jan 3 1917:
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, the American Civic Association early in its existence saw the importance of considering that national parks were actually national parks, and not merely incidental parcels of lands set aside by quite incidental legislation…
Even before we began with the national parks as such, dealing with those already established, we thought it our duty to prevent aggression. It was rather early in Mr. Roosevelt's administration that I received a letter one day from a good woman who wanted to know if something could not be done to prevent the building of a trolley line around the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. I thought something could. So did Mr. Pinchot. So did Mr. Roosevelt. And the Grand Canyon immediately thereafter was, by Executive order, declared a national monument. The trolley line is not yet there. 
Mr. Roosevelt was not addressed on the subject of national parks because the broad conception was not yet in our minds.

What do you think? A bit of self-puffery? An inside view of how the Victorian patriarchy ran the world? A true view?
I do think the last sentence sounds like an apologetic for TR.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Monument: Questions, Start-Up, Challenges

Review: As early as 1900, GLO Commissioner B. Hermann had talked up legislation to provide the President with authority to declare national Parks. He seems to have been genuinely concerned with protection of significant places by national action, and he had a bill introduced. His successors, Richards and Ballinger, agreed with this course. In the years up to 1906, the history of relevant legislation was driven by the desire to protect archeological discoveries, but the broadening of what objects could be given Monument status was a sub-theme. This ended up with the phrase "and other objects of historic or scientific interest" being included in the Act, after the more explicit "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures". [See 16 USC 431-33 (2003)]

Sidebar: For a very full legal analysis of the Act, see Mark Squillace, 37 Georgia Law Review 473. He was a participant in the burst of Monument creation in the Clinton administration organized by Interior Secretary Babbitt, and shortly after prepared an extensive defense.
 If you insist on checking the other side, I came across these: Eric C Rusnak, "The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back? Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Antiquates the Antiquities Act", OSU Law Journal 64, 2, 669ff;  Ann E. Halden, The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Antiquities Act, 8 FORDHAM ENVTL. L.J. 713, 715–16 (1997);  Matthew W. Harrison, Legislative Delegation and Presidential Authority: The Antiquities Act and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument—A Call for a New Judicial Examination, 13 J. ENVTL. L. & LITIG. 409, 410 (1998). Sample of legal whining over Clinton actions: "the Act has bred unintended powers, essentially allowing the president to single-handedly bypass congressional land management policies and initiatives and to determine the fate of public lands throughout America. " [Yes, that is the point; this is all part of a large, on-going, back and forth, debate. There will not be, nor can there be, any definitive resolution. Those who do not like the power do not use it; So far, those who do use it have not been reversed nor have their actions led to the Act's demise.] These articles present the articulations of lawyers (although work is thereby provided), not that of politician/governors. The argument that the President is legislating is absurd; the detailed disposition of public land is an executive, not a legislative function; but then, that is just part of the continuing debate.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Review: A National Forest Commission, and then GLO, had been memoing up a Grand Canyon National Park for ten years, from before the end of the XIXth century. USGS was making excuses for its lack of action. The matters of a survey and railroad lands were agreed to in 1902, and finished with by 1905. TR had included a one-line national Park recommendation in his 1904 and 1905 annual (December) messages. In January 1906, the Santa Fe asked USGS its opinion of a national Park, and urged its advantages.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

GCNM the First

While I dig around in my notes, here is the map put out by the Forest Service after the first Grand Canyon National Monument was proclaimed by President T. Roosevelt in January 1908.
Since the surveying was complete, the boundaries could be better squared off (sorry the resolution is not good enough to see the text; once again, the original is at  Click on "maps produced before 1920". )
It is easy to see what the USGS intended when it aimed to get the minimum possible land above the rim. Marble Gorge did not make it; that would take sixty more years and a dam fight. But USGS took Cataract (Havasu) Canyon and put the Havasupai Reservation inside the Monument without a label. I will get to an updating of that woeful tale fairly soon.

