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Nearly 500 Havasupai Indians live at the bottom of Cataract Canyon at the western edge of Grand Canyon National Park or in nearby towns within the area inhabited by their prehistoric ancestors since at least the 12th Century A.D.
The Cataract Canyon drainage rises near the modern town of Williams, Arizona. It empties into the Colorado River some 100 miles farther north after passing some of the most spectacular vertical-walled canyon scenery in North America. Cataract Creek, beside which Havasupai Village is built, wells up from the floor of the canyon where underground waters reach the surface of the gravel fill. The creek waters acquire a heavy load of calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate, calcium sulphate and magnesium chloride as they filter through thousands of feet of rock between the canyon rim and its floor.

As a result, Cataract Creek runs turquoise when not in flood, lending its four falls below Havasupai Village a beauty seen in few other waterfalls in the world. Navajo Kails, named for a long-time 19th Century chief of the Havasupai, is the first major fall downstream from the village. Next comes Havasu Falls. A mile and half downstream Cataract Creek tumbles over Mooney Falls, somewhat less than 200 feet high, named for a prospector who fell to his death nearby in 1880. The creek flows over Beaver Falls not far from its confluence with the Colorado River. With this copious stream at their front doors, the Havasupais are good and frequent swimmers.

The native tongue of the Havasupai Indians is one dialect of the Yuman language family. Indians speaking other Yuman dialects occupied in protohistoric times the territory from the northern part of the Peninsula of Lower California to central Arizona. In what became Arizona, the Northeastern Pai Indians, who included the Havasupai and the Walapai, lived in an area south of Grand Canyon to Bill Williams Fork, and east of the Colorado River to its tributary Little Colorado, to the San Francisco Peaks and the Santa Maria River.

At that time, the Havasupai constituted the northeastern most band of the Northeastern Pai Indian Tribe. They irrigated their crops of maize and squash, beans and perhaps one or two other domesticated plants in Cataract Canyon at 3,200 loot above sea level, and at Indian Gardens in the Grand Canyon and at Moencopi Wash during the summer. They left the canyons to range widely over the upland Colorado Plateau during the winter to hunt, to collect wild plant foods, and they gathered around pinon and juniper wood fires to keep warm in camp. Members of this band actually hunted wild game animals and harvested wild food products over the greatest altitude range of any band in the Southwestern U. S. Relying heavily on the Agave (or "Century Want") that flourished on the relatively level slopes within Grand Canyon, the Havasupai trudged down the Colorado River for water at an elevation of only 1,800 feet above sea level. Havasupai hunters also found mountain sheep relatively easy to kill on the Grand Canyon escarpments as well as in Cataract Canyon. Hunting deer and other game in addition to birds for ceremonial uses on the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks, these same Indians climbed up past the 12,000 foot mark above sea level.
Since Cataract Canyon is subject to summer floods following heavy rains on the Plateau drainage or rapid winter thaws, the Havasupai long ago learned to store their food in small caves or crevices in the slopes of the Canyon well above the level reached by flood waters. Some storage compartments improved with stone walls may result from construction techniques learned from Hopi in the past, since the Havasupai preferred to live in rock shelters or crude wickiups themselves.

On this northeastern frontier of their territory, the Havasupai enjoyed amicable trade relations with their Hopi Indian neighbors to the east for many centuries, as shreds of certain Hopi pottery found in Cataract Canyon attest. The great chasm of the Grand Canyon provided some, although not complete, natural protection against hostile attacks by the Paiutes to the north of the gorge. The plateau country to the south afforded the main routes of enemy incursion into Havasupai territory by the Yavapai Indians, who also spoke a Yuman dialect. Like the other Northeastern Pai bands, the Havasupai effectively defended themselves against Yavapai attacks within their territory and retaliated in kind.
In 1863, to cite one example of Havasupai military efficiency, these Indians peacefully but firmly turned back Mormon missionary Jacob Hamblin and his party. Having descended the Walapai Trail, the Mormons and their Hopi companions were directed up the Moqui Trail eastward and on their way. The Havasupais informed Hamblin that not long before his approach, they had killed seven Yavapais who attempted to attack the canyon bottom village.

