Forced to Abandon Our Fields
During the Nineteenth Century, upstream diversions from the Gila River decreased the arable land on the Gila River Indian Reservation to only a few thousand acres. As a result the Pima Indians, primarily an agricultural people, fell into poverty. Many Pima farmers and leaders lamented this suffering and in 1914 the US Indian Irrigation Service assigned 33-year-old engineer named Clay "Charles" Southworth to oversee the Gila River adjudication. As part of that process, Southworth interviewed 34 Pima elders, thus putting a face on the depth of hardships facing many Indians in the late nineteenth century.