The Parks Subcommittee approval of legislation has become, in retrospect, the opening of a genuine Havasupai offensive for repatriation of some of their ancestral land. In March, the Havasupai and their allies selected a new campaign chief to focus their efforts and marshal their forces. That effort, again in retrospect, had to turn Udall into their champion, defuse and neturalize NPS and Interior's opposition, and struggle successfully with us for the votes of a solid majority of the full House Interior Committee. That is, if that opening were to see success, they had to create a pivot that would turn the legislation from a patronizing gesture of good will to congressional approval granting their title to land. Not even in retrospect, their goal had to be the swinging of Udall from friend to backer-in-chief. Given his position & seniority (Arizonan, high up on the Committee, respected in the House, sponsor and natural shaper of this legislation), Udall's continued opposition to an out-&-out transfer would bring a majority with him. Likewise, if he shifted to support of a transfer, that action would serve as guidance for those newly being alerted to the coming decision.
For orientation, here is the bill's remaining timeline: The Parks Subcommittee had acted on 4 Mar. The full Interior Committee marked up the bill on 31 Jul. The House debated and passed the bill on 10 Oct. The conference to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions reported on 17 Dec. After acceptance of the conference report by House and Senate, President Ford signed the bill on January 3, 1975.
If the Udall files accurately reflect attempts to influence him, then the lack of appeals from the Havasupai in Jan-Feb 1974 would be significant in showing that they were missing this opportunity to make their desires known for subcommittee consideration. Nor did we hear of them being around DC in person. On this point, the Havasupai's lack of effort in the subcommittee, by not causing any hard opposition or occasioning any hard words, meant that most committee members could be considered as open to be cultivated.In either case -- missing archival material or Havasupai inactivity --, there was no word from them until the Parks Subcommittee was about to mark up the legislation. Then 2 Mar, a Saturday, Chairman Paya sent a telegram "standing firm" on their transfer of 200 kac, and claiming "Arizona Sierra Club" urged the transfer.
Too late. So on 4 Mar, Udall received, and commented on, a second telegram:
Udall immediately wrote that he would meet the Havasupai in Arizona. He justified his "position", "their only hope", by claiming that too much opposition to the transfer had shown up in the Subcommittee. Moreover, he had strengthened the language by "directing" the Secretary to act. It was the best that could be done; conservation groups were concerned. And although some Club chapters favored the transfer, the national Club did not.
To which Paya shot back that the Udall action had brought much grief; it will "extinguish us as a tribe". He urged that the bill go before the subcommittee dealing with Indian Affairs.
After the subcommittee action, McComb, stiil hoping to find a tempting alternative that would leave Canyon lands in the Park, collected the current information about the vast, private 3V/Boquillas ranch located south of the federal lands the Havasupai wanted. It was up for sale, but obstacles to obtaining it for the Havasupai were formidable--the Havasupai did not want this working ranch; it did not carry the resonance that lands closer to the Canyon did; lands they had been pushing to get for decades. It would also be expensive to buy, and if it passed into part of their Reservation, would no longer be available as tax base. It was also very large, and not available in pieces. Compared to a simple, if politically fraught, transfer of National Park and Forest land, buying the 3V was was a hugely hard sell in Congress. Nevertheless, McComb wanted this option to be in front of Udall.
On 26 Mar, Udall reported to Goldwater that, like Goldwater, he had seen the Havasupai and told them we must have a Grand Canyon bill this year, and we'll do "our damndest to see they get everything possible". Udall added that Steiger had been beaten on the dam, and would not prevail. Goldwater could help by writing key Representatives, Taylor and Haley. Udall reinforced the dam position by writing the Hualapai that Goldwater and he thought congressional approval "totally unrealistic". So we protected the "status quo of the site". There is a hand-written note to Goldwater: I back you 100%. "We must get a bill this year and I think we can."
[Procedural note: Post V. in this series will relate what I know about the pro-dam lobbying effort; it will appear before my accounting of the climactic full Interior Committee mark-up.]
On 3 April ( a month after subcommittee action), Udall wrote a long recounting to a Washington Post reporter, saying he had tried to improve the Senate bill by enabling the Havasupai to use the plateau lands, but without an actual transfer. He had met the Havasupai recently, and was cognizant of their attachment to the land. (Their lobbying group, under Sparks' leadership, was in Washington from mid(?)-March.) "While I still do not think that a transfer in trust is acceptable" he was doing a re-draft to assure them of permanent use for grazing, residential, religious, and traditional uses. "With proper environmental restrictions, I do not think these uses will be incompatible with administration and protection of these national park and forest lands." The transfer in trust would be further studied. On the same day, he wrote Ben Avery that they need a land base and other economic help, and that Goldwater's transfer solution was "the best of the alternatives". This is confusing, or politics, or an indicator of shifting thought.
