User Tools

Site Tools



The introduction gives a quick glimpse into what Needham is going to cover. Needham stresses that there has been a collective focus on metropolitan history that has added to the ignorance about what happens beyond cities' borders. He argues that with the federal involvement in New Deal Programs allowed for a concentrated investment in city areas that was racially discriminatory. The second part of his argument against the focus on city history is that it has created such a narrow scope that important factors are being neglected. There is also a trend in assuming what happens in cities can be applied on a national scale. Following this, Needham breaks down the parts of the book into four sections. -K.Eastridge

The first part, “Fragments”, explains the history of natural resources in the Southwest and its impacts on the geography of the land. “Demand”, the title of the second part, goes into the concept of supply and demand in relation to electricity increases in Phoenix. Followed by a companion section, “Supply”, which covers the resources needed to fulfill the high demand from Phoenix's postwar years. And finally, the fourth section titled “Protest” expands the effects of Phoenix rebranding and their usage of nonrenewable resources in the political arena. I did think it was interesting that Needham included sections on what will not be covered in future chapters towards the end of the introduction along with a disclaimer relating to geographic terminology. -K.Eastridge

Andrew Needham examines the story of Phoenix's transformation from a small city to a large metropolis and its impact on the Navajo Reservation, several hundred miles away. Specifically, Needham argues that Phoenix's need for electricity to power its growth—especially growth defined as “clean”—necessitated a growing hinterland, with drastic consequences, due to an imbalance of power with the Navajo Nation. On a larger scale, Needham argues that focuses on city-suburb connections in metropolitan history ignore the broader relationships between areas traditionally separated into urban and rural. ~Deborah Hunnel

Needham also paints a picture of Phoenix during hits height of growth in the 60s, emphasizing the “possessive investment in whiteness” through the government subsidizing post-war expansion. The rapid rise of strip malls shows how the consumer culture during this time was made to depict wealth and prosperity, and manufacturing plants sprinkled between neighborhoods illustrated the outcomes of the Cold War and “military Keynesianism” (the idea that the government should spend more military money to boost the economy). He also makes an interesting point that the people living around Phoenix embodied the idea of the American dream home, while at the same time contributing to urban sprawl and less distinction between city and country (cites Turner).

In his introduction, Needham writes of how the southwest expanded beyond just being a blank unused area, and how it grew “beyond the crabgrass frontier.” The southwest was virtually empty and unused until electricity and the ability to harness natural resources was bought about. The southwest was a place of natural, physical beauty, and now that beauty could become a place for industrial growth as well. Needham states that in his book he, “aims to make those power lines historically visible.” (p.5) He also writes that his book, “reveals the intimate and unequal connections power lines forged between electrical consumers and Phoenix and the people and landscape of the Navajo Nation.” (p.5) Power Lines puts electricity and production, as well as regional development, into context. -Mariah Morton

Part I

Fragments Focuses on Phoenix's explosive growth from 65,000 people in 1940 to 1.5 million in 1980. This section, in many ways, reads more like a traditional metropolitan history, examining the economics and politics of the metropolis's growth, particularly its suburbanization, development of “clean” (but energy-intensive) industry, and growing thirst for power. Deborah Hunnel

Chapter 1 A Region of Fragments

Introduction to Chapter 1

Needham begins this chapter by speaking on the construction of the Boulder Dam in Arizona during the depression era. The author goes on to describe what the dam was meant to do for the southwest region of the United States, specifically bringing light and power to a region formerly known for sparse populations and deserts. With public fascination upon the construction, completion, and use of the Boulder Dam, Needham explains how President F.D.R took advantage of its symbolism and used it to further push New Deal policies. The construction of the dam highlighted fragmentation's between different areas before its completion, especially that between “Angelinos,” Arizonians, and Navajo Indians. Needham implied that these fragmentation's that are being highlighted are subject to change because of the effects of the dam on daily life. - C.Cary

Many people were fascinated about the building of Boulder Dam. It was a newer technological idea, one that would bring power and resources to a region that did not have much. The dam was expected to bring enough power to keep factory motors running, electric street and household lights running, and irrigation pumps for agriculture going. Just by supplying power for these reasons the dam would, “transform the region and nation at large.” (p.24) The dam would allow for more people to move into the area, taking it from a deserted land, into a productive, industrialized region. -Mariah Morton

