Perceptions of Indians in the Territorial-Era Phoenix Press
Our perceptions of the perception of Indians in the Old West are colored by countless movies depicting Westerners as Indian haters, innumerable books positioning the Indian as noble victim of white depredations, and threadbare stereotypes confirming the progression of a century. Like the reexamination of Anglo-Indian relations in the Southwest that took place decades ago, it is high time for another look. That previous scholarly exercise attacked the then-pervasive stereotype engendered by the Western movie: the Indian on the warpath. It showed that Indian culture was much richer and vivacious than the movies and other superficial dramatizations let on. We began to see the richness of the many tribes and, simultaneously, to appreciate the frustrations and disappointments they experienced in their dealings with the Americans.
This reexamination also fostered a vilification of these same Americans. The pioneers of the Southwest come across as cutthroat bigots bent on decimation of the Indian civilization, displacement from their sacred lands, and subjugation of the people under the heavy boot of the military. The revisionists hold the massacre at Wounded Knee and countless other atrocities as representative of Anglo avarice, which saw the Indian as an impediment to the Manifest Destiny. They believe that the subtext (and sometimes overt motivation) for all of these deplorable actions is racism—an outright hatred for the Indians. Popular movies like Dances with Wolves spread awareness of this subtext wider and more effectively than any of the dozens of academic treatments.
But has the pendulum swung too far? Where once American culture was guilty of nearsightedness towards the society, is it not now similarly guilty of myopia towards its ancestors, the pioneers? Is the current conception of the pioneers as murderous double-crossers not as two-dimensional as the past notion of Indians as whooping, scalping savages? American civilization in the latter half of the nineteenth century was far more advanced than many modern Americans realize. Most of the household goods that we now consider staples and necessities were invented in that period and most of the institutions on which we rely were devised and developed during that time. For us to deprecate and denounce our heritage is a grave injustice—worse possibly than the original injustice to which this was a reaction. The Americans of the late nineteenth century are largely responsible for the positioning of the United States as an economic superpower; we owe them, in large part, our good fortune and economic opportunities.
To be sure, racism was prevalent in America of the nineteenth century. The history of slavery and of racist federal policies bears this out. In fact, many of the settlers of the Southwest did hate Indians. The important question, though, is how permeated by racism was American culture. Did it inform every aspect of American life or was it confined to a minority? It is truly difficult to answer such a question with any amount of certainty. There did not exist the modern polling apparatus and its attendant ability to gauge public opinion. Study of individual correspondence carries with it the definite possibility of unrepresentative sampling. Discerning public opinions on the subject of Indians would be well nigh impossible were it not for the Western newspapers.
Newspapers are useful for their insights into public opinion. They led public opinion while they reflected it. Newspapers provided a means of focusing the public's attention on a particular matter and either polarizing or unifying the public's views. What's more, nearly every town in the Old West had one and many had several. That means that most of the population was covered by and exposed to newspapers. There are few other resources available that offer that breadth of coverage. In the East, the research question gets easier because there are larger newspapers with more reporters as well as well-established institutions producing voluminous records. Out on the frontier, the only entity that could be relied on to keep such copious records was the United States military—an Eastern institution transported West. As David Dary pointed out in his book Red Blood and Black Ink, the newspapers of the West reflected "the total image of their towns and cities" and provided "community life with cohesion and direction and purpose by agitating, by creating demands, and by establishing and preserving standards of public morals." 1
The fact that newspapers were always unsated in their appetite for news is invaluable in considering the public perception of Indians in the West. The desperate need to fill a four- to six-page broadside every day of the week meant that the harried editor would print anything. Fortunately, even the most trivial events received comment or publication. Careful and watchful digging through old newspapers yields innumerable articles on Indians, Indian policy, and Indian customs. Analyzing it with the benefit of a complete archive, a diligent historian can find in the trends thus inspected much buried treasure. By encompassing several competing newspapers in the investigation, the historian can weed out prejudices and more capably discern public opinion. In a city with several newspapers, several perspectives are given for any particular event—a veritable gold mine for the historian.
Phoenix, for example, had many newspapers during the latter half of the nineteenth century. It is difficult to obtain an exact count since some were ephemeral in the extreme, but The Arizona Republican was founded in 1890 at a time when there were two dailies already in circulation and several other weeklies.2 The Arizona Republican had the largest circulation in town and continues publication through to the present. Its major competitor was the Phoenix Daily Herald, which it bought in 1899. Other principals in Phoenix journalism included The Enterprise (later The Daily Enterprise), the Arizona Gazette, and the Arizona Democrat. Inclusion of the outlying towns brought the Tempe News and the Mesa Free Press.
Phoenix was also situated adjacent to two major Indian reservations: the Salt River and Gila River Reservations, joint homes of the Pima and the Maricopa. These two tribes made for a unique situation in Phoenix in that they were friendly to the Americans and antagonists to the Apache tribes. Given their proximity to Phoenix, their presence was constantly felt. Farmers like the majority of the local population, they traded their wheat crops for goods and services. There are several other tribes near to Phoenix such as the Ak-Chin, the Yavapai, and the Tohono O'odham, but their influence and impact in the Salt River Valley was negligible compared to the two nearer tribes.
Obviously, there are limits to the amount of research possible for an essay of this scope. Choices have to be made about the nature and selection of sources examined. The tribes thus must be pared down to the Pimas and the Maricopas for the reasons just enumerated. The selection of newspapers is more difficult. Daily newspapers publish 365 editions each year; multiply that by about six pages per issue and an average of 25 years in the period under consideration and the result is nearly 55,000 pages of copy to review—and that's for a single newspaper. For the purposes of this essay, the newspapers selected are The Arizona Republican, the Arizona Gazette, and the Phoenix Daily Herald. Newspapers from the outlying areas like the Tempe News could not be included due to the difficulty in procuring them as well as the horrible condition of the Tempe News' microfilm. The three papers chosen represent the large majority of Phoenix's newspaper circulation for the period as well as the most influential journals of the time. Due to time constraints, years of each were picked at random and reviewed day by day. If an article or snippet mentioned Indians in any capacity, it was earmarked for review and tabulation. Ninety articles spanning the years 1880, 1885, 1890, 1891, and 1892 were thus cataloged.
