University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1905, Part I

Reports concerning Indians in California,   pp. 180-195 PDF (7.8 MB)

Page 184

YUMA, ARIZ., August 24, 1905. 
In my report of last year I said: "At last it seems that irrigation
is in sight 
for the Yuma Indians." No* I can say that it seems an assured fact.
has actually begun upon the Laguna dam, by which this reservation is to be
watered, and the work will probably be completed within two or three years.
If the levees and ditches are built by that time and allotments made the
will be ready to begin farming. 
With a view of establishing a basis for allotment, a complete census was
last February. It showed the following: 
Males                          -355 
Females                         -320 
%                     675 
Males (between 6 and 16) ........   .-       --73 
Females (between 6 and 16) ......... .--.     --   -     42 
Males under 18                                  --     119 
Females  under  16- -..........-                     -  101 
I am more and more impressed every year that some steps should be taken to
relieve the condition of the old Indians of the tribe. The condition of these
often most pitiable. It seems that the older they get the harder they have
work, until they break down and can go no longer. Then they are almost 
abandoned. It is certain that at times these old people suffer for the barest
necessities of life, and this within sight and sound of the children and
children for whom they have spent a lifetime of toil and to whom they have
given every indulgence that could possibly be drained from their scanty horde.
The names of "grandfather" and "grandmother," that are
so dear to us, are 
the words of greatest reproach to the Yuma. Allotment will help this class
little for the reason that much work will need to be done upon the land in
way of clearing, ditching, and leveling before it can be at all profitable.
work can not be done by the old people, they have no money with which to
it done, and no one could afford to do the work under lease of less than
five years. 
During the past two winters I have issued small rations to a few of these
people, but it is doubtful if they got even the full benefit of this, for
they would 
probably divide with their able-bodied children, who would not hesitate to
the provisions and see the old helpless people go hungry the next day. Neither
will-they ever be able to get the full benefit of rations issued them until
they are 
segregated where some one can care for them. This could be done easily and
at small cost by building them such houses as they usually live in, but making
them comfortable. They could be given such furniture, bedding, utensils,
as they will actually use and let them live in their own way. This would
render their old age comfortable and they would be free from the restraint
of a 
"home" or "retreat."  I am sure that they would rather
endure their pres- 
ent misery than be housed in a modern building, have their food cooked for
and be compelled to bathe regularly, and abandon their present garb. 
Unusually heavy rains in the winter, followed by the floods of February,
March, and April, caused a great deal of destitution and suffering on the
vation. Fortunately, however, the Indians were able to get work upon an exten-
sion of the Southern Pacific Railway that was building in this county. Most
the men who had no regular work at home took advantage of this opportunity.
The flood, too, left the ground in good condition for the overflow crops,
and the 
women have taken advantage of this and planted a much larger acreage than
usual, so that even at this date the Yuma are in a more prosperous condition
than usual. 
Missionary work.-In September Rev. Frank T. Lea came here as a mission- 
ary representing the National Indian Association. His wife was at the same
time appointed field matron. They are working daily among the Indians, and
it seems certain that in time their work will count for much real good to
Indians. Mr. Lea expects to make permanent improvements here and establish
a home that will be comfortable and an example to the Indians. 
In November Rev. John Sayers took up the regular mission work of the 
Catholic Church that had been discontinued or carried on only in a desultory
way during the last few years. He has become interested in the condition

Go up to Top of Page