Energy's Past

This section of chapter one focuses on the topic of energy. Needham starts by giving Franklin Roosevelt's thoughts of the wasted natural energy produced by the Colorado River,“the Colorado added little of value to the region this dam serves.” Afterward, the author describes the creation of coal in contrast to the places or areas water has created. Water is a natural resource that does not sit idly by, created the mighty Colorado River. Of course, over millions of years, however. These waters eventually by the year 1300 c.e, had been cultivated by native Americans to support a vast population, although these populations were struck by floods then extensive drought and caused the native Americans to leave by 1450. By the late 19th century, Anglo-American settlers had come across this land and saw its promise. Overall, this section shows how water energy can shape landscapes and daily life. -C.Cary


Needham begins by painting a picture of the American south-west, as inhabited by “indians,” such as Pueblo, Navajo, and Hopi. Due to this more eastern cities and population saw a contrast between their modernity and primitiveness of the south-west, which led to a fascination in goods produced in that area by the native Americans. However, it seemed advantageous to southern Californians for the south-west to be depicted like that, they could take advantage of the simple life when needing to escape modernity. Other southern Californians saw the vast and sparsely populated Native American occupied land as an area of economic interest, regarding the natural resources that characterize this region. Needham mentions the L.A aqueduct as an example of the use and distribution of farther away from resources of the periphery of the south-west to support the growth of southern California. Overall, infrastructure that distributes energy and allocates natural resources to areas came to be associated with power, control, or influence by a state or city. From the use and retrieval of natural resources from the periphery of the south-west, this control invokes empire-like characteristics. Boulder Dam was a prime example of this, as portrayed by Needham. -C.Cary

Sates Rights

As water does not stay still but travels across the property, state, and national borders, there was the question of who owned the water of Colorado River, brought up due to the Boulder Dam. In 1922, delegates from the basin states split the river at the Arizona-Utah border, disappointing Arizonans. Arizona did not even consider ratifying the compact, forcing there to be an amendment added so that it could go through with only six states’ endorsements. Arizona only ratified it in 1944. This protection of water rights reflected the state’s history, which started before 1900, where there was floods and droughts, and continued in 1902, with the creation of the Roosevelt Dam leading to the creation of the Salt River Project by private landowners. For Phoenix’s commodity agriculture, the cotton economy collapsed in 1921, leading to the diversification of crops, making Phoenix more important as a center of industry and administration, and the electrification of its farm fields. The electricity was seen as a symbol of Phoenix’s modernity, but the generation of it was limited during the Great Depression. However, SRP was opposed to the use of Boulder Dam power, despite some citizens claiming it would lead to more modernity (35-42). -Francesca Maisano

Stock Reduction

The US Government reduced the size of the grazing herd in Arizona during the 1930s. The reduction of herds was conducted because grazing areas were becoming eroded and deteriorated due to too many animals. In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed John Collier as Commissioner of what is now called the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). He had studied issues of Native Americans and hoped to improve their lives. Collier concluded that the Navajo owned far too many livestock for the carrying capacity of their reservation. The capacity for sheep was about 500,000, but the people owned 2 million in 1931; the sheep provided half the cash income for the individual Navajo. A reduction of livestock was against many Navajo traditions and destroyed a main source of income. For example, the Navajo considered their livestock sacred and integral to their lives. ~ Deborah Hunnel

Part II: Demand

Demand Focuses on Phoenix's explosive growth from 65,000 people in 1940 to 1.5 million in 1980. This section, in many ways, reads more like a traditional metropolitan history, examining the economics and politics of the metropolis's growth, particularly its suburbanization, development of “clean” (but energy-intensive) industry, and growing thirst for power. Deborah Hunnel

Chapter 2 The Valley of the Sun

Between 1940 and 1960, Phoenix changed enormously. What was once an irrigated oasis of farming became a Southern metropolis. In the five years between 1955 and 1960, nearly 200,000 Americans emigrated to Phoenix from small towns and industrial cities of the “Rustbelt” which is made up of the East and Midwest regions. In those twenty years, the population skyrocketed from 65,000 people to 440,00 people. Phoenix was rebranded from being the center of the Salt River Valley to the Valley of the Sun. -GB

Needham writes that, “The Valley of the Sun, in short, was a place that presented residents with a lifestyle that balanced suburban living, stripped of the long commutes, cold winters, and other problems that plagued Eastern cities, with easy escape to the Grand Canyon, 'Navajoland,' or numerous other natural spaces.” (p.56.) The Valley of the Sun according to Needham was also a political project and a result of forces of the postwar political economy. The goal of renaming, or rebranding, the Salt River Valley was to help change the economy of the region. -Mariah Morton

