Race Prejudice and Discrimination: Readings in Intergroup Relations in the United States

By Arnold M. Rose | Go to book overview

15.The Economic Plight of the Papago Indians *

Bureau of Indian Affairs, United States Department of the Interior

[ The following excerpt from a pamphlet published by the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs describes the basic economic problem of the Papago Indians of Arizona--a problem that is found on most Indian reservations today. The pamphlet goes on to plan for the economic rehabilitation of the Papago reservation at a cost of $12,- 500,000 and for the social development of the Papago tribe on the reservation at the additional cost of $10,500,000. The Papago consist of 1200 families, comprising 7200 individuals. ]

The present population of the Papagos in Arizona is 7200 and they are increasing at a rate of about two percent per annum. They comprise about 1200 family groups and live in 73 scattered villages. The total reservation area is 2,855,021 acres, divided into three units, namely: the Papago, the San Xavier and the Gila Bend reservations.

The reservation income of the Papagos is derived chiefly from the following sources: farming small irrigated tracts at San Xavier and Chuichu; cultivating flash flood irrigated fields at scattered points on the reservation; grazing cattle; cutting firewood for sale, and to a limited extent, gathering wild fruits, nuts and seeds. This income is augmented by wage work off the reservation, which is engaged in seasonally by about one-half of the families. The annual income of the average Papago family is approximately one- third of that of the average Arizona farm family. The 1200 Papago families may be divided into two general income groups, namely: those whose annual incomes are considered adequate and those whose incomes are below a reasonable subsistence level.

The first group includes about one-third of the total population or 400 families whose incomes are derived from cattle, private business enterprises or permanent employment in skilled or semi- skilled trades. These are the families which, through education, training or adaptability, have fitted themselves into the white man's economy. At the top their incomes are comparable to those of the average non-Indian families of the area and range downward to about one-half of that amount.

____________________
*
From The Papago Development Program, May 1949 ( Washington, D. C.: Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1949), 7-8, 29-51.

-161-

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