The Havasupais in aboriginal times wore clothing made from simply tailored animal skins supplemented by Pueblo cotton blankets, although they preferred woolen blankets after the Pueblo Indians acquired sheep from the Spanish colonists in New Mexico. Havasupai men wore a buckskin tunic. Like a poncho, this garment had a slit in the center to allow the wearer to drop it over his head, and partially seamed sleeves attached to either side. A belt or sash gathered it at the waist. Men wore a doeskin, rabbit skin, or wildcat-pelt breech clout, and often added leggings above their buckskin moccasins. Havasupai women covered themselves with a buck-skin apron-like dress held up by a simple neck-strap with a blanket over their shoulders. They often went barefoot.

Except when they took refuge from Cataract Canyon floods in rock shelters in the canyon walls, the Havasupais lived in simple brush huts. They built sounder walls for their winter huts on the Plateau than for their summer dwellings in the canyon, supplementing the latter with brush shades supported by vertical posts.

Like other North American Indian languages, the Yuman tongues were unwritten. Thus, historical documentary records of these Indians appear first in accounts written by Europeans. These accounts are naturally neither complete nor very representative of native views of the world and the course of historical events. Havasupai oral tradition suffers from the time-limitation of all oral history, and stresses mainly late 19th Century conflicts with hostile Yavapais. On the other hand, the Havasupai first appeared on the horizon of European consciousness because of their peaceful trading relationships with the Pueblo Indians.

The Spaniards who settled in New Mexico in 1598 found the Rio Grande Pueblos utilizing a red ochre cosmetic. The Spanish ladies of Santa Fe adopted this cosmetic, which not only reddened their cheeks, but also protected them against sun burning and dry skin in the arid 7,000 foot altitude. It also effectively hid the pock marks of smallpox.

The Rio Grande Pueblos obtained this red ochre from Hopi Indian traders to their west, who in turn obtained it from the Havasupai or more westerly Northeastern Pai. The latter Indians dug the precious commodity from the rich deposit located in the lime-stone cliffs of Diamond Creek Canyon, within the contemporary Hualapai Indian Reservation.

The geographic proximity of the Havasupai to the Hopis naturally exposed the latter to Pueblo Indian cultural influences more than the more westerly Northeastern Pai bands. The flourishing trade in red ochre, Pacific Coast seashells the Pai handled as middlemen (obtaining them from Halchidhomas or Mojave Indians on the Colorado River), sun-dried mescal (Agave plant cores baked in a pit oven), and trade in well-tanned buckskins that the Havasupai carried on with the Hopi defined the basically peaceful interchange of goods and ideas between the two groups. It brought Havasupai individuals into the Hopi settlements as trading partners of Pueblo Indians during the ceremonial as well as ordinary seasons. Hopi traders visited the Havasupais in their homeland, and perhaps engaged in some religious proselytization. Whatever the precise conduits of communication, the Havasupais clearly learned something about Hopi religious ritual, and began to conduct some ceremonies of their own modeled on Hopi masked-dancing patterns.

From time to time during the historic period, groups of Hopis found Havasupai territory a convenient refuge. A century after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Hopi country suffered a succession of severe droughts commencing in 1777. As crops failed year after year, Spanish officials in New Mexico offered the Hopis asylum on the Rio Grande.

The provincial governor, Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza, led a relief expedition to the stricken Hopi settlements to provide military protection against hostile Navajo raiders who had waylaid one party of famine-weakened Pueblo Indians headed for the Spanish province. While 200 descendants of some of the refugees from the Rio Grande Pueblos who had fled to the Hopi towns after 1680 returned to New Mexico in the 1780 environmental crisis, most of the Hopis stood fast and remained in their Black Mesa edge towns or took refuge with the Northeastern Pai. Reports reached Governor Anza in May of 1780 that a majority of the Hopis sought refuge among their Havasupai (and we think other Northeastern Pai) friends of the west. Indeed, during his reconnaissance of the Hopi settlements in September of 1780, Anza found only one-tenth of the population a Spanish priest reported in these towns in 1775. If they have not all died as Governor Anza surmised, the Hopi: not in their homes had decamped west to well watered Moencopi, Indian Gardens, Cataract Canyon, etc. Hopi refugees, if not Hopi or Havasupa traders, carried west to Cataract Canyon peach pits to plant the first peach trees and provide the Havasupais with a new crop high in sugar content. The Hopis also provided the Havasupais with a name for peaches, thipala being a direct borrowing of Hopispala.

