Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Havasupai and, or versus, the NPS, part 1, 1919-50

1. Reservation Proposals

An implicit promise had been made on the way to legislating Grand Canyon National Park. Tusayan Forest Supervisior Greene had reported a recommendation for a more appropriate Havasupai reservation and his Regional Forester had accepted the idea; indeed, the nod went all the way to the Secretary of Agriculture in 1914 before park advocates convinced Forest Service officals that park claims should be settled first, which they were, and without more than a misdirected nod to the Havasupai. What gave even that nod a wink is that the boundary of the park split up federal jurisdiction over Havsupai lands in a thoroughly cuckoo way. What remained under the Forest Service was the canyon-cut, treeless southwest corner of Tusayan NF, and passing that to the Havasupai was no big deal. Insofar as it was grazable, the FS had already granted a permit to the Havasupai, although the more desirable grazing land in the vicinity was under permit to or owned by whitefolk. However, now GCNP surrounded the reservation itself, while also including  Havasupai plateau lands, e.g., the Great Thumb, Pasture Wash. Tougher, NPS leaders looked at Havasu Creek and its falls as a jewel in the jewel. They fantasized about building a road over to Havasu canyon, and even down into it. So NPS had an active disinterest in any promise to deal with Havasupai concerns.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Havasupai Reservation, 1880's - 1919: Rude Awakening

So when the Price-Palfrey canyon bottom lines were formally adopted on 31 Mar 1882 by Presidential order, the Havasupai “had”, “owned”, a reservation, land held-in-trust by the federal government just for them. Navajo’s little plot was safe from encroachment. However.  When the days shortened, the temperature dropping, and the Havsupai went up onto the plateau to hunt and otherwise occupy their usual haunts, leaving their very own Presidentially granted patch, did they have a clue that living under whitefolk law was a life changer? With only a summer visit from the Army and the off and on presence of the prospectors to remind them of the whitefolk, did they feel “safe from encroachment”?  

After 300 years of Spanish presence and Navajo/Diné co-existence in the east, the Havasupai would have had horses. Many or few? Did they wander or keep close? All brought to the canyon, and then taken up in the winter? The animals must have been a great boon in the seasonal activities of gathering, trading, visiting across the hundred or so miles the Havasupai covered. What, then, did they make of the arrival & passage across the uplands of huge stock herds, demanding food and, more fraught, water? Were they worried by encountering the stockmen’s camps-- or their remains – , inevitably near their own sources of water? As they hunted deer –with rifles now--, did they take a cow or sheep or two as Ko-hot' had said they had.

So how long was it before the Palfrey-Price “error”,instead of avoiding conflict, resulted in it, with the self-entitled whitefolk telling the exiles to get back to their own hole and stay away from the grasslands the whitefolk had had little to do to overrun and degrade? In fact, this had started even earlier, with Mexican sheepherders, followed by cattle herds, and after the U.S. Civil War, the railroad all across the southern sections. Were the Havasupai curious about the railroad towns & the settlers, or did they retreat back toward the rim of the big canyon, out of which at least, no whitefolk were yet coming?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Havasupai Reservation, 1880-1; The Mystery Restated

There is no trouble in drawing the picture of Havasupai life before 1880 from Havasupai testimony, archeologists & anthropologists, visitors; all revisited in the Indian Claims Commission exhibits. As an adaptation to a region of plateau cut up by a canyon, immense in human terms, that life seems similar to that of some of the Hualapai bands. They hunted large and small animals, and were noted by neighbors for the quality of the buckskin they produced for trade. They gathered, including such high-end foods as piñon nuts. They gardened at places with sufficient water: below the rim at Indian Gardens, Havasu creek itself, on the plateau in the Pasture Wash area. They traveled (easily?) between canyon bottom (apparently mostly Cataract Creek/Havasu Canyon), esplanade, and the plateau above the upper rim, maintaining shelter appropriate to the seasons. Access to the river being more difficult than in Hualapai territory, there appears no testimony to northerly, cross-river travel. The extent of their living space went west to mingle intimately with Hualapai, south to the mountains and Rim where they may have contested with the Yavapai, and east to trade, visit, even live with the Hopi, and vice versa. In more recent times, the Navajo/Dine arrival must have complicated matters; the latter were not to be denied in their expansion. So whatever its antiquity and origins, Havasupai life was one enough in scale with the resources & climate that it lasted for some centuries.

The new wanderers, the whitefolk intruders & invaders, started poking around as early as the 1500's. The Spanish explorers had little interest in permanence or even extraction. Though they left behind horses, they did not use the area even for cattle. The XIXth century brought the more determined, imaginative exploiter. Explorers, certainly, perhaps some few hoping for fur, saw in the century. But the open reaches of the plateau laid it open to the railroad builders, the grass brought the cattlemen and their locust-like hordes, then the country seemed to be swarming with would-be miners, and the military returned, more permanently, to fight, keep some sort of order, to organize.

Summarized thus, it feels like a tsunami, this XIXth century episode of human spread (see Limerick characterization of the West also). The Hualapai, like many, were so closely pressed that they fought back. 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 mystery, unclarifiable as to whether it is one of perversity (ignored because they did not war) or inertia, corruption, or simply lack of enough interest to record information. 

The Havasupai Reservation mystery is simply put: Why were the Havasupai given such an inappropriate reservation, instead of one similar to that of the Hualapai? An 1875 newspaper report suggests the start of the path into this puzzle of the miniscule or missing Havasupai reservation of 1882.  That report, of prospectors talking about mineral in Cataract Canyon, led four years later to a claim for silver-bearing ore being staked in December 1879. So, being in and around Cataract and vicinity for four years, the prospectors were either summer-only operators or blind not to have known of Havasupai seasonal movement from canyon to plateau and back.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Havasupai to 1880 (from book draft)

(Written for part III, archeo-history, of a book draft, written directly from my digests of sources. The 5 January 2010 blog entry is a reworking, a second draft of this draft.)

There will be no surprise that in Grand Canyon affairs, political weight is derived, in part, from our narratives of how long we have been here, where we came from, who was first, who we are related to. Origin-stories, creation-myths, are potent psychological knowledge easily transformable into fierce political weapons, whether rooted in millennia-old passed-on-then-fossilized oral narratives, the hanging sign claiming “serving our community since 2003!!”, or even concocted to suit imperatives of the moment. So it is with the Havasupai in their century-long striving to gain sovereignty (to use the whitefolk term) over some of the lands that they used and lived on from “time immemorial” into the XXth century.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Book Before the Blog. and A Havasupai Story; Introduction

In the years before I was struck by the idea of using the blog form to translate my source materials and notes into narratives recounting the Grand Canyon's political history, I made several runs over 25 years at trying to start one huge volume that would collect and relate all those narratives. My last try had two products: an outline to guide the organization and size of such a book, and the sections of that book dealing with the Havasupai.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ingram Events Journal, 1966-8, part 2, 1967

* As 1966 closed, and with the kitchen-sink strategy in disarray, Secretary of the Interior Udall ordered the Bureau of Reclamation to conduct a series of studies (30-some) on ways to finance and pump water for the Central Arizona that did not require either of the Grand Canyon dams. As always a professional agency, Reclamation complied.