You can see that they have been playing around with the northern part of the Powell-Harrison rectangle, but did not carry the Forest up to the state line. There is more change to come, including a splitting and renaming of the National Forest.

Still Another Mystery: Monuments; No Park

We celebrate Theordore Roosevelt as one, and the most energetic, of the Grand Canyon's protecting angels. Yet untangling the history of the twentieth-century's first decade does not seem to leave us with much. It should have been a time of triumph, a time to build on the previous years' work to launch a Grand Canyon National Park effort. It was not, and indeed seems a time of splendid words and thin action.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The oldest relief map?

The Library of Congress provides another treat, a USGS relief map from about 1910. If your browser allows, you can enlarge this. Or check out and look at "maps produced before 1920". There are zoom capabilities there. 

Marking time; an irrelevance

In May 1898, the GLO had stated there was every reason why the existing Forest Reserve should be merged into a National Park. The status of the Grand Canyon was the concern of more than a government agency, however. The Sierra's champion, John Muir, first visited in 1896;  returning in 1902, 1909 and 10. The 1902 visit produced an article in the November Century Magazine. (See it at starting on page 4). He was a colleague in conservation, a friend, of Pinchot and TR. (Now Pinchot and Muir tend to be treated as sources of two differing streams of environmental thought. At the time, given the enemies of public lands, they were of one cloth.) Certainly, the Canyon's status was a common topic at this high political level.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

TR's Antiquities Act Abuse

Before we get back to the chronology, here is one story, about TR's creation of the first Grand Canyon National Monument , as told by Hal Rothman in his 1989 America's National Monuments: The Politics of Preservation (Univ. of Illinois, ch 4. Find the book on the website 
1903, TR visits the Canyon, and someone tells him that the railroad, the Santa Fe, having just recently brought its tracks almost to the rim, had decided to build a hotel back from the rim. TR says he is pleased at this restraint. A year later, El Tovar, on the rim, opened. Rothman notes there were no laws preventing such construction in a national forest. No surprise; as Rousseau pointed out, laws are necessary to protect those who would obey them even if they didn't exist from those who break them even when they do. It would have been the gentlemanly thing to do, leaving the rim in a natural condition, so visitors could see the Canyon in its primordial frame.

TR to the Fore. No Private Future

At the beginning of the new century, there was no Forest Service, no Park Service. That is to say, there were no professionals, trained, experienced, and/or educated into occupations directly relevant to administering certain types of public lands. A new book by Timothy Egan (The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt & the Fire That Saved America, 2009) gives us a wham-bam picture of the Progressivism of one century ago with TR (as I will call him here), Gifford Pinchot, and the beginnings of the Forest Service, doing battle with the evil ones who tried to throttle public land management in its cradle. A new century, a new president, a new American ideology, new, new, new.

Yet, there was the General Land Office with those forests and lands still in its hands. It is possible to give GLO some praise. We have met some of its field employees. The prevailing laws and ethos for a century had been to move public lands into private hands. All too willing, and often soiled, grasping, hands. The notion of forest RESERVES and NATIONAL parks was a joke, an oxymoron, an offense against common sense and human nature. Yet the GLO, with little incentive, did recognize the Grand Canyon as a public place, not just another carcass to be offered up for carving. And what the Progressives did, led most publicly by the trumpeting TR, was to clear space and imbed the notion of permanent National, Public, Lands as a pillar of American governance. Egan chooses a great 1910 fire in the forests of Idaho/Montana to tell this story. The emergence of the Grand Canyon National Park tells it as well.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The mines: inevitable steps

Two  months ago, in the October 2 entry "Origins and Uranium", I tried to trot along with history as it was being spun out. The Hopi and the other long-time Canyon inhabitants were opposing renewed mining activity, in part by embedding their position in the long-running discourse over their origins. To me, that is a logical-enough position in debates over resource/economic exploitation, given that we advocates for the Canyon rely for legitimacy fundamentally on its existence prior to, and not needing the agency of, human beings. Priority is not the only argument, but it can be a boost.