If the full Interior Committee had had no other business, a version of the subcommittee provision might have made it through. I would say there was a 5-6-week period after subcommittee action during which friends of the Havasupai were gathering their forces, principally the hiring of Joe Sparks, who was key to their success. Had the full Committee considered the bill during that time, Udall would still have been unconvinced of the need for transfer. However, there was in fact other priority business and the full Committee was pre-occupied until late summer. Our high point had been reached; the Grand Canyon Park bill was about to become something else.
So now we reach the time of the Great Pivot. Whether I was in Tucson or Washington, I talked to Pontius often, and as the April events shown in Udall correspondence files, unfolded, I remember the changes in Pontius' explanations of what Mo was thinking: from holding fast to the subcommittee bill to the point where, after meeting again with the Havasupai, Sparks, and other allies, he decided to support the transfer. My second-hand sense of the change is detailed in blog entry U1, which is an account parallel with the following narrative, from Udall archival material.
On 5 April, Pontius reported to Emerson on the subcommittee amendments, with a map. That same day, Edward H Spicer, an anthropology professor at the University of Arizona wrote a letter that seems to have reached Udall for comment by the 15th. (I am supposing that Udall and Spicer were at least well-acquainted, that Udall would have known what weight to put on Spicer's opinion.) Meanwhile, on the 11th, Pontius had sent a note to Sparks: thanks for the dinner and enjoyable evening. What is your response to our draft amendment, even though you advocate a transfer?
Spicer had written with this suggestion/information: There could be trust status under a permanent, binding set of use restrictions consistent with Park purposes. The point is that trust status is the only way to get responsible action for the Havasupai. [There was a long history of the BIA, NPS, and FS each claiming they could not help because they were not authorized; so this was a valid, important argument.] The NPS interest can be served since the Havasupai are willing to accept a land use plan consistent with the Park. It already exists and should be attached as an amendment. [There could have been such a plan already in existence; it is not anything I have found.]
On Spicer's letter there is a hand-written note (most likely Udall, but could be an aide), 15 Apr, to Pontius that says, "Im impressed; is this doable?" Apparently. Three weeks later, Udall wrote Spicer: "Your information was helpful and influential. I met with the Havasupai representatives again and told them I can support transfer in trust if there are certain binding environmental restrictions which would protect those areas now in the Park." We are drafting language, and hope environmentalists can live with it, since it will achieve both goals: the Havasupai get additional land, to be administered consistent with Park guidelines.
The evolution of Udall's position is reflected, if somewhat muddily, in his archives in several original documents, drafts of provisions and notes. In my post labelled T3, I have tried to present that material as an evolution from the Senate position of study/plan into the final, which combined a transfer of land with strong guidelines. Sadly, the archives leave too much up to the imagination on dates & authorship. It must have been a busy, even hectic, time, especially the last two weeks of April into early May, for by 3 May, there was a flurry of telegrams thanking Udall for supporting the Havasupai, many from New York and New England, a sign (in addition to finding Sparks) of the AIAA's (Assoc. on Am. Ind. Affairs) support. The one from the Havasupai offers their "deep & sincere gratitude for your support of transfer of 175" kac; they would continue to press for 251 kac.
The Club chapter chair had written 19 Apr to Steiger with its resolution concluding, "Thus we support the claim of the Havasupai to an expanded land base." The Club's Executive Director, 25 Apr, tried to counter that act and the entire shift via telegram re-confirming Club opposition to any transfer. The Wilderness Society representative in DC dropped off a hand-written note "absolutely opposed to transfer". Udall's change, however, received fraternal encouragement: Stewart Udall, former Secretary of the Interior, wrote 30 Apr "I hope you are helping the Havasupai", which brought Mo's reply that he was supporting the transfer in a sensible proposal of the most economic benefit while protecting environmental quality. He was exploring all alternatives, including adding private land.
However, even as Udall was receiving plaudits for the essential pivot, the big public news item was President Nixon's statement in Phoenix May 3 announcing the change in administration position to support of the Havasupai transfer, a direct result of Joe Sparks' lobbying and connections in the White House (see post U1 for more).
Mid-May, the Parks Association and Wildlife Federation were "still opposed", as was Friends of the Earth. Indeed, David Brower, its president, came to visit Udall, worried about a "disaster" for the Canyon and Parks idea. Udall offered the reassurance that this was a unique set of circumstances; a long-standing problem that must be resolved in this bill. He was now pushing transfer with the insurance of no detracting uses. Unmollified, Brower put out an attack sheet calling for a variety of private measures not involving federal land. He may also have been involved in getting Phil Burton, congressman from San Francisco, to push a version of private land acquisition.
