Friday, May 13, 2011

Havasupai Regrets; Hualapai Comparisons

I have been asked whether I regret my role in the 1972-5 effort to enlarge GCNP insofar as it entailed a defense of the Park vis a vis the successful campaign to repatriate some of the Havasupai's pre-1880 lands. Indeed I do have regrets.

I regret that an extensive, plateau-including Havasupai reserve was not set up in 1880. Imagine, given that they were never pushed & pulled or battered (compare with the Hualapai and Southern Paiute), the Havasupai would have had a chance to have maintained their seasonally oriented life. Whatever might have been the effect on later Park boundaries, I regret that the responsible USArmy officers, the whitefollk miners, and even the Havasupai themselves did not see their way clear to set up the same sort of reserve that those officers were at that moment establishing for the Hualapai. And which took 90 more years for Congress to create.

(And of course I regret there was no National Park from the Powell-Harrison proposals of the 1880's. And suppose there had been, and a decent Havasupai res, too? How about this for a fantasy:)

Back to the Havasupai. Had they been given an appropriate land base, we can certainly predict that there would have been challenges, as on the Hualapai lands; from cattlemen particularly, but just as surely, government intervention by the Indian Agency & the Forest Service would have taken a different course had there been, say, a 200 Kac Havasupai Reservation from 1880. The comparison with the Hualapai breaks down because the latter suffered the shock of removal, first to the south, then because of the railroad line and its distractions. 

Still we can ask, and regret we did not see, what would Havsupai life have become if they had been granted securely the canyon and the plateau? And what if there had followed a maintained road from GCVillage to Pasture Wash? Would the railroad claims have affected such a reserve? Could there have been better relations with NPS, or worse? Suppose NPS wanted to trade access to Havasu Canyon and its falls for jobs, or farming patches? Would the latter have been needed if the Havasupai reservation line went over to Pasture Wash? The fundamental issue of repatriation would not have existed, so what would the Indian Affairs people have concentrated on? I.e., what would have been the mechanisms to have worked out relations between the Havasupai and NPS if the latter had not controlled Havasu Canyon?

Instead of consequences from such an affirmative action, we have regrets and more regrets. Certainly 1. over the inadequate reserve in the first place. Then 2. over the lack of  expansion/protection in the next 20+ years, as whitefolk encroachment on land and water sources increased, which was still going on in the 1940's. There were calls in the late XIXth century for more Havasupai land. 

Then 3. that no action was taken based on the recommendations for additional reservation lands by the Forest Supervisor in the early years of the XXth century. Then 4. that when the effort to set up GCNP grew in strength in the 1910's, there was no coordinated settlement of the outstanding difficulties over the Havasupai. It is worth re-stating that throughout this period, from 1880 on, there were a series of knowledgable, responsible voices calling for this repatriation. Ignorance of Havasupai needs and desires was not the problem. The provision included in the GCNP Act of 1919 was an inadequate sop, and a pointer as to what Arizona being a State and having Carl Hayden as its Representative was to mean for the Havasupai. And the big unanswerable question is, had the Havasupai had their appropriate reservation anytime between the 1880's to 1920's, could they have maintained a healthier, more authentic way of life? Disease, flood, indifference, all contributed after this period to alter the basis for that way.

Then after these more positive opportunities were wasted, matters turned darker. The next regret, 5., arises because promises were made during the Park effort to take up the Havasupai land question next. These promises were welshed on throughout the 1920's. Then 6. that failure made resistance by NPS etc. easier to later (Crow, e.g.) repatriation proposals through 1940's, setting a pattern of inadequate half-measures, from the Cataract addition through government assurances about free grazing permits. I regret 7. the 1912-68 Hayden-led resistance to "taking any more of Arizona's land and locking it up for the Indian". (I paraphrase, but this was the bewildering sentiment underlying Hayden opposition.) I regret 8. that the Forest Service's mostly positive attitude toward repatriation from 1900-1960's turned into opposition in the late 1960's. Regret 9. is certainly that from 1920's-70's, NPS was at best conflicted and at worst blindly and aggressively territorial about Havasupai land interests.

So, yes, I have regrets, all summed up in a regret that the final, successful effort at Havasupai repatriation became an ill-natured conflict that would have been avoidable if all those earlier opportunities had not been flushed. A sad case of the sins of the "forefathers" certainly being visited on the "sons".

And, please note again, that any of these regrets are minor compared with those the Havasupai could legitimately have at losing their chance to maintain their life in 1880 and move into today's world on their own terms.  They could have dealt with NPS at GCNP on equal terms. They could have looked at others, the Hualapai e.g., to consider possible choices. All that was denied them; who could not be regretful?

This is very different from the Hualapai, who from 1880 were aided (!) 1. by the army in getting a more adequate reserve. Then 2. by Indian Affairs men in dealing with (eventually excluding) trespassing ranchers. Then 3. by themselves, the New Deal, lawyers, and the Supreme Court to fight the Santa Fe for half their land. Then, again, 4, by lawyers and themselves to get in their dam claims. So the Hualapai, unlike the Havasupai, have had a land base which they have tried mightily to convert to economic support. But wage work, grazing, timber, mineral prospects, the dam dream, a casino; all have failed. Now they are trying industrial Vegas-style mass tourisim, and they must be appreciative of the numbers. Certainly, their effort to use their land base for a supporting economy provides us outside observers with a nice comparison with NPS efforts over the decades at Grand Canyon Village. Different dreams, different choices, different outcomes (?). 

I will conclude this recital of regrets with another example, one that could be reversed. The 1975 Park Enlargement Act authorized and encouraged the Secretary of the Interior to work with non-NPS entities to present and protect the Grand Canyon, a mandate mostly honored in the breach. There was an effort in the 2000-6  period by GCNP, LMNRA, and the Hualapai to cooperate on river traffic matters. That died, I do not know why, but certainly the basis remains for such cooperation based on the 1975 Act, along with GCNP's congressionally legislated jurisdiction over the entire water surface of the Colorado and Hualapai ownership (by the Executive Order of 1883) of the south bank down to that water's edge. (The same is true, by the way, for Marble Canyon where NPS and the Navajo have the same abutting jurisdictions.) So, another dream, and with what outcome?

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