Joshua Tree
The Native American Ethnography and Ethnohistory of Joshua Tree National Park
An Overview
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by Cultural Systems Research, Inc.
August 22, 2002


A. Major Sources

Major sources on Mojave ethnography include A. L. Kroeber's 1908, Handbook of the Indians of California (1925), "Seven Mohave Myths" (1948), "More Mohave Myths" (1972); and Lorraine Sherer's "The Clan System of the Mojave Indians: A Contemporary Survey" (1965), and "The Name Mojave, Mohave: A History of Its Origin and Meaning" (1967). Sources on ethnohistory include Sherer (1965) and (1967), and her "Great Chieftains of the Mojave Indians" (1967), and her book, Bitterness Road, The Mojave: 1604 to 1860 (1994); Dennis Casebier's The Mojave Road. Tales of the Mojave Road, No. 5 (1975), A. L. Kroeber's "A Mohave Historical Epic" (1951), A. L. Kroeber and Clifton Kroeber's A Mohave War Reminiscence, 1854-1880 (1973), and Kenneth M. Stewart's paper, "Mohave" in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 10, Southwest (1983).

B. Traditional Territory

In the Claims Case, the Mojave claimed the following:

All of the Mohave Valley of the Colorado River, extending north to the Black Canyon in said river, extending south to the Mohave Mountains; extending east to the highest crest of the Black Mountains, to the Buck Mountains and to the Mohave Mountains; and extending west to the Sacramento Mountains, the Dead Mountains, and to the Newberry Mountains.

All of the lands on both banks of the Colorado River extending from the midstream of said river back on either side of said river, to the crest of the mountain; bordering on said portion of said river and extending north to the Mohave Valley in said river, and extending south to a point below what is now known as and called the City of Blythe, in the County of Riverside, State of California.

All of that part of what is now known as the Mohave Desert in the State of California, extending east to the land above described located on the Colorado River extending south to the Whipple Mountains, the Turtle Mountains, the Granite Mountains, the Eagle Mountains, the little San Bernardino Mountains, the San Bernardino Mountains; extending west to the San Gabriel and Tehachapi Mountains, and extending north as far as the Granite, Soda Lake, Providence and New York Mountains, including the valley now known as Paiute Valley extending north into the State of Nevada (U.S. Court of Claims 1950-1960: Docket 283) [CSRI emphasis].

While the Mojaves centered their activities along the Colorado River, where they practiced agriculture in the flood plain, they maintained an active trading relationship with the Serrano and the peoples of the coast, and traveled through the Project Area on a fairly regular basis. They hunted the game in the area and gathered plant products on occasion. After European contact, they supplemented their other resources by raiding the mission and Mexican rancheros for cattle and horses and may have come through what is now the Joshua Tree National Park on some of these raids.

C. Material Culture, Technology

1. Food Preparation and Acquisition. The Mojaves used rectangular blocks of lava as metates with a cylindrical muller to grind corn, wheat, and beans, but are unlikely to have brought these to the Project Area. Here they probably used portable mortars and manos from locally available stone-if they did any grinding of these grains here. Stone pestles or long wooden pestles with wooden mortars were used to grind mesquite beans. They "cooked" fresh screwbean meal by putting the beans in an enormous pit lined and covered with arrowweed, and sprinkling them with water from time to time to turn them brown and sweet after "about a month" (Kroeber 1925:735-737).

The Mojave unbacked bow made of willow was about the height of a man, and was used with a feathered Pluchea sericea (arrowweed) arrow lacking a foreshaft and stone tip. A club made of mesquite wood, and a straight stick club of screwbean wood were also used. These were principally weapons of war, but were also used for hunting game (1925:736-737).

The Mojave caught fish in fiber seines or in basketry scoops, and used them in stews. They may have brought dried fish to the people living at Twentynine Palms from time to time. Hunting was in general not the major source of subsistence that it was with other groups, but may have been in the Project Area (1925:737).

Pottery was made by coiling clay and patting it with a paddle. It was painted with yellow ochre that turned dull red on firing. Ceramic vessels and tools were used as water jars, cook pots, spoons, ladles, plates, platters, parchers, and bowls, and were decorated with named designs (1925:738).

According to Kroeber, the Mojaves were not as interested in basketmaking as other groups, and tended to use baskets made by their trading partners. Their own baskets were "flat receptacles in an irregular plain twining or open-stitch coiling," twined fish traps or scoops, wicker hoods of splints for cradles, and a kind of carrying basket made of two U-shaped sticks wound with string. They made bags and wallets of bean string and akyasa fiber that were of better quality (1925:738).

2. Structures. Mojave houses were large and usually rectangular, and covered with a thatch of arrowweed and then sand, but it is doubtful that this kind of structure was built by the Mojave in the Project Area. At most, they may have constructed temporary structures for themselves when staying there for any period of time (1925:731-732).

The Mojave practiced flood plain agriculture along the Colorado River, planting their crops of corn, beans, pumpkins, cantalopes in May or June after the annual floods, and returning from hunting and gathering to harvest their crops. By the eighteenth century they were growing wheat (Kroeber 1925:735-736).

D. Trade, Exchange, Storage

The Mojaves traded regularly with the Serranos and the Chumash, with whom they were on terms of special amity, and probably also on occasion with the Cahuilla, especially in the early 1850s. They also traded with the Chemehuevi, with whom they were sometimes friendly and sometimes at odds. Kroeber asserts that they were not as interested in trade as in travel for the sake of travel-seeing other lands and visiting people (1925:727).

The Mojaves stored their corn in huge granaries woven of unstripped arrowweed branches. Corn was dried before being stored.

E. Social Structure.

The Mojaves are said to be a tribe in a more traditional sense of the word than most California Native Americans. They thought of themselves as a national entity, and of their traditional territory as a country. Within this larger entity, they had patrilineal clans, in which only the women bore the clan names-all in the clan having the same clan name, which was followed by a nickname to distinguish one from another. Men were called by the clan name only in ceremonies. Ordinarily the men were known by nicknames.

The Mojaves had hereditary great chiefs belonging to the Malika clan, except that a great chief was chosen from another clan when the Malika clan had no one whom the people trusted. There were three sub-groups within the Mojave nation: the northern, central, and southern. Each had one or more chiefs. In 1859, the central group, which occupied Mohave Valley, had five chiefs. In addition to these chiefs, there were military leaders who had a great deal of prestige. Dreaming as a means of acquiring power was even more important among the Mojave then among other California groups (Sherer 1965, 1966, and 1967).

F. Religion.

According to the Mojave creation story, the Creator matavi•P'a, born of Sky and Earth, offended his daughter, who then killed him by witchcraft. He was cremated and the Great Dark House he had built was burned, setting a precedent for Mojave funerals. Mastamho, son or younger brother of matavi•P'a, created a mountain, Avikwame, and lived on it while he finished the creation process and allotted land to the Walapai, Yavapai, Chemehuevi, Quechan, and Mojave. He taught human beings how to subsist on their land, and how to behave.

