Arizona Indians Live In Two Cultures
Warfare, disease, loss of natural resources and even psychological and emotional stress over 360 years killed many of Arizona’s native people. Then, Indian population decline reversed sometime between 1900 and 1910. For the past hundred years, Native American families in Arizona have survived ups and downs to win little victories in Congress, the courts, the twisting halls of government and even society at large. While their path is still rocky and unsure, many Arizona Indians now have an opportunity to enjoy the best of two cultures.
The Hopi and Tewa Villages (Hopitu-Shinumu)
The Hopi and Tewa people live in 12 villages, eleven of which are situated on three mesas in northern Arizona, surrounded by the Navajo reservation. Waalpi (or Walpi, according to older orthography), Sitsomovi (or Sichomovi) and Hano (or Tewa, or Tano) are located on First Mesa with the town of Polacca nearby. To the west, Second Mesa is the site of Musungnuvi (or Mishongnovi), Supawlavi (or Sipaulovi) and Songoopavi (or Shungopavi). Farther west on Third Mesa are the pueblos of Kykotsmovi, Oraibi, Hotevilla and Bacavi. And finally, farthest to the west there is the isolated village of Moenkopi, adjacent to the Navajo town of Tuba City. Prior to contact with Europeans Hopi families lived in only seven villages. In response to the pueblo rebellion of 1680, villages were moved to the tops of mesas for defense. A vast area surrounding the mesas came to be called the Province of Tusayan. The word was reported by Coronado as Tuçano, which he understood as the name of a Hopi village, but it may be a Navajo word for the Hopi Buttes, located south of the mesas. Historically, the Hopi were often called Moqui, or Moki, by Anglos, a term of derision of obscure origin. They call themselves in their Uto-Aztecan language Hopitu-Shinumu, “peaceful people.”
The village of Walpi, “place of the gap,” was constructed in 1700 on top of First Mesa. Women belonging to matrilineal clans built and owned the apartments and maintained the matrilocal family while men tended fields and hunted away from home. Rooms of local sandstone and adobe were originally entered through the roof. Roof beams and ladders required transport of pine and juniper poles from far away.
The Hopi Reservation was created by President Chester A. Arthur 16 December 1882, covering nearly 2.5 million acres of the Province of Tusayan, including three communities of Navajo families. The Executive Order created a 3,860 square mile rectangle centered on the Hopi mesas “set apart for the use and occupancy of the Moqui and such other Indians as the Secretary of Interior may see fit to settle thereon.” Those “other Indians” were the Navajos, who had been forced westward from their 16th century homeland around Governador Canyon on the border between what later became New Mexico and Colorado. The Secretary of Interior never settled Navajos on the Hopi reservation but neither were they hindered from further encroachment. Attempts to take away acreage from the Hopis in the 1880s through allotment failed. But the creation of grazing districts June 2, 1937 on the Navajo and Hopi reservations to facilitate stock reduction in order to prevent soil erosion left the Hopis with exclusive use of only grazing District Six, about 1,000 square miles. This allowed Navajo livestock to roam all but 631,194 acres of the Hopi reservation. By then the Hopi reservation was totally surrounded by the Navajo Reservation, which had been increased 14 times since it was created in 1868.
The Hopi tribal council began a lawsuit in 1958 to restore land, including large areas long occupied by Navajos. The court ruled in 1962 that Hopi reservation acreage outside grazing District Six should be a Navajo-Hopi ”joint use area.” This effectively reduced the Hopi reservation to the boundaries of a single grazing district. In 1966, the Hopi tribal council entered into a contract with BVD for a garment factory to employ Hopis at Winslow. A Hopi industrial park was created at Winslow on land the tribe claimed by aboriginal use. The tribal council signed a contract in 1969 with Peabody Coal Company to mine Black Mesa to fuel power plants. June 29, 1970, the Indian Claims Commission ordered compensation for loss of Hopi aboriginal land, effectively extinguishing future claims. In 1974, Congress abolished the joint use area and apportioned the land between Hopi and Navajo families. Relocation of 100 Hopis and 10,000 Navajos began in 1986. But a number of Navajo families refused to leave the Big Mountain area. They were offered 75-year leases by the Hopi tribe in 1992, but a small number refused to sign.
