Page:The Indian Dispossessed.pdf/21

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Arizona. They had practised agriculture by irrigation along the Gila River for more than three centuries. In the language of the early records, "They are farmers and live wholly by tilling the soil, and in the earlier days of the American history of the Territory they were the chief support of both the civil and military elements of this section of the country."

In 1886 the whites began to divert the waters of the Gila River. A suit in the federal court was talked of to maintain the clear rights of the Indians, but never pressed. No district attorney who would prosecute such a case against voting white men could expect to live politically. Within seven years the Pimas were reduced from independence to the humiliation of calling for rations, while the white settlers used the Indians' water undisturbed.

"Enough has been written about the need of water for the starving Indians to fill a volume," wrote the discouraged agent, after ten years. "It has been urgently presented to your honorable office time and again, and yet the need of water is just as great and the supply no greater." So the years went on. In 1900 came the cry from the desert, "This water, their one resource, their very life, has been taken from them, and they are, perforce, lapsing into indolence, misery, and vice." Thirty thousand dollars was appropriated for more rations.

Finally, after eighteen years, the suit to recover the Indians' rights received its final quietus. The district