Needham introduces the idea of why middle-class America would choose Phoenix as an ideal place to reside. He notes the major selling points that included the beautiful natural landscape of Arizona and vast land that expanded for many miles. The “Quality of Life” sales pitch was a big factor to portray Phoenix as an ideal American suburban landscape. -Benny

Some of the post-war economic factors that contributed to Phoenix as a “political project” included encouragement of personal consumption to boost the economy, an idea born from new deal economics. This focus on consumerism led to a dramatic population increase as new houses were marketed to professional class white families, and bills such as the National Housing Act and Banking Act promised loans to this specific demographic. Phoenicians, especially living on the periphery, and a culture of mass consumption was seen as the key to the city’s growth, so banks continued to give loans and credit to residents, leading also to a rise in purchases of electronic appliances and other leisure spending patterns.


Phoenix's businessmen told two stories about the growth of their cities in the 1970s, with technology being the predecessor of personal initiative. Airplanes and air conditioners were seen as the reason for the population boom because it air travel time was reduced and because it caused Phoenix to be a year-round city where people could visit and not be uncomfortable from the heat of the desert. -GB

Phoenix became the Vallie of the Sun in 1938 when the Phoenix-Arizona Club created an advertising campaign featuring photos of well-manicured resorts and luxury homes for wealthy people seeking holiday homes. The Chamber of Commerce initiated both a national advertising campaign encouraging tourism of Phoenix and invited writers from national magazines and leading newspapers to visit the city. The articles promoted fun and outdoor activities. The campaigns have been successful in transforming the Salt River Vall to the Valley of the Sun. ~Deborah Hunnel

Businessmen in Phoenix (during the 1970s) credit both Technology and Personal initiative to the growth of their city. Phoenix's emergence as the “air-conditioned capital of the world” apparently allowed Phoenix to.; become a “year-round” city. The emergence of passenger air travel had shrunken the journey to Phoenix from a few days to a few hours. These businessmen also described the city booming from willpower and ingenuity alone. -K.D.

A part of the large rebranding of Phoenix came to a huge push to publish advertisements. Following the end of World War II, the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce would invite press and media people (journalists, artists, writers, photographers) to come to Phoenix for up to a week. Magazines catered to male audiences boosted the outdoors as a place of masculinity and sports. Women's magazines would describe and showcase outfits worn by Phoenix residents, stressing the beauty of thinness and summer apparel. Architectural magazines bragged about the amount of outdoor spaces, with comments from a Boston resident who said that houses in Boston are seen as a necessity because of the cold, while in Phoenix houses are not the focus; the outdoor living areas are. With the name change to reflect a happier and more positive Phoenix came an overall focus on the amenities of outdoor life all year long. -K. Eastridge

Until the 1960s, Phoenix's business life occurred in the downtown core of Phoenix, as it did with many other cities. The downtown spread twelve miles and everything was united by a centrality within the city. Today, Phoenix stands as the archetype of “Sunbelt sprawl” which is the dismantling of downtown through the sprawl of office parks and corporate campuses spreading over sixty miles. -GB

Pheonix’s rebranding to the Valley of the Sun after the suggestion from a Scottsdale resort showed their new push towards being known as more of a leisure space instead of just a residential or industrial space. They targeted people who had a disposable income to come to Pheonix with the draw of recreational time and relaxation during the great depression which continued through a majority of the post-war years due to the work of the Pheonix Chamber of Commerce. Following World War Two, the leisure idea of Pheonix was pushed harder through advertisements in a national campaign.– E. Larsen

Using the Navajo became a marketing ploy for the rebranding of the Valley of the Sun. The Navajo offered a contrast to show off the modernity of the area and how modern the city center was especially compared to everything else around it which would draw people in. The Navajo also offered a sense of unique diversity to bring people into Pheonix and they used them basically as a tourist attraction and their culture as a “unique cultural experience.”– E. Larsen


No institution in Phoenix benefited more from the federal intervention in the economy that Valley National Bank. Policies initiated early in the New Deal that provided capital and regulated private banks, also underwrote many lending practices that fueled the bank's rise to the largest in the inter-mountain states. These policies made it possible to form a “monetary and credit revolution” to take place. That revolution made it easier in many cases risk-free for the private sector to lend and borrow. -K.D.