The dispute over land use intensified a preexisting conflict between Hopi progressives who supported democratic government including many elements of the European lifestyle and traditionalists who wished to maintain the Hopi Way. Divisions also deepened between the Hopis and Navajos and between competing elements in Anglo society. Was the 1882 reservation intended for the Hopi or both the Hopi and the Navajo? Was a so-called “land dispute” manufactured by non-Indian interests like the several religious, environmental and Indian advocacy groups that have been involved? Have coal-mining interests played a role? Has publicity been slanted against the Hopi and in favor of Navajos? In any case, this conflict means that when it is said that “the Hopi” did this or that, it can only mean certain factions of the people.
The Hopi have traditionally been a peaceful and reclusive people, who resisted assimilation by Europeans. From their first meeting with the Spanish to today, one faction remains determined to continue its own way of life. First contact with members of the Coronado expedition in 1540 quickly turned violent. Spanish missionaries and military returned several times and finally established Mission San Berardo de Aquatubi (Awatobi) in 1629. A second church, San Bartolomé was also constructed. When the New Mexico pueblos rebelled against the Spanish in 1680, 1693 and 1696, Hopis destroyed the missions. The Tewa people fled New Mexico during the rebellion of 1696 and found peace living with the Hopi. In 1700, Hopis tried to eradicate Christianity by destroying the village of Awatobi and killing all the converts there. Religious conflict would eventually subside but then reappear 200 years later.
Traditional Hopis practice an initiatory, secret wisdom type of religion. Celebratory ceremonies maintain The Hopi Way of living in balance with the world and natural human development. Most ceremonies are necessary to bring life-giving rain to the arid land and grow corn, the staple crop. Kivas are a connection with the underworld from which the people originally emerged. Some believe the Sipapu mud volcano and spring in the Little Colorado Canyon is the real emergence portal. Katsinas (or Kachinas), represented by dolls and ceremonial costumes, are guardian angels and emissaries from the spirit world. “Freedom of religion, as provided for in the Bill of Rights, rarely, until recent times, was even considered as applying to religions of the Indians of the United States,” observed Harry C. James (page 185). In 1921, the BIA adopted a “Religious Crimes Code” to incarcerate participants in native dances and ceremonies. In New Mexico, the government attempted to destroy pueblo religions 1922-1923 in order to take land for Anglos.
Soon after the Hopi reservation was created government agents initiated forced removal of children to boarding schools, and land surveys to facilitate allotment. Indigenous men who tried to oppose these policies were repeatedly jailed. Nineteen Hopi prisoners were sent to Alcatraz Island in 1895 for interfering in US government policy but released within a year. Anglos even had a serious objection to the male Hopi hairstyle, moderately long in back with straight bangs in front, and many were forced to endure butch haircuts.
Hopi men were expert at dry farming, nourishing plants only with runoff from rains concentrated in a wash. But, as shown here by the noted photographer Edward S. Curtis around 1903, they could use irrigation to increase production near springs.
Hopi families raised corn, beans, squash, cotton and tobacco in flood plains. They readily added Spanish crops like wheat, chilies, melons and peaches and adopted the use of steel hoes and plows to replace digging sticks. They had already domesticated turkeys, but recognized the advantage of raising horses, burros and sheep. Women gathered wild foods and men hunted game. Men wove clothing and blankets while women fashioned pottery. All Arizona Indians obtained special products through an extensive trade network.
Apache, Comanche, Ute and Mexican raiders were a historical threat to the Hopi villages. Navajo raids intensified 1823-1845. American trappers, explorers and immigrants seemed especially vicious. In 1833, the Walker party killed many Indians for no identifiable reason. Hopi men would engage in warfare if needed. But villages graciously accepted refugees and tried to resolve internal strife short of violence. Smallpox ravaged the Hopi population in 1780, 1840, 1853 and 1877-1898. Drought decimated crops in 1862 bringing famine in 1863-1864. Old Oraibi, once the largest village, is considered the oldest town in the US, dating back to at least AD1150. It was practically abandoned in 1906, however, when conflict between kinship clans stimulated by Christian conversions drove residents to found New Oraibi and four other new villages.
