Cultures at a Crossroads: An Administrative History
NPS Logo


On May 31, 1998, Pipe Spring National Monument celebrated its 75th anniversary. Festivities included guided tours of "Winsor Castle," living history demonstrations, pioneer and Native American craft demonstrations, old-time tunes performed on banjo and fiddle, Indian dancing and drumming, and informal talks about the management and preservation of the monument. Former, long-time Custodian Leonard Heaton would have approved of the free dinner of pit-roasted beef and Dutch oven-baked potatoes served to 400 at the celebration, what he used to call a "big feed!" In a number of ways, the day's activities were reminiscent of the old Establishment Day celebrations Heaton had hosted at the monument during the 1950s. Prior to the event, the Canyon Country Quilt Guild demonstrated quilting over a three-month period in the visitor center. Monument staff attempted to track down descendants of the "W" families - the Winsors, Whitmores, and Woolleys - to extend a special invitation. About 1,000 people attended the one-day event, most from towns within a 100-mile radius. A special exhibit on the history of National Park Service management of the site was produced and on display at the visitor center throughout the year.

After completing this report, I pondered the question, "If one could miraculously be transported back to Pipe Spring in the year 1923, what would be different?" The most dramatic differences are visual ones. The once-crumbling buildings have been fully restored and are well maintained. As for the landscape, most remnants of the site's late 19th and early 20th century ranching activities - the old corral fencing and cattle troughs, mud-lined reservoirs, earth compacted by cattle watering at the site - are all gone, replaced by verdant growth of shade trees, fruit orchards, and demonstration gardens. In place of a caretaker and cowhands inhabiting the Pipe Spring fort, employee housing is discretely tucked behind trees some distance south of the historic area. Rooms of the historic buildings are furnished now with artifacts that speak to the visitor of a way of life that none has ever experienced and few can imagine, life 120 years ago on the remote Arizona Strip.

Aside from the visual differences between the Pipe Spring of 1923 and now, there are other, more subtle differences. Not only a window to the past, this national monument is a window on the present, one through which we can see a nation wrestling on a daily basis with the human costs of Westward expansion. In years past, descendents of Euroamerican settlers sought to commemorate the sacrifices of their forebears, often through the preservation of such historic sites as Pipe Spring. Today, the country's collective consciousness has broadened to consider the impact that such settlement had on native peoples, to consider what they too sacrificed, almost always without choice. Since the 1970s, beginning with the rise of Indian activism in the United States, Pipe Spring National Monument has made a sustained effort to incorporate the story of the Kaibab Paiute people, struggling at times with how this could best be done. More and more, with the support of the National Park Service, the Kaibab Paiute are telling their own stories, leaving the listener to ponder history's lessons as well as its paradoxes.

The task directive for this administrative history specified that there were to be six areas of concentration: the monument's creation, its administration from 1923 to 1990, the evolution of the buildings and landscape, the history of water rights and water use, the development of interpretive themes and services, and - since the monument is located within the Kaibab Indian Reservation - relations between the Park Service and the Kaibab Paiute.

The introductory chapter describes the monument's setting and provides background on the ethnography and pre-monument history of the region. Use of and competition for resources is clear at this time and is a recurring theme throughout the region's history, one that would continually color the monument's relations with its neighbors. The remaining chapters chronicle events leading up to the creation of the monument and its subsequent administration. The roles played by private enterprise (especially Union Pacific), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church), private citizens, and state and federal governments in developing tourism in southern Utah and northern Arizona are critical to understanding how and why the monument was established. Indian-white competition in Moccasin for water and land are also described, as this too played a role in the Heaton family's willingness to convey the Pipe Spring title to the federal government. Soon after the monument's establishment in 1923, the competing interests of two sister agencies of the federal government (the National Park Service and the Office of Indian Affairs) emerged as yet another thorny administrative issue.

In some ways, former Custodian Leonard Heaton was typical of early Park Service caretakers, often men with roots in the local community. Working for a nominal $1 per month in exchange for the "privilege" of living at and managing a site, Heaton had his counterparts all over the West. In other ways, however, Pipe Spring's history is unique. Built as a fortification against Indian raids just as treaties ended the threat to white settlers, it was never attacked. After establishment, the monument's location within the Kaibab Indian Reservation presented a number of challenges to the Park Service, the Office of Indian Affairs, and tribal government. Heaton oversaw the monument for a remarkable 37 years, from its early years through the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, and the onset of the war in Viet Nam. He did it with the unflagging help of his entire family, which included his wife Edna and, eventually, 10 children.

Thanks to the detailed monument journal kept by Heaton, we have an unusually personal picture of what life was like for a monument caretaker and his family during the Park Service's formative years. Even his letters and official reports to headquarters contain an open and frank style that reveals his thoughts and feelings on various matters. (This personal perspective of events is often lacking in most official records that administrative histories are based on.) Recent interviews with some of the Kaibab Paiute, as well as Heaton's own records, reveal a man who respected his neighbors and who was in turn held in esteem by Mormons and Indians alike. No other administrator after Heaton was so much a part of the two distinct yet overlapping worlds that lay just outside the monument's boundaries. Later Pipe Spring administrators came up through the ranks as career Park Service personnel. Since nearly all were regarded as "outsiders," they faced one problem that Heaton did not, that of earning the trust and respect of local communities.