Arizona was becoming the place for industries especially with energy, an annual report in 1953announced that Arizona had plenty of room to have industries. CALAPCO and APS formed a deep tied with the Charter government and promoted Phoenix to the American people. They did by gathering people testimonials about growth in Phoenix and the low cost of energy (111-112). - Jasmine Williams


The New Deal's policies bolstered the position of Phoenix's downtown businessmen. The New Deal's reforms of the electric utility industry also allowed them to gain control of the state's largest electric utility. New Deal reformers launched a series of attacks on the “Power Trust”, holding companies owned by wall street bankers holding 80% of the nation's electrical supplies and who reformers blamed for corruption and evasion of state regulation. -K.D.

Chapter 3 Turquoise and Turboprops

Phoenix successfully appealed to Sperry Rand to move the company’s aviation electronics department from New York to Phoenix, with the major selling point a bill which repealed a tax on products made to sell to the federal government. Companies successfully appealed to like Sperry Rand “remade” Phoenix’s economy, with manufacturing passing by agriculture for the largest part of the economy by 1955. The landscape was also changed, with the “industrial garden” of “clean” factories in the fringe and in subdivisions. These industries increasingly needed more electricity, reflecting the “new industrial landscape” as well as an increase in power of Phoenix’s boosters, as well as boosters across the West after World War 2. The power and industrial demand would start the advancement of power lines towards the Navajo Reservation’s coal reserves in the early 1960ss (91-92). -Francesca Maisano

John F Long the largest homebuilder in Postwar Phoenix had an idea of building homes on the Western edges of Phoenix with parks, rec areas and swimming pools. Long made this plan possible by developing Maryvale. Also, homes were advertised to people having a mass migration to Phoenix (67). - Jasmine Williams

Lowering of taxes was a topic in Phoenix, Arizona. The lowering of business taxes was a topic around the areas of Phoenix. With the industries wanting lower cost on equipment the citizens living in Phoenix wanted cleaner cities (104).- Jasmine Williams

War Time

In 1940, Phoenix’s small manufacturing sector consisted of agricultural processing plants that were located between the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks and the Salt River. Meatpacking, tallow-rendering plants, brick and ice factories were some of the major industries featured in the manufacturing sector of the city. Industrial waste polluted the water of the Salt River or baked in the streets from the desert heat. A zoning ordinance was created in 1930 that kept the industry south of the train tracks as to keep the white population of Phoenix away from the ugliness and pollution of the manufacturing. WWII pushed more people and companies to come to the city like Aircraft, AiResearch, and Reynolds/ALCOA. Phoenix also became a major manufacturing force for the nation’s growing airforce as they produced many important parts of planes at the time. Many thousands of soldiers were also ushered through the city as there are many training camps scattered around the surrounding valleys. Luke Field, which was the largest advanced combat school for fighter pilots, was located just 15 miles west of the city. ~Morgan G.

Phoenix was late to the industrialization game, with its boom in industrialization occurring during and after World War II with an influx of activity and nearby airbase that. Needham compares Phoenix's growth to that of Detroit's'. Detroit was already an industrialized powerhouse well before Phoenix could have ever been able to. It had all the modern mechanizations that made working in an industrialized environment more productive. During World War II, Phoenix finally had a chance to catch up to cities like Detroit unlike in the past where they had struggled to develop the same kind of economy and industrialization that what seemed like the rest of the world had.(e.m.)

In many ways, the precepts of growth liberalism allowed for the genesis of competitive growth politics which fueled the growth of Phoenix in the post-WWII era. The federal government, in an effort to make the nation’s war industry more resilient to attack, encouraged high-tech war industries to relocate to more remote and less centralized locations by directing more commissions to plants in remote areas, such as Phoenix. The federal government also underwrote the expenses which companies incurred when relocating employees, which allowed industries to move talent to the sunbelt en masse. -Jason Elms

Charter Government

Charter government was Phoenix's version of the movement of revamped local governments engaging more directly in local politics in more specific ways to business in their area. This started in Phoenix immediately following WWII. Before the 1930s the Chamber of Commerce starting sponsoring events like “Buy a Turkey Day” or the “Arizona King Cotton Festival”, which helped sponsor and advertise the Salt River Valley agricultural success. However, in the late 1930s, this focus shifted away from the agricultural sector of Phoenix towards the Valley of Sun’s image and goals of attracting tourism and newly wealthy businessmen and companies. Robert Goldwater formed the Thunderbirds in 1937, which was a group of shock troops of the businessmen trying to transform downtown. The organization played a leading role in securing the site for Luke Field, and they also served as the liaison between local businessmen and defense manufacturers. This organization became outdated and lost a lot of power at the end of the war. Frank Snell, Walter Bimson, and many others stepped up to help address local political and economic problems at the end of the war. Bimsons and his National Valley Bank create a Business Development and Research Department which helped distribute information to other financial institutions in hopes of attracting more businesses to the city. Between 1946 and 1948, the Chamber’s charter was amended by these two men, making it more useful to them once more. ~Morgan G.

