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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1904, Part I
([1904])

Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,   pp. 1-128 PDF (50.3 MB)


Page 7

COMMISKIONER OF INDIAN 'AFFAIRS. 
have been constructed, keep them in repair, and plant wherever water 
can be had. 
Gila River (Pima) Reservation, Ariz.-The unfortunate condition of 
the Pima Indians on this reservation, owing to the scarcity of water 
for irrigation, has recently attracted such great attention and excited so
much sympathy, especially in the official boards of the Presbyterian 
Church, which has long supported missions among the Pima, that I 
deem it advisable to make a somewhat lengthy statement of the efforts 
of this office to maintain the rights of the Indians and to devise some 
practicable method of increasing their supply of water. 
Before the country in the vicinity of the reservation had been set- 
tled to any considerable extent the Indians were able to obtain a suffi-
cient water supply to irrigate so much of their reservation as would 
enable them to raise crops enough for their support. As the country 
became settled, the supply in the Gila River was-appropriated by the 
settlers above, so that on the reservation the river became almost 
dry during the irrigation season. 
In a report dated March 1, 1886, this Office invited the attention of 
the Department to a letter from Agent Wheeler, stating that there was 
a project on foot to take the water from the Gila River, at a point about
12 miles above the town of Florence, by means of an irrigating canal in 
such quantities as would practically destroy the farms of the Indians. 
It was suggested that the subject be referred to the Attorney-General 
with request that the United States attorney for Arizona be instructed 
to take such steps under the Federal or Territorial laws as might be 
necessary to protect the Indians in their rights. 
March 2,; 1886, the subject was referred by the Department to the 
Attorney-General, who directed the United States attorney to take 
steps to protect the Indians from the effects of the projected canal. 
The report of the district attorney, forwarded by the Attorney- 
General June 4, 1886, stated that a stock company with a capital of 
$1,000,000 bad been organized for the construction of a canal. As he 
did not know what effect a canal or dam would have on the river below 
he suggested that as the dam would not be constructed before October, 
1886, suit should not be brought until more facts had been obtained by 
some one charged specifically with the matter. 
July 6, 1886, this Office recommended that the Director of the Geo- 
logical Survey be instructed to detail a competent man from that 
Bureau to investigate whether the effect of the proposed canal would 
be likely to prove #disastrous to the Indians, and whether the canal 
company could and would construct suitable ditches and connect the 
canal with the reservation and supply the Indians with a sufficiency of 
water. The investigation was made by the Geological Survey, and it 
established the fact that the construction of the proposed dam and 
canal would result disastrously to the Indians. The report of the 
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