Mojaves receive their knowledge power from dreams, in which they had adventures and were given information and instructions. They recalled their dream when awake, and sang the song cycles given them in dreams. Each person owned the songs acquired thus. Most of these songs referred to the areas adjacent to the Colorado River on either side and into the Mojave River. None have been found as yet that include the Joshua Tree National Park (Kroeber 1925:754-778; 1948; 1972).

In Great Dreams, Mojaves were given supernatural power. Shamans dream of matavi•P'a's Great Dark House, which is on Avikwame, and receive their power there.

G. History.

1. Spanish/Mexican Periods. The Mojaves first appear in the written record in the records of a Spanish expedition from New Mexico led by Juan de Onate in 1604, seeking the "southern sea". Having been told of the Amacava nation that lived on the Colorado River upstream from the junction of the Colorado and Gila rivers, (Mate sent Captain Geronimo Marquez and four soldiers up the river to make contact with this nation of hunter/gatherer and horticultural people. As a result, a Mojave leader named Curraca came two days later with 40 other Mojaves, bringing with them corn, beans, and gourds for the visitors. They not only welcomed the Spaniards and gave them directions for reaching the Gulf of California, but continued to provide them with food, and accompanied them until they reached the land of the "Bahacechas" (probably the Quechan), with whom they were friendly (Bolton 1925:268-273).

During the ensuing 165 years, the Mojave had no further recorded direct contact with the Spaniards, but they continued to interact with their neighbors in New Mexico and eastern Arizona, and therefore were well aware of the continuing Spanish impact on these peoples. Such Spanish plants as wheat reached them through the Quechans and were added to their fields. They had also acquired a few horses through the Quechan (Sherer 1994:3; Stewart 1983:56).

In 1771, Father Francisco Garcés, a Franciscan priest stationed at Mission San Xavier (near present-day Tucson) who had traveled from there to the lower Colorado River and thence to its mouth in 1761, accompanied the expedition led by Captain Juan Bautista de Anza from Mexico to San Gabriel Mission in 1774, and in 1775 accompanied the second expedition led by Anza down the Gila River to its junction with the Colorado River. Splitting from this second expedition on December 4, 1775, Garcés, with three interpreters, spent two months visiting the Cocopas, Halchidhomas, and other peoples along the lower Colorado River. Because the Halchidhomas were at war with the Mojaves who lived to the north of their area, Garcés with his party on February 14, 1776, started on his own to visit the Mojaves, in the company of a Mojave whom he had met at Fort Yuma. On February 21, they met a party of 80 Mojaves traveling down the river. After they parted from the Mojave expedition, which continued down the river, Garcés and his party proceeded north and northeastward along the west side of the river. On the way, they met 40 Chemehuevi, whom Garcés described as living in the desert between the Mojave, the Beneme on the Mojave River to the west of the Colorado River, and the Utes to the northeast. They gave Garcés a gift of mescal and considerable information about their neighbors (Galvin 1967:14-32).

Garcés finally arrived at a place across the Colorado River from the Mojave villages on February 28. The Mojave captain who accompanied him from Fort Yuma went across to the villages and brought back some 2,000 Mojaves to visit him during the course of his stay. The Mojaves made a very favorable impression on the priest, and he reported that they were enthusiastic about being baptized. The visitors included three captains, one of whom was the "foremost of the nation; without him nothing is decided". Garcés noted that there were many children and young people, in contrast to the other groups living along the river (1967:33-34).

When Garcés expressed his intent to visit the fathers living on the coast, the Mojaves offered to guide the party. The party started for the coast on March 1, and traveling three leagues to the northwest, "accompanied by the principal captain of the Jamajabs, reached the rancheria where the captain lived, said to have been in the center of Mojave territory" (Galvin 1967:33-36; Sherer 1994:6-7).

We are dependent on what Garcés recorded for what is known about the Mojave way of living in the eighteenth century. Despite the enthusiasm of the Mojave for baptism expressed to and recorded by Garcés, the Spanish made no attempt to establish a mission among them. No other non-Indian left a written or known oral record of visiting them between 1776 and 1826. During this fifty-year period, the Mojaves were by no means completely isolated from what was going on among their neighbors. As the end of the eighteenth century approached, the Franciscan missions along the coast of California were reaching further and further inland for Indians to baptize and bring into the mission system. A considerable number of those already baptized and thus brought under the control of the system rebelled against the mission fathers' tight control, and ran away. Some of them joined their relatives in the San Jacinto and San Bernardino mountains, but others reached the Mojave settlements on the Colorado River. By 1810 sufficient sentiment against the missions had been stirred up that the Mojaves participated in and may have been leaders of an attack on Mission San Gabriel.

2. Explorers Arrive. The area now set aside as Joshua Tree National Park was probably traversed by the Mojave during this period of 50 years, as at other times, and perhaps by mission Indians on their way to join the Mojave. Insofar as is known, the Mojave culture did not change a great deal during this period. The same cannot be said of the rest of the North American continent. On the east coast, the United States had freed itself from Great Britain, and had come through a second war with that nation with its separate identity intact. It had also acquired a sizable portion of the rest of the continent, which its most intrepid adventurers were busy exploring. Other adventurous men were setting up trapping and trading routes to the west coast. In the meantime, as of 1821, the Southwest, including California, had been freed from Spain and become part of the new nation of Mexico.

The fur trade, long dominated by Canadian adventurers who trapped and traded across the northern reaches of the continent into what is now the northwestern corner of the United States, and from there came in to northern California, was now taken up in the Southwest. Trappers and fur traders streamed across the Mississippi River and into the Rocky Mountains. Kansas City, Santa Fe, and Sonora, Mexico, became great fur trading centers, which were linked by trade routes over which traders ran their caravans of mule packs and wagons.

When the trappers began scouting the western reaches of the Colorado River and its tributaries, the Mojave country was brought, forcibly the attention of the outside world, principally because the easiest place to cross the lower Colorado River was near the Mojave villages. Between 1826 and 1831, Mojave territory was visited by Jedediah Smith and Harrison Rogers (1826 and 1827); Ewing Young in 1827; George C. Yount, in the party of Ewing Young in 1827, alone in 1828; Kit Carson, with Young in 1829 and in 1830; Peter Skene Ogden, 1830; William Wolfskill and George C. Yount in 1831 (Sherer 1994:9, Footnote).