Some of the Hopis interpreted their famines as supernatural punishment for the socially frigid reception Oraibi, their westernmost town, accorded the first Spaniard who visited the Havasupai in 1776. Friar Francisco H. Garces, Franciscan missionary to the Northern Piman-speaking Indians at St. Francis Xavier Mission at Bac descended into the Cataract Canyon Havasupai settlement while seeking a route from the Province of Sonora to the Province of New Mexico.
Garces also traveled through the Havasupai farming settlement at Moencopi, apparently the eastern extreme of Yuman settlement at that time, as it apparently was late in the 1600s. Garces recorded that the Havasupais possessed both cows and horses, and knew how to manage them well enough to take them down the steep trails into the Cataract Canyon settlement. The intrepid Franciscan explorer traveled trails pointed out to him by native guides, often in the company of native traders. He encountered a pair of Hopi traders among the Northeastern Pai even before he entered Cataract Canyon headed east, and Havasupai traders accompanied him to Oraibi, where they lodged with their Hopi trading partners while the Spaniard slept in the street. In Oraibi, Garces also met Zuni Indian traders from the east. When he returned to Mojave Valley, two Havasupai traders seeking white Pacific Coast shells showed him the trail all the way from Cataract Canyon. The number of traders Garces met on his travels indicates the intensity of native trade in 1776.

The Northeastern Pai Indians attracted little attention from Europeans for half a century following Garces' trip through their territory. Havasupai trade with the western Pueblo Indians continued through-out that period, however, and it was most likely an era of steady but slow cultural differentiation between the Havasupai and the other Northeastern Pai, as the former absorbed more and more Pueblo cultural traits.

The Havasupai may have lost some people to New Mexican slave traders after Mexico won its independence from Spain and control over frontiersmen relaxed. Since most of the slavers were illiterate individuals or not anxious to leave records of their activity if they could write, direct evidence for this point is scanty or does not exist. At least two clues suggest that the Havasupai and other Northeastern Pai may well have suffered some losses to slavers during these decades. A New Mexican guide employed by a U. S. exploring expedition in the early 1850s reportedly had gained some acquaintance with the country west of New Mexico on a slaving expedition seeking Mojave captives a decade earlier. Moreover, genealogies of Ramah Navajos living in New Mexico include ancestors of Northeastern Pai birth, probably Havasupais since they were captured near the San Francisco Peaks. They would have been born during the latter portion of the period of Mexican sovereignty. That period left the Havasupais in much the same social and geographic isolation they enjoyed during Spanish times history: united states subjugation Northeastern Pai territory formally passed from Mexico to the United States by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. During the following decade, official U. S. expeditions exploring feasible transcontinental railroad routes began to cross Havasupai plateau country, and fleetingly to contact a few of these Indians.

Then in August of 1858, the Mojave Indians attacked a civilian emigrant wagon train on the U. S. wagon road roughed out by men commanded by Naval Lt. Edward F. Beale. The California-bound emigrants turned back and retreated to New Mexico. U. S. officers viewed this Mojave defense of Mojave Valley in the same negative light as the citizens who survived the attack, which they labeled a "massacre." The Army's Department of California dispatched troops to engage and defeat the Mojaves, establishing a military post on the bank of the Colorado River to maintain the Mojave in subjugated status. After regular army troops withdrew to the eastern theaters of the War of the Rebellion, California Volunteer units reoccupied Fort Mojave. With little else to do, they prospected for minerals in the mountains east of the river in Northeastern Pai territory, and found some.

The Northeastern Pai attacked some of these miners, and once the great national civil turmoil ended, the "peacetime" Indian-fighting army moved into action to "pacify" the Northeastern Pai. U. S. Cavalry contingents from Fort Mojave and Fort Whipple, just outside the first Arizona territorial capital at Prescott, harried the western bands of Northeastern Pai during a "Walapai War" from 1866 to 1869. U. S. troops campaigned primarily along a military road between the two posts, operating with supplies steam boated up the Colorado River. They did not penetrate Havasupai territory during the Walapai War, and that difference in military experience further widened the cultural gap between the Havasupais and their western fellow tribesmen.

There is good reason to believe that Havasupai warriors joined the rest of the Northeastern Pai intribal-scale forces engaging the Cavalry. Walapai oral tradition clearly identifies groups that took refuge in Cataract Canyon and other parts of the Havasupai range during the Walapai War. Yet, Havasupai participation in that struggle was relatively indirect, and differed from the bitter losses in people and material suffered by most of the western bands.