Competitive Growth Politics

When Motorola announced that it was moving it's research and development labs to Phoenix, it sparked growth and movement of high-tech manufacturing firms moving parts or all of their corporations to Phoenix. Within nearly six-years, high-tech manufacturing became a mainstay and dominant factor in the city's economy. In 1955 manufacturing surpassed agriculture as the dominant economic factor with Sperry Rand creating a subsidiary called Sperry Phoenix, and industrialization in the city only continued to grow. With high-tech and military manufacturing going on in Phoenix, with the start of the Cold War and the Korean War, the city's economics boomed. (e.m.)

Industry, Energy, Progress

Metropolitan growth practices also controlled the region's electrical utilities in terms of the amount of electricity use and where it was allocated to. Arizona was declared a “frontier with a future” in APS’s first annual report in 1953. Promises were made in advertisement and reposts of the area that energy would be supplied in adequate amounts at reasonable costs in Phoenix in order to support its progress. In a typical day, energy usage could vary by 60% or more due to increased or decrease the usage of appliances and lights in the early morning hours and at night. However, manufacturing used power at a relatively constant and consistent rate, which secured the idea that an increase in power plants would not be wasted. An analysis of electrical use between 1961 and 1965 showed that residential electrical users were paying an average of 2.65 mills, or $0.265, per kilowatt hour and commercial users were paying just 2.2 mills, and industrial rates averaged at 1.1 mills per kilowatt hour. ~Morgan G.

Industrial Garden

By the late 1950s, metropolitan Phoenix transformed into having “low-slung” factories, manufacturing aeronautical products, such as flight-control systems for NASA, as well as others such as Motorola’s plants-a military electronics plant, a research laboratory, and a semiconductor plant. All of the companies formed part of the “military-industrial complex.” The industry did not look like typical industry-white, single-story structures with lawns in subdivisions with dedicated substations and air conditioning. With the demand growing and “stable management”, Phoenix’s utilities appeared to be secure, but supplying power and receiving fuel to supply was unstable. In 1955, Stanford Research Institute suggested to APS, who commissioned a study, to use a new fuel-coal from the Navajo and Hopi Reservations-which APS was excited about. This was different than Phoenix’s-Phoenix’s boosters’-emphasis on aesthetically “clean” industry, even if the “clean” industry was anything but (115-120). -Francesca Maisano

When promoting the city, Phoenix's boosters, the city's marketers, pushed cleanliness, beautiful weather, open skies, and anything else to entice possible immigrants. They wanted to separate the city from the “dirty” “smoke-stack ridden,” “grimy” industrialized cities of the northeast and Midwest. (e.m.

Part III: Supply

Suppl Supply takes the story metaphorically and physically further away from Phoenix to the Navajo Nation, where the Four Corners coal-fired power plant (and later others) came into being to supply the power-thirsty city. Needham examines the growth of coal mining on Navajo land, the construction of the plant as improvements in technology allowed for virtually lossless transmission of electricity over long distances, the construction of a Southwestern power grid, and, most importantly, the federal, state, local, and tribal political decisions—often favoring metropolitan areas over rural regions—that underlay this process. Deborah Hunnel

Chapter 4: Modernizing the Navajo line

In the late 50s and 60s, there was a huge concern about power in the west. The hydropower, which was estimated to last through the 1950s, was beginning to shorten by late 40s due to the massive industrial movement of World War I. Nuclear power plants infrastructure is so expensive that it did not seem like a realistic source. However, coal as a resource was relatively untapped. Despite having a lot of coal resources in the Colorado Plateau, it was not seen as a viable source of energy until after the 1940s because it was too expensive to transport and a dirtier form of energy in comparison to hydropower. With the 345-kilowatt system finally being perfected, twice the times of coal could be transported at incredible speeds. The high hopes of coal as a main source of energy had some predicting that it would consume 55% of the West's energy source (Needham, 127). -K.Eastridge