Neither Mojave law nor Mexican law tolerated hunting and trapping within their territory without permission, and the Mojave revered the beaver, which was especially attractive to the fur trappers. The first American expedition to arrive in Mojave territory, that led by Jedediah Smith in 1826, met with a friendly reception from the Mojave because it first came in contact with Mojaves at a Southern Paiute settlement in Utahsas where its members arrived, bedraggled and almost starving, after a long and difficult trip through the mountains. Since they were carrying no beaver skins nor any other signs of being trappers or fur traders, they met with traditional Mojave hospitality, and were fed, guided first down the Virgen River to North Mojave rancherias, and then to the main Mojave settlement in the Mojave Valley. Like Garcés, Smith was provided with Mojave guides when he left, and went on to the San Bernardino Valley and Mission San Gabriel, where his welcome was less than warm The two Mojave guides were imprisoned by the mission fathers, and one of them sentenced to be hung for the crime of bringing a foreigner into Spanish territory, although Smith wrote later in his journal that the priest at the mission had been able to secure a pardon for the man (Sherer 1994:13).

In the spring of 1827, the vanguard of a large party of fur trappers and traders led by Ewing Young arrived at the Mojave villages from the south, with numerous beaver pelts in full display.

They marched through the villages, terrifying the inhabitants, and set up camp three miles to the north. The Mojave chief and his retinue of warriors visited the camp and, with gestures, indicated that the trappers should pay a horse in payment for the beaver pelts, which the Mojave considered their property. Upon the visitor's refusal, the chief shot an arrow into a tree and gave a war cry. Captain Young thereupon shot a bullet through the arrow to split it. War had been declared. The Mojaves returned the next morning to find that the visitors had raised a barricade of logs and skins. Their renewed demand for a horse in payment for the pelts having been denied, the chief turned and shot a horse with a spear. He was promptly gunned down. The Mojaves returned in force the next morning to avenge their chief. After the first exchange of fire, in which some of the Mojaves were killed, the trappers withdrew through the villages. Beyond the last of these, the Mojave struck again. Accounts vary as to the outcome of this battle.

Whatever happened between the Indians and this party of fur traders and trappers, the Mojave were not in a mood to welcome Jedediah Smith when he came through their territory a second time later in 1827, after having been told by the Mexicans to leave and not return. To make the situation worse, it was now obvious from the way Smith and his men were dressed and equipped, and by their behavior, that they were beaver trappers. This time he received no warm welcome, but he exchanged some horses with the Mojave, and "bought some corn and beans and made a present to the Chiefs". It was only when he and his men were crossing the river, and busy getting their goods and equipment across it, that the Mojaves attacked, "instantly killing ten men and capturing two Indian women in the party (Smith N.D.). Smith and seven of his men finally managed to escape after using their guns to kill two of the Mojaves and injure another (Smith N.D., Sherer 26-27).

The Mojaves had made their point. Their reputation as a dangerous, cunning, and treacherous people spread across the United States, but in fact, the Mojaves were kind to Ewing Young, Kit Carson, and their 16 companions who reached a Mojave rancheria in 1829 half-dead from thirst, hunger, and fatigue. They sold them a mare in foal to eat, and traded them some corn and beans, and let them cross the river and head for the coast without incident. Likewise, when George Yount and William Wolfskill in 1831 arrived with a half-starved party of 20 men at the Mojave villages after a treacherous midwinter trip through the mountains, the Mojave "fed them, traded pumpkins for some knives and red cloth, and permitted them to go safely on their way across the desert to San Bernardino (Sherer 1994:28, citing Hafen and Rister 1950:147).

Peter Skene Ogden of the Hudson's Bay Company, coming down the river with a large band in 1830, posted sentries, and let only two or three Mojaves into his camp at once. Eventually there ensued a battle in which 26 Mojave warriors were reported killed. When Ewing Young and Kit Carson brought a group through again in the fall of 1830, they likewise took precautions when 500 Mojaves, possibly hoping to trade, crowded into their camp. After the Mojaves released their customary flight of arrows, Carson ordered them out of the camp (Sherer 1994:26-27).

After the word about the attack on Smith's 1927 expedition got out, traders needing to go from New Mexico to California began to avoid the Mojave villages, and in order to do so, traveled on what became known as the Spanish Trail, which began at Santa Fe, crossed the upper Colorado and Green rivers, and then bent back southwesterly by crossing Santa Clara Creek, a branch of the Virgem, veering off to Meadow Valley wash, and going thence to the Mojave Desert and San Bernardino (Hafen and Rister 1950:155-194). The Mojave territory during the 1830s and 1840s seems to have been avoided by the white man. If any came through, they left no known record.

The Mojave had other things on their minds. In 1827, they launched a "strategic offensive" against the Halchidhoma, who were their neighbors to the south in the Great Colorado Valley. The Halchidhoma fled and joined related groups to the east (Kroeber 1925; Dobyns, Ezell and Ezell 1963, Bean and Vane 1978:5-26). Although it may be that in years prior to this the Halchidhoma, who were friendly with the Cahuilla, made some use of the Project Area, we have found no record of such use.

In the early 1830s, the Mojave permitted the Chemehuevis, who were more enthusiastic fish eaters than the Mojaves, to move into the Great Colorado Valley from which the Halchidhoma had fled. Mojave elder Frances Stillman, speaking many years later, explained that the Chemehuevi Valley on the western side of the river was a sacred place to the Mojave, "where the departed spirits live, coming down from up above," and therefore a dangerous place for Mojaves to live. "We were not going to live there, [and] we wanted to get them off the desert, and to live there in that valley. Besides, there's other game there [besides fish], like rabbits and things (Stillman 1988, cited in Sherer 1994:45, ftnt.). The Chemehuevi, as we have noted, have a slightly different story.

Indians educated at the coastal missions continued to find refuge among the Mojave, bringing new language and other skills, and sometimes horses. For example, of six Mojaves met in 1844 by the American John Charles Fremont on the Mojave Trail across the Mojave Desert, one had been a "Mission Indian" before the missions were broken up. He spoke Spanish fluently, and told Fremont that the Mojave lived along the Colorado River and the mountains bounding its valley to the north, and that they raised melons of various kinds (Fremont 1845).

3. The United States Takes Over. The United States acquired the Southwest from Mexico by treaty in 1848, but this transfer of ownership was not meaningful at the time to the Mojave, who had not considered their territory to be owned by Mexico. From their point of view, it had belonged to them and continued to be their property. The citizens of the U.S., however, urgently demanded that their new territory be explored and mapped. It was not until 1850 that arrangements could be made to send the first expedition westward across the lower Colorado River north of the Quechan area, an expedition headed by Captain Lorenzo Sitgreaves of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Passing through what became Union Pass to the Colorado River after a difficult trip through a desert parched as a result of a drought, the Sitgreaves party reached the Colorado River someplace west of present-day Kingman, Arizona. Following a well-worn trail down the river the party found Indian signs experienced men of the party interpreted as warnings against proceeding further, but when they finally encountered Mojaves, they found them inclined to be friendly, eager to run alongside them, talking and laughing. In the evening, they brought "small quantities of pumpkins, beans, corn, and sometimes wheat to barter, and indicated they would like to set up a market to trade more extensively. Unfortunately for the continuance of such good relations, Sitgreaves' men, being somewhat frightened of the Mojave, tried to eject the Indians from the camp. Elderly women among the Mojave vociferously protested, and in the morning the doctor in the party was shot in the leg by an arrow (which did no harm), and several other arrows fell among the mules. They were allowed to depart in the morning without incident, except for "yells of defiance" from a distance (Sitgreaves 1854, cited in Sherer 1994:33-36).