Ninety articles spanning five different years from three newspapers represents a fraction of the information stored in the Phoenix newspapers. However, it does represent a sizable enough sample to draw some conclusions about the local perceptions of Indians in territorial-era Phoenix—conclusions that may or may not be born out by future and further research. Surprisingly, the Phoenix press—and presumably the general population—suffered from little of the Indian-hating conventionally associated with frontier populations. Despite a number of references to "savages" and the "red devils," the Phoenix newspapers were predominantly tolerant of Indians in general and the nearby tribes in particular. Their pleas for the Phoenix Indian School and the civilization of the Indians underscored a concern for their fellow Salt River Valley inhabitants. Though it may strike many modern ears as patronizing, these calls for civilization were made with the best of intentions and represented a reaching out to others whose status seemed degraded.
Before dissecting the articles themselves, it is instructive to meet the principals described and describing therein. First, we will briefly touch on what Phoenix looked like during the period. Then, we will give some background about the presses and the editors running them. Finally, we will discuss the Pima and Maricopa Indians. Such a familiarization with the entities involved will provide the reader with a starting context for understanding the articles.
Phoenix was created from the remnants of the Hohokam Indian civilization, which had disappeared around 1400. Ruins of the civilization remained and it was the irrigation ditches those people had created that inspired John "Jack" Swilling with the agricultural possibilities of the Salt River Valley in November 1867. Swilling, a freighter for the U.S. Army, saw the long-abandoned ditches and organized the Swilling Irrigating and Canal Company with money from Wickenburg residents. His goal was to farm the rich soil and make money through supplying Camp McDowell—a nearby fort that served Prescott, Wickenburg, and the mining camps of central Arizona.3 By 1870, his company's efforts had attracted a population of 235 and put more than 1,500 acres under cultivation.4 This led to calls for formalization of the settlement, which was effected on October 26, 1870 and the name of Phoenix was chosen for the new town.5 The town had a great deal of promise, heightened by its selection as the county seat of the newly-formed Maricopa County in 1871.6
The 1870s turned out to be a good time for the future Valley of the Sun. Local entrepreneurs built two new canals, whose water supported the new homesteaders brought out by the Desert Land Act of 1877 which expanded the settler's allotment from 160 to 640 acres. Brick and wood buildings began to replace the early adobe structures. Boasting several one-hundred-foot-wide streets, an ice factory, a deluxe hotel, and a bustling commercial center, Phoenix was home to 1,708 residents at the census taking of 1880, who contemplated and ratified incorporation at the end of the decade.7 Its star was on the rise in the Arizona Territory, a fact announced incessantly by the first area newspaper The Salt River Valley Herald.
The town's population nearly doubled during the next decade, up to 3,152 in the census of 1890.8 The completion of the Maricopa and Phoenix Railroad in 1887 marked the fledgling town's entrance into the national market as the town's agricultural products steamed out onto the Southern Pacific's main line in Maricopa, Arizona. The agriculture of the Valley got a boost and was ready for the extension with the development of the forty-mile long Arizona Canal in 1885. This canal brought 80,000 additional acres under cultivation and required more capital than the small town could muster.9 These and other achievements spurred the population increase as well as the movement of the territorial capital in January 1889. Phoenix was beginning to look like what local leaders hoped would be "the Denver of the Southwest" and "the future metropolis of the territory."10
A second rail connection was added in 1895, this time to the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad which passed through Prescott.11 This new line provided competition for the Southern Pacific line and established Phoenix as a railroad hub for the central Arizona region. More importantly, at least to the community's boosters, it added to that intangible edifice they were building: the town's prestige.
By 1896, the cultivated land in the Salt River Valley had grown to 127,512 acres.12 A severe drought came soon after and led to the formation in 1903 of the Salt River Valley Water Users' Association, the forerunner to the modern Salt River Project. Its main goal was to lobby the federal government to construct surplus water storage in order to mediate future droughts. A site was surveyed at the junction of the Salt River and Tonto Creek for the construction of a dam, the costs of which would be repaid by the members of the SRVWUA. The location so impressed the federal officials that they decided to make the Roosevelt Dam the first project for the recently passed Reclamation Act of 1902.13 The dam was completed in 1911 and ushered in a new era of prosperity for Valley farmers. Phoenix experienced a population boom as promoters spread information about the Valley's advantages nationwide: 5,544 in 1900 and 11,134 in 1910. Those figures, however, mask the real population growth since farmers were not counted in the town's population. Maricopa County's population, which did encompass the farmers, had grown from 9,998 in 1890 to 20,457 in 1900 to 34,485 in 1910.14
The town had also expanded in size during the territorial era. Situated in the geographic center of the 40-mile-long, 15-mile-wide Salt River Valley, Phoenix had plenty of room to grow and spread.15 Streetcars and the automobile enabled Valley residents to push the town's boundaries out further and further. From the original townsite of 0.5 square mile in 1870, Phoenix had grown to 3.2 square miles in 1913 through annexation and growth.16 The building of the Center (Central) Street bridge over the Salt River opens areas south of Phoenix to development and farming. All of these efforts enabled the area under cultivation to rebound back to 126,717 acres in 1909 after the drought had dropped it down to 96,863 acres in 1905.17
In the midst of all of this growth, newspapers were there to chronicle it all and to spread the word. As already mentioned, the first newspaper, the Salt River Valley Herald, was established in January 1878 as a weekly publication. Soon after its inception, its editor N.A. Morford increased the schedule to become the Valley's first daily, changing the name at the same time to the Phoenix Daily Herald to reflect its association with the new town. The Herald, like its editor, was Republican and countless issues consisted of rundowns of the local party ticket and platform. Morford was a prototypical frontier editor: ardently boosting for the home town and frequently picking fights with the other local editors. Singing the praises of the "most fertile and productive [area] in the territory," he chided local community leaders: "The town is here to stay and the more beautiful and attractive we can make it, the more will it be chosen as a place of residence and therefore the more will its business be increased."18 The Arizona Republican purchased the Herald in May 1899 for its Associated Press franchise and ceased publication in September 1900.19
Morford's partisan periodical soon attracted competition from the other side of the fence. The Democratic Arizona Gazette started daily circulation in October 1880 under the editorship of Charles H. McNeil. Billing itself as "the newsiest paper," the Gazette lapsed into boosterism even more so than the Herald. It hailed the coming of the Arizona Canal: "It will furnish water to reclaim lands which have been an unproductive desert of no value for any purpose. It will be of incalculable benefit to this valley and the whole territory."20
In contrast to these two newspapers, The Arizona Republican seemed positively objective. Its beautifully set type and copious wire stories set it apart from its two daily competitors when it appeared on the scene in 1890. Its longtime editor, J.W. Spear, put it best when he said that "The Arizona Republican came into being in response to no demand."21 Spear, as one would expect, was being generous for The Republican was founded by the then territorial governor Lewis Wolfley and his Attorney General Clark Churchill when negative coverage in the Herald got to be too much for him. Wolfley hired two experienced, competent editors named Charles Ziegenfuss and Edwin Gill who promptly struck a conciliatory tone with the competition: "As we start, so will we continue, ever maintaining honest rates, hiring honest Union labor, hoping to see our competitors prosper and wax fat and to live in perennial peace. We come to build up, not to put down."22 Future owners, editors, and business managers set the paper's finances on a sure footing, purchased more elaborate presses, and hired more reporters. The Republican bought the Herald in 1899 and the Gazette in 1930.