Of all the subject areas covered by my research, I found the quality of the monument's public relations with its neighbors, particularly the Kaibab Paiute, the most difficult to quantify through historical documentation. Still, certain things are apparent. What monument managers didn't do was just as important as what they did do in establishing and maintaining good communication with the Tribe. My overall impression is that the individual manager's personal circumstances, interests, and style had much to do with whether or not successful relations were built with members of the Tribe, or for that matter, with the non-Indian community. For example, the fact that Superintendent Bernard Tracy's wife was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that he considered himself a native of the West, and that he loved to farm certainly facilitated the couple's acceptance by local Mormon families. Of course, individual personalities and interests of tribal representatives were also part of the mix, coloring whether relationships with monument staff were close, as during Tracy's tenure, or distant at other times.

At times, a monument manager's particular past experiences infused Pipe Spring with much needed "new blood," reinventing or reinvigorating interpretive programs and relationships with the public. Superintendent Ray Geerdes' prior experience working with Alaska's white and Indian youth through the Neighborhood Youth Corps program in Sitka National Historical Park led to his successfully establishing similar programs at Pipe Spring in the late 1960s.

During the 1960s and 1970s, there was a great deal of face-to-face communication between monument staff and members of the Kaibab Paiute Tribe or its representatives. Mutual cooperation resulted in a wealth of visible benefits to all. The "honeymoon period" between the Tribe and Park Service resulting from their joint development activities in the early 1970s inevitably ended, however, deteriorating from time to time into the proverbial (and literal) spat over who was responsible for cleaning up what. During the 1980s, Superintendent Bill Herr's interests appeared to be in establishing and strengthening social and political relations with the communities of Fredonia and Kanab. There is little evidence that he cultivated either personal or professional relations with the Tribe. Under his tenure, communication with tribal members was often indirect, made through the monument's maintenance man, Doug Dewitz. My impression is that relations with the Tribe stagnated during this period. Relations with Mormon neighbors also appear to have become rather strained in the 1980s as managers experimented with new ways of interpreting the site's history. The love of tradition is strong in this country and change is not easily taken to.

What is apparent from the historical record is that when monument-community relations have been good, truly remarkable things have happened! Much of the credit of the success of the monument's living history program during the 1970s is due to the enthusiastic involvement of interpreters (paid and unpaid) from Moccasin, Fredonia, and Kanab. Federally-funded Community Action programs of that period enabled the monument to employ young whites and Indians alike in unprecedented numbers, arguably making a real social and economic difference in the community. Plans to jointly plan and build a visitor center and joint-use well and water system in the early 1970s, accompanied by a vital and popular interpretive program, resulted in initial bridge building between three very different worlds: that of the white Mormon, the Indian, and the Park Service.

Much to the credit of the monument's current administration, great strides have been made in recent years in improving community relations, particularly with the Tribe. Once again, as it was nearly 30 years ago, Park Service and tribal representatives are communicating face-to-face, looking for ways to solve problems together. Only recently, in 1998, a resource collection agreement - now considered a model for the agency - was made with the Kaibab Paiute Tribe and Southern Paiute Nation for Zion National Park, Pipe Spring National Monument, and Cedar Breaks National Monument. (It is certainly not the first Pipe Spring model worthy of emulation. The joint developments with the Tribe in the early 1970s were considered exemplary at the time, held up as a model for other federal agencies.) Currently, monument management is working closely with the Kaibab Paiute Tribe to transform the current visitor center into a joint Park Service and tribal visitor center. (Ironically, something similar was the original intent of those who planned the building in 1971. Somewhere along the way, the Tribe's inclusion failed to materialize.) Living history interpretation has attained new levels of professionalism, accuracy, and inclusiveness with excellent "pioneer" and Indian presentations and demonstrations routinely available.

Challenges and opportunities will continually present themselves at Pipe Spring National Monument as it enters the next century. The proposed joint visitor center will not only enhance relationships with the Tribe, but also greatly aid in telling the inclusive, culturally complete stories of the site. Pipe Spring should serve as an example to the diversity of our modern American populace, of how different cultures — prehistoric Indian, Southern Paiute, and Euroamerican — utilized and lived within the natural environment differently, and how their practices, contact, and interactions changed lifestyles, and even the environment they relied upon. It can also serve as a monument to the struggles and triumphs of Americans seeking social, economic, and religious freedom in the American West — in this particular instance, the Latter-day Saints. Management continues to be confronted with issues associated with protection, allocation, and distribution of water resources. Current efforts to expand our knowledge of the regional groundwater aquifer and to convince all local communities of its limits and the need to concur in its use and protection are critical. Additional partnerships with tribal government should be built to allow relocation of other facilities (curatorial storage, housing) from the 40-acre monument to the neighboring reservation. All of these visionary goals will require positive relations between the National Park Service, the Kaibab Paiute Tribe, and local descendants of Euroamerican settlers.

As part of its mission to preserve, protect, and interpret its resources, one of the monument's greatest challenges in the coming century is to study the lessons afforded by its history and to strive to become a vital link between the generations and between diverse cultures. During the late 1980s, a visitor wandered into the visitor center and asked one of the Paiute seasonal interpreters at the front desk, "What is this place?" He answered, "Well, do you want the pioneer version, the Indian version, or the Park Service version?" For Pipe Spring National Monument to matter to all our country's citizens in the years ahead, it must find a way to convey the stories and values of the indigenous people, the white settlers, and the National Park Service. Pipe Spring National Monument is indeed a place where cultures are at a crossroads. [1]

<<< Previoius <<< Contents >>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 28-Aug-2006