A week later, the Sitgreaves expedition had a friendly reception at the next Mojave settlement, where they were told by a Spanish-speaking Mojave that they were eight days' journey from the mouth of the Gila. They were also given a description of Camp Yuma. The expedition members gave gifts to some of the older men, but remained vigilant, a precaution that proved fortunate when a soldier lagging in the rear was attacked and killed by a band of 50 to 60 Mojaves, who then attacked the party as a whole with arrows. Four were killed and several wounded by firearms in the short battle that followed, and they left, taking with them the "musketoon" of the soldier they had killed (Sitgreaves 1854, cited in Sherer 1994:36). The Sitgreaves expedition encountered no further Mojaves by the time they reached Camp Yuma, near the mouth of the Gila River, but they were near starvation by the time they arrived, having at the end only the most exhausted of their few remaining mules for food, and having had to abandon most of their supplies and equipment. At Camp Yuma, provisions to last them until they reached San Diego were waiting for them (Sitgreaves 1854, cited in Sherer 1994:36-37). As Sherer notes, the Mojave now "knew that a small band of half-starved white soldiers had refused their proffered friendship and the foodstuff they were willing to share in a lean year, and that the starving men had later paid for the rudeness by having to eat their bony mules before they reached Camp Yuma" (1994:41).

The Whipple Expedition, a large scientific expedition led by Lt. Amiel Weeks Whipple, Brevet Lt. J. C. Ives, and 2nd Lt. D. S. Stanley, which was the next official expedition to come through, was more fortunate in that the years 1852-1853 preceding their trip had been bountiful in the desert, and that the expedition was better equipped than its predecessors to begin with. It was to leave a better impression. This expedition was sent out to find a "practical route for a railroad along the 35th parallel from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean" (Sherer 1994:41). The expedition included scientists interested in astronomy, meteorology, biology, and minerals. It also included H. Baldwin Mollhausen, a German who was not only a topographer, but also an artist and something of an ethnographer, whose drawings, paintings, and text make his diary of the expedition a treasure trove of information about the Mojave and their country. Whipple's official report (1856) gives additional details (Sherer 1994:40-44).

This expedition reached the Colorado River via the Bill Williams Fork, and thus came upon it near the place where the Parker Dam would later be built. The western valley of the river was occupied by the Chemehuevi, who tried in vain to get the expedition, which was ascending the eastern side of the river, to cross the river to trade with them, but the western side was Mojave territory, and the expedition waited to trade with the Mojave, who met it, on February 23, 1854, at a place 1 I or 12 miles up the valley. They left Mojave territory on March 2, 1854, after more than a week of intermingling with the Mojaves in both formal and informal modes. They were met, as they entered Mojave territory by a Mojave chief and some of his band, who offered to trade a basket of maize for two strings of white porcelain beads. After this exchange was completed, general trading commenced. The entire nine days spent with the Mojaves were characterized by constant close comingling of the two groups, except that the Indians were not allowed in camp at night. Trading was active and constant. The assistance of the Mojaves proved to be invaluable to the surveyors, as well as to the scientists who were gathering information about plants, animals, and minerals. More than once the leaders of the expedition were formally introduced to various Mojave chiefs. At length, the chiefs held a National Council and (1) "approved a proposed plan for a road for travel and trade through their country; (2) they decided to show Whipple their secret trail to the ocean," along which "there was water and grass; (3) and they elected a high-ranking Mojave to guide the expedition over the route" (Sherer 1994:54). The Whipple Expedition's visit appears to stand out in Mojave tribal memory as a time when the people met "government-to-government" with the United States, and jointly made plans for an accommodation with each other. The Mojaves, always great traders, were optimistic about having a great route for travel and trade pass through their country.

The facts gathered by the Whipple Expedition showed that a railroad to the Pacific Ocean along the 35th parallel was feasible. The first step toward building the railroad was building a wagon road along which people and supplies could be moved. An expedition under the leadership of Edward Fitzgerald Beale, Superintendent of Indian Affairs in California, a man who had a long acquaintance with California and travel between there and the east coast, was organized. It had a two-fold purpose: to survey a wagon road from Fort Defiance, New Mexico, to the Colorado River and to test the efficacy of camels as a means of military transport in the deserts of the American Southwest. As the expedition moved across the desert, it not only surveyed a possible route, but left wagon tracks and campsites that wagon trains could use in the immediate future, before any official road building commenced (Sherer 1994:65-67).

Although Beale had his men light fire signals in the mountains overlooking the Colorado Mountains overlooking the river to tell the Mojaves he was coming, his men held themselves prepared to fight when they arrived on October 18, 1857, and camped on the riverside. The Mojaves, who regarded the establishment of a wagon road as a fulfillment of the agreement made with Whipple that a trade route be established through their territory, made no move to stop them as they passed through Mojave territory and crossed the river on October 19, except that the Mojave blocked them from going downriver. On October 20, the river crossing successfully completed, the Mojave came into Beale's camp to trade (Sherer 1994:68-69).

Beale's expedition left none of the warm memories with the Mojaves that Whipple's expedition had. Mojave elder Frances Stillman commented that the Mojave wanted to be friends, but like Sitgreaves before him Beale wanted nothing to do with them. He "came right in and looked like he owned the place, and didn't bother to talk to anybody, or ask if he might cross or anything. That's what our people didn't like about Beale. He acted as though he owned the whole world" and the expedition crossed "right in the middle of their land and their river" (Stillman 1989, cited in Sherer 1994:69).

Beale took his expedition as far west as Tejon, let it rest for several months, and then headed back to Fort Defiance in early 1858. In the meantime, several circumstances made the Mojaves uncertain about the good intentions of the United States. War was brewing between the United States and the Utah Territory, which had been settled ten years earlier by members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, popularly known as Mormons. Both the U.S. War Department and the Mormons saw control of the lower Colorado River as an important military advantage, and soon the War Department had word that the Mormons had sent men to infiltrate the Mojaves, spreading alarm and suspicion. The War Department was principally represented in the area by the temporary commander of Fort Yuma, Lt. William A. Winder (Sherer 1994:71-72, 74).