On November 10, Denison Mines Corp., of Canada, waved its plans in the face of a hostile government and environmental advocates' legal action, announcing "it has made a production decision for its Arizona 1 uranium deposit located in north central Arizona.
The mine will be an underground operation utilizing the existing 1,252 foot deep, 2-compartment shaft and employing a combination of long hole and shrinkage stoping methods at a mining rate of 335 tons per day, four days per week. Ore will be hauled by truck approximately 315 miles to Denison's White Mesa mill located near Blanding, Utah. The ore will be batch treated in the mill when 17,000 tonnes are available for processing with U3O8 recovery expected to be 95%. Production is expected to total approximately 857,000 pounds U3O8 [330 t U]."

To take a satellite look at Denison's three Grand Canyon properties, using Google's maps, go to this ever-useful website on uranium:
The Grand Canyon area mines are Arizona 1 and Pinenut (entangled in the tributaries of Kanab Creek, 4-5 miles apart and south of Hacks Canyon) and Canyon on the south side, half a dozen miles southeast from Grand Canyon Airport. Click on the Google button to get a close-up view, and then zoom out to see just how much a part of the Grand Canyon these mines are.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ten years: A forest reserve, the GLO, and E Bender's report

And once there was a forest reserve, what then? There were already miners, such as John Hance, who, like W. W. Bass, were also gurus for visitors, and the railroad, the Santa Fe, to the south. Stockmen, homesteaders, loggers were all in evidence. The Havasupai, Navajo, and Hopi farmed, hunted, visited, traded; traveling through, with some settled down. For all, what would the Grand Cañon Forest Reserve mean in their daily lives in and around the Canyon?

That was the at-the-site question. In Washington and in other places, the framing question had to do with applying the national park idea, as Powell and Harrison had wished in the first place. Was the Reserve a temporary designation, and if not, then what were appropriate boundaries and activities? For instance, why had 17 miles of the northern proposed park been left out of the GCFR? It was, much of it, real forest.

Little seems to be recorded for the Cleveland administration that followed Harrison, although there must have been debate over what the forest reserves were to be. Certainly, the locals were ready to follow the usual pattern. In the mid-1890's, minerals led 140 Coconino County residents, including Ashurst, Heaton, and Bass, to protest the Reserve. September 1897, the stockmen got the U.S. District Attorney to tell GLO that sheep grazing was not harmful; there is too little water, although the stockmen have worked to develop more since the desert range has to be used to make other ranges fully available in summer and winter.

The National Academy of Sciences had set up a Forest Committee. It reported in May 1897, and included a call that the walls of the Canyon and the immediately adjacent area be set apart and governed as a national park. I wonder, did they really visit?

Action began with an Act of June 4 1897 appropriating funds for surveying the reserves, an essential base in the American legal-political system that needs exact, explicit, verifiable lines (nothing so temporary as those drawn in sand) to divide mine from yours. Not so incidentally, this appropriations measure called for protection against fire and selling timber, while allowing settlement, providing water, and not hindering mining or agriculture. Those who thought the forest reserves were for use were reinforced.

In October 1897 Edward Bender was sent by GLO to visit the Canyon, talk with local people, and make a report. The January 31 1898 result has gorgeous language and beautiful handwriting, and although he only spent a day or two at the Canyon, he talked to many people. It is a precious snapshot. Here is the beginning:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Another map; a further reflection

These comments use a map from 1967 put out by the Southern California Automobile Club, one of the best cartographic organizations I know. My purpose is to use it for a further exploration of the mindsets we had and we faced in the 1960's and 1970's. 