Tribal government was organized under a constitution 14 December 1936. But the concept of hierarchical central government on the European model sparked controversy between traditional and progressive blocks within the villages. Tribal government was soon disbanded but then reorganized in 1951. The form of Hopi tribal government is currently the subject of intense debate between those who believe each of the 12 villages have aboriginal sovereign government powers with final say by the Kikmongwi composed of religious elders, and those who favor the democratic tribal council established under US law.
Congress declared war on Mexico May 12, 1846 and by August General Stephen W. Kearny’s army took control of New Mexico. Kearny’s troops then followed the Gila River into California, encountering the Pima Indians in what would later become Arizona. Several members of the column recorded favorable impressions of the Pimas, including Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Emory. November 11, 1846, Emory found himself “in the midst of a large nation of what are termed wild Indians, surpassing many of the Christian nations in agriculture, little behind them in the arts, and immeasurably before them in honesty and virtue.” The illustration showing Pimas visiting Emory’s camp is from his Notes of a Military Reconnoissance. . ., (1848)
The O’odham People (Aatam)
The O’odham people spoke several mutually intelligible Piman dialects. They also shared common religious rituals to bring rain and celebrate harvests and lived in families related by five patrilineal clans.
O’odham bands are now divided into four federally recognized tribes, the Ak-Chin, Gila River, Salt River and Tohono O’odham communities. Another band, the Hia Ced O’odham (see below), is not federally recognized. There are also at least nine O’odham communities in Mexico. The O’odham identified themselves with their land. The Hia Ced O’odham were the “sand dune people” living in the western Sonoran desert, the Akimel O’odham were the “river dwelling people” living along the Gila while the Tohono O’odham were the “desert people,” living in the deserts and mountains south of the Gila. The Sobaipuris, considered extinct, (see below) were a closely related tribe of Piman speakers. The Piman speaking Yaqui people were more distantly related. The O’odham people were differentiated by the Spanish according to lifestyle, living in rancherías, pueblos or wandering bands. The Hia Ced were a nomadic “no village” people, while the Tohono, “two-villagers,” lived in summer and winter rancherías. Akimel, “one-villagers,” stayed put.
The region of northern Mexico inhabited by Piman speakers, north of the Altar and San Ignacio Rivers, was called Pimería Alta by the Spanish, and northern Pimería Alta was referred to as the Papaguería. In the seventeenth century the Spanish called the Piman speakers living far to the south of what would later become Arizona the Pimas and Sobas. In the region that would become Sonora and southern Arizona, Piman speakers were Sobaipuris and Papabotas or Papagos.
The Spanish regarded all these people as extremely savage, fit only for forced labor at missions, mines and ranches. Those who refused to comply or rebelled were treated harshly, as was the European custom at the time. The Spanish killed all the men at the Pima ranchería of Mututicachi in 1689. In 1694, Spanish soldiers executed three Sobaipuri men accused of stealing horses. When Indians at Tubutama killed their overseers, the Spanish called together a large group of Indians and demanded to know who was guilty. As soon as the first suspect was fingered a Spanish officer beheaded him with a sword on the spot. Everyone scattered amidst mass killing followed by a full-scale war. Piman speakers would rebel against the Spanish again in 1751. The Spanish managed to get along best with the Sobaipuris and had little contact with Piman speakers on the Gila River.
The Pima-Maricopa Communities
Ak-Chin Indian Community
President Taft created a 47,600-acre Maricopa Indian Reservation by Executive Order May 28, 1912. In 1913, Taft rescinded his previous Executive Order and reduced the reservation to 22,000 acres. Gathering fruits while planting crops in flood plains, the O’odham called their practice of agriculture ak’ chin.
Gila River Indian Community
The Gila River Reserve was the first reservation created in Arizona, by Act of Congress 28 February 1859. It was altered by executive orders on August 31, 1876, January 10 and June 14, 1879, May 5,1882, and November 15, 1883. President Grant’s order in 1876 added nearly 16 square miles. June 14, 1879, President Hayes’ revoked his order greatly expanding the reservation on January 10 and created a noncontiguous addition along the Salt River. President Chester A. Arthur added to the Gila River reservation in 1882 and greatly expanded it in 1883. The first government Indian school in Arizona opened on this reservation at Sacaton in 1871. It was destroyed by fire in 1888.