The main problem with this is that the Navajo reservation was located on the Colorado Plateau. That began the move of pushing the Navajo to other places, like an old Japanese Internment camp location that had highs of 128 degrees in the summer. Officials argued that the only way of helping the poverty and cyclical conditions of the reservations was to move them entirely. Interestingly enough, the sensationalism of the issues with the Navajo tribe really pulled on America's heartstrings as they played such an important role in the war. With the Navajo language being utilized as an uncrackable code during the years the war was active, the Navajo people were celebrated veterans. With that in mind, reports suggested infrastructure. This infrastructure was to help mobilize the Navajo tribe out of the reservation, not to rebuild the economy of the reservation. -K.Eastridge

John Collier was a loud voice during these discussions of the Navajo tribe. With his “Indian New Deal”, he wanted to clear any disorganized land treaties from the past and get rid of the religious boarding schools. His idea was to have the native tribes act as dependent nations and attempted to achieve that through the paternalistic and controlling powers of the legislation. All projects started by the Navajo tribe could be vetoed by the acting official for no other reason that a general lack of distrust in the economic intelligence of the Navajo people. Thankfully, the ideas of Collier were harshly criticized. Compared to imprisonment, the reservation camps for the Navajo people were seen as weird memorials to their cultural heritage which is paraded around like a museum exhibition instead of as a place of living people and growing cultures. -K.Eastridge

A 500,000 Volt System

The Bureau of Reclamation was vital not only to the war efforts but to the development of the Western Power Grid which generated power from the Boulder and Parker Dams and transported it to Boulder, Phoenix, Los Angeles and many others. These dams generated a ton of electricity that was used for the war effort which consumed the amount of energy predicted twice as fast. However, these dams were not enough to sustain a growing need for energy and by the late 1940s, the BR was begging other centers around the Western half of the United States to assist in helping meet the demand for energy. -e.m.

The goal of the power plant system was to create a better functioning power source. They were meant to be located near coal deposits, and carry the power gained through coal, to the west. Areas including Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle would benefit from the power being supplied. It was the plan that these power plants combine water resources from dams, and coal resources and create a newer more efficient system unlike any other. -Mariah Morton

The Navajo

The Navajo is a report in 1949 created by BIA officials for the Interior Secretary Julius Krug. the report described the Navajo reservation as a place of great overpopulation and ecological decline. The report also describes how the Navajo’s own “ancient lands have been shockingly depleted by erosion.” The report falsely described the Navajo Reservation in many cases, and instead described a settlement 200 miles to the west that was previously used as a Japanese Interment camp which was not being repurposed for use by the Navajo. After WW2, the reservation faced extreme poverty, which the BIA was forced to address. On the reservation, families per capita incomes were $82 in 1947, which was incredibly low as it was only 7% of the American average per capita income of the same year. Daily caloric intake in the reservation averaged 1,000 calories while even in occupied Germany individuals were allotted 1,500 calories per day. The Navajo were described as being very attached to their land, and even though they were starving, they would have to force off their land if they were going to leave. ~Morgan G.

The Navajo during this period were facing extreme poverty and were looking for any solution that might help their situation change. Needham does describe the thought of many that leaving the reservation might be a solution to their problems stating, “The message was clear. Conditions on the reservation were so desperate that abandonment of the reservation, even for some of the most forbidding areas of the West, was the best option.” (pg. 130) There was the creation of agricultural camps and programs intended to help the Navajo, but many ended up leaving the camps. Needham writes, “In part, mobility represented a rejection of the poor conditions they frequently found in camps originally built as temporary homes for seasonal bracero laborers.” (pg. 135) The Navajo also worked differently than others, and wanted different pay or wages in accordance with their style of work. It seemed as though the Navajo were looking for some autonomy, but also support and provision.-Mariah Morton

Land Freedom

The Arizona Republic expressed some dislike for the some of the items outlined in the Rehabilitation Act, however it was eventually vetoed by President Turman after being passed by Congress in 1949. Eugene Pulliam viewed the veto as the continuation of the pattern of turning to the federal government instead of the state in regards to Native American issues. He thought that Native American lived in “ignorance, disease, and despair,” and that vetoing the act destroyed a chance for them to turn over a new leaf in life. Barry Goldwater believed that the land on Native American reservations was rich and should be unlocked to the outside world. Goldwater had a similar sentiment to John Howard Pyle, who became Arizona’s first Republican governor in 1930 in a campaign that Goldwater managed. ~Morgan G.