Maps showing GCNP and the Kaibab National Forest north and south of it as depicted here would have been much the same since the Park was created in 1919. Grand Canyon National Monument (the second) was a 1930's creation. Lake Mead N.R.A. dates from 1964. The boundary shown here, including the northern portion of the Hualapai Reservation, is incorrect. The Hualapai rejected being included, having their own ideas (see the Sep 27 entry about the visionary, Mahone). The Havasupai Reservation was still miniscule, and although the dam fight was not concluded, the damsites are not shown. Other road maps were not so bashful, like the Shell map I remember from that time, with Bridge damsite a strong black mark across the river. However, Bridge Canyon is labelled, just south of the word "AREA" in the western Canyon.

That was the map we faced and were used to. Insofar as the Grand Canyon is a human concept of a natural construct, it was quite constricted, having no beginning and no ending, its river split among seven jurisdictions, mostly open to exploitation. GCNP and the Kaibab NF represented the pared-down vision of Powell, the pink Park defining, for almost everyone, the Grand Canyon as a spectacular "hole finally giving us a place to dump all our used razor blades in" -- I think thats from Frank Waters' book on the Colorado. 

Another map; reflections on how I got started

The base map for this was put together by John McComb (then SW Rep for the Sierra Club) in the early 1970's when we were working up proposals for enlarging the National Park, and only beginning to discover the history. It came from combining large-scale (I think 1:250,0000) regional maps. This copy of the base map is very poor, but it shows the 1886 56x69-mile Powell Harrison boundary.

This entry reminds me of how little we friends of the Grand Canyon knew about the century-long history before we came along in the 1960's. We did not, after all, come to Grand Canyon issues as scholars, but as activists who had cut our advocacy and lobbying teeth in 1963-8 fighting to prevent the authorization of  two dams, called Marble and Bridge/Hualapai. They would have been built in the Grand Canyon as generators of high-cost electricity to help pay, ultimately, for importation of water from the Columbia River to southern California. I thought of a "complete" Grand Canyon National Park as presenting an alternative, and better, future for the Canyon. The concept underlying our proposal was not based on what we knew of previous attempts to enlarge the Park, but on the idea that all of the Canyon deserved to be protected, presented and preserved as an entity. So we were quite excited as we came across references to proposals going all the way back to the 1880's. And that excitement carried me across the country for a few years of archive research-- though not through the task of putting it into  book in the 1980's. Perhaps it is not too late.

Another map test

Once again, I am trying to master the process of scanning or copying a map and then getting it  into a blog entry. There are just ins and outs of this that I do not understand; hours of frustration. Enough.
This map is from the Arizona map produced by the federal government in 1879. It accompanied the report by the General Land Office to the Secretary of the Interior on S. 1849, the bill introduced by Senator Harrison in 1882 at the request of (in collaboration with?) J. W. Powell. The original proposal was by latitude and longitude, but the GLO changed it to miles measured from the Little Colorado, 56 miles east-west by 69 miles. 

When the proposal was resurrected as the Grand Cañon Forest Reserve created by President Harrison in 1893, 17 miles were cut off the top, although it was described once again by latitude and longitude. 
The GLO, by the way, referred to the just-proclaimed Yava-Suppai reservation, but did not add it to the map. 
A sign of future entanglements is the dashed line of the 40-mile limits of the grant to the railroad, called then the Atlantic & Pacific; what became known as the Santa Fe. The railroad line itself is solid and labelled, though it was still being worked on.
Now that I have Photoshop Elements, I hope to be able to edit and color, to make boundaries more apparent. 
The darkish line just north of the 40-mile limit is the fold in the map.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

?Confrontation, Accommodation, Adaptation?

My Sep 29 entry, "Walking a Different Path", offered, as an alternative to our political-legal system, Martha Knack's conceptualization of how the Southern Paiute tried to use their culture's tools of accommodation to deal with the Mormon settlers' overrunning of their places and resources. A couple of articles by other prominent researchers have sharpened this picture: other researchers, other biases. 