On the Indian side, there were the Pimas and Maricopas. The Pima are a northern branch of the Papago Indians (Tohono O'odham) of southern Arizona and northern Mexico, and the Maricopa are of Yuman ancestry.23 The two tribes were actually split into two different reservations established by Congressional edict in 1859: the Salt River and Gila River Reservations. Each tribe had members in both reservations and the two tribes intermingled peacefully and freely. They had only one enemy, the Apaches, which they shared in common with the American population. The reservations were situated in very fertile parts of the Salt River Valley and, consequently, the tribes were successful farmers. Interestingly, the original survey set aside 64,000 acres for the tribes, but seven subsequent Executive Orders expanded its size up to 371,422 acres.24 The reservations bordered the entire southern half of the Valley and the far eastern portion of the American settlements. The populations of the two tribes remained stable during this period at between 3,500 and 4,500 Pima and 300-500 Maricopa.25
The Pima, by all accounts, had existed in the Salt River Valley forever and there are no stories of the tribe's creation. The Maricopas, on the other hand, were relatively recent migrants—being in the Gila and Salt River area for only about two centuries. According to the Maricopa chief Juan Chevaria, the Maricopa had a quarrel with the other Yumans and moved up the Gila River from the Colorado River to join the Pimas.26 Father Eusebio Kino, famous for his expeditions into Arizona in the late seventeenth centuries to convert the Indians, described the two tribes as "affable and docile people" who treated his party with "almost the same courtesy as if we had journeyed among Christians."27
After generations of intermarriage and mingling, the two tribes had become a strong confederation. Sharing a common enemy in the Apaches and a common purpose in agriculture, they formed a union that benefitted all. They still had different languages, customs, dress, and cultures but the harsh desert environs and constant threat of Apache raids cemented the tribal partnership such that later visitors spoke of them as "the Pimas and Maricopas"—nearly a singular unit. The Pimas, however, always had the upper hand since their population was consistently ten times larger than the Maricopas.28
The tribes' first encounters with Americans29 occurred in 1827 with the expedition of a Dr. Anderson, who noted "particularly hospitable treatment at the hands of the Pimas and of the Maricopas." The Gila River Valley was crisscrossed many more times in the antebellum period and the tribes met many famous Americans including Kit Carson, John C. Frémont, Pauline Weaver, and General Kearney.30 All travelers were impressed with the Pima/Maricopa civilization, agricultural efforts, and hospitality. Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, commander of the Mormon Battalion during the Mexican War, was amazed by the Pimas and Maricopas:
I halted one day near the villages of this friendly, guileless, and singularly innocent and cheerful people, the Pimos. I traded the Indian goods and every spare article for corn. After feeding it several days, I brought away twelve quarts for each public animal.
The Pimos and Maricopas … wonderfully honest and friendly to strangers, raise corn and wheat, which they grind and sell cheaply for bleached domestics, summer clothing of all sorts, showy cotton handkerchiefs, and white beads.31
The Pima-Maricopas protected the incipient American settlements at a time when the Apaches were most predatory and before the U.S. Army presence in the West had become established. One correspondent noted in 1858 that "since the year 1849, they have acted in the capacity of, and with even more efficiency than, a frontier military. They have protected American emigrants from molestation by the Apaches, and when the latter have stolen stock from the emigrants, the Pimas and Maricopas have punished them and recovered their animals."32
The thing that most impressed all American visitors was the agricultural success of the two tribes. U.S. deputy surveyor H.S. Washburn noted that "they raise corn, pumpkins, beans, and melons in great abundance; also cotton, from which they weave cloth and make their own clothing."33 Samuel Cozzens, a traveler through the area, was surprised by their output:
Nearly the whole of the land thus set apart has been cultivated by these Indians for more than three hundred years, and still without dressing of any kind yields full thirtyfold crops. Colonel Grey, whom we met here, and who had surveyed the reservation, assured us that they had at least four hundred miles of acequias [canals] already constructed upon the reservation, and for many years had raised fine crops of wheat, corn, tobacco, and cotton.