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
President Rutherford B. Hayes’ Executive Order of June 14, 1879 created a “reservation for the Pima and Maricopa Indians,” on the northwest bank of the Salt River east of Phoenix and adjacent to the Fort McDowell Military Reserve. He also ordered payment for improvements the Pimas and Maricopas had made on the other side of the river.
Pima and Papago families lived mostly outdoors under a shade (ramada, arbor or bower) supported on posts (at right). They sheltered from inclement weather in a round house (center), called a “ki,” framed with cottonwood, willow, mesquite or saguaro ribs, covered with brush or arrowweed, plastered on top and at the base of walls with mud. A single large structure (at left) in each village served as a meetinghouse for the men, and sometimes the women also. Not shown are outdoor kitchen windbreaks and grain storage bins on raised platforms. The women are using the characteristic backpack “burden baskets” for transport of gathered foods and even water jugs (ollas). Upon a death in the family the home and possessions of the deceased were burned. O’odham villages had no commercial district. The economy was based on communal sharing, gifting and barter. The woodcut is from a sketch by J. Ross Browne. It first appeared in Harper’s Monthly in 1864 and then in his book, Adventures in the Apache Country. . . in 1869. This copy of the engraving is from the New York Public Library, colorized for this blog.
The Akimel O’odham (Pima, Gileños, Gila Pimas)
Americans distinguished between the “Pimas” living along the Gila and “Papagos” living to the south. And the Pimas generally made a good impression on Americans from the start. Living in 30 permanent villages, they had continued the system of irrigated agriculture developed by their possible ancestors, the Hohokam. Skilled use of fluctuating river flows produced large surplus harvests, making them Arizona’s most successful agricultural entrepreneurs. Thus they could become known as friendly to travelers in the desert, providing ample provisions for exploring parties, the Overland Mail stage line and wagon trains bound for California. Pima farmers sold at least 100,000 pounds of wheat in 1858, more than 400,000 pounds in 1860 and one million pounds of flour to Confederate and Union troops in 1862.
Families enjoyed a healthy diet of corn, squash, pumpkins, mesquite bean flour, desert greens, roots, seeds, nuts, fruit, cactus fruits, berries and game meat. By the nineteenth century they had added beef, wheat and melons. After word of Pima provisioning skills reached Washington DC a grateful Congress appropriated $10,000 for farm tools in 1858, though some of the help was late in arriving. A reservation was set aside the following year, though it encompassed only part of the area under cultivation.
When the military left Arizona in 1861, Pimas were the only armed force against Apaches in the region. In 1865 and 1866, Pima and Maricopa soldiers served in the first Arizona Volunteer Infantry. They continued to serve in the Arizona Battalion until 1873. Soon, however, Pima farmers were facing Anglo agricultural competition. Settlers began diverting water from the Gila at Florence in the 1860s and Solomonville in the Safford Valley in 1873. When the Florence Canal opened in 1887, there was hardly a drop left for the Pima, dooming them to generations of poverty. By 1895 a food shortage forced them to take government rations. Between 1903 and 1910, the government put in 15 wells on the Pima reservation. Then allotment began in 1914.
San Carlos Dam was built 1928-1929 on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in an attempt to restore irrigation flows to Pima farms. But the government wanted impoverished farmers to pay for the project through irrigation fees. Pima farm family income declined in the 1940s. The Gila River Indian Community adopted an agricultural development master plan in 1985. A 1992 agreement provided Central Arizona Project water. The Gila River Water Settlement Act of 2004 now sends valley cities to buy water from the Pimas, Maricopas and Ak Chin. (“Tribes gain water voice in state future,” Shaun McKinnon, Ariz. Republic, 3/24/02)
The Maricopa (Pipatsje, Pee-Posh, Pipaash, Opa, Cocomaricopa)
The Maricopas are probably a mixture of up to five tribes that used to live separate lives little more than 150 years ago. They all left the vicinity of the Colorado River and settled around the junction of the Gila and Salt. Now about 400 Maricopas live on the Salt River and Gila River reservations. Through indifference Anglos thought the Maricopas had disappeared while in fact they had maintained their identity while living peacefully among the Pimas.