With war clouds gathering, there was considerable interest in the question of how far upstream the Colorado River was navigable, a question best solved by sending a steamboat up the river to find out. As it happened, there was a boat in the vicinity that could be used for the purposes, the General Jessup, owned by Captain George Alonzo Johnson, which was used to make trips up the river as far as Fort Yuma. When, under orders from the Secretary of War, Lt. Joseph C. Ives, earlier with the Whipple Expedition, arrived at the mouth of the Colorado River with the makings of a smaller steamboat, the Explorer, that needed to be put together in order for Ives to take it up the Colorado River to see if it were navigable, Johnson offered to take the General Jessup up the river at once to explore it, and requested a detachment of troops for protection. Winder assigned a detachment under Lt. James A. White to accompany Johnson and assigned them the task of finding out the attitude of the Mojaves. Beaver trapper Pauline Weaver also accompanied the detachment. Captain Johnson took his big steamboat all the way up the river to Cottonwood Island, thus proving that the Colorado River was navigable this far, and then turned back, and on January 22, 1858, anchored it at the place on the river's eastern bank from which Beale's expedition had crossed the river earlier in the fall. The Mojaves, whom the Mormons had succeeded in alarming about the intentions of the United States, met the boat's crew with friendliness, although they found the fact that their land could be invaded via the river upsetting. Lt. White assured them of the government's good intentions toward them, and, by the time the boat anchored, felt reasonably sure they would side with the United States should any armed conflict with the Mormons arise (Sherer 1994:72-75).

The Mojaves' suspicions were raised again when Beale's expedition arrived at the crossing place on the western side later the same day. Although a happenstance, the coincident arrivals appeared to have been arranged beforehand (1994:75).

The General Jessup ferried Beale's men and their baggage across the river, and then returned to the river mouth, 350 miles to the south. Beale, upon the completion of his expedition, ended his report with the recommendation that a military post be established where the wagon road he had been surveying crossed the river to protect emigrant trains from the Mojave (1994:77-78).

Too impatient to wait for the new road to be completed, two wagon trains of emigrants left Santa Fe in 1858 to try it out, one headed by L. R. Rose, and following it another led by Gillum Bailey. One member of the Bailey train, John Udell, who had had previous experience traveling in the west, opposed the choice of route, but was overruled. The trains' leaders unfortunately hired as guide a man who had guided both Whipple's and Beale's expeditions and had been found incompetent by both (1994:80).

It was late August and the heat was intense. By the time the two wagon trains had reached the summit of Sitgreaves Pass in the Black Mountains, they were exhausted, hungry, and thirsty, and had been harassed for some time by Yavapai and Havasupai in the Peach Springs area. One small group of them, including L. R. Rose, who wrote the only eyewitness account of the next few days, pushed onward to the river, which they could see from the mountain tops. On the way to the river, the party encountered Mojaves, who seemed friendly, and at first gave the party directions and other help; however, when the wagon train reached the river, set up camp about a mile from it, and drove the livestock to the river to drink, the Mojaves, who had learned that yet another party would be coming through, began to kill and drive off cattle, cook and eat them, and "when caught in the act would laugh and treat the matter as a huge joke" (Rose 1859).

According to Chooksa Homar,6 the Mojaves had been undecided as to a course of action. Aratêve, the high chief of the southern group of Mojaves, and five "brave men" or sub-chiefs had been involved some years before in a Quechan war with the Cocopa and the latter's allies. At its end, they promised the commander of Fort Yuma not to fight against other Indians, and were given written papers confirming their agreement not to. Now that the emigrants had violated their territory, the five sub-chiefs were tempted to attack them, anticipating that if they allowed the whites to stay in their area, the intruders would take their wives, enslave their children, and put all the Mojave to work. They had heard that in areas to the east, the whites had taken over the country, penned up animals rather than letting them run free, and might do the same to the Indians. Tribal elders urged peace on the grounds that these leaders had the papers showing that they had agreed not to fight, but in the face of the emigrants' abuse of Mojave hospitality, the militant sub-chiefs decided to defend their territory and their property (Kroeber and Kroeber 1973:11-12).

6In 1903, a Mojave known as Jo Nelson, whose Mojave name was Chooksa Homar, narrated to anthropologist A. L. Kroeber through an interpreter an account of Mojave wars between 1854 and 1880. Kroeber's son, Clifton Kroeber, an ethnohistorian, edited the manuscript his father had begun, and had it published by the University of California Press in 1973.

In the meantime, on August 27, the Bailey party had passed through Sitgreaves Pass in its turn and had camped at the edge of the valley. The young men in the party drove the party's cattle down to the river to drink, intending to return later for the wagons. When the Rose party moved to the banks of the River on August 29, two Mojave chiefs, probably Cairook and Sickahot, visited the camps in turn with their retinues. Gifts were exchanged. The chiefs asked if the travelers were planning to settle on the river, and were told that the emigrants intended to go to California (Rose 1859).

On August 30, the Rose party moved its camp down the river about a mile to the crossing place, noting with pleasure the "grass" for grazing, and the cottonwood trees that would be useful for constructing their camp and building rafts for crossing the river. They apparently did not realize that the cottonwoods were considered valuable property by the Mojave. The trees provided shade from the sun, lumber essential for house poles, and material for clothing (the inside of the bark was used for women's clothing). Moreover, the grass that the emigrants' cattle tramped over and grazed on constituted Mojave fields, which were, of course, not laid out in rectangles nor surrounded by fences. Many Mojaves began to appear in the vicinity. Because they thus far had been friendly, the Rose party took no alarm as the afternoon wore on, but in the evening the Mojaves attacked, surrounding the camp, and coming within 15 feet of the wagons to discharge their arrows. Of the 25 men in the party, one was killed in the battle at the camp, and 11 were wounded. The Mojaves, subjected to bullets rather than arrows, lost 17 within sight of the emigrant camp, and possibly more (Sherer 1994:82-85, Rose 1859).

Panic struck the emigrants. Added to their distress over the results of the battle, was the fact that in the midst of their own battle, Rose got word that Miss Bentner, a member of a family from his party who had stayed in the mountains, had been killed.

The emigrants had lost all but 17 of 400 head of cattle, and all but 10 of 37 horses in the battle by the river. They also retained two mules, but they had lost their equipment and supplies, and they feared that all their friends left in the mountains had been killed. Despite the fact that San Bernardino was only 200 miles away and Albuquerque, 560 miles, they decided to turn back (Sherer 1994:85). Fortunately, the Bailey party had not been killed and turned back with them, and they met two other westbound parties following behind who also turned back and shared supplies with them. Before the combined parties reached Albuquerque, they were in a destitute state, but managed to get word to Major Backus, in command of the U.S. Army post there, who sent them sufficient food and supplies that they were able to reach the city (Sherer 1994:85-86).

