Chapter XLIX.


Opposition to the Indians--An Exciting Meeting--A Commision

Appointed to Investigate Indian Water Claims--Efforts to Rob the Natives--Armed Men Begin to Gather--Peaceful Settlement

SOON after the events just narrated occurred, Major Chaffee took command at Camp McDowell. He soon "took in" the situation and took an interest in the welfare and rights of the Indians. To him, more than any one else, is owing the preservation of the Indian's rights and the final allowing of the lands to these people. I will give one more especial account and then go on. I could write a book on the doings of Salt river labors, but have not room in this for more than a few items.

Once the spirit ran so high against the Indians, that it was determined to drive them away unless they came to such terms as the whites should dictate. A mass meeting was called to meet at Tempe, for both whites and natives. At the time it was hardly safe for me to appear, as my life had been threatened. I had even been told to my face by a Captain Sharp, that he was ready to help put the rope around my neck any day.

However, I went to the meeting. Many demands were made of the Indians, all of which they acceded to that was possible for them to do. The whites were about satisfied with the disposition of the Indians, when one man got up and said he had a saddle stolen from him some two years previous, and that he would not consent for the Indians to remain longer where they were, unless they paid for the saddle. At this, several others commenced telling what they had lost and demanded the same.

I had kept perfectly silent during the whole parley. Now when this was explained to the Indians, they seemed at a loss what to say. Finally the chief said they were not able to pay for these things; that it was asking more than they could do. The spirit of the whites was really devilish; they seemed determined to drive the Indians to the wall, not one had spoken a word in their behalf.

I now felt impelled to speak. When I asked to be heard there were many hard looks given me. The chairman gave consent. As soon as I commenced some one interrupted me. I sat down. The chairman called for order. I then said, "If you gentlemen will hear me through without interruption, allowing me free speech, I will talk. When I get through my life is in your hands, do with me as you please, but I will not talk unless you agree to let me say just what I please." They took a vote to hear me through.

My defense of the Indians was to the point. I told the whites that they demanded of the natives, what none of them could do; that if they were required to make all their wrongs right that they had committed for the last two years, it would bankrupt them morally and financially. There were other thieves in the country beside Indian thieves, that they may have stolen the articles. I referred to the virtue and honesty of the Pimas when the whites first came among them, showing that all their violent degradation and dishonesty was copied from the white man. Also, that many now present were corrupt and immoral, much more so than the average Indian.

Congressman Stephens was present. I never heard what he thought of my speech, but I conquered the most present, and they agreed to let the Indians have another trial. All of these men finally became my friends.

This meeting, just described, was with the Indians, the old settlers on the north side of the river. Those settling on the Utah ditch were not called in question at this time by the persons seeking to drive the others away.

To make it more easy for the reader to understand, I will speak of the Indians as north side and south side. The north side being those who were settled there by invitation of the whites before our colony settled on Salt river. All the control or influence I had over them was simply as their friend. The south side settlers were those who had colonized on lands watered by the Utah ditch. They were commonly known as "Jones' Indians."

The enemies that the latter had to meet, were many of the settlers, their immediate neighbors. Many and various attempts were made to have them driven back to the agency. Parties who bought shares in the Utah ditch as well as some of the original owners, disputed the right of the Indians to water, although they had done a large portion of the original work, and were always the most ready workers in making repairs.

These efforts to rob the Indians of their just rights, had a tendency to discourage the poor people from making improvements that they otherwise would have done. The question of the Indians' rights to water, finally became so hardly contested, that I applied to Major Chaffee, to cause an investigation to be made and protect the Indians in their rights. I had kept sufficient account of their work to show conclusively that they were entitled to water.

A commissioner was sent to make some preliminary enquiries. Most of the share holders claimed that the Indians had no legal right in the ditch, which was a fact, technically speaking, as no transfers had been made to them, simply verbally promised that by doing their share of work from year to year, that they could have water.

Every season some one would try to break this arrangement, and I determined to put a stop to it. A meeting of the share holders was called, to take testimony to send to this commissioner for the decision to be based upon. At this meeting I was threatened with the penitentiary if I established a claim for the Indians. The party who made the threat, said he thought he had bought unencumbered shares in the ditch from me; others claimed the same. Now the facts were, that each and every one who bought shares in the Utah ditch or lands from me, agreed to honor and assist in every way to help carry out the work of helping the Indians. Some betrayed their trust in a most dishonorable and unreasonable way.

My answer was that the Indians should be protected, prison or no prison. It was finally agreed by all the shareholders that, if I would cease to press the matter farther and sign the paper with the rest, reporting that the Indians had no legal right, all hands would agree to set apart a certain portion of water, measured through a head-gate, and sign an agreement, allowing the Indians perpetual use of that share on certain conditions.

After these conditions were agreed upon and a committee appointed, that I had confidence in, to see to the dividing of the water, I signed the report with the rest.

This I thought best to do at the time, reserving the right, however, that if the whites ever broke faith with the Indians I would seek to protect them at all hazards.

This contract has been measurably kept with more or less grumbling from some of the shareholders. The lands the Indians occupied I had secured to them the best I could by having my sons claim some of it in their names. One quarter-section was secured by purchase from a Mexican, who settled on a forty, allowing the Indians the balance. I bought the Mexican out and sold the forty to a supposed friend, with the understanding that he was to use the forty and let the Indians have the balance, as formerly agreed upon.

This agreement was broken. The party told the Indians that I had sold the whole quarter-section to him and agreed to drive them off. The poor Indians believed him and gave up the land, when the good friend (?) sold the whole to a third party, who knew nothing of the facts. The Indians felt very badly towards me about this. I knew nothing of the transaction until too late to remedy the wrong. This same man gave testimony against me afterwards, stating that I had sold the whole quarter-section, and I had to pay the Indians for dispossessing them.

It now became the popular idea to try to jump the Indians lands. The Indians on the north side were threatened with land jumpers from Phoenix and Tempe.

One-party moved on their lands taking tools, surveying outfit, provisions, etc., and went to work just as though no Indians' were around. There were quite a number of them.

They had sent their teams back home. The Indians gathered around them, and in a good-natured manner loaded all their stuff into their wagons, then by main force of numbers picked up the whites, loaded them on top of the loading, then seized the wagons by hand and hauled the whole outfit off from their lands laughing and joking all the time. The whites dared not make any resistance. This raised a big excitement, and armed companies commenced to gather both at Tempe and Phoenix.

It looked now as though blood would be shed. I went to McDowell and reported to Major Chaffee, he said he would be ready and five minutes' notice to come to the protection of the Indians; for me to go back and keep watch of the moves and let him know the minute any violence was offered. This whole business was broken up by the cunning of an Indian who lived at Tempe.

The Tempe company was headed by a captain who said the Indians had broken into his house and robbed him. He had raised a great excitement and quite a company, and was getting ready to join the company from Phoenix to make war on the Indians who had ran them off from their lands.

This Tempe Indian was standing looking at Captain J-----'s company, when someone asked him if the Indians had really broken into Captain J-----'s house.

Juan said: "Yes."

"What made them do it?"

Juan said "the captain owed an Indian for his squaw and would not pay him, and the Indian had got into the captain's house and stole his breeches to pay himself."

At this the company turned on their captain, gave him a good cursing, broke ranks and went about their business.

This soon reached the Phoenix company, who became disgusted and broke, whether Juan told the truth or not it answered the purpose, and had a lasting effect, for most every one believed him.

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