Piman speaking families harvested saguaro fruit in early summer, an acceptable but less luscious alternative to pithaya fruit from the organ pipe cactus found farther south and west. Long poles called kuibits are used to knock down the saguaro fruit, which grows only at the tops of limbs. Children gather dried fruit that has already fallen. Eaten fresh or preserved by drying, it was an important food source through the summer months. A weak alcoholic drink was made from the juice. The photo is by Western Ways of Tucson and was probably taken in the 1960s.
After Piman speakers initially opposed Spanish subjugation, Padre Eusebio Kino, Jesuit priest and cartographer, began missionary work in Mexico in 1687. Working his way northward, he encountered Piman speakers at a village he would name San Cayetano de Tumacacori in January 1691. He found more than 40 indigenous homes there and three ramadas built for his use in anticipation of his arrival. The illustration is a detail from a real photo postcard published in the 1940s by Burton Frasher of Pomona, California. Frasher photographed the diorama in the Visitor Center at Tumacacori National Historical Park 40 miles south of Tucson. However, the modern mission sites are not the same locations used by Kino, but later constructions at new locations.
The Tohono O’odham Nation (Papabotas, Papago)
Tohono O’odham Reservation (Sells Papago Reservation)
The nearly 2.8 million-acre reservation is about the size of Connecticut, making it one of the largest Indian reservations in the US. But its creation involved a complicated political process. Republican President Taft turned 5 isolated Papago villages into small reservations in 1911 and 1912. Then, a coalition of ranchers, the Pima Farm Improvement Association, the state land commissioner and Tucson Chamber of Commerce convinced Taft to take away reservation land. President Wilson created a 3.1 million acre Papago Villages Reservation by Executive Order January 14, 1916. But the coalition convinced the Democratic president to remove a 475,000-acre jagged strip across the middle of Papago land February 1, 1917, splitting the reservation in two. Not until 1931, after persistent lobbying, did Congress return the strip to the Papagos. Congress again added to the reservation in 1937 and 1940. The Secretary of the Interior closed the reservation to mining in 1932, though grandfathered claims remained. The reservation was reopened to mineral entry in 1934 and then permanently withdrawn from future claims in 1955. A tribal council was created in 1937 and a constitution ratified 12 December 1936 was replaced by another adopted 18 January 1986. At that time tribal government replaced the name “Papago” with Tohono O’odham Nation.
San Xavier Reservation
The first Papago Indian Reserve was created by Executive Order of President Grant July 1,1874 and an Act of Congress August 5,1882, withdrawing from Anglo settlement 43 square miles surrounding San Xavier mission. Between 1890 and 1917, about 41,566 acres were allotted to 291 Indians, with 14 acres reserved for a school site. The remaining 27,566 acres escaped allotment.
San Lucy District (Gila Bend Reservation)
December 12, 1882, President Arthur set aside by Executive Order 35 square miles on the Gila River near Gila Bend. President Taft removed 18 sections of land from the reservation 18 June 1909, leaving an area that today covers only 473 acres. The Tohono O’odham tribal government in Sells administers the reservation as the San Lucy District.
Florence Village District
A 25.8-acre cotton farm at Eloy is the Tohono O’odham Florence Village District. It was created by Act of Congress 10 September 1978.
The Desert O’odham were given the name Papabotas or Papago (“bean eaters”) by the Spanish because of their skill in raising tepary beans and other varieties. Their ranchería life was located near the mouth of an arroyo from spring until fall harvest where summer rains brought flash floods to water fields. In winter, families located at mountain springs where deer hunting was good. Meanwhile they gathered seasonal desert plants throughout the year. Following contact with the Spanish, the Tohono O’odham readily added herding of cattle on horseback to their rancherías. And wheat became a staple along side corn, while melons supplemented squash.
Making Christians and loyal subjects out of Piman speakers required replacing their ranchería lifestyle with a sedentary farming lifestyle. Spanish padres and government agents adopted a policy of reduccíon or congregacíon, resettlement of Piman speakers around missions (cabeceras) or itinerant missions (visitas) so they could be preached to and put to work to pay for their religious benefits and pay taxes. “The padre would make us work hard’, recalled one of the last Sobaipuris shortly before he died. “We did not like that. He would not allow us to call the medicine man when we were sick. We did not like that. The boys had to come to the padre’s house every day to learn Spanish.”