They have nearly a thousand separate enclosures, which are divided by very excellent fences, made of crooked sticks and mesquit. [sic] During the year of our visit  they had sold the mail company more than four hundred thousand pounds of wheat, besides large quantities of corn, beans, pumpkins, and melons.34
This agricultural output proved to be a boon for the United States during the Civil War. The minor skirmish at Picacho Peak between Union and Confederate troops only hinted at the wartime activities within the territory. Tucson fell to the Confederacy without resistance and Apaches were enlisted to harass the Union soldiers bringing California goods to the East. The Pima and Maricopas were instrumental in supplying the Union's California Column with provisions and even provided two companies of volunteers to aid the U.S. government in suppressing the Apaches.35 Colonel James Carleton was able to secure 143,000 pounds of wheat immediately with an order of 400,000 pounds at harvest, which allowed him to carry out operations within the territory.36 Further accounts of their agricultural production put output at 2,000,000 pounds of wheat and corn in 1867 and another 2,000,000 pounds in 1876.37 Enoch Conklin, a traveler visiting the area's mines, summed up the tribes' abilities when he said, "Nor can the people nor the Government in its Indian policy claim any credit for this condition of these Indians. These facts speak well for both the Indians and for Arizona lands."38
From the 1870s to statehood in 1912, this pattern of amazing production and self-sufficiency deteriorated into utter subsistence and dependency. By 1900, the superintendent of the Phoenix Indian School could say that "they have gradually fallen from a condition of independence and prosperity until they are practically on the verge of starvation, and are largely dependent upon Government rations for support."39 The cause of the Indian slide was a scarcity of water—the ditches Father Kino marveled at during his expeditions—were practically dry because the Gila River was at low levels or dry during the planting season. The Indians quickly fixed the blame for their degradation at the hands of the American farmers whose extensive reuse of Hohokam canals and creation of mammoth canals like the vaunted Arizona Canal in 1885 had enabled the incredible agricultural production already noted.
There is definitely some basis for such a conclusion. With nearly 130,000 acres under cultivation in Maricopa County alone in 1896, the water supply provided by the Salt and Gila Rivers was decidedly strained. A proposed lawsuit in federal court to secure the Indians' prior right of water appropriation alleged:
There are 960 persons using water from the Gila River above the point where the Pima Indians divert the water of the Gila for their lands; that there is no doubt but that the case could be taken up and prosecuted to a favorable ending, but the interests are so varied, and the water diverted by the whites as far as 200 miles above the Indian's point of diversion, that should a favorable decree be given by the court it would be impossible for the court to enforce its decree, and that the expense of prosecuting such suit would cost between twenty and thirty thousand dollars; but that a suit against the users of water under the Florence Canal may be won and the court's decree made binding on the few persons under the Florence Canal, and the expense to the Government would be about $10,000.40
Unfortunately, the lawsuit never came to fruition. A successful judgement, though, probably would not have alleviated the Indians' suffering since the American farmers up the river were experiencing a similar drought. To be sure, the newer farmers—being greater in number—were diminishing the water supply but the problem was larger than that and could only be solved by construction of reservoirs and dams to regulate and control the available water. Senator Carl Hayden, elected at statehood in 1912, led a Congressional investigation on the Pima's water troubles in 1924 and determined that the problem was primarily one of erosion, which led to silt buildup in the river beds and eventually the drying up of the river systems.41 The Pima ended the period under consideration destitute and wards of the state, a pitiful position after an extended period of prosperity.
This downslide brought the Pima into greater contact with the American residents of the Valley. Driven from their traditional farming methods, they emigrated to the Salt River Reservation to farm or sought employment in the Phoenix area to provide for their families. At least, that's the positive scenarios for how they could feed their kin. Often, they took to stealing food from the American farmers and townspeople. This led to minor hostilities and a handful of murders, but nothing particularly serious or epidemic.42 There was some resentment towards the increased Indian presence in Phoenix, resulting in some city regulations in 1881 and 1889 banning Indians from the town after sundown unless employed by whites.43 In general, though, the tensions were minimal and the two sides never harbored any serious ill-will towards each other.
The Indian presence in Phoenix was increased in 1891-2 by the creation of the Phoenix Indian School, established with federal funds to educate Indian children from around Arizona. The location of the school, originally slated to go in the abandoned Fort McDowell, was finally sealed in 1891 with the sale of Frank Hatch's 160-acre ranch to Phoenix for use by the federal government. The school officially opened on September 13, 1891 with a class of forty-one Pimas and Maricopas. By the turn of the century, it housed over seven hundred Indian children from more than a dozen tribes and offered Phoenix a very successful "outing" program, whereby students could work for local businesses and families. The school also contributed to the community's prosperity by its annual budget of $130,000 and its students' purchase of goods and services.44
The newspapers' coverage of Indians can be categorized into three divisions: negative, neutral, and positive. Since these terms are inherently relative, it would do well to explain what value position serves as the fountainhead for these judgements. The "negative" categorization encompasses a number of possible situations: calls for genocide, denouncement of sympathy to Indians, holding of Indians to a different standard than Americans, and general stereotyping. A "neutral" designation generally stems from a mostly factual or repertorial article about Indian policy or straightforward vignettes about Indians in the community without negative connotations. Finally, the "positive" label is used for articles that encourage the civilization of the Indian, promote the establishment of the Phoenix Indian School, express sympathy for Indian suffering, and applaud the Pima and Maricopa tribes. These demarcations are muddied by the fact that many articles crossed over into several categories; in those instances, the predominant sentiment was determined and the article was filed within that category. Derogatory statements about "savages" and "red devils" were not automatic grounds for a "negative" label since language was generally gruff and such language often enshrouded a genuine concern for Indian welfare. Where an article was equivocal, such derogations would move the article into the "negative" tabulation. We will now examine each category of article in turn.
Negative articles are predictably prevalent and generally fall into distinct patterns like the Apache menace, Sioux war coverage, Eastern sentimentalism, and Indian stereotypes. These too are not perfectly separated, for an article decrying Eastern sentimentalism would naturally include references to the Apache menace and involve Indian stereotypes. Again, for the purposes of classification, articles of mixed nature belong to the dominant type.