They did more, though, than remind me that other archeologists bring different baggage to their interpretations. For Research itself is another of the tribes for whom the Grand Canyon is a place of work, and thus a place for political action.  Research, with all its divisions, constitutes a tribe that, by and large, belongs to the larger culture of Whitefolk, though often not as vigorous as, say, miners, in pressing claims for an exclusive use and occupancy. So I suspect that the political history of Research in, around, and of, the Grand Canyon is a rich subject, about which more needs to be known. its practitioners have requirements in order to get their work done, and that work often leads them to form opinions which, taken together, will contribute to the mosaic of the Canyon's future.

The articles are from the journals "Current Anthropology" and "American Indian Quarterly". They were written in the 1990's by practitioners immersed in their subjects, Richard Stoffle (et al.) on the Southern Paiute, and Henry Dobyns and Robert Euler on the Hualapai. In particular, Stoffle et al. was writing about the Canyon and Kanab Creek as cultural landscape for the Paiutes. Dobyns and Euler were presenting the XIXth-century Hualapai leader Cherum as an icon of individual and cultural change in the face of savage pressures.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

An Earlier Prospecting Fizzle 1974-7

Here is a map from 35 years ago when Exxon Corporation --it of the Exxon Valdez -- came to Lake Mead NRA to prospect for uranium. In the previous post, the miners' target areas are farther east, west of Kanab Creek, south of Fredonia, and also on the south of the Canyon. Another area once tapped by prospectors was the Hualapai land south of the river (not shown here). Overall, there have no doubt been thousands of claims. Which is to say, throw a lump of yellowcake at the Grand Canyon region and it most likely will land on somebody's claim, though too it most likely will be the only uranium around.

The dashed box in the big map is Exxon's area of interest.
Left is a detail map of the four Exxon leases. Five sections due west of the easternmost block is the Copper Mountain mine, a long-worked spot for copper, over 200' deep.  In early 1973, John McComb, then Sierra Club Southwest Representative, and I had had a scare about that mine being re-opened. It turned out to be the usual "exploratory stage", the lessee "attempting to interest" speculators.
One of the northern sections had been leased to a local since 1966, with no apparent action. Then in July 1974, the Exxon Corporation heaved into view, asking for leases to explore the possible "extensive" uranium deposits, including on that existing lease. Now look at the southernmost black block.

That block, the superintendent at Lake Mead wrote to BLM (which does the actual leasing), was inside a proposed wilderness area (35 years later, it is still only proposed; another story)--although the Secretary of the Interior had put the proposal on the shelf for three years. Also there would be a new road. So in October, he recommended that the lease for that block be denied. That he had discretion to oppose the lease had been backed up by the Secretary and then Supreme Court in the early 1960's. BLM promptly denied that part of the Exxon application.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Origins and Uranium

With another rise in uranium prices, has come still another surge(1-see at end) of prospecting in the Grand Canyon region, in the hope of finding more of the rich mineral pipes that dot the Canyon's underground-scape. Conducted, for a while, with the usual desire to avoid attention, the prospecting aroused an outcry in early 2008. The House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing in Flagstaff on March 28. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz), as head of the Subcommittee on Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, was in the chair. Although from southern Arizona (former base of Stewart & Morris Udall, also environmentally aware on a national scale) Grijalva has immersed himself deeply in issues before the Natural Resources Committee, and so could speak out about this location in northern Arizona. (Though the parochialism of "not in your district" seems a dubious objection given a national treasure, the Grand Canyon, a national resource, uranium, and international corporations, the miners.)

The hearing opened with panels of official representatives from the Navajo, Kaibab Paiute, Havasupai, Hualapai, and Hopi, all opposed to the prospecting. The Navajo have a large, difficult and tragic history with uranium, including from the Lost Orphan (that name is a strange coupling) mine on the South Rim. They had outlawed uranium mining activity in April 2005. The others spoke of uranium as a resource bringing too much danger, as well as the endless episodic seduction efforts by miners--a kind of harassment given that most efforts fizzle(2). The Hualapai, in fact, had been approached a month earlier, although they too have a mining ban, reaffirmed in September 2009. The Havasupai had had their own face-off with miners in the early 1990's; now it has revived(3).

