264 Slices
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4 LIVESTOCK: Cows, Feed, and Floods

James M. Aton Utah State University Press ePub

As the San Juan River has coursed through the Four Corners area, it has both encouraged and denied economic opportunities to Native American and Anglo-American entrepreneurs alike. Its system of canyons and floodplains offers forage for livestock, channels movement, suggests strategic locations for trade, and provides possibilities for agriculture. On the other hand, the river can swell uncontrollably to flood stage, ripping out everything in its path; it has served as a clearly defined legal boundary, restricting access to resources by people on both banks; and, due to the mere presence of its water in a desert environment, has created countless disputes over who should use it.

This chapter and the next focus on the role the river has played in two acts of the human drama staged across its narrow belt of riparian wealth. This chapter discusses the evolution of both the Navajo and Anglo livestock industry, the growth of trading posts that encouraged large herds to depend on the river’s resources, and the subsequent development of a road system to move ranching products to market. It is a multifaceted history that extends far beyond the San Juan and throughout the Four Corners region.

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7 MINING: Black and Yellow Gold in Redrock Country

James M. Aton Utah State University Press ePub

Once a beautiful, well-dressed woman visited the home of a powerful stranger. The master of the house invited her inside, asking who she was. She replied that she was the goddess of wealth, which pleased the master, who in turn entertained her with kindness. Soon another woman appeared, but this one was ugly and dressed in rags. The master of the house inquired her name, and she answered that she was the goddess of poverty. The man became frightened and tried to drive her away, but she hesitated to leave. She explained, “The goddess of wealth is my sister. There is an agreement between us that we are never to live separately; if you chase me out, she has to go with me.” Disregarding this advice, the master evicted the ugly woman, only to have the woman of wealth also disappear.1

Wealth and poverty have always been close relatives, as this Buddhist fable points out. There is no better historic example of this truth than the exploitative attempts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to wrest resources from the Lower San Juan River. When obtaining riches seemed possible, the desert and tortuous rocky canyons along the river became a welcome Eldorado for the miner and oil man. When mineral wealth literally did not pan out, the ugly and desolate wretch was abandoned to her own devices. The outcast river wandered along its course uninterrupted, waiting to be rediscovered.

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4 Harry W. (Bill) Racy

Richard Negri Utah State University Press ePub

Bill Racy, unlike the others interviewed in this book, was an import to Utah. He was an Indiana boy who learned to be a ranch hand in those hard, hard years just prior to World War II. In 1937 sixteen-year-old Bill hopped off a freight train in Green River. He was cold, hungry, and flat broke and eventually found work as a ranch hand on the Chaffin Ranch. He worked on various ranches in southeastern Utah’s canyon country, but also found his way through most of the other western states.

He is one who encouraged Ned to organize the cowboy caucus because he hadn’t seen Ned for fifty-six years. Bill has written autobiographical sketches of his early life. Portions of those sketches have been incorporated and expanded upon with this interview.

I was born in Oaktown, Knox County, Indiana, on May 31, 1921. My parents separated when I was three. I went with my father until I was eight years old. After that things just went to pot, and I never lived with my parents again. I just spent time with this aunt or that uncle or neighbor or what have you. I don’t remember my father too much; I knew him, but I don’t really know him, and the same way with my mother.

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Recollection of Tranquility

Idris Anderson Utah State University Press ePub


I can’t speak from the man’s point of view,

but as a woman, I’d say this etching tells truth

about sex. The lover is kneeling for his own pleasure

first, then hers too, perhaps. His foot is flexed

for pushing energetically. He’s as deep

as he can go into the soft folds of her flesh.

And she, with knees frankly spread, is telling him

with fingers where and how he should move.

Notice the eyes, they are so wise with each other.

It’s not a brothel. He was in love with this wife.

Rembrandt, in his exuberance, gave the girl

three arms. One hand we see stroking the side

of her lover’s back, another reaches round for his bum,

and the third, a fully visible limb, lies limp

on the bed, as if she’s totally compliant, or done.

The bed is well made, with canopy and draperies,

the linens as plush as her thighs. She’s relaxed into what

he desires; she’s eager and wants her own pleasure too.

The drypoint’s velvety strokes so accurate. He saw

what he wanted and made it, and wanted what he saw.

After all the crosses, Christs feeding the peasants,

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17 Changing Faces and Changing Rules, 1972-1975

Richard Westwood Utah State University Press ePub

By 1972 a multi-million dollar commercial industry had been built up to accommodate tourists who wished to boat on the wild rivers of the nation. On the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon alone tourism had increased from 70 users in 1955 to 16,432 in 1972.1 Campsites on the Colorado were usually narrow sand beaches, and in many parts of the canyon they were very limited. The large number of people visiting scenic spots and heavily used beaches posed problems of congestion, disappearing firewood, and disposal of human waste and kitchen refuse. Furthermore, fluctuating clearwater releases from Glen Canyon Dam were eroding these beaches. In order to determine what effect this increase in use was having on the resource and visitors’ experiences, the Park Service decided to limit 1973 and subsequent use to the 1972 level.

Georgie was just getting used to being regulated by the National Park Service after having had a free run of the river for so many years when:

In December 1972, the NPS announced without warning its plan: the number of persons allowed to float the river would be reduced until the total dropped to almost one-half of what the allocation was in 1971 (96,000 passenger days); and there would be a 25 percent cutback of outboard motors on the river in 1974 and each subsequent year until 1977, when all motors would be eliminated. Only oar-powered floats would be allowed.2

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