After the U. S. Cavalry finally defeated the Pai bands that came to be lumped under the rubric "Walapai,"post-tribal experience under United States rule further differentiated the western bands from the Havasupai. The western groups were for the most part concentrated on a one-mile square military reservation at Camp Beale Springs. The aboriginal economy had been irrevocably disrupted by the scorched-earth policy of the Cavalry, which uprooted planted fields and destroyed captured stores. The Indians had little or no native foodstuffs to sustain themselves in captivity, and became dependent upon government rations. The humane Irish captain commanding the post unofficially permitted the Indians to hunt to some extent to supplement their rations, but digestive upsets were a distinct problem for the captives.

The Havasupais, on the other hand, remained in their pre-war territory, continuing their aboriginal economic pursuits, disturbed only by the presence of western band refugees, and for a brief period by a contingent of Southern Paiute refugees from Mormon settlements in Utah and Northern Arizona. When the western bands were forced to trudge down their "Trail of Tears" to the Colorado Indian Reservation in 1874, the Havasupais again remained undisturbed in their aboriginal territory. They did not suffer the high mortality that struck their kinsmen in Parker Valley on the lower Colorado River. When the western bands fled from the river in the spring of 1875, the price they paid for returning to live in their aboriginal homeland was to turn to menial work for Anglo-American miners and ranchers, and almost immediate full integration into the wage labor economy at the very bottom of the social and economic hierarchy. The Havasupai, meanwhile, ranged free in their age-old social and economic patterns.

Their isolation from the dynamic forces of manifest destiny did not last long, however, for rumors of mineral wealth in the Grand Canyon circulated among the miners in booming Prescott, and before long white explorers descended into Cataract Canyon and began to locate mining claims on the Indians' lands.

As construction of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad brought all sorts of freight to the edge of Havasupai territory, these Indians began to turn their trading talents in that direction. At first, tobacco and matches became their main goals, but within a few years they shifted to cash and clothes.

Then unilateral administrative action by the United States finally set the course of political separation of the Havasupai and other Northeastern Pai Indians. A Presidential Executive Order from Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880 reserved a twelve-mile long stretch of land five miles wide for the Havasupai, starting south (upstream) from a point two miles below the lowest fall of Cataract Creek. Then U. S. Army officers surveyed the Havasupai reservation in 1881, and President Chester A. Arthur in 1882 reduced the reserved area to the bottom lands bounded by the cliffs of Cataract Canyon from a point some two miles south of Havasupai Village to the crest of Havasu Falls. The officers making the survey focused upon the problem of mining claim encroachment on Havasupai land and set aside only an area designed to perpetuate Indian ownership of the Cataract Canyon fields. So ignorant of actual Havasupai land use necessities for survival were the officers that they included none of the other Havasupai fields such as Indian Gardens within the Grand Canyon and Moencopi east beyond the Little Colorado where Mormons, Navajos and Hopis had already usurped Havasupai ancestral lands. Some Mormons lived at Moencopi in 1871 and 1872, although permanent settlement began officially in 1875. The federal government bought out Mormon squatters' rights after the turn of the century for $45,000, and the Latter Day Saints vacated in February of 1903 so the land could be included in a western extension of the Navajo Indian Reservation. Thus, the Havasupais lost their eastern fields. Just as seriously, the officers surveying the Havasupai Indian Reservation, ignorant of the seasonal round of Havasupai subsistence, set aside no Colorado Plateau upland area to preserve Havasupai hunting range, wild plant food collecting resources, firewood cutting stands, or even the water-shed and downstream stretch of Cataract Creek itself.

Even Captain John G. Bourke, an officer intensely interested in Indians, recommended against federal aid to the Havasupais, believing that it would "turn them into paupers" because their Cataract Canyon fields yielded them what he thought was "a sufficient return" of maize, squash, melons, peaches and sunflower seeds, even though he recorded in his journal of his visit to Cataract Canyon village seeing Havasupai women cooking wild foods. He noted the parching of lambs quarter seeds that must have been collected on the plateau, and ground sunflower seeds served mixed with roasted mescal made from the Agave that abounded in the Grand Canyon.
Most army officers at that time concentrated their attention on hostile Indians, not peaceful groups such as the Havasupai, who sent two spokesmen to Whipple Barracks in 1881 to assure military authorities that they wanted no Indians in their territory who were hostile to the United States. By this concentration on military mission, officers in the field who generated recommendations for policy-making by their superiors in Washington often in effect rewarded military resistance to U. S. conquest more than they did peaceful cooperation by Indian groups.

