Since before the arrival of the Bearded Ones (Spanish) the waters of the
The O’othom were here in village clusters and had a well defined irrigation system in place. The O’othom had crops of corn, beans and squash, grown in abundance. These were the food crops but they also found cotton and tobacco being cultivated.
Their villages dotted the entire
The Spanish found these people diverting the waters of the Gila into canals they had constructed, with the aid of only wood and stone tools, which extended for miles and miles. Their engineering ability was amazing to these new arrivals. From the larger canals they had head gate to divert waters to the actual field of crops. It was a combined effort with each village responsible for the maintenance of the canal system to their fields and village. Field houses were often put up near the fields but home was in the main village.
The O’othom people are a peaceful group and worked together on large scale projects. For instance, in the rebuilding of a house which was lost by fi re, the village would rebuild it in a matter of days. Materials would be gathered such as posts and beams for the roof and corners, arrow weeds obtained from the banks of the river. Labor was from the village and food was provided for the noon lunch. There was no monetary exchange but food was donated by the families and the ladies did the cooking. Not only did they do the cooking but also helped in the actual house or structure construction.
It was also a time for visiting with old friends and relatives. The elders would sit in the shade and watch over the grandchildren. Plus watch the progress and offer suggestions to the young men who still had much to learn.
Irrigation continued and there came a time when the Pee Posh came to the valley seeking refuge from their fellow people. Part of the Yuman groups along the
There came a time in the 1800’s when the people who were so generous with their crops to the people crossing their lands to
Today the people who now reside within the reservation of the Gila River Indian Community the Pima and Maricopa are in the planning stages of an irrigation project of monumental proportions. The plans are to establish an irrigation system to deliver water to 146,300 acres. From District 1 in the Blackwater area to the farms of the Pee Posh in District Seven. It will again take the effort of all the people to make major decisions, just like in the old days. There will be impacts to the community members in many ways and they will all have to be addressed. It will take years to complete but in the end the community members will once again hear the sweet music of rushing water.