All four members of the Bentner family been killed by Walapais, among whom were seven renegade Mojaves. The murder of this family was interpreted as a massacre, and news of it touched off a round of misunderstanding that resulted in the establishment of Fort Mojave and the U.S. military control of the Mojave (1994:86).

News of these events in late August, 1858, spread across the continent, first as exaggerated rumor, later in published versions. The eyewitness account written by L. J. Rose on October 28, 1858, was published by the Missouri Republican on November 29, 1859, more than a year later. 7 Colonel Bonneville, the officer in charge of the U.S. Army's Department in New Mexico reported to the General of the Army in Washington, and probably sent word to General N. S. Clarke, commander of the Military Department in San Francisco. General Clarke reacted promptly by sending Lieutenant Colonel William Hoffman and an escort to the Colorado River to arrange for a military post at "Beale's Crossing" to protect emigrants as they came through. Troops were to follow. The Secretary of War's instructions to do much the same thing arrived after Hoffman was already well into the desert, and did not reach Hoffman until after he had had a decidedly unfriendly encounter with the northern group of Mohaves at Beaver Lake. Each side was suspicious of the other, and each expressed the suspicion in a characteristic manner, but misinterpreted the actions of the other. For example, Hoffman's party, although its members interacted with the Paiutes and Mojaves they met in the daytime, declared their camp closed to more than 15 at a time, and to all Indians at night-an indication of hostility to the Mojaves, to whom open hospitality was only polite. The Mojaves in turn shot four arrows into Hoffman's camp, mocked the behavior of the strangers, and otherwise tested the intentions of the visitors. In the end, Hoffman made preparations to return the way he had come, but had not left when his party was surrounded by Mojaves coming closer and closer. He sent the pack and wagon ahead and then ordered one of his platoons to dismount and fire at the Indians. He reported that 10 or 12 were seen to fall. Then, as he and the platoon marched to catch up with the rest of their party, some 250 to 300 Mojaves started to follow, but fell back after "a few well-directed shots on some scattering ones" (Sherer 1994:87-94). Chooksa Homar reported that three Mojaves were hit, but none killed. A. L. Kroeber noted that to the Indians, Hoffman's visit seemed unmotivated (Kroeber and Kroeber 1973:20).

7John Udell, who was a member of the expedition who had not gone down to the river, wrote an account of it in his journal (1859), but it was not published until considerably later.

Hoffman reported that the route he had taken across the Mojave Desert was too difficult to send troops through in larger numbers. General Clarke followed his advice and sent him to Fort Yuma to organize incoming troops and establish a supply line, preparatory to establishing a post at the place from which Beale had crossed the Mojave in 1857. Hoffman, whose report of his encounter at Beaver Lake was interpreted by Clarke as the report of an attack by the Mojaves, was given orders in accord with this view. He was to march against the Mojaves and Chemehuevis, and if they declined to engage in combat, to demand the chiefs who had made the attack on his party and take them hostage. If the hostages were not forthcoming, Mojave fields were to be laid waste, and further cultivation of the fields denied them (Sherer 1994:93-94).

In the spring of 1859, while Hoffman was still trying to establish a fort at Beale's Crossing, Beale was assembling a road-working party in Albuquerque to build the road he had laid out on his earlier trip. It seemed advisable to send some of the food and supplies they needed from Los Angeles. After due consideration, Beale's associate, Samuel A. Bishop, left Los Angeles on March 1 with 38 men, "ten camels, six 6-mule wagons, and a number of pack mules." At Cave Canyon in the Mojave Desert, they were joined by a "mail party" of the Central Overland Mail Company. This enlarged group was met by an estimated 1,500 Mojave, assembled by the five militant chiefs against the advice of Aratêve, which shot at the whites in such a way as to purposefully miss hitting them. Both sides then retreated, but the five militant chiefs and some others eventually attacked the intruders, who shot two of them, one of them fatally (Kroeber and Kroeber 1973:17-19). Bishop sent most of his party back to Pah-Ute Creek, cached some supplies there, sent his wagons and teams "back to civilization," and pushed on with camels, mules, and some supplies to cross the Colorado north of the Mojave villages, and thereby get some supplies to Beale (Casebier 1975).

Hoffman gave notice to the Quechan that he was establishing a military post among the Mojave, but that no peaceful Indian would be harmed. Soldiers poured into Fort Yuma, and two steamers Colorado and General Jessup stood ready to carry them up the river; one command of dragoons marched to the river across the Mojave despite Hoffman's opinion that the trip was too difficult by that route. When these troops arrived together at Beale's Crossing, Hoffman was able to establish a post there without any opposition from the Mojave, who, on April 23, 1859, accepted the terms he had laid down for surrender, which included there being no opposition to the establishment of roads and posts through and in their country, and travel free from harassment; one hostage from each of the six Mojave bands; the chief who commanded the attack on Hoffman as hostage; and three of those who took part in the attack as hostages (Sherer 1994:94-95).

The chief who had commanded the attack was Cairook, who willingly gave himself up as a hostage. The eight other hostages comprised two sons of chiefs, four brothers of chiefs, and two nephews of chiefs (1994:95-96).

Neither General Clarke nor Colonel Hoffman felt that the new fort would last very long, being situated in such an unfriendly climate and so far from a source of supplies. In fact, they doubted that there would be many emigrants who would undertake the difficult journey across the desert that this route entailed. Brevet Major Lewis A. Armistead, who was left in charge of the new fort, was more optimistic. He thought the fort was in an excellent location, close to sources of wood, water, and grass, and having the river as a route over which supplies could be sent. He thought the post was misnamed, however, and changed its name from Camp Colorado to Fort Mojave (1994:99).

The nine hostages held at Fort Yuma found the confinement oppressive, and eventually plotted an escape. In late June 1859, Cairook agreed to seize and hold the sentinel during a period when they were allowed out of jail for fresh air, allowing the rest to escape. Cairook and one other were caught and killed, and the rest escaped, but the army never found out that three made their way back to their people. A mourning ceremony was held for the two who died. Several weeks later, Mojaves stole stock from a mail station that had been established two miles south of Fort Mojave, and attacked it. Mojaves tore up melons planted by the soldiers, and the soldiers shot a Mojave, one of three who were working in a garden. Major L. A. Armistead, commandant at Fort Mojave, frustrated at the escape of the hostages and the difficulty of getting the Mojave to engage in battle, was able to precipitate a battle between about 50 soldiers and hundreds of Indians-the first pitched battle that had been fought. Armistead reported 23 dead Mojave bodies found on the battlefield, and there were probably more. No soldiers were killed, but three were wounded (Casebier 1975:98; Kroeber and Kroeber 1973:27-31).