“Divine Providence”

In 1953, Shell Oil bid on 214 tracts after completing an extensive oil and gas survey. Fourteen other companies ranging from small independent companies to major ones like Continental Oil and Texaco also paid the Navajo Tribe more than $104,000 in bonus payments alone for exploratory leases. In 1955, Texaco made a major oil discovery near Aneth in the Utah portion reservation and proceeded to pay the Navajo Tribe $76.5 million for resource exploration and development. The Navajo Tribal Council used the money to increase the size and capacity of the tribal government. A year after the oil strike in Aneth, the tribe established the Department of Social Services that was responsible for providing food, clothing and relief money to destitute Navajo, as well as set up a tribal scholarship fund. The Tribal leaders also used the returns from the energy resources to develop the infrastructure on the reservation. They built roads and chapter houses in 47 of the 110 chapters. They also used the money to create new bureaucracy, hiring a permanent tribal secretary and increasing the salaries of council members and tribal officials. Tribal budgets increased exponentially, from $1 million in 1954 to $13 million in 1958. By this time 23% of wages earned on the reservation came directly from the tribal government. Peter Iverson writes many Navajos refer to the 1950s as the era the Navajo Tribe becomes the Navajo Nation due to the increased presence of tribal government in daily life. -Francisco P.

“Two Lightbulbs in Every Hogan”

From 1955 to 1960 the Navajo tribe tried to draw manufacturing industries to the reservation. Glenn Emmons sough to draw businessmen to the reservation using 25-year renewable leases as a means of assurance. He advised companies that the tribes would provide lucrative inducements; rent-free buildings, free land, tribally sponsored job-training programs, and labor costs far below prevailing wages. Phoenix's business establishment assisted with these efforts and beginning in 1956, the Arizona Commission on Indian Affairs (ACIA) began hosting economic development conferences for the state's tribal officials. The ACIA and Tribal Council passed a right to work law in 1958 that was far harsher than Arizona's and threatened hard labor, imprisonment, or expulsion from tribal land for any union members caught trying to organize Navajos on the reservation. D.C. Circuit Court struck the law down three years later. Despite the policy, the industrial recruitment efforts did bring a few tangible benefits. Several manufacturers moved their operations to reservation land, but the promised benefits soon proved to be not as good as promised. - Francisco P.

Chapter 5: Integrating Geographies

Chapter 5 is appropriately names Integrating Geographies for a good reason. Needham opens up by introducing the Navajo aquifer which was considered to have “fossil groundwater”. Being that thus underground water source was on Navajo and Hopi tribe lands, new mining companies negotiated contracts with the tribes lawyers to gain access for the use of coal and water resources. Fro this point the extracted resources would t the new mojave generating station by pipeline, 238 miles away. The mixture of coal and water produced electricity, then would travel to a pool of electricity gathered by other resource producing infrastructure in the southwest region. For example, from other plants and dams through-out the greater Los Angelos and Phoenix regions. Power, therefore, came not from specific traceable locations, but from all across the Colorado Plateau and Navajo/Hopi nations. Truly putting the geography of the southwest in contact through resource allocation. c.cary

West Associates

In 1964, President of the Public Service Company of New Mexico D. W. Reeves announced the regional electrical development program WEST (Western Energy and Supply Transmission) Associates, which would be made up of 10 investor-owned utilities, though the utilities would remain separate groups. There would be no federal projects or financing. The members would spend to generate more electricity than currently made or planned. Transmission lines would be built to connect these utilities. All of this would create a chain of “connected” power plants. He also announced that the Four Corners Power Plant was going to be expanded, showing joint-financing which allowed for bigger generators. This made the cost of electricity and the cost of long-distance shipping go down. This expansion was not the only project. Another one was Navajo Generating Station, powered by Black Mesa coal. By the early 1970s, the urban Southwest had its center of power production located on the Colorado Plateau and the Navajo Nation. (171-174)-Francesca Maisano

Part IV


Focuses on the controversy surrounding the power plants in the Navajo Nation. Needham particularly examines changing political dynamics—how some Navajo leaders saw the mining industry and the power plants as means for economic development, while a growing number over time protested the plants as causing environmental despoilation without attendant economic development; the promise of “a lightbulb in every hogan” remained unfulfilled for 40 percent of Navajo households in 2010 (250) Deborah Hunnel

Chapter 6: The Living River

In reaction to the Boulder Dam and the attempts to shackle the “living rivers”, the political view changed from conservation to environmentalism. The public view shifted alongside this in the bid to view the public land as having its own rights. The Sierra Club's efforts against the Grand Canyon led this movement, as they influenced the public against dams. (Daniel Noel)