By far the most common of the negative press coverage was devoted to the Apaches and their marauding of the American settlers in northern, eastern, and southern Arizona. The recounting of the murdering of Americans by Apaches filled many a column-inch.45 For example, the murder of tourist John Hardie in 1890, who became a martyr of the Apache haters that occupied the territorial press, by a band of San Carlos Reservation Apaches on the loose was a popular motif: "The murder of Hardie should open the eyes of Eastern people to the nature of the Apache. It makes no difference to them who their victims are, whether friend or foe, soldier or civilian. They kill merely for plunder and the fun of seeing the unfortunates fall."46 The delay shown by the U.S. Army at Fort Bowie was decried and the paper charged that "failure to [recapture the Apaches] will make the army accessory to any crimes which they may commit."47
A story about the murder of a family of four in the Rincon Mountains hinted at Apache guilt without substantiation in a telling portrayal of how quickly any distant murder was blamed on the Apaches.48 That particular murder led The Arizona Republican to call for "prompt action" and "demand that the soldiers in the Territory get to work and annihilate these red cutthroats."49 Sometimes those assailed by Apaches took the matter into their own hands and were applauded for their efforts by the papers and the community at large: "On Memorial Day [several prominent Prescott residents] spread flowers on the grave … of the gallant Townsend, who had, single handed, fought and whipped whole bands of Apaches, killing twenty-six of them in less than two years."50
Many of the anti-Apache articles were vicious in their suggestions about how to resolve the Apache problem. The Arizona Republican suggested that Arizona citizens "repeat the work of the white settlers in Inyo county, California" and "rise in their might and wipe every Apache off the face of the earth … the sooner such action is taken the better, too."51
In general, though, the newspapers hesitated to call for vigilantism, instead relying on the military for protection and retribution. The Arizona Republican, for example, stated that it "earnestly hopes that the Washington authorities will grant [General Nelson Miles] full and immediate power to proceed in the manner he has outlined." The manner suggested would "forever relieve this Territory of further depredations by this murderous band" and required a "complete breaking up of the tribe and their removal to some station away from their present mountain retreats."52 Other solutions proposed by the newspapers were the formation of ranger units under the command of the Territorial Governor with the mission of running down any Apaches leaving the San Carlos Reservation and comprised "only of men directly interested in the capture or death of the Apache marauders."53 Another recommendation was the removal of alcohol and ammunition from the possession of the Apaches at San Carlos. Said Deputy United States Marshal Frank Porter, "When the Arizona Indians are wholly deprived of tiswin [an Indian wine], cartridges and whiskey, and are so situated as to make it an impossibility to get them, the while trouble with the Apaches and every kind of an Indian is at an end."54
Whatever the solution under consideration, the press was a "unit on the question of wanting Indians removed from the Territory."55 They knew that the Apaches were not welcome in the midst of the American settlers, as evidenced by the vehemence with which they denounced General Miles' plan to relocate some San Carlos Apaches to the abandoned military encampment at Fort Verde.56 When parts of Geronimo's band were returned to New Mexico from Alabama for health reasons, The Republican noted that "while Apache residence in the Southern States is not very salubrious for the Indians, it is a remarkably healthful proposition as far as it concerns the cattlemen and prospectors of Southeastern Arizona."57
Another group that frequently earned the opprobrium of the local newspapers was the Sioux. Even though the fighting was quite remote from the Salt River Valley, the plight of settlers facing Indian depredations was a common concern among frontier residents. A number of articles in The Arizona Republican discussed the situation leading up to the Wounded Knee massacre. One story recounted the treachery of a band of surrendering Sioux, who retrieved their weaponry from a secreted cache and inflicted considerable casualties on the surprised army. It described the incident as "so natural to the Indian character that no frontiersman is surprised." It went on to suggest that the soldiers, after repulsing the Indian attack, then "hunted down and destroyed its perpetrators." Finally, the article described the nature of the Sioux:
The fact is not appreciated that the extermination of this band of biped wolves would have more influence in restraining their fellows from the exercise of their native ferocity than a thousand sermons. The Sioux does not appreciate kindness; an attempt at conciliation means to him a manifestation of fear. Force and stern measures alone will win his respect, for exactly the same reason that the iron bar is necessary to control the caged tiger. In cunning and cruelty lie his chief delights. It is about time that these facts were appreciated and that the welfare of the great West was considered independently of the "claims of the poor Indian."58
An earlier article enumerated the rumored plans of the Sioux, which included enticing a company of men into a mountain ravine for slaughtering or assassinating General Brooke under the guise of a peace delegation. The motivation ascribed to these guerilla tactics was "long-suppressed native ferocity, that desires only the slightest pretext for a spring at a victim."59 Finally, two other articles suggest that General Miles' ultimatum had "the right ring to it" to bring "some good Indian news from the northwest within the next forty-eight hours" and that the Sioux uprising—with its Ghost Dance and promise of a Messiah—was a carefully planned conspiracy by the Mormons.60
The dominant theme of the negative Indian coverage related only peripherally to the Indians. The do-gooder back East who chided Westerners about the condition of the Indians and remonstrated them for atrocities committed against the Indians disgusted the Western newspapermen. One editorial entitled "Outrageous Sentimentalism" excoriated the Indian Rights Association for what the writer termed its "insane love for the vicious." The subject of the editorial is the suspension of Colonel Forsythe for the killing of women and children at Wounded Knee. The writer opines, "It seems incredible to a western man that an influential class in the East will obstinately close their eyes to the fact that the Indian is not a human in the ordinary acceptance of the term; the he is but a wolf in instinct, though a biped in form."61
An earlier editorial branded members of the Indian Rights Association as "Enemies of the Whites." The article inveighed against those who "view every outburst of deviltry as simply a roughly expressed protest against wrongs and demand that in the event of capture 'Poor Lo' shall be treated, not as a felon but as a prisoner of war." The writer concludes, "Words of sufficient force are not in the lexicon to express the feelings of the frontiersman who remembers the deeds of this hoary devil of the plains [Sitting Bull], whose only delight and employment has ever been to wield death and destruction, and whom mawkish sentiment alone had saved from the hangman years ago."62
Another editorial suggested that an Indian uprising in the northwest might be a good thing because it might "result in the overthrow of the sickly pro-Indian sentiment in the East." It asserts that members of the Indian Rights Association are unfamiliar with Indians and have a romantic notion of the Indian obtained through the works of James Fenimore Cooper. It further recommends that these philanthropists "investigate and appreciate the reason for the bitter feeling that exists upon the frontier against those tribes." The editorial writer then lays out a course of action that captures the essence of the theory:
Nothing but force will restrain them, nothing but fear will induce them to refrain from murder and rapine. Every Indian who is captured after a murderous raid should be hanged. He is not a prisoner of war. He is simply a criminal, a vile murderer, and as such he should be amenable to the civil law. Had such a course been adopted with Sitting Bull's band, the present rumored outbreak would never have been heard of. If such a course had been adopted with the first band of Apache marauders who ever went upon the warpath, the Apaches today would be as peaceable as the Pimas. Enforce upon them the law, which, though severe, is just and productive of good to the greatest number.63
The influence of the sympathizers of Indians made the course of action desired by this writer unfeasible. That obstruction of swift action made many a frontier settler livid.64
The last sort of negative article conveyed stereotypical views of the Indians or enforced a double-standard against the Indians. Sadly, these too were common. Most of them focused on the Indians' consumption of alcohol. Accounts were generally brief—'Last night Watchman Roundy arrested two drunken Indians who were attempting to steal from the premises of the Tiger saloon. Efforts should be made to ascertain where the Indians obtain their liquor, as a drunken Redman is no uncommon sight on our streets."—and included the ubiquitous call to roust out the sellers.65 The elimination of the sale of "liquid perdition" to the Indians was almost always sought in order to protect the balance of the two races: "It is a matter that deserves a careful consideration by our people, as sooner or later, if the sale of intoxicating liquors to Indians is not stopped, trouble between the two races will ensue, and such an event at the present time would give Arizona such a setback that it would take it years to recover."66 While there are innumerable articles assailing the sale of alcohol to Indians because of the deviant behavior it encourages, nothing of the sort was proposed for the American settlers who were surely just as destructively influenced by the drink.
