Los Angeles: 1921-1922. 14,; 1pp., plus two small black-and-white photographs, annotated in ink on verso. Original folds, one short closed tear to one leaf, crease and short closed tear to one photograph. Very good. Item #3347
A small archive of two letters and two photographs relating to American business investment and relations with the Yaqui indigenous peoples of the American Southwest and Mexico. The letters were written by J. Albert Harle, an American businessman attempting to solicit potential investors or partnerships through his correspondent H.G. Fowler. Harle owned part of a mining claim south of Los Angeles, likely far southern California, in partnership with a prominent woman from L.A. named Maria Apablasa. Harle claims his mine will produce a hundred tons per day, and he intends to use Native American labor to accomplish the work, if only he had more investment. He writes: "What we want is some partie[sic] or parties to form a preorganization syndicate at once and form one company in Mexico a working co. and another company in the U.S. a mining and trading company.... We will give a quarter or an equal interest to whoever will take up our proposition and manage the financial end." Harle wants to use said companies to purchase all supplies in the States, then "pay the Indians and they can & will buy all goods from us in preference to Chinese merchants who rob them wholesale. Before it was the Spaniards then the priests then the Mexicans. Now it's the Chinese." Harle argues that "the Indians are good workers a worthy honest people and no Mexicans are here. All Indians to do all our work and they will brook no interference from Mexicans of any faction." Further, Harle contends that the Native Americans in the area are practically waiting with bated breath to get to work: "To-day these Indians say when is Dona Maria & Don Alberto coming with the mill to give us work and a store to buy our clothes with our labor. We will pay them $3.00 pesos per day $1.50 in cash & sell them trade goods. Here is now a chance for years of happiness helping people & at the same time getting rich yourself far beyond the need of worry."
Harle writes further about his and Dona Maria's dealings with some of the indigenous peoples, especially with regard to some of their pottery, which actually contained gold: "It does seem very strange indeed. To an outsider who has not seen them and does not understand the heat and the lye in the Chicote wood leached out the gold that was in the oxide ores. Anyhow we have the good will of the Indians every man woman & child and they gave the pots to Dona Maria Apablasa. And what is more they packed them in grass sacks and brought them to the railroad for us. Why. Well in the winter of 1921 thease[sic] Indians got the influenza and we are in the Indian territory all Indians no Mexicans or half breeds good workers & good fighters as Mexican soldiers well know. They the Indians died wholesale. Dona Maria bought several hundred dollars worth of drugs and went amongst these poor simple people who never had a chance & doctored them. Then old Ay-Al-Lah 110 years old sent for Dona Maria & told her where she got the clay to make thease[sic] Indian cooking pots used in every house.... Thease pots are literally peppered inside & outside with free gold...."
Harle also recounts to Fowler his family's history with mining, his relationship with his business partner, Dona Maria E. Apablasa, the location and specifications of their mining claims, details on the types of metals found on their claims (uranium, vanadium, gold), details about other people involved in their venture, the health advantages of the dry, hot weather around their claim site, the natural advantages of the landscape around their claim (easily trafficked, good river for nine months of the year, etc.), and more. Particularly interesting is Harle's postscript to his letter, in which he touts the advantages of radium and proposing a "Radium Institute and Laboratory" to be built on the site of their mining claim. Harle also mentions that one of his partners "has already succeeded in opening a school for the Indians taking over a church for that purpose across the river from our territory." He ends this postscript with a discussion of Mexican President Alvaro Obregon's fair treatment of indigenous peoples in "giving back to the Indians millions of acres of church lands to their rightful owners."
The second letter present here is dated October 10, 1922, and very much reads like a follow up to Harle's first correspondence. In it, Harle mentions that he is sending along an ore sample with the letter, talks more about some of his associates in the mining business, and mentions that he hopes they "can come to some working agreement to found our co[mpany] and start things moving as our Indians anxiously await the good word of work from us. We must care for thease poor people and put in a trading post for them where they can buy for their labor." The "Indians" mentioned here are the Yaqui peoples of the American Southwest and northwestern Mexico.
The two photographs accompanying the letters were sent with the earlier of the two letters. Harle explains: "I am sending to you the old Yakie Indian woman making the pots and also Dona Maria & Att-Nik-Al-Wa-Ke at one of our monuments registering all our claims to the mineral rights to this mountain called the Lost Mine the Mountain of Fire & Gold Cou sik ah de Per." The photographs do indeed include the latter image, showing Dona Maria and the "Indian Chief" whose name on the photograph is spelled "Atta-Nik-Ah-Wa-Kee." This photograph shows the pair standing amidst the "plateau where we will put our mill." The second photograph shows Dona Maria "and her Indian scouts" posing "where we propose to erect one of our mills and convey ore to mill from cliffs by link belt conveyers to jaw crushers." Harle's lengthy annotation to the second photograph also asks Fowler for contacts in Denver for certain machinery. Harle has signed both photographs, and indicates that he took them both.
A startling and colonialist proposal from an American businessman and his female business partner in Los Angeles, arguing that the Yaqui people are waiting anxiously to be employed as laborers in an American mining operation in far southern California and northwestern Mexico.