Congregacíon brought together previously dispersed families, leading to multi-lingualism, religious syncretism, the loss of many ethnic foods and loss of band identity in the case of the Sobapuris. It also brought families under economic and social control and introduced a measure of psychological stress unknown on the rancherías. With the division of the southwest between the United States and Mexico, citizenship rights became another source of stress upon families.
Just as the Sobaipuris had done for the Spanish, the Papagos worked with the American military to repulse Apache attacks. By 1865 the Papagos were maintaining a standing army of 150 mounted warriors who played a role in more than one massacre of Apaches.
Like the Pimas, the Papagos became skilled at growing surplus crops of wheat. Irrigated acreage around San Xavier increased from 400 acres in 1890 to 1,000 acres by 1900. Thereafter, use of groundwater increased as Anglo settlers diverted the Santa Cruz River. Irrigated acreage reached a maximum of 1,781 acres in 1926. The lack of reservation status for most of their land led to hostility with Anglo settlers, especially over the use of scarce water sources. Indian farming declined with the falling water table in the 1940s and had practically ended by the late 1970s. The Southern Arizona Water Rights Settlement enacted by Congress in 1982 granted Central Arizona Project water to two districts of the Tohono O’odham Nation, but implementation remained stalled in the courts until 2006.
Presbyterian proselytizing began in 1870. Prebyterians established Tucson Indian Training School in 1888 as a government subsidized “contract school” paid $31.25 per pupil per quarter. Relocated to south Tucson in 1907, it closed in 1960. The Catholic church maintained a school at San Xavier. In addition, a number of Tohono students attended the Pima school at Sacaton, where a Catholic mission had been established in 1900. Presbyterians opened a church and school at San Miguel after 1912, adding churches at Topawa and Choulic by 1920.
“Nominally Christian, predominately Catholic, Papago people still practice elements of an older faith along with Church rituals; indeed, many of the rituals they perform are a creative synthesis of Native and Christian materials.” (p. 353, Arnold Krupat, Native American autobiography: an anthology, 1994) By the 1890s, Catholic devotion came to center on Saint Francis Xavier, patron of indigenous people, as a source of spiritual power. Nor did Papagos neglect the other Francis, the saint from Assisi, founder of the Franciscans. Franciscan padres administered San Xavier mission until 1843 and then returned in 1911. Father Emil Oblasser (1885-1967) was assigned to the O’odham people in 1910 and became very influential over the following 40 years, serving at San Xavier, Topawa and St. Johns at Komatke. He chose not to challenge the medicine men and developed a strong relationship with traditional community leaders, working to establish and protect the Sells Papago Reservation. By 1950 there were 54 Catholic churches on the reservation.
At Sacaton beginning in 1911, Presbyterian missionary Dirk Lay (1886-1944) led progressive elements among the Pima and Papago to favor tribal government and free enterprise over the traditional lifestyle. Two opposing camps developed. One was represented by the Good Government League, reportedly established in 1908, and supportive of BIA-led modernization. The other was represented by the League of Papago Chiefs, established in 1925, which wanted no BIA interference.
The US government didn’t like Papago seasonal migration any more than the Spanish. But attempts to confine them to reservations at San Xavier and Gila Bend failed. A reservation covering much of Pima County was necessary. At first, the creation of an international border between the US and Mexico right through the heart of Tohono O’odham territory had little impact. Until recently, the United States allowed free movement across the unfenced border, preferring to concentrate on collection of customs fees for commercial products at ports of entry. But now, O’odham families have been cleaved in two and cattle ranches split asunder while strict enforcement of immigration and drug laws has escalated the value of circumvention to the point that indigenous families living on the border are endangered.
Before 1960 there were no documented cases of diabetes among the O’odham people but they rather quickly attained the highest rate of adult-onset diabetes in the world. Recently a return to traditional ways, most importantly the historical diet reliant on cucurbitamixta squash, Indian corn, tepary beans, cholla cactus buds, prickly pear and saguaro fruit and pithaya fruit from the organ pipe saguaro seems effective against disease.