Peace then descended on the Mojave, but their former isolation was brought to an end by the regular supplies that were brought to Fort Mojave on the Mojave Road that Beale and others had forged, following in many places the old Mojave trail that had developed over hundreds of years. Hoffman had been wrong-freight could be economically carried over the road (Casebier 1975:101-106). It became U.S. government policy to reinforce the power of the Mojave leader, Aratêve (Irataba, Iretaba), who led a faction of the Mojave who, recognizing the overwhelming power of the United States, were in favor of peaceful relations. There was an opposing faction, led by traditionalist "strong men," that favored militant opposition to the invading peoples (C. Kroeber 1965; Sherer 1966).

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Fort Mojave was closed down because the troops were needed elsewhere. The Mojaves were asked to guard the buildings (Casebier 1975:131).

4. The Mining Industry Begins. The discovery of placer gold and silver deposits in the California, Nevada, and Arizona deserts brought traffic across the Mojave Road and to the Colorado River in the vicinity of Fort Mojave. El Dorado Canyon "on the Colorado River about twenty-five miles south of where Hoover Dam is now located" was one such mining area. An area along the Colorado River near La Paz, New Mexico, was another. Miners from California went to La Paz either down the Coachella Valley and the river crossing near Yuma, or by the Mojave Road to the Colorado River in the vicinity of Fort Mojave, and then down the river to La Paz (Casebier 1973:131). Indians as well as whites worked in these mines.

There was considerable sympathy with the Confederacy in southern California, but there was also sufficient loyalty to the Union that an army raised in California could be sent to New Mexico to drive Confederate forces there back into Texas. It was found necessary to reactivate Fort Mojave, and in May 1963, two companies of 4th Infantry, California Volunteers, were sent to occupy the fort (Casebier 1973:132).

Aratêve's policy of cooperation with the United States encouraged the many immigrants who were interested in the various discoveries of mineral deposits in southeastern California and adjacent areas. Unfortunately, the intrusion of so many Euro-Americans in the area before very long made the Indians a minority, and there began to be talk that the Indians-Mojave, Yavapai, Walapai, and Chemehuevi-should all be gathered up and placed on a reservation. Territorial Indian Agent Charles P. Poston met with leaders of these groups.

In 1865, an act of Congress established the Colorado River Indian Reservation (CRIR) south of the Mojave Valley in an area that had been occupied in the early part of the century by the Halchidhoma, and later by the Chemehuevi. After the establishment of Fort Mojave, about 800 Mojaves under the leadership of Aratêve, who favored cooperating with the Americans, had moved to this vicinity, but the rest of the Mojaves, under the leadership of the five more militant traditionalist leaders, stayed in the Mojave Valley, creating a permanent division of the tribe. The government intended the new reservation to be occupied by various tribes who had lost their homelands in the Southwest. Its agents urged Mojaves and others to resettle there, but met with only moderate success at getting people to move there. Many of those who were persuaded to move there stayed for only brief periods. The remaining Mojaves remained in the vicinity of Fort Mojave where they had lived before the Americans came.

The Chemehuevi and the Mojave had lived amicably side by side for many decades, but in the 1860s, relationships between them cooled, primarily because of the arrival of so many Euro-Americans made living difficult for all Native Americans. As the situation deteriorated, conflict developed between the Mojave and Chemehuevi that by 1864 approached the state of war. The fact that the U.S. Army used Mojave troops in military actions against the Chemehuevi exacerbated the situation. As noted in our discussion of Chemehuevi history, it was at this time that Chemehuevi began to settle at Twentynine Palms and in the Coachella Valley (Kroeber and Kroeber 1973:33-46; Trafzer, Madrigal, and Madrigal 1994:62-67). A peace agreement between the Mojave and the Chemehuevi was negotiated in 1867 (Dent 1868).

Conditions at the newly established CRIR were not good. It was difficult to carry out the traditional flood plain agriculture with so many travellers coming through, and there was insufficient water for other agriculture. In 1867, Mojaves began to dig an irrigation canal at the reservation, but the government funds that supported them ran out six months later (Feudge 1868). A whooping cough epidemic struck Fort Mojave in 1868, killing about 100 of the Mojaves, and spread down the River to CRIR, after which the Yavapia living there fled. In 1869, only 350 Mojaves were left in the vicinity of La Paz. Aratêve and his Mojaves were the only Indians at CRIR. Government efforts to entice other Indians there had come to nothing (Jones 1870:658-659; Andrews 1870).

In 1870, there were 690 Mojaves and 17 Yavapais living at CRIR, all dependent on government rations. A canal intended to provide irrigation water was finished in July of that year, but was poorly designed, and resulted in a flood that destroyed crops and washed away river banks for some distance. The only Indians still living there were 500 Mojaves under Aratêve, who was becoming disenchanted with a reservation where there was only alkaline soil and insufficient water (Price 1870). There were 3,000 Mojaves at Fort Mohave.

The Office of Indian Affairs (OIA) and its agents became increasingly discouraged with CRIR. Syphilis was endemic, but there was no hospital, and no school. When the Colorado River again overflowed in 1872, the Mojave were threatened with withdrawal of rations in order to get them to plant their fields (Tonner 1872a; Bendell 1872). Between 1873 and 1876, the reservation was expanded from 75,000 to 265,858 acres in order to place more Indians there. A school for the Mojave opened, but the teacher's salary was funded for only six months (Fontana 1958:22-23; Tonner 1874). Eight hundred Walapais settled on the reservation in 1874 left before 1875 because of the shortage of food, the loss of life and property, and generally unhealthful conditions. At this time, it was reported that Chemehuevi had been successfully settled on the west side of the river. The death of Aratêve in 1874 compounded the Mojave problems (Smith 1977), and a severe smallpox epidemic in 1876 further depleted their numbers (Trover and Swindler 1972:10).

5. Railroads. All the Native Americans in the vicinity were greatly impacted beginning in the 1860s and the 1870s by the construction of the railroads. For one thing, the government set aside alternate sections of land in a 20-mile swath along the route of each railroad to be sold to pay construction costs. This set aside applied to Mojave traditional lands, and over the years lost the Mojave the right to use those areas that settlers had bought. Secondly, the railroads brought jobs during the construction phase, and a means of transportation and other economic opportunities once the trains were in operation. After the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad came to Needles in 1883, Indian women began to sell craft work, such as ceramic beads and pots, beadwork, and painted bows and arrows at the train station (Smith 1977:93). The emigrant trains brought into the area employed Indians in their various endeavors. The complete history of the Mojaves from this time on can best be written by historians familiar with the local history of the area, including the Project Area, inasmuch as they were an integral part of the emerging desert scene. A considerable number of Mojaves left the lower Colorado River to settle in towns through which the railroads passed (Smith 1977; Wilson and Taylor 1952).

