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.