FIVE: The End of Native Autonomy
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chapter 5 The End of Native Autonomy This route goes through a long stretch of scarcely known country, inhabited solely by wild indians and it will necessitate the building of many forts along the route to insure its protection. This is but the beginning of a railroad system across the country. Soon families will begin to settle along the way in the neighborhood of the forts and thus does civilization continually push its way from both sides towards the interior. The indians in the course of time must either become civilized or be shot. —Eugene Bandel, 1858 Pascual’s warning to his younger Quechan brethren occurred amid great changes across the interior world.1 To the west, Antonio Garra’s defeat all but ended the brief but destructive era of coastal Indigenous raiding. With California statehood and the steady influx of foreigners requiring a consistent supply of meat, U.S. military authorities established interior forts to protect migrants, livestock, and mines. During the 1850s, Fort Tejón and the San Diego Barracks obstructed raiding in southern California. Additional soldiers stationed at the Cajon Pass tollgate regulated traffic while further blocking Mojaves and Utes from entering the San Gabriel Valley. In the Great Basin, the presence of Forts Utah and Bridger disrupted Ute raiding networks and overlapping Indian borderlands in the western Great Plains. And along the Colorado River, soldiers from the strategic Forts Yuma and Mojave struck further, destabilizing trading and raiding networks. Natives across the interior world now faced a new reality: hardened U.S. borders enforced by a persistent, capable military force, industrial agriculture and resource extraction, and permanent Anglo-American settlements moving further into the desert. Perched at strategic points within and around the interior world, Anglo-American forts enforced this new economic landscape. Most effectively and irreversibly, forts and soldiers expanded mining frontiers into the interior world. Unlike agriculture or raising livestock, mining required entirely different forms of labor, technology, and infra- [116]  the end of native autonomy structure. Wealth accrued rapidly and attracted young, single, and usually desperate migrants to extract minerals from specific locations. Water conservation, land management, and combating soil erosion — these practices were irrelevant to mining economies. In the same way, new migrants held little knowledge or need for Indigenous practices. The search for gold, silver, copper, and tin violently clashed with Indian landscapes. Nothing illustrates this trend more clearly than the California gold rush.2 Without question, the gold rush proved disastrous for Natives across the northern and southern parts of the newly admitted state of California.3 The dramatic influx of aggressive foreign settlers, miners, and ranchers with their accompanying diseases, coupled with extensive droughts, all undermined the power and control that Native Californians had over their territory.4 Soon after granting California statehood, the U.S. government negotiated a series of treaties establishing reservations away from the state’s population centers. None of these became ratified, as the flood of miners and other immigrants refused to acknowledge any Indian rights. Policies imposed by foreigners, particularly “apprenticeship” acts and vagrancy laws passed between 1850 and 1861, irrevocably altered Indian country.5 Yet across the Colorado-Gila River region and in Sonora, Native outbursts of violence checked the expansion of Mexican-Anglo ranching and mining frontiers. Apache and Yavapai raiding, for example, spilled into and out of the interior world, violently obstructing economic partnerships figure 14. The interior world, 1859–65. the end of native autonomy  [117] between Akimel O’odhams, the United States, and Mexico. Apachería advances, in fact, led the Mexican government to propose an 1849 “Plan for the Defense of the States Invaded by the Indians.”6 José Francisco Velasco, secretary of state for Mexico, complained that during and after the Mexican-American War, Apaches struck at northern Sonora while also targeting the interior world: “Formerly, before cattle were abundant on the frontier, they subsisted on horse flesh and that of various wild animals, the sacate and other herbs; but now that they have the run of so many haciendas and ranchos, abounding in cattle, they live principally upon beef.” Velasco described one egregious but not atypical attack during the war: On the 19th of March, 1846, the Apaches first attacked the rancho of Metatitos and afterwards, on the same day, Bamuri, the hacienda of Manuel Maria Gandara; they murdered 13 persons, and burned the houses at both places, carrying off 450 horses, some of them of great value. . . . The next day they proceeded to the well...


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Subject Headings

  • Indians of North America -- Colorado River Valley (Colo.-Mexico) -- History.
  • Indians of North America -- First contact with Europeans -- Colorado River Valley (Colo.-Mexico).
  • Indians of North America -- Wars -- Colorado River Valley (Colo.-Mexico).
  • Indian traders -- Colorado River Valley (Colo.-Mexico) -- History.
  • Frontier and pioneer life -- Colorado River Valley (Colo.-Mexico).
  • Colorado River Valley (Colo.-Mexico) -- History.
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