What inspired this post, what I wanted to do is show how an up-to-date issue could be dealt with in part based on testimony about their origin stories from these five representatives, as they explained their concern about mining near the Canyon and its association with those stories. For instance: The Hopi spoke of it as the place of emergence and as well a place of final spiritual rest, while the Hualapai offered more drama-- a flood ended by a Hualapai warrior striking a great spear on the ground creating a spectacular gash in the land.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Walking A Different Path (added to, 7/1110)

And to the North, the Southern Paiute*

If we think of the Canyon, and the north and south plateau country into which it is cut, as places of human occupation, we know the people, and recognize them as the descendants of those who occupied this “deserted” landscape after the Puebloans left in the XIth & XIIth centuries. The whitefolk who a century or so ago recorded their impressions helped give us a picture of many groups using the land and its resources in similar ways. They knew what was available where and when, whether animal, vegetable, or water. They did some gardening, but their knowledge of what was edible among the plants and how to hunt the beasts, and their ability to move over their own area, was crucial to their survival. Over-population due to success and over-confidence is offered as one of the causes the Puebloan developments were abandoned. For those who spent the second millennium in the Grand Canyon region, over-population would not have seemed a danger.

The Havasupai, perhaps the easternmost band of what are now called the Hualapai, ranged from the plateau west of Havasu-Cataract Canyon far toward the east where the Hopi lived and the Navajo were appearing. From the Canyon, they went south to the mountains. To their west, and perhaps over to the Colorado, as well as south to the Bill Williams river, the several (13?) bands of what are now called the Hualapai practiced a similar way of life, gardening in places with water, otherwise depending on an intimate knowledge of plants and animal. The area each band associated with, seems to have been much smaller than for the Havasu-based band. All of this picture, of course, could be influenced by how matters have sorted out after the whitefolk arrived and intruded.

On the north side, the Southern Paiute were organized into the Shivwits --on the west-- , then the Uinkarets, and easternmost, the Kaibab, bands. They too lived a mobile, seasonally changing life. They went into the Canyon as the weather warmed, to the river shore to use the agave, for instance. They hunted. Their knowledge of a trail complex of trails connecting water was encoded in songs, and springs were claimed as part of the resource area of each of the three bands. Alive, the land was holy; the entire canyon country a land of power. Whatever we think of these groupings of bands or extended families, they were sociable; Runners carried messages from camp to camp on knotted strings, something done south of the river, too. They traded with neighbors, and went across the Colorado and married.

The Southern Paiute are not the less interesting because they are the most vanished from the Canyon. Martha Knack's discussion of how they dealt with disagreement and scarcity provides a very different perspective on what seem superficially to have been a group of people run off their territory by guns, germs, and cattle. Not that these elements, largely introduced by the Mormon settlers surging southward from northern & central Utah, were absent. Cattle particularly, with their deadly impact on the range plants and water sources were habitat destroyers of high order. The Southern Paiute, as their resources – vegetation, water – were grabbed or despoiled, tried to accommodate, to replace their resources by building an interdependency with the whitefolk. In doing so they were sucked away from the Canyon area and its story. So, where the Pai to the south ended up moving closer to the Grand Canyon in survival mode; the Paiute
went north, abandoning the Canyon, in order to engage the invaders. Could Knack's idea of their accommodationist politics indicate a cultural difference? Or is there a light this conception throws on the Havasupai reservation mystery? In any case, like the Pai south of the Colorado, they persisted, until piecemeal reservations gave them a place and platform for asserting their claims.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Pre-Political(?) Canyon! (Success for a map test revised 6 Sep 2010)

The last of the western military surveys, that of George Wheeler, mapped parts of the Southwest, including the course of the Colorado River. This sheet is dated 1873, and doesnt quite make it to the Grand Wash Cliffs. It makes a nice test of inserting images, since at first, I could only put in the link: Download JPEG2000 image (5768 kilobytes)   
Now here it is.