By the 1890s, a system of irrigation canals was completed at CRIR, but it was not until 1900 that the first steam irrigation pumping plant was installed, and as many as 500 acres could be irrigated. In 1904, an allotment plan was initiated that gave each tribal member five acres of irrigable land. Once all tribal members had their five acres, the rest of the land was to be opened to non-Indian settlers. Settlers in nearby areas were not good neighbors. They rustled Indian cattle, and employed few Native Americans (Fontana 1958:23; Dekens 1962).

In 1908, the town of Parker was laid out on lands that had belonged to the reservation, with the money received going to CRIR; unfortunately, the cost of the irrigating canals and pumping plant were subtracted from the total. The Arizona and Pacific Railway Company was also allowed to purchase acreage to construct a station and terminal facilities (Fontana 1958:22, 32-34). In 1911, individual allotments were increased from five acres to ten acres. The irrigation system was improved over the years until in 1930 over 7,000 acres were irrigated (Fontana 1958:31).

The Mojaves who remained in Mojave Valley and refused to go to CRIR opposed Aratêve's polity of peaceful cooperation with the government, but in the event opposed mostly the government's efforts to have them move to CRIR. They in fact allied themselves with the U.S. Army against hostile Native American groups such as the Walapai. Once the railroads came to Needles, they moved there, working for the railroad or for merchants (Sherer 1966:11-13; 54-55).

By 1890, there was no longer a need for a Fort in the Mojave Valley. Fort Mojave buildings were used instead as a boarding school for Mojave children, including those from CRIR. From 1890 until 1931, all Mojave children between the ages of 6 and 18, including those from CRIR, were required to live at the school, where a persistent effort was made to replace their Mojave cultural traditions with American traditions, a policy pursued at all the government schools for Native American children at the time. It was consistent with the belief, unfortunately held by the majority of those advocating for Indian rights, that Indians should be protected and preserved, but not their culture.

In accord with this kind of policy, the OIA just after the turn of the century insisted that all members of a family have the same surname, and that they adopt the English naming system in which all children took the name of their fathers, instead of only the daughters, as in the Mojave naming system. The change would facilitate the allotment of land, an important issue for the school superintendent, who, after 1903, also acted as Indian Agent and had authority over all the Indians within a 30-mile radius of the school. This meant that members of a Mojave clan might have as many as 18 surnames. A great deal of confusion resulted, since Mojave men belonged to clans, but did not use their clan names. The Mojave had adapted by using their English names when interacting with outsiders, but for the most part used their Mojave names in private (Sherer 1965:42-46).

Another pressure on the Mojaves in Mojave Valley at the turn of the century was a renewed effort to get them to move to CRIR. Agriculture in the traditional style was no longer feasible, what with the railroad having taken so much of their land, and the proposed damming of the Colorado River about to take more. Since these Mojave refused to move to CRIR, the 14,000 acres (5,700 ha) belonging to the Fort Mojave military post, and an additional 17,328 acres (7,012 ha) were set aside as the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation (FMIR) in 1910 and 1911. Over the years, many Mojave ceased farming efforts despite having the reservation set aside for them. Needles became an increasingly important railroad town, and these Mojaves gradually became a more urban people. By that time the Fort Mojave school was closed in 1931, most of the FMIR band had moved to Needles, and had found work there to support themselves.

The railroads peaked in popularity about 1930 with the increasing popularity of the automobile. The passage of the River and Harbor Act of 1935, authorizing the construction of Parker Dam for hydroelectric power also brought change to the lower Colorado River peoples. The Parker Dam was completed in 1938, but it took only until 1940 for the silt between the Hoover Dam upstream and the Parker Dam to build up to the point that 4,000 acres on the FMIR washed away, carrying with them the homes of the two remaining farmers. The Head Gate Rock Dam for irrigation and flood control was constructed in 1941. There was another flood in 1947, whereupon the tribe bought some 16 acres of land near the city of Needles, and built 50 homes for the people whose homes had been destroyed. Farming on the reservation gradually decreased until there were only two farms left in 1965 (Fontana 1958:53-54).

The Roosevelt administration in the 1930s was more sympathetic to Native Americans than earlier ones. The 1934 Indian Reorganization Act encouraged Indian bands to write their own governing documents and set up formalized councils. At CRIR, the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT), which included some Chemehuevis, adopted a constitution in 1937, in 1940 adopted a Land Code that made it possible for members to exchange their ten-acre allotments for 40-acre assignments of tribal land-land that until this time the government had insisted on viewing as surplus land, open to any settler (Fontana 1958:25).

6. World War II and Beyond. After World War II, the government talked of bringing Indians from other tribes to settle CRIR's "surplus" lands. As had always been the case, the OIA, now renamed the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), was a difficult entity with which to work. Possibly to ward off further attempts by the government to give reservation lands to others, the tribal council in 1945 passed Ordinance Number Five, which provided that the reservation be divided into a 25,000-acre Northern Reserve for tribal members, and a Southern Reserve for colonization by Walapai, Hopi, Apache, Zuni, Papago, Havasupai, Quechan, and other Native Americans, who would then become members of CRIT. Tribal members on the Northern Reserve were to receive irrigation for 15,000 acres without cost in return (Fontana 1958:35-36). Outsiders were slow to take advantage of the newly opened lands until Congress in 1949 appropriated $5,750,000 for relocation and resettlement of Indians at CRIT. During the next two years, the number of those who moved to the reservation increased (Fontana 1958:53-54), but the number of new colonists never exceeded 156, and by 1976, only 49 of these remained. In the meantime, there was a great deal of controversy over Ordinance Number Five, with the Mojaves at CRIR claiming it was illegal, that they had a legal right to the lands that had been set aside for them, and the government continuing to urge colonization. The Mojaves particularly objected to giving the new colonists reservation membership. The question was settled in 1964 when Congress ruled that Mojaves, Chemehuevis, Hopis, and Navajos resident on the reservation be given clear title to the reservation as joint tenants of CRIR. All remaining colonists, their spouses, and dependent children became full members (Roth 1976).

After the Chemehuevi were granted a separate reservation in 1970, Chemehuevi members had the choice of enrolling at CRIR or the new Chemehuevi Indian Reservation. As of 1971, the latter claimed 312 members (Roth 1976:506-516).

The Claims Cases attracted much public attention in the early 1950s. Eventually, after several false starts, the Mojaves at FMIR and those at CRIR filed consolidated claims with the Indian Claims Commission, which ruled in 1959 that the Mojave Indians had traditionally owned and used Cottonwood Valley, Mojave Valley, and the Bill Williams Fork area.

As the last quarter of the nineteenth century arrived, the Mojave on both FMIR and CRIR had succeeded in solving their most urgent problems. As of 1964, FMIR after much effort got government approval of its leasing some of its land for development, and began to oversee its development into a recreation area. In 1970, CRIT had secured full title to reservation lands, which were well irrigated thanks to government efforts to make them attractive to outsiders, and turned its attention to developing these lands, and regaining those it had lost.

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Last Updated: 02-Aug-2004