Other stereotypes confirmed by the newspapers of the region were the Indian as a horse thief67, the Indian as a covetous murderer68, the Indian as a despoiler of men69, and the Indian as a foolhardy show-off.70 All of these were presented with little editorial comment since the stereotype presented itself spoke volumes to the reader. What's more, the notion of "reportorial objectivity convinces readers and journalists alike that the media product somehow represents Indian 'reality'."71 In other words, the printed word takes on an objectivity that it may not deserve.
The "neutral" articles, in contrast to the "negative" and "positive" stories, were relatively few in number. They were more or less simple statements of fact and were of interest for the history they convey. For example, an article in the April 12, 1891 issue of The Arizona Republican describes the preparations for the Phoenix Indian School, including the expenditure for the purchase of Frank Hatch's ranch and the securing of an architect for its construction. Another details the coming year's Indian appropriation of $6,000,000 and shows the breakdown of the funds into agricultural training and school construction.72 Two other articles relate the archaeological discovery of ancient ruins and call for their preservation.73 The final type of "neutral" article offers short vignettes of Indians that lack any demonstrable stereotyping. These might be as simple as a brief tribute to "Old Betsy," a Sioux living in Prescott that was said to be over one hundred years old, to an anecdote about the business difficulties of a Pima named "Bismarck" or a humorous story about a female Papago in Tombstone negotiating the town's dress code.74
The "positive" articles, as mentioned earlier, promote the civilization of the Indians, laud the Phoenix Indian School, express sympathy for Indian suffering, and focus on the Pima and Maricopa tribes. It is not fashionable to suggest that the first two patterns are positive or praiseworthy, but the fact remains that they were motivated by concern for the betterment of the Indian. While modern scholars stridently blast the nineteenth century as a time of colonization, that evaluation presupposes an entirely different context than existed contemporaneously and represents an anachronistic view of history. The individuals and governments of that time encountered the Indian as a foe to be vanquished in order to settle territory—much like Americans viewed the Mexicans and Spanish during the first half of the nineteenth century. The diligent student of history would do well to imagine himself in the context of his subject in order to further understanding.
Seemingly everyone with any interest in the question had an opinion about how best to effect the civilization of the Indians. General Crook, the famous military commander, believed that "the condition of the Indians, morally and industrially, would be greatly improved by conferring upon them the franchise" with the requirement that its exercise be restricted to the literate. The right to vote would be conferred upon his adoption as a citizen, which would be preceded by an end of tribal relations, a provision of farming equipment, and an education.75 The Indian Agent of the Sacaton Agency, Roswell G. Wheeler, proposed to settle the Pima and Papago Indians in adobe houses instead of their traditional wickieups. In order to obtain their cooperation, he gave each head of household a new wagon with which to carry firewood and supplies. With this, he obtained written promises that the Indians would agree "to wear clothing, to use no paint on their faces, to wear short hair and to drink no whisky."76 Later news reports indicated that these heads of household built the adobe houses to complete the requirements and then continued to live in their traditional dwellings.77
Many offered a much harsher means of solving the Indian question. The suggestion fit well with the social philosophy then in vogue: Social Darwinism: "Let our Government at once recognize the Indian as no better than a white man, and entitled to no more privileges. Let him be placed on public land, and agricultural implements given him, and then if he is not able to support himself, let him starve. If he does murder, let him be punished for murder, and for every offence he may commit, let a swift and just retribution follow."78 Superintendent of Public Instruction George Cheyney echoed these sentiments and was applauded by The Arizona Republican:
The power to punish and the will to submit is the source of control, and the well-being and maintenance of society. Anything else is anarchy. That the offender shall be punished for his offenses is both Divine and human law and is the first lesson to be learned in the evolution of civilization from barbarism.
It is the first lesson we teach our children at school, and it is the first lesson you must teach the Indian.