Clicking on it will give a really large, readable version. The map is from the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

It appears that the only marked route across the Canyon is the Sheavwitz Crossing, in the vicinity of Toroweap. An interesting trek, and I wonder if it was more than a one-time event.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

a visionary Hualapai's proposal

Dobyns and Euler, archeologists and Hualapai advocates --they deserve a discussion all their own-- open their 1975 book on the Hualapai (Walapai)* by marking and lamenting the centenary of the Hualapai's forced entry into the U. S. economy as laborers. This fits my own impression gathered from archives, that the Hualapai see their reservation, only a piece of their original territory, as a place on which to base a viable economy. If the story of the Havasupai asks, in part, what would their lives and society have been like had the government established an appropriate reservation in 1882, the Hualapai story asks, in part, what happens to a people when they try to use a reservation as an enabler for them to abide in their ancestral lands.

A major part of that story, told in detail and with passion by C. W. McMillen in Making Indian Law, concerns the Hualapai fight to get full ownership and control over the land itself. The rest, of how the they worked to establish a supportive economy, has several sub-parts --including the national struggle over authorizing dams in the Grand Canyon. Here, I want to present a remarkable little jewel I came across in the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) files at Truxton Canyon. It concerns Fred Mahone, the hero of McMillen's history, and has a tiny coda.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What was I thinking?

This is hard work. The temptations to noodle away my time in enjoyable, satisfying activities are multiple. Yet there seems an opposite, offsetting pull to do this thing, to gather and play with all the Grand Canyon baubles I have collected. So I thought it might help to think again about what it is all about; my purpose.

For how long has there been a Grand Canyon history?

Humans' physical traces, the artifacts archeologists depend upon, have been dated back four millennia in the Grand Canyon. However, the earliest transmitted oral narratives, much less written documentation, are all embedded in the patrimony of existing cultures, social groups, peoples, etc., suggesting a limit of "a few hundred years". This leaves a gap that I could ignore for two reasons. First, archeological results spur generous speculation of all kinds, which of course leaves us still embedded in our present-day imaginations. Second, even the most disciplined of histories can end up being used as fodder for today's discourses, especially when  they involve disagreement. All of which is to say that historical speculation based on archeology  of the past is cut to fit our measurements; any discussion of what the politics of one or two millennia ago were like speaks mostly of our own preoccupations. 

Nevertheless, it is a bit awesome to think of people over four thousand years, fully decked out in human attributes--even if without blogs--, coming into the Canyon to carry out human activities for human reasons, among which of course were those of power, prestige, politics. What they left, what hasnt been destroyed, what has so far been uncovered, gets mostly classified as having to do with food-shelter-clothing, and of course religion. Yet, the unanswerables are still valid questions. The split-twig people were what, explorers, masters, migrants, escapees, visitors, seasonal tenants? Those who painted walls and rocks did so why, to dominate, to seek protection, to celebrate, to mourn, to direct or confuse, and as individuals, as gangs? Were any of these people conquerors or the conquered, assimilators or the asssimilated, peddlers, exchangers, proselytizers, or isolates?

Our examination of the remains of those who farmed and built substantially, the people along the river from a couple of millennia ago until 1000-1100 a.d., has been fertile for the speculations of pseudo-history about rises and falls, beginnings and flowerings, and reasons why it all happened-- hubris and over-population, climate and drought, migration, conquest, paranoia. These speculations feed into the title question at the insistence of those who say some current inhabitants descend from those of a millennium ago, just renamed and with a different artifact culture. This is not just an archeologists' controversy, since it feeds a sense of rootedness among claimants for recognition, not to mention opting out of the great spread from Africa of homo sapiens over the past 100 millennia. But just for fun, let me put together an archeo-narrative.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dam the Future!

This blog deals in general with the past in order to think about the future. Many, most, pasts never happened, but we can imagine what if they had, what would their futures have looked like. Here's one, and I fervently hope the worst I will consider. At some point, of course, I will post about this past.


