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interlude: pascual’s warning [113] a Interlude: Pascual’s Warning It did not matter that an elder, the Quechan kwoxot Pascual, foretold death at the hands of the Maricopas. Those who resided on the west side of the Colorado River (the Algodones Quechans) ignored his warnings. The younger leader of this band of Quechans had stronger dreams that promised victory and many Maricopa deaths. In recent years, Quechans had grown weaker because of their proximity to the American fort at Yuma (established in 1849), while their Maricopa and Akimel O’odham enemies, in contrast, grew stronger. Pascual and his followers largely lost control of their territory on the river to encroaching Anglo-Americans, despite the Quechans’ continued raids on army livestock and overland migrants. Over the past eight years, Americans increasingly passed through Quechan territory at will, and these Algodones warriors began to question the leadership of Pascual, just as their ancestors had done eighty years earlier, when Olleyquotequiebe sided so closely with the Spanish. Their enemies to the east seemed to have benefited more from this last wave of foreigners. While the Quechans dealt with an oppressive military occupation, the Maricopas and Akimel O’odhams capitalized on their long-standing cooperation with Euro-Americans, profiting handsomely from overland migrants hungry for corn, beans, squash, melons, and especially wheat. It was true that some like Pascual also enjoyed good relations with Americans, whom they assisted in Colorado River crossings, but many other younger Quechans questioned these motives and moved further away from the fort. Of all the European and Euro-American forces that attempted to penetrate the interior world, these Anglo-Americans presented the greatest challenge to Quechan autonomy—all the more reason for the Quechans to assert their formidable power once again over the Maricopas and their Akimel O’odham allies. In August 1857, the Algodones found similar young, disenchanted warriors among the Mojave and Yavapai, who joined them in a cavalry of at least 300 strong. As generations of warriors had done before them, they rode for 160 miles along the Gila River until they arrived at the Maricopa villages. At dawn they attacked, asserting control over what they believed had been their rightful claim to control the traffic of goods, livestock, and people within the interior world. It was here that Isaiah Woods, a mailman for the San Diego Line, witnessed one of the last Indian battles on the Colorado River: While camping at the wells I was witness to the largest Indian battle of the times. The Yuma Indians, aided by the Mojaves and Tonta Apaches as their allies, attacked the Maricopas just before daylight. . . . The principal fight was along the bank of the Gila, not half a mile from our camp. 104 Yumas left their villages at the junction of the Gila and Colorado, led on by a young and ambitious chief, whose new dignity required some striking act to dazzle his people. He and 93 of his warriors were killed within a half hour. As an Akimel O’odham elder later recalled, “This was the bloodiest fight known, and the Yumas came here to fight no more.”1 [114] interlude: pascual’s warning ...


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