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

Reports concerning Indians in Arizona,   pp. 156-180 PDF (12.1 MB)


Page 170

170     REPORTS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. 
or even white persons are off of or are on the reservation, which makes the
ad- 
ministration of the reservation affairs very difficult. 
Of the .area given above there might possibly be 25,000 acres irrigated,
if 
every possible means of irrigation was developed to its fullest extent. Of
the 
remainder, about 75 per cent would be excellent grazing land but for the
reason 
that there is not sufficient stock water most of the year. As it is, this
portion 
of the reservation is good grazing land only part of the year. There are
places on this portion of the reservation where inexpensive small reservoirs
might be constructed for the purpose of conserving the surface water for
stock 
use, and thereby greatly enhance its value as grazing land. Of the balance
of the reservation, about one-half is fair grazing land and the remaining
por- 
tion is practically barren. 
The Little Colorado River flows through this reservation from southeast to
northwest and divides it in almost equal parts. Along this river is located
most 
of the land that might be irrigated. Under most of the irrigable land lying
near the river is a strong underflow of water, at a depth of from 8 to 15
feet. 
This water contains some alkali, but it is not thought to contain sufficient
to interfere with the raising of ordinary farm crops, could it be economically
placed on the surface of the land.  Toward the northern part of the reser-
vation there is a tract of land containing several hundred acres that might
be 
irrigated by means of deep wells. Part of this land is now farmed by the
In- 
dians, being watered by the surface water during the rains and a slight sub-
irrigation that is natural to the land. There is some water under this land,
but 
in what quantities it is not known. 
%Another means by which irrigation might be developed is by a large storage
reservoir. The San Francisco wash flows across this reservation from the
south and southwest until it joins the Little Colorado River near the center
of the reservation. Into this wash flows the flood waters coming down Canon
Diablo and several small canyons, being the natural drainage for one shed
of the 
mountains south and west of here. In this wash is a good location for a large
storage reservoir, which can be made to irrigate several large bodies of
land and 
furnish homes for nearly all, if not all, of the Indians now on the reservation.
Upon this reservation there are located nearly 400 Indians, all Navaho, who
earn their living by working for white people off of the reservation and
by dry 
land farming, by which they often raise very fair crops of corn, pumpkins,
and 
melons; but very often their crops fail entirely. 
Their principal means of support is by their flocks of sheep and goats; some
have a few cattle. From these flocks they get their meat, which composes
a 
large portion of their food. The money received from the sales of the pelts
from the sheep and goats helps to supply the family wants. In addition to
the 
above the sheep furnish wool from which they weave their blankets, and for
which the markets afford a fair demand. The greater portion of the wool is
taken to the store and sold in small quantities, and furnishes considerable
money that helps to supply the needs of the family. The sheep owned by these
Indians are very small, and to a white man or at least a good stock man,
would 
be considered unprofitable, their crop of wool being light. This year is
an 
exceptionally good one, yet their clip is but little over two pounds per
head. 
These sheep might be crossed with a larger and heavier wooled sheep and be
made profitable, but at present, if the time spent in caring for the sheep
was 
worth anything, the sheep business from a wool standpoint profits the Navaho
nothing. 
These Indians with but few exceptions are inclined to be industrious and
honor- 
able. These exceptions are a few professional gamblers. Gambling is one of
the 
worst of Indian vices, and while it is very demoralizing, yet in most cases
it can 
be easily broken up. There has* been some whisky sold to the Indians of this
and 
other reservations by persons in and about Winslow, Ariz., and by a certain
trader 
who is supposed to be just off of this reservation. An effort has been made
to 
apprehend and punish the guilty parties, but as yet not much good has been
done. 
To a considerable extent these Indians are polygamists, although the majority
have only one wife, and when polygamy is practiced the different wives of
the 
same man are sisters. The worst feature I find with their marriage customs
is 
the child marriage. In this young girls from 10 to 15 years of age are married
to 
men of 60 years and above. The result of these and many other marriages is
that the contracting parties soon separate without the formality of a divorce.
There are at present on this reservation four missionaries, all under the
direc- 
tion of the mission to the Navaho Indians, an independent Protestant organ-
ization, organized for missionary work among the Navaho Indians. In many
ways these people are helpful to the Indians, although they report no conversions.


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