McComb was continuing to push the alternative of a private ranch purchase in May & June, since there were no buyers otherwise available. He had also found, and passed on to Pontius, a 1971 Havasupai map showing they had proposed a big private "contribution" as well as a 1/8 mil setback from rim. This line of thought led to a proposal with the Club name that offered 23 kac from the Park, 77 kac from the Forest, and 200 kac private & state, with a cost of about $5 million. Interestingly, it contained no environmental protections. I, too, was now offering various unconventional ideas, too late to be of any interest to the now-committed Udall. Even though there was ample evidence of the new Udall commitment, McComb was able to get his agreement for a look at the land involved. Udall himself piloted the 26 May fly-over of Boquillas and lands north, with McComb, Sparks, and a hunter, along as passengers. Supposedly a smooth flight, that aerial look at the big private ranch, and maybe the conversation--featuring McComb and Sparks fighting over everything, with Udall silent (according to McComb)-- convinced Mo that buying it was not a viable alternative.
McComb must have been annoyed --was Udall heartened, amused?-- by the report of the Club's Native American Issues Committee advocating the transfer of all 251 kac with "reasonable" environmental restraints: no mining, dams, industry, destructive commercialism. It would be a spiritual opportunity for the Club. They wanted to support the preservation of the Havasupai ancient view of the relationship between man and nature with its love of the land and wise use.
29 June, Club did a telegram blitz: the Havasupai already have use of the land, their land claim had been settled, and there were better economic alternatives. And worryingly, the Havasupai had supported dam & tram proposals in the past.
During these months, Udall's office received many letters on the issue, the standard reply to which was that he was in favor of the transfer. Still hoping that maybe there was room to negotiate the details, I proposed keeping some side canyons in the Park. Pontius let me know that Udall had re-shaped his position several times, and was now ready to rest where he was. Indeed, the issue now appeared to be headed for an up-or-down vote. Udall made this clear in mid-July when he summarized his position: Private land cannot be purchased. I intend to support a transfer but not include any land beneath the main Canyon rim; indeed there will be a ¼-mile buffer. The land--185 kac-- transferred will be subject to environmental controls and only limited use by the Havasupai. The Secretary will draw up a land use plan. "I want to do everything I can to insure that the environmental quality of the land transferred will remain consistent with its status at the present time." To which six DC conservationist groups responded in a telegram saying the Udall amendment would open up all Indian land claims for congressional review.
Udall used another platform 17 Jul with a fuller statement in the Congressional Record: It has taken years of effort to get a 1.5-million-acre Park worthy of the Grand Canyon. The result was a tribute to Goldwater and McComb. There were two issues: 1. the dam: Steiger would allow the Federal Power Commission to authorize a dam. But we fought that fight. Today, the pro-dam figures are disputed, and water would be wasted. 2. Havasupai: There are equities on both sides. The ICC argument is not a bar to land transfer. Separate legislation would face formidable obstacles. I regret the history of NPS-Havasupai friction; NPS is not a villain. I believe this transfer is unusual and unique; a flood of claims will not happen. I propose restrictions to protect against degradation. The Havasupai have no desire to for commercial development. Scenic values will be protected. My plan has three parts: 1) a transfer, mostly of plateau land set back at least ¼ from the rim; 2) a traditional use area; 3)a land use plan drawn up by the Secretary. I also transferred Pasture Wash, since it is just the western 20% of that grazing allotment.
That last provision brought a telegram from the local grazing advisory board, but Udall replied that grazing permits are privileges on public land, and can be revoked.
The standard office reply was now saying Udall was pleased at the additions made to the Park, opposed to any dam, and had grappled with the difficult Havasupai situation resulting in a larger reservation with stringent environmental protection. This reasonableness did not impress the pro-Park advocates, who were continuing to send anti-Havasupai letters and telegrams. On the other side of the Capitol, the Havasupai had enlisted Senators Kennedy and Abourezk to ask the Committee to act favorably for the Havasupai.
So as we approached the ground fixed for the next stage -- full Interior Committee mark-up--, Udall was leading the way, seeking, not more negotiation, but approval of the position he had developed in a complicated process that I try to lay out in the next post, T4 of the Udall archive story.
Source: This material comes from the Udall archive at the Univ. of Arizona; in particular the folders of correspondence in boxes 125 & 187. My comments on these say that the order is not exact, though the latest is in the front. The folders contain very important materials, in a haphazard way, but mixed in with all the letters from the larger public, pro & con. There is also stuff on the concurrent river management controversy.