By such morally inequitable actions early in the 1880s, U. S. officials dealt a death-blow to Havasupai aboriginal economic arrangements, forcing these Indians to seek wage labor just as their Walapai relatives had done earlier. The shift was not abrupt for the Havasupais. Anglo-American settlement still pressed on Havasupai territory only at Moencopi where Mormons in combination with Navajo   and Hopis pre-empted their agricultural fields, and in lower Cataract Canyon where miners sought valuable ores, and the Bill Williams Mountain area where sheep flocks arrived in the middle 18705. Indeed, for some years Havasupai trade with Navajos apparently burgeoned as the latter migrated westward into aboriginal Havasupai territory following their release from U. S. internment at Fort Sumner in 1868. At any rate, sufficient social contact between Navajos and Havasupais appears to have occurred during this period for the Havasupai to adopt the Navajo forked-stick type hogan (cabin), and perhaps the custom of taking therapeutic sweat baths in a swcatlodge as well. Navajo saddle blankets became a favorite article of apparel among the Havasupais and their western relatives. The red ochre from Diamond Creek Canyon and tanned buckskins continued to be the main commodities that the Havasupai traded to Navajos for blankets, brass and silver and turquoise jewelry and horses.

Once the western bands of the Northeastern Pai had been subjugated by the U. S. Cavalry, they rapidly adopted Anglo-American clothing, since the military officers and civilian employers whom they had to please insisted upon "civilized" modesty. The Walapais also quickly profited from their access to manufactured clothing by trading military and civilian garments to Havasupais, probably for the traditional foodstuffs they could hardly harvest from their own former range. Thus, Havasupai traders diverted goods westward that had formerly gone east to the Pueblos, and acquired ready-to-wear clothing even before they themselves became directly subservient to Anglo-Americans. By 1881, some Havasupai already wore manufactured clothing while others remained in home-made togs. By the end of 1884, all Havasupai men wore American or Hopi clothing, while women continued to dress in native fringed buckskins and young children ran naked even when Whites appeared. By that time, both men and women sported necklaces of brass, either U. S. Army buttons or cartridges. A species of pioneer tourism from towns along the railroad enabled some Havasupais
to earn manufactured clothing in return for personal services: rescuing improvident explorers seeking Cataract Canyon village! In other words, Havasupai men abandoned native dress for manufactured goods or Hopi woven cloth within fifteen years after the military defeat of the western bands of Northeastern Pai made industrially produced clothes available to members of the defeated population. Also by 1884, the Havasupai used manufactured hatchets, spades and hoes, while Winchester rifles were already supplanting native bows and arrows, save for waterfowl hunting. Metal kettles and Hopi pots displaced locally produced brown ceramic vessels with either more durable or more colorful containers. Thus, Havasupai requirements for trade goods and cash exploded during their initial "revolution of rising expectations" as the manufactured products of industrial society tempted them and they succumbed to the lure.

If Anglo-American agricultural settlement and ranching pre-empted only limited areas of the Havasupai irrigated fields and hunting and food collecting range prior to construction of the transcontinental railway across Havasupai territory, railroad tourism and floral and faunal "conservation" turned these Indians into pariahs on their own ancestral territory during the next score of years.

Soon after the railroad was completed across Arizona on the 35th parallel in 1883, enterprising individuals began hauling tourists from the Peach Springs station down Peach Springs Canyon on buckboards to view the imposing walls of the western portion of Grand Canyon from the confluence of Diamond Creek Canyon and the main gorge. Other entrepreneurs promoted different routes, however, farther east to viewpoints on the South Rim of Grand Canyon to look down into its Havasupai section rather than up at its Walapai section.

John Hance and a Flagstaff partner opened a road and stage service from Flagstaff to a cabin on the South Rim in 1885. Tourists enjoyed daily stage service over this 70 mile route in the late 1890s. Hance explored and improved a trail from the rim to the river, charging tourists a toll to traverse it. W. W. Bass moved to a spot several miles farther west toward Cataract Canyon in 1889, having first visited Grand Canyon with a Havasupai guide in 1883. He started stage service to Williams in 1891, later adding a stage to Ashfork. Bass utilized Cataract Canyon as a tourist route to the main gorge, blasting cisterns in solid rock and building dams along Havasu Creek to store water for people and stock. Some thirty Havasupai women wove baskets of willow and Martynia ("Devil's Claw") part-time to sell to the early 20th Century visitors.

