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?