Enclosed herewith I have the honor to forward report of Clerk Rabinnovitz relative to Indian land claims on the San Pedro River. These claims and disputes have been going on several years, but no one seemed to care to have them adjusted. As Mr. Rabinnovitz went on his vacation last month to the city of Phoenix. I detailed him to look up the matter, which he did.
I respectfully recommend that the suggestions of Mr. Rabinnovitz be given one consideration, and that action thereon be taken at the earliest date possible.
In conformity with your written instructions under date of July 30, 1909, I started, on August 24, 1909, to work on the case of the several Indians settled on the San Pedro River, and who have made complaint that whites were encroaching upon their holdings of many years past. I went up to the U.S. Land Office in Phoenix and made a close search of the records, and then proceeded to the seat of the trouble. Mr. Jesse Finch, a white settler there, who owns the NW/NE and E/NW sec. 17, and adjoining those Indian lands, volunteered to accompany me on this investigation together with all the Indians concerned, and he has been a very valuable help to me in this work.
My first effort naturally was to find a section corner for my starting point. Mr. Finch took me up a hillside through a maze of mesquite brush to a little pile of rocks, and told me that he thought that to be the south-east corner of his place. On this plat accompanying this report I marked that corner with a red cross.
On the 80 acre tract south, marked in green (E1/2 SW1/4 Sec.17), there is a house, a piece of cultivated land under ditch, also shown on the plat. The place is fenced, and makes a nice little home for a poor Indian. In this house lives Peculi (Pet-choo-lee) and his
As far back as 1886, or thereabouts, so the white settlers informed me, the Govt. sent out surveyors who made three unsuccessful attempts to locate a ditch for Peculi. He lived on the place for awhile, then moved away, and stayed away several years until his son Dultaye grew up, and then they returned, and Dultaye tapped the river himself, and has been living on the land mentioned ever since, cultivating the land and making as good a home as could possibly be expected of an untutored Indian who is trying of his own free will to make a living for himself and family. On this tract he has an adobe house, marked on the map within the NE/SW sec. 17. The irrigation ditch is also indicated. Between the two: Peculi and his son, they have some 7 or 8 acres under cultivation, raising corn, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, watermelons, has a few peachtrees and a few apple trees; also keep on the place 7 cows, 8 horses and seven burros, and a few chickens. They also raise barley which they are able to place on the market earlier than their white neighbors, because they do not pasture their stubble, and commence plowing earlier, and obtain an earlier crop, and dispose of their barley crop at 2 cts. per pound, while their white neighbors sell on a later market at about 1 1/2 cts. per pound. Peculi also has an adobe house next to that of his son, but he claims as his land the S1/2 NE1/4 and the W1/2 SE1/4 sec.17, marked in red pencil on the map. Most of this land is either river bed or river bottom land, available for pasture when the river is not high. The SE1/4 NE1/4, however, is timbered on the east part, and on the west slope there is room for a good sized garden.
Everybody seems to know that Peculi has been in possession of that trust of land for the past 25 years of so, yet the official maps in the Phoenix Land Office show the name of "Naciah" on that tract. Neither the whites nor the Indians are able to tell who "Naciah" is, or how that name happens to be associated with that tract of land. Peculi claims that he had filed on the land in 1883 at the Tucson Land Office and that he had papers issued to him by that office, but that he lost them in a fire in 1906.
For the purpose of making further recital of this matter clear I must halt right here to introduce a statement made to me by Mr. Finch in regard to the status of the lands involved in further controversy as between the Indians themselves, and also between the Indians and white settlers.
As far back as 1883 the military Indian Agent in charge of this Agency (I believe Capt. Pierce), sent to the San Pedro country now in question a surveying party to locate Indian Chief Eskebazin, or as he is commonly known around here by the name of Skimmazeen, and his adherents. Without data at hand to say positively just which are the boundaries of that survey, there is this much known, namely that a large number of Indians resided all over the country indicated on the map, and also considerably to the north thereof. Later a number of the Indians moved away, and some of them have since been allotted at Camp Verde. This cancelled their holdings on the San Pedro River, and the lands were thrown open to settlement and taken up by whites.
Only a very few have clung tenaciously to their holdings, and are still there. Some of the younger ones were born and raised on
In dotted red lines I marked he remains of a fence, still visible and easily traceable, of what was at one time the agricultural lands laid out by the Govt. surveyors and occupied by Chief Skimmazeen and his people. The place is now overgrown with mesquite brush, but the site of the house is still there plainly visible, and a short distance away are two wells under a big tree. The old irrigation ditches are still visible. I marked on the NW1/4 SW1/4 Sec.16 the approximate location of the house and wells.
Of the old settlers the old man Capo (Chah-poh) is still located on the NE1/4 SE1/4 Sec. 17, where he has two adobe dwellings and some sheds, all under good brush and post fence. The rest of the settlers are younger people who are attached to their respective holdings because of kinship to the old chief Skimmazeen. Thus far only Sinaga (Shee-nah-gah) has done work enough to show his bona fide settlement on what he believes to be his own place, but as a matter of fact he has encroached upon the east part of SE1/4 NE1/4 Sec. 17 claimed by Peculi.
George Johnson also claims 160 acres thereabouts, but have indicated only 40 acres, the NE1/4 SW1/4 Sec. 16, for reasons I shall give later in connection with the whole Sec. 16 controversy.
Wilson Johnson claims NE1/4 NE1/4 Sec. 17; SE1/4 SE1/4 Sec.8; and the S1/2 SW1/4 Sec. 9.
A white man by the name Chas. K. Wilcox filed on the NE1/4 NE1/4 Sec. 17, and SE1/4 SE1/4 Sec. 8 on June 4, 1908, H.E. 1697. For reasons given me by one of the neighbors Mr. Chas. K. Wilcox, on July 2, 1909, relinquished his claim, and his sister, Nellie Wilcox, filed on those two forties together with two more forties northward, (H.E. 06381).
A man by the name of Pusch, of Tucson, Ariz., fenced off along the western line of Sec. 16, all of the SW1/4 and westward thereof, thus cutting off the claims of the Indians. It seems that the county claims Sec. 16 as school land, and Mr. Pusch has rented it from the county. If the county has claim of priority or a valid claim at all, the Indians have nothing left in Sec. 16 to lay claim to. But, as I said, Sec. 16 was the Skimmazeen country, and the fence posts, from 4 to 6 inches still project above the ground to mark the agricultural part of that piece of skimmazeen country. The old Govt. ditch and laterals
If the Indians have any valid right to those lands upon which they have lived ever since they were born, then the claim of Wilson Johnson should be attended to at once, and the H.E. of Miss Wilcox should be cancelled insofar as the south two forties are concerned, these being claimed by Wilson Johnson.
As for George Johnson, if the Indians have prior rights in Sec. 16, he should be allowed to complete his selection of 160 acres in that section.
I respectfully recommend that the Indian Office be advised of the situation and requested to send here someone to make a new survey of the whole tract of land, and to assign to each Indian what is due him; that immediate steps be taken to look into the conflicting claims of Wilson Johnson and Miss Nellie Wilcox; that a supply of Land Office blanks (5-151) "Indian Allotment Application for Lands Outside of Any Indian Reservation" be procured and filings made for the Indians; that search be made for the records of the Peculi, or Pechula, filings, as it seems that now he ought to have his final patent issued to him, the twenty-five year period having expired last year, about November or December.
The lands on the east side of the San Pedro River, and situated in sections 8, 9, 16 and 17, Tp. 6, S of R. 16, E. S.R.B.L. and M., are considerably above the immediate level of the River, and an Indian