Miners and promoters from Williams and Chicago organized the Santa Fe and Grand Canyon Railway Company in 1897. It began building track in 1899 and halted eleven miles short of the rim in 1900, going into receivership. The Santa Fe system bought out this short-line company for $150,000 in July of 1901 and completed the tracks, sending the first scheduled train to Grand Canyon on September 17, 1901. The Peach Springs Canyon route was abandoned as the railroad company sought revenue from the new short-line, and Grand Canyon Village sprang up to cater to tourists carried directly to the South Rim of the gorge 3,108 feet directly above the "Indian Gardens" from which the Havasupais had been evicted.

A three mile railroad spur enabled the mine companies seeking rail transport to ship copper ore from the Plateau surface near Red Horse Wash (the Havasupai Haikasadjulka) over the main line to smelters. Thus, Anglo-Americans profited from a singular assortment of once-Havasupai resources.

Grand Canyon Village provided the menial wage labor the Havasupais needed merely to earn cast with which to purchase Anglo-American style groceries to substitute for their aboriginal foods. With earned cash, the Havasupai could also purchase new clothing of their own choice, and escape to some degree from degrading dependence on the barrels of used clothing the Philadelphia Indian Association dispatched to Bureau of Indian Affairs employees in Cataract Canyon to hand out to these impoverished Indians. The jobs open to the Havasupai were those at the lowest rank of regional social and economic hierarchy, just like those that the Walapais had found farther west. Still, wages became necessary for Havasupai survival, since the tourist and cattle industries shut these Indians out from major sectors of their former hunting and food collecting range.

In a bold policy shift toward conservation of natural resources, President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed the Grand Canyon part of a forest preserve in 1893, early in the Havasupai traumatic decade of loss of land and resources. In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt set the Grand Canyon region aside as a National Monument and game preserve, without any regard for Havasupai aboriginal land rights. Zealous bureaucratic conservationists of trees and shrubs and squirrels quickly stopped the Havasupais from growing their crops at any point outside Cataract Canyon. Forest Rangers restricted the freedom of the Havasupais even to travel along the broad slopes of the Grand Canyon, and interdicted their consumption of Agave roasted in pit ovens. No sooner had the forest preserve been established than its superintendent forbade the Havasupais from killing any game on it, or even to travel over it! Deer hunting restrictions enacted in 1897 by Arizona Territory reinforced the legal prohibitions surrounding the Havasupais.

Such "conservation" of fauna and flora without regard for aboriginal Indian use-rights diminished the ability of the Havasupais to collect and process mescal and buckskins for their Pueblo and Navajo trade. At the same time, cheap manufactured cosmetics carried by the railroads captured the Indian market for Pai red ochre, just as bolts of machine-woven cloth on the shelves of trading posts that rapidly spread among the Navajos and Hopis during the latter years of the century limited demand for Havasupai buckskins to Pueblo ceremonial usage. Thus, the Havasupais watched the market for their traditional goods change drastically following completion of the transcontinental railroad at the same time that Anglo-American bureaucratic restriction upon their economic exploitation of their aboriginal homeland seriously restricted the subsistence basis of life. This threw an increased burden on the Indian horticultural land base in Cataract Canyon. Merchants in the towns of Flagstaff and Williams on the railroad readily purchased dried Havasupai peaches. By 1890, these Indians reportedly had 1,300 peach trees in the Canyon and reaped a 4,000 bushel crop.

Since increased social contact with Anglo-Americans exposed the Havasupais to numerous contagious diseases that were new to them, it was small wonder that their always small population fell sharply during the period after 1886. Havasupa population dropped from an estimated 320 in 1776 to 265 in 1886 and a low of 166 in 1906.
By 1890, Havasupais became receptive to the millenarian message of the Ghost Dance movement preached to them by the Southern Paiutes. Chief Navajo traveled west to learn the songs and dance figures from Walapais already dancing to resurrect deceased Indians, bring back the native game animals, and eliminate the Whites. Some Havasupais joined in this movement for two or three years, and some dance figures and songs survived longer as they were incorporated into other rites.