When he offends punish him as you would a white man for the same offense and you have solved the most serious part of your problem, you will have deserved and compelled his respect, and you will have commenced your pyramid of education at the base, and not as you are now doing, at the apex.79
Cheyney's letter was a response to the letter of T.J. Morgan, Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Morgan had opined that "the whites of such localities are as much interested in this plan of educating the Indian children as the Indians are themselves, not only because of the money received, but especially because the Indians thus brought into the public schools and into pleasant relations with white children will more readily become fitted for good citizenship."80 Morgan's subsequent reply to Cheyney cited examples of successes arising from the Indian schools and pleaded with Cheyney to reconsider the integration of Indian children in the public schools.81
Education figured everywhere in the plans for civilizing the Indians. The Phoenix Indian School was naturally featured most prominently in the press, but other schools were heralded for their efforts at educating the Indians. The Arizona Republican highlighted the Yuma school, describing in considerable detail its program of home economics and carpentry in addition to its traditional subjects. Sister Ambrosia, headmistress of the school, observed, "The influence of the school is good upon all the tribe too, as well as upon those who come here. When the boys and girls go home, dressed in civilized garb and looking neat and clean, the others realize the superiority of education and want to be like them."82 The Fort Mohave Indian school superintendent McCowan explained to a large group of Wallapai Indians that it was to their advantage to be able to "make their own clothes, guns, plows and wagons, and have their children able to write letters, read the papers, etc."83
Of course, the establishment of Indian schools served community interests as well. Articles expounded on the financial advantages of the Phoenix Indian School, which was expected to bring considerable business to the Valley in the form of construction, supplies, and other expenditures.84 The "outing system" previously mentioned was also seen as a welcome opportunity: "During the busy time of summer, when for lack of pickers the grapes and peaches are growing overripe, it will be well to remember that the Pimas are excellent at such employment and that the Indian school will have a number of handy lads available."85
In times of trouble, the newspapers evinced a genuine sympathy for the Indians. During the flooding of February 1891, nearly the entire area surrounding the Salt and Gila Rivers was washed out. This affected everyone in the Valley, but the Indians were particularly hard hit because the floodwaters destroyed their canals, crops, homes, and granaries.86 The Arizona Republican also called on the government to repair their ditches and to construct new ones to feed fields further from the river's banks. Noting that fully ninety percent of their fields were decimated, the article further recommends preparation for their relief by the summer to prevent famine.87 Quick calls for support during times of want were also provided for the Wallapai, who were deemed "peaceable" and "well disposed towards the whites." The article also showed sympathy for their condition since they were a mountain people brought down to the reservation on the Colorado River bottom.88
The most glowing positive press coverage was devoted to the Pima and Maricopa tribes. These two tribes inspired admiration among the American residents because of their agricultural prowess and participation in the local economy. For example, an article in The Arizona Republican exclaimed that "Pima Indians Beat the World's Record for New Wheat" and noted that, even with crude and ancient farming methods, they were still able to produce a considerable surplus.89 Another issue's "Sketch of the Pimas and Maricopas" article described them as "fine specimens of the American Indian" and lauded the "excellent quality" of their wheat. The article also acknowledges their peaceable nature and ability to learn.90 Other articles commended the tribes for their roles in subduing and conquering the much-hated Apaches.91
The previous articles show that the perceptions of the Indians in the Phoenix press were more nuanced than one might think. Further research into more newspapers over the entire period would further illuminate these perceptions. It is entirely possible that the articles consulted in the years considered were aberrations and unrepresentative of Valley sentiments. In addition to a deeper study of the newspapers, a more comprehensive investigation would require examination of contemporaneous correspondence and personal journals. This would show whether or not the newspapers' perspectives were representative of the population's views and how much influence newspapers had. Furthermore, a consultation of the secondary literature could indicate how representative both Phoenix and her newspapers' situation were in the larger American picture. Finally, a historiographic review of Indians in the newspaper would place the work in a larger historical canon. This essay represents a first step in this much larger project.
Although there is still much work to be done in this area, the importance of the topic is unquestionable. The newspapers of Phoenix played a vital role in building the community and tying it into the larger American context. Arguing for the development and settlement of the Salt River Valley, the newspapers simultaneously recognized and respected the indigenous population already there. Propagation of that recognition and respect calmed relations between the Indians and the Americans such that no organized group violence ever took place between the two groups of Phoenicians. Such a lack of violence between the two makes for a unique example since most frontier settlements near tribes experienced conflict.
This is not to say that territorial-era Phoenix represented a shining example of progressive tolerance and understanding of the Indian. Far from it, for the newspapers evinced a stunning ignorance about and prejudice of non-Salt-River-Valley Indians. Their disdain and vitriol concerning the Indians' benefactors in the East was particularly intolerant. Although Phoenix's relationship with the Pimas and Maricopas was atypical, its opinion of the Apaches and the Sioux was quintessentially Western. Attacking them as bloodthirsty savages, they conveniently ignored the underlying cause of the Apache's violent behavior. Rather than understanding the actions as a natural outgrowth of a people at war, the newspapers chose instead to focus on the behavior as indicative of baseness—some inherent evil within. The treatment of the Pimas and Maricopas demonstrates that the newspapers, when devoid of knee-jerk reactions to wartime atrocity, could sympathize and understand the Indians' culture. And that sensitivity indicates that the popular image of a frontier civilization hell-bent on eradication of the Indians is two-dimensional.
Appendix—Map of Arizona circa 1896
1 Dary, David. Red Blood and Black Ink: Journalism in the Old West. (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1998), 274.
2 Spear, J.W. 'Uncle Billy" Reminisces: The Story of a Newspaper. (Phoenix, AZ: Republic and Gazette Commercial Printery, 1940), 4. Spear also notes that the city then had a population of about 4,000.
4 Ibid., 15.
5 Ibid., 16.
6 Ibid., 18.
7 Ibid., 20-4.
8 Ibid., 31.
9 Ibid., 28-30.
10 Luckingham, Bradford. "The Promotion of Phoenix." In G. Wesley Johnson, ed., Phoenix in the Twentieth Century: Essays in Community History. (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993), 84.
11 Luckingham, Phoenix, 41.
12 Ibid., 47.
13 Ibid., 43-6.
14 Ibid., 48.
15 Ibid., 16.
16 Ibid., 51.
17 Ibid., 47-8.
18 Ibid., 23, 27.
19 Zarbin, Earl. All The Time a Newspaper: The First 100 Years of The Arizona Republic. (Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 1990), 48. See also Spear, 19.
20 Luckingham, Phoenix, 29.
21 Spear, 1.
22 Zarbin, 7.
23 Hayden, Carl T. A History of the Pima Indians and the San Carlos Irrigation Project. (Washington, D.C.: United States Senate, 1924), 2-3.
24 Ibid., 3-4.
25 Meister, Cary Walter, "Historical Demography of the Pima and Maricopa Indians of Arizona, 1846-1974" (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, 1975), 366, 369, 385, 387.
26 Hayden, 3.
27 Ibid., 4, 8.
28 Meister, 366, 369.
29 After Kino's expeditions, the tribe was visited frequently in the eighteenth century by other Spanish missionaries and expeditionary forces. Inexplicably, the Catholic Church never established missions among the tribes like it did with the southern Arizona tribes—though its hesitation may be understood by a quote from a chief: "This order of things may be necessary for you. We do not steal, and we very seldom disagree; what use have we then for an alcalde among us?" Hayden, 14.
