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Mojave Desert Indians - Historic Desert Indian Territories Map: Mojave Indians

Mojave Indian Ethnography & Ethnohistory

World War II & Beyond

After World War II, the government talked of bringing Indians from other tribes to settle CRIR's "surplus" lands. As had always been the case, the OIA, now renamed the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), was a difficult entity with which to work. Possibly to ward off further attempts by the government to give reservation lands to others, the tribal council in 1945 passed Ordinance Number Five, which provided that the reservation be divided into a 25,000-acre Northern Reserve for tribal members, and a Southern Reserve for colonization by Walapai, Hopi, Apache, Zuni, Papago, Havasupai, Quechan, and other Native Americans, who would then become members of CRIT. Tribal members on the Northern Reserve were to receive irrigation for 15,000 acres without cost in return (Fontana 1958:35-36). Outsiders were slow to take advantage of the newly opened lands until Congress in 1949 appropriated $5,750,000 for relocation and resettlement of Indians at CRIT. During the next two years, the number of those who moved to the reservation increased (Fontana 1958:53-54), but the number of new colonists never exceeded 156, and by 1976, only 49 of these remained. In the meantime, there was a great deal of controversy over Ordinance Number Five, with the Mojaves at CRIR claiming it was illegal, that they had a legal right to the lands that had been set aside for them, and the government continuing to urge colonization. The Mojaves particularly objected to giving the new colonists reservation membership. The question was settled in 1964 when Congress ruled that Mojaves, Chemehuevis, Hopis, and Navajos resident on the reservation be given clear title to the reservation as joint tenants of CRIR. All remaining colonists, their spouses, and dependent children became full members (Roth 1976).

After the Chemehuevi were granted a separate reservation in 1970, Chemehuevi members had the choice of enrolling at CRIR or the new Chemehuevi Indian Reservation. As of 1971, the latter claimed 312 members (Roth 1976:506-516).

The Claims Cases attracted much public attention in the early 1950s. Eventually, after several false starts, the Mojaves at FMIR and those at CRIR filed consolidated claims with the Indian Claims Commission, which ruled in 1959 that the Mojave Indians had traditionally owned and used Cottonwood Valley, Mojave Valley, and the Bill Williams Fork area.

As the last quarter of the nineteenth century arrived, the Mojave on both FMIR and CRIR had succeeded in solving their most urgent problems. As of 1964, FMIR after much effort got government approval of its leasing some of its land for development, and began to oversee its development into a recreation area. In 1970, CRIT had secured full title to reservation lands, which were well irrigated thanks to government efforts to make them attractive to outsiders, and turned its attention to developing these lands, and regaining those it had lost.

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