Western Water Wars

1596 Words7 Pages
Western times and water wars (Walton, 1991) is a book of historiography and sociological interpretation of the story of Owens Valley California. At the heart of the Owens Valley story is a conflict for water, and collective actions against powerful, dominant forces. Walton covers the Owens Valley story in its entirety, from the resettlement period when the Paiutes inhabited the territory, to modern day. By detailing the one hundred plus year history, the changing sources of conflict and resistance could be explored over time. The books gives the first example of a powerful group acting (and threatening the well being of native society), and the unsuccessful resistant acts of the native society, by telling the history of the Paiutes in the…show more content…
the Preemption and Homestead acts; government subsidies) encourages western migration and expansion leading to the claim of most of the Owens Valley land. Owens Valley (in the north) was now filled with cattle ranchers, canals and ditches to support irrigation systems for farming, and mines (in the south). The mines were the books next example of conflict, the first after the shift from Paiute to white dominance of the land. Mining became a multimillion-dollar industry for the valley, but county residents did not benefit by either jobs or retail trade to the mining industry. The Union Mining Company (owned by two individuals) controlled virtually all of the mining operations, exported the raw materials (in this case largely silver), and imported the materials needed to maintain mining operations. County residents filled lawsuits, and fought to break the mining monopoly, and gain access to the capital generated by the mine but were ultimately unsuccessful because by the time legal actions were won, mining operations had depleted the resources (the silver) and the profits were already made and gone outside of the…show more content…
The books provides an example of the start of public interests in the conflict between locals and the city of Los Angeles over the water with the publicity gained when armed men and women seized possession of the aqueduct and let water spill into the desert and return to the river. The rebels also bombed the aqueduct. All of the momentum gained by the rebellion ended with the collapse of the bank; businesses closed and local were left with all of their money wiped out and only the cash they had on hand, and the resistance and local economy suffered. Within a matter of a few years after, Los Angeles owned 90 percent of the water in Owens Valley turning a once promising, fertile area into a desert; agriculture died, and the population, culture, and social structure changed dramatically, at the expense of the whites who took the land over from the
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