The Sierra Club was vocal about the dams being made and they were vocal because the dams could destroy the beautiful lands that future generations would not be able to see (p.192). The dams were made in order to make a profit and the Sierra Club viewed dams as not being necessary and damaging to the environment. - Jasmine Williams

Pacific Southwest Water Plan

Dams and aqueducts, more specifically, the water inside of them was seen as a representation of productivity and economic gain. After the legal battle between the states of California and Arizona in 1963 over the allocation of water from the Colorado River (in which southern California was using more than it should've been, ultimately causing strife between them and Arizonians), Southern California's water supply was drastically reduced in favor of Arizona. Designed to “ensure a reliable supply of water to the arid Southwest,” the Pacific Southwest Water Plan is a collection of dams, aqueducts, and canals throughout the southwest. Creating the aqueducts for L.A., Arizonan water source (CAP), and damming the Colorado River for electricity throughout the region. (Daniel Noel) -c.cary

Battle Books

“Battle Books,” are books written with the express purpose to fight the author's viewpoint, or join a side in a political or social idealogical “Battle.” The Sierra Club used these and people like David Brower to attempt to testify that the dams should be excluded from reclamation projects. Using the beauty of the region to aid their attempts to sway public opinion, they used the battle books to help paint a picture of a beautiful land about to be ravaged by the government. (Daniel Noel)

Defensive Localism

People complained in editorial letters published in Arizona Republic’s editorial page that the Sierra Club was elitist and that it violated conservation, unfairly limited the use of the canyon, and kept water rights from Arizonans. Politicians and newspapers also got in on the attack, portraying the Sierra Club as outsiders attacking the state and the citizens, using emotion to mislead the nation. Newspapers questioned the Sierra Club’s motives, as most members of the club were Californian, and called them “fanatics.” However, nationally, the arguments presented in favor of the dams were less popular, with national newspapers criticizing suburban development, as it harms the environment, particularly an “American birthright” the Grand Canyon. The use of a hyperbolic advertisement, mentioning the Sistine Chapel, brought in a new tool-blasphemy-calling the Grand Canyon “sacred space.” This “sacred space” argument was also used by individual citizens, who, along with Sierra Club members, sent letters to the Interior Department. Two books also helped in the fight against the dam, bringing up the destruction of nature as well as individual property rights. More and more Americans saw Southwestern growth and cities, including Phoenix, as harmful. (197-201)- Francesca Maisano

Chapter 7: A piece of the Action

The Navajo nation land was being taken by the energy companies and not everyone in the tribe agreed to have the Black Mesa Mine on the Navajo reservation. Energy development was not seen to help all in Arizona and the Navajo people were blaming the tribal leaders for giving land to the government without asking all the people on the Navajo land (p. 225). The Navajo culture was impacted by mining and getting energy. The consumers of Phoenix and Los Angeles were the cause of the Navajo land being destroyed because they wanted energy (p. 225). A lot of people on the Navajo land were dissatisfied with the Black Mesa being on their land because it drained their resources of water and other land resources (p. 228). – Jasmine Williams

The energy company was a threat to Navajo culture because the energy company took a lot of lands and some of the lands had graves in them. During the mining process, the companies destroyed graves (p. 218). With the energy company building on the Navajo land the Navajo people develop tribal sovereignty of the land (p. 218). The National Indian Youth Council spoke against the Black Mesa and how the mining was damaging the Navajo land. – Jasmine Williams

Conclusion: "Good Bye, Big Sky': Coal and Postwar America

“Good Bye, Big Sky” was the name of an article that captured the funeral sentiments of Jack Neary. In the article, Neary described the beauty and purity of the clear blue skies of the Southwest by saying “when I first came out here from the east a dozen years ago it was like having the bandages taken off after an eye operation”. He also laments about the destruction of the scenery due to the negative effects of pollution and emissions pouring into the atmosphere. This was particularly detrimental because the southwest was one of the only places in America that had remained untouched and pristine. -Khalia D.

Just ten months before that, an article named “Coal: The giant revived” had been published in Life magazine. It explained how the coal industry had been central to the industrial economy in the 19th and 20th centuries. It also predicted a sharp increase in the amount of coal used by electrical companies towards the 1980s. Both Articles considered together, paint a picture of the rise of coal during postwar America and the cost of the transition. -Khalia D.

needham_power_lines.txt · Last modified: 2019/04/19 17:57 by kdelancy