30 Hayden, 15.
31 Ibid., 20. Cooke also notes that the chief Juan Antonio related his refusal to supply the Mexicans with mules and provisions during the conflict, a fact which endeared them to the U.S. government. In 1859, the Indian Appropriation Act allocated $10,000 for presents to the tribes "in acknowledgment of their loyalty to this Government and the many kindnesses heretofore rendered by them to our citizens." Hayden, 29.
32 Ibid., 31.
33 Ibid., 31.
34 Ibid., 32.
35 Ibid., 36. Total enlistment was around 260—no small feat for a population of 4,000 or so. Heading the companies was John Walker, future Indian agent at Sacaton, and ably assisted by Antonio Azul, a Pima chief, and William Hancock, future surveyor of the Phoenix townsite and prominent pioneer.
36 Ibid., 35.
37 Ibid., 42, 44.
38 Ibid., 45.
39 Ibid., 55.
40 Ibid., 57.
41 Ibid., 59-75.
42 Meister, 166-70, 202.
43 Trennert, Robert A. "Phoenix and the Indians: 1867-1930." In G. Wesley Johnson, ed., Phoenix in the Twentieth Century: Essays in Community History. (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993), 55.
44 Ibid., 57-9.
45 An entire column of the 24 May 1890 Arizona Republican related how Apache prisoners killed Sheriff Reynolds and Deputy Sheriff Holmes. It did so in unusual detail, but without any editorial comment.
46 Arizona Republican, 6 June 1890, 2.
47 Arizona Republican, 20 June 1890, 2.
48 Arizona Republican, 5 June 1890, 1.
49 Ibid., 2.
50 Ibid., 2.
51 Ibid., 2.
52 The Arizona Republican, 29 May 1890, 2.
53 The Arizona Republican, 6 March 1891, 2.
54 The Arizona Republican, 10 January 1891, 2.
55 The Arizona Republican, 5 June 1890, 2.
56 The Arizona Republican, 25 November 1890, 2. "The people of this Territory, and particularly those of the northern portion, have no hesitancy in attributing motives to him which are not in keeping with the broad and enlightened views which should be possessed by a man in General Miles' position."
57 The Arizona Republican, 6 March 1891, 2.
58 The Arizona Republican, 31 December 1890, 2.
59 The Arizona Republican, 24 November 1890, 2.
60 The Arizona Republican, 13 January 1891, 2. The Arizona Republican, 13 November 1890, 2. The latter article recounts that this is the opinion of General Miles and reflects, "What their object is, it is at present hard to conjecture, but surely back of it all there is some deep and well-laid plot to cause trouble to the Government."
61 The Arizona Republican, 6 January 1891, 2.
62 The Arizona Republican, 29 December 12 1890, 2. This theme was earlier stated still, "The attempts of the Indian Rights Association to civilize the Indian have failed, as attempts to domesticate tigers have failed from time immemorial." The Arizona Republican, 1 December 1890, 3.
63 The Arizona Republican, 19 November 1890, 2.
64 A letter to the editor from an "old pioneer" echoed these same sentiments: "A new race has come to the front from New England, who cross their hands over the phylactories of Puritanism, roll up their eyes to heaven, thank God they are not like wicked Western men, and pray the Government for an appropriation of from seven to ten millions a year to support their long-haired men and short-haired women in educating "Lo! the poor Indian." The Arizona Republican, 17 March 1891, 1.
65 Arizona Gazette, 24 November 1880, 2. See also other typical entries: Arizona Gazette, 12 November 1880, 2; Arizona Gazette, 7 November 1880, 3; The Arizona Republican, 25 June 1890, 3; The Arizona Republican, 2 June 1890, 2.
66 Arizona Gazette, 18 November 1880, 3. The Arizona Republican, 20 May 1890, 4.
67 Arizona Gazette, 1 December 1880, 3.
68 Arizona Gazette, 19 November 1880, 3.
69 The Arizona Republican, 16 January 1891, 2. General O.O. Howard describes the "squaw-man," a white man who acquires Indian customs after marriage to an Indian woman who gradually acquires white customs.
70 The Arizona Republican, 5 June 1890, 3.
71 Schmieding, Samuel Joseph. "Etic Simulation and the Blinders of Objectivism: Representations of Indian Culture in Arizona Print Journalism," (M.A. thesis, Arizona State University, 1995), 337.
72 The Arizona Republican, 4 June 1890, 1.
73 The Arizona Republican, 30 December 1890, 3. Arizona Gazette, 7 November 1880, 2.
74 Arizona Gazette, 18 November 1880, 3. Arizona Gazette, 14 September 1892, 3. The Arizona Republican, 15 April 1891, 2.
75 Phoenix Daily Herald, 24 February 1885, 2.
76 Phoenix Daily Herald, 20 February 1885, 2.
77 The Arizona Republican, 3 June 1890, 1.
78 Arizona Gazette, 12 November 1880, 2.
79 The Arizona Republican, 12 April 1891. Emphasis in original.
80 Ibid., 3.
81 The Arizona Republican, 3 May 1891, 1. The Arizona Republican also encouraged Morgan to not return the educated Indian children, charging that it is "inhuman" to return them since "they are no more fitted to return to this life than so many white children would be." Ibid., 2.
82 The Arizona Republican, 16 March 1891, 3.
83 The Arizona Republican, 25 February 1891, 1.
84 The Arizona Republican, 17 December 1890, 3. Superintendent Rich himself points this out in The Arizona Republican, 16 December 1890, 1.
85 The Arizona Republican, 4 January 1891, 2.
86 The Arizona Republican, 21 February 1891, 1. The Arizona Republican, 28 February 1891, 1.
87 Ibid., 2. The Arizona Republican, 24 February 1891, 2.
88 Arizona Gazette, 13 December 1880, 2.
89 The Arizona Republican, 3 June 1890, 1. Interestingly, the article also notes that "there is no portion of the United States that can beat, or even equal, this."
90 The Arizona Republican, 10 June 1890, 1. As an example of mixed-premise articles, this one concludes with an account of a Pima who went back East and adopted American customs—but promptly shed them back on the reservation on his return.
91 The Arizona Republican, 22 December 1890, 2. The Arizona Republican, 15 December 1890, 1.