During the 1890s, another facet of industrial civilization impinged directly upon the daily lives of the increasingly beleaguered Havasupai. The U. S. Bureau of Indian Affairs ignored these Indians for a decade after their reservation was first established. Then in 1890, the Bureau placed the Havasupai under the jurisdiction of the Fort Mojave Indian School. Its representative failed to persuade Havasupais to send their children to that institution. Two years later, the Bureau dispatched a government farmer to Cataract Canyon. Then officialdom, convinced that all Indians must be integrated into the social and economic system of the nation by learning to read, write and speak the English language, dispatched pioneering school teachers to the Cataract Canyon settlement after a school building was started in 1894. By 1898, average daily attendance at the government school reached fifty-seven pupils and a red sandstone school building was virtually completed. In 1901, seventy-two Havasupai children enrolled in school under a young woman teacher, and attendance averaged seventy-one even though the school had a rated capacity of only forty-six. Since White teachers followed the general U. S. school schedule of winter classes, the Cataract Canyon school inhibited Havasupai seasonal movement up to the Plateau for the winter. Families had to remain in the Canyon to feed and care for children in class, further weakening the Havasupai economy during this traumatic decade and into the new century.

Conceiving themselves as cloaked in the majesty of the federal government, even young female teachers did not hesitate (if they even thought about it) to intervene in property disputes between Havasupai families, usurping the functions of the native chiefs. Since the teachers were indeed backed up by armed Indian policemen hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and if need be by federal marshals and troops, the power of the brave Havasupai leaders whose warriors had repulsed strong Yavapai attacks on the Cataract Canyon settlement found themselves with few remaining powers other than persuasion. Oratorical ability largely replaced physical bravery and dexterity as the prime requisite for leadership in internal governance and in dealing with Anglo-Americans as spokesmen for the group. Not until 1906, however, did the Bureau provide the Havasupais with professional medical attention.

In other words, virtually the full impact of industrial U. S. society struck the handful of Havasupais during the decade between 1892 and 1902. Even so, these Indians clung to many of their ancestral customs, including cremation of the bodies and possessions of their dead at a crematory area between the upper falls and Mooney Falls, or on a point of the South Rim of Grand Canyon above Indian Gardens. Bass, the Grand Canyon tourism promoter who formed friendships with Havasupais beginning in 1883, urged them to bury their dead. Local employees of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from R. C. Bauer on regarded Havasupai funeral customs as a "drawback" that "must be stopped." In 1902, when a Havasupai died, his camp was still burned, his property destroyed, his fruit trees cut down and his fields left fallow. Some Havasupais began to bury the bodies of their dead in crevices or caves in the rocks by 1898. Others continued to cremate corpses of their dead into the late 1920s. The transition from cremation to burial forced the Havasupais to establish two cemeteries on their already inadequate land base. One at "Drift Fence" lies on the Plateau between Grand Canyon Village and Topocoba Hill-top. The other occupies a part of the Cataract Canyon floor near the falls. Administrative pressures from local Bureau of Indian Affairs employees reduced Havasupai funeral observances to abandonment of the home for a few weeks and cremation of personal effects by the late 1920s (save for rare cremations), keeping agricultural fields in production.

While Christian employees of the Bureau of Indian Affairs tried with indifferent success to convert the Havasupais, these Indians adopted Mojave mourning rituals, probably to compensate ritually for the Bureau-enforced reduction in Havasupai ceremonials that aimed to protect the living from die ghosts of the dead. Mojave and Chemehucvi Indians who visited the Cataract Canyon settlement in 1914 began to teach mourning chants to Havasupais. The latter first sang them at a mourning rite during a funeral in 1919. The Havasupais perhaps first danced in Mojave mourning style at a 1943 funeral. A funeral still involves displaying gifts of clothing which are burned together with personal possessions of the deceased as the final funeral event.

Although missionaries of Christian denominations proselytizing among the Walapai visited the Cataract Canyon settlement from time to time, the Havasupais escaped the full brunt of missionization until 1948. Then, a corporate public relations stunt, of all things, literally flew Christianity into Cataract Canyon! A quonset hut manufacturer in Michigan donated one of its buildings to the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, and its bulky components were flown into the Canyon by helicopter, with abundant press notice. Having failed to persuade Iroquois to convert to Christianity in outstanding fashion, a New York missionary took up residence at the new mission, remaining there until her retirement in 1956. She trained a children's choir and led weekly services, reinforced by an ordained minister who visited monthly from Flagstaff. A Baptist couple took over the mission in 1956 and they remained five years. More recently, as the Havasupai charged with ringing the mission bell to call people to services frequently "forgot" to ring it, Havasupai participation in formal Christian rites has largely lapsed.