Around the turn of the 20th century O’odham families added adobe homes to their traditional huts and shelters but there were few windows and little furniture. These Tohono women and children are probably enjoying the morning sun near Tucson before beginning a day of work. Entrances to homes were preferably on the east side, where there was usually a covered porch shaded from the afternoon sun. There was also another common type of home, of post and beam construction with walls of closely-placed small limbs plastered with mud. Carrying water from the community well in ollas was a frequent chore. Selling wood and hay off the reservation earned some extra cash. Despite continued cattle ranching, wage work off the reservations soon accounted for a third of income available to Tohono O’odham families. The illustration is a detail from a postcard purchased in 1907.
Hia Ced O’odham (Hia C-ed O’odham, Areneños, Sand Papagos, Sand Pimas)
The “sand dune people” were a Piman speaking tribe living in the Sonoran desert dunes from the Gulf of California across what is now the Sierra El Pinacate Protected Zone in Mexico and the Goldwater gunnery range in Arizona. They were largely nomadic, with reliance upon hunting and gathering for sustenance. They gathered at least five-dozen wild plants and hunted three-dozen types of animals. But they also showed expertise with a fast-maturing species of drought-resistant corn. Without federal tribal recognition, the Hia Ced are now represented by the Hia Ced O’odham Alliance at Sells and also maintain an office on land purchased for them and held in trust by the Tohono O’odham Nation at Why, southeast of Ajo. The Drachman Institute of Tucson is preparing a community plan for development at Why.
The Sobaipuris (Soba Jipuri, Soba y Puri, Soba y Jipuri)
The Sobaipuris were the Piman speaking people who originally inhabited the San Pedro and Santa Cruz valleys. They were probably the dominant population at the villages of Tucson and Bac (Wa:k) when the Spanish arrived. Like the Akimel, they preferred riverside settlements. Suffering Apache raids in the 18th century, Sobaipuris abandoned the San Pedro in 1762, with the encouragement of Spanish authorities. A concentration policy adopted by the Spanish missions tried to relocate the Tohono O’odham to the Santa Cruz Valley where they came in close contact with the Sobaipuris. Through intermarriage, Sobaipuri identity was soon weakened. Then the US government continued a policy of concentrating indigenous people on reservations and insisting various bands form a unified tribal government. Thus the BIA created a Papago tribe, giving the impression that Quahatikas and Sobaipuris had become extinct. The last two Sobaipuris reportedly died in 1931 at San Xavier, but some families still claim Sobaipuri ancestry.
The Quahatika (aka Kohatk)
This little known Piman speaking band is thought to be a sub-tribe of the Tohono O’odham. Most of what is known is based on a single description by Edward S. Curtis published in 1908. The band was reported to live at the village of Quijotoa, considerably south of the Gila and now located on the Tohono O’odham reservation. The Quahatika have been credited with bringing cattle to the Pimas from the Mexicans about 1820.
The Yaqui people are famous for their Easter (Pascua) ceremonies during February, March and April. Upon contact with Europeans, the Yaqui developed a syncretic but independent form of Catholicism. Easter ceremonies act out a battle between good and evil in the person of Fariseo (Pharisees) and Chapayekas who attack the church defended by Matachinas armed with flowers. In the end, good triumphs and an effigy of Judas along with the evil-soaked masks of the Chapayekas are burned, as shown here. The photo is by Western Ways of Tucson.
The Yaquis (Yoemem, Hiaki)
Paqua Yaqui Tribe
Congress gave 202 acres of federal land to the nonprofit Pascua Yaqui Association in 1964 for Yaquis who had been living at Pascua Village near Tucson since 1921 (another source says 1903). The City of Tucson annexed Pascua Village in 1952. Many relocated to New Pascua, on the reservation located 15 miles southwest of Tucson adjacent to the north border of the San Xavier Tohono O’odham reservation. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe gained federal recognition 18 September 1978 and adopted a constitution in 1988. The reservation now covers 1,194 acres.
Guadalupe is not a reservation but a town on I-10 between Phoenix and Tempe. Sympathetic Anglos, including Catholic and Presbyterian missionaries, acquired the town site in 1914 for Yaquis who had settled there after fleeing Mexico. The one square mile was incorporated in 1975 and is now completely surrounded by other valley cities. It has a mixed population of Yaqui, Hispanic and Anglo families.