On September 30, 1968, President Johnson signed the Colorado River Basin Project Act, assuring the future of the hitherto mostly undeveloped area north and south of the Grand Canyon.  The Act was a triumph for Senator Carl Hayden and other Pacific Southwest water statesmen, but most especially welcome to the Bureau of Reclamation with its authorization of two dams in the Grand Canyon, the 736-foot Hualapai dam at river mile 238, reservoir extending to r.m. 144, and the 310-foot Hayden-Udall-Goldwater dam at river mile 40, reservoir extending beyond r.m. 0. 

The nasty effort by the Sierra Club and its axis of environmental evil was thoroughly discredited for its lies and exaggerations, the effort effectively ending when Floyd Dominy displaced Stewart Udall as Secretary of the Interior because of Udall’s several efforts to thwart approval of the dams. The so-called green movement, with its aim of preventing orderly, proper, and profitable development of the American West’s water, power, and other resources for the benefit of its booming population, has faded into a forlorn echo, with endless repetitions of its Cassandra-like prophecies.

The Powell-Harrison partnership succeeds

Senator Benjamin Harrison introduced John Wesley Powell's Grand Canyon National Park bill on May 9 1882, five months into the first session of the 47th Congress. In what would seem to be routine actions, S. 1849 was referred to the Public Lands Committee, and sent to the Secretary of the Interior on May 15 to obtain the Department's views. The Committee chairman was P. B. Plumb, Republican of Kansas, apparently a far-seeing legislator who held the post until 1891, that year overseeing passage of an extensive revision of the public land laws which included this last section:
Sec. 24. That the President of the United States may from time to time set apart and reserve, in any State or Territory having public land bearing forests, in any part of the public lands wholly or in part covered with timber or undergrowth, whether of commercial value or not, as public reservations: and the President shall, by public proclamation, declare the establishment of such reservations and the limits thereof.
We will get to that. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

The missing Havasupai reservation of 1881

The Havasupai Reservation mystery is simply put: Why were the Havasupai given such an inappropriate reservation, tiny and confined to part of the bottom of Havasu (also in part called Cataract) Canyon?

The picture of Havasupai life before 1880 from Havasupai testimony, archeologists, anthropologists, and visitors is lovingly drawn in Stephen Hirst's books. Here, the main point is their use and occupancy of the eastern half of the south side of the Canyon, down off the rim toward the river, and south over the Coconino plateau. The Havasupai, perhaps more remote or warier, never got the reputation of fighters, and did not suffer the kind of removal that the Hualapai and Navajo did. Indeed the contacts with them were so ephemeral or unrecorded that there appears in the record none of the usual drama of conquest. Which makes what happened to them a tragedy of incomprehension or a mystery, unclarified as to whether it is one of perversity or inertia, corruption or simply lack of enough interest to register knowledge and translate it into action.

Meanwhile, in the Canyon, another mystery

The early 1880's were pregnant with events that would grow into long-continuing political sibling rivalries. In 1882, in the capital, Powell and Harrison were launching the concept of a Grand Canyon National Park. West of the boxy tract that interested them, and south of the Colorado, the army in 1881 was mid-wife first to a million-acre reservation intended to settle down the Hualapai and second to a reservation for the Havasupai that was so miniscule--a few hundred acres-- it can be thought of as the eye of a needle intended to be lost in the haystack of the Grand Canyon. 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Start with a mystery

Two letters exist between John Wesley Powell and Benjamin Harrison about the Grand Canyon.

There may have been more; --almost certainly were, in the 1880's. On Powell's side, however, fire in the early twentieth century destroyed the pertinent archives of the U. S. Geological Survey under his directorship. And Harrison's correspondence contains nothing about the Canyon. Nor is there any other evidence of a relationship between the two. Yet these men -- Powell leading, Harrison taking the actions -- constructed the foundation political framework in which debate about a Grand Canyon National Park took place over the next 40 years and beyond. How come?