Living in Sonora, Mexico just below Guaymas, Yaqui families came under attack 1877-1910 as they resisted assimilation efforts by the dominant culture. Persecuted by succeeding Mexican governments, some Yaquis allied with Pancho Villa and ended up in a battle with the US cavalry at Arivaca in 1918. Others had already fled to the United States as political refugees, creating segregated villages. Initially there were seven villages in Arizona, Water Users Village or Penjamo at Scottsdale, Guadalupe at Tempe, Pascua and Barrio Libre at Tucson, Campo Burro at Marana, Bacatete at Eloy and Sibakobi south of Somerton in the Yuma valley. About 10,000 Yaquis were still in Mexico in the 1940s. There are now more than 11,000 enrolled members of the tribe in the US. While most became US citizens, they were not wards of the federal government and not entitled to BIA services until a reservation was created south of Tucson.
Zuni Pueblo is not located in Arizona, but about 12 miles across the border in New Mexico. However, the Zuni people (A:shiwi) have traveled to religious sites in Arizona for many centuries before there was a border. By Act of Congress in 1984, the Zunis were able to establish a non-residential reservation to protect sacred sites in Arizona, 15 miles northwest of St. Johns, Apache County. They gained water rights along the Little Colorado River in 2004 and are restoring wetlands on the reservation near St. Johns.
A number of developments during the last half of the 20th century have had a lasting impact on the lives of Native Americans. While tribal governments took steps to increase income from art, industrial ventures, tourism and finally Indian gaming, most native families were still left behind in poverty relative to Anglo communities. At the same time, federal government policy moved in the direction of termination of its responsibilities on reservations. Moving in the same direction, tribal governments sought to increase their sovereign powers. At the same time, state and local governments increasingly provided reservations with the same services provided non-Indians, such as public schools. Continuing a trend of the past hundred years, younger Indians left the reservation for better job prospects in cities. This has tended to decrease the number of speakers of native languages. But tribal nationalism along with cross-tribe one-Indian identity found expression in the American Indian Movement and expanded college Indian studies programs. While interest in native foods, religion and languages increased, many Native Americans had little choice but to take a path of integration and acculturation while maintaining a multicultural identity. Others developed a hybrid culture of the best of both worlds. The idea that all Americans might learn valuable ideas and habits from indigenous cultures is now finally a possibility.
Arizona Academy (U. of A.), The Arizona Indian People and Their Relationship to the State’s Total Structure, (1971)
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, “seeds of change: the legacy of Father Kino,” sonorensis, Winter 2007, includes return to traditional diet.
Tom Bahti, Southwestern Indian Ceremonials, (1982)
Tom Bahti, Southwestern Indian Tribes, (1968)
Bertha Pauline Dutton, American Indians of the Southwest, (1983)
Fortier & Schaefer, “Barry M. Goldwater Range (BMGR), West Cultural Affiliation Study,” (2010), internet Scribd document only
Robert H. Jackson, Indian Population Decline, (1994)
Harry C. James, Pages From Hopi History, (1974)
Bernice Johnston, Speaking of Indians, (1970)
Stuart Levine & Nancy O. Lurie, The American Indian Today, (1968)
Papago Tribe vs. US, Before the Indian Claims Commission, September 10, 1968 (19 Ind. Cl. Comm. 394)
David Rich Lewis, Neither wolf nor dog: American Indians, environment, and agrarian change, (1994)
“Papago well of sacrifice,” Desert Magazine, July 1953
Louis Seig, “Development of the Hopi Reservation,” unpublished paper (1976) in ERIC database.
Robert K. Thomas, “The Role of the Church in Indian Adjustment,” pp. 20-28, Kansas Journal of Sociology (III:I) Winter 1967
Jack O. Waddell & O. Michael Watson, The American Indian in Urban Society, (1971)
George Yamada, “The Predatory White Man,” The Crisis, Jan. 1952, pp. 25-30, 63-65, explains in the NAACP magazine irreconcilable conflict between US Indian Bureau and Hopi traditionalists.
Sonoran Desert field trip guides
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