Human Rights

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The development of Arizona dates back to our humble beginnings when the majority did not rule. A mix of great tribes helped build, harvest, and create what Arizona is today. Thomas Sheridan stated, “The western stream of migrants was more like a series of waves.” (Sheridan 23). Our history is young compared to other nations and countries. Growing up in the southwest, you read, learn, and study the state’s history in grade school. However, it does not resonate with you as a young child the importance of our state’s culture. The understanding of how Arizona manifested from the people of the region. You gain a better perspective when you reach adulthood. Reading and reviewing our rich history with a new set of eyes will help guide me as I make connections to our great state of Arizona and our government.

Beginning with the early civilization of the many diverse Native American tribes and individuals in Arizona, the state grew to be dependent on natural plant life, and small animals in the surrounding area. As the temperatures began to increase, it changed the vegetation. Sheridan mentioned, “By 2000 BC, the modern plant communities of Arizona had been established and an essentially modern climate prevailed” (Sheridan 15). Hunting and gathering slowly transitioned into a rise in agriculture with irrigation introductions. As the agriculture life began to expand, language from the Uto-Aztecan also expanded across specific regions of the southwest. The southwest also had several lakes and area rivers that allowed the people to utilize. Population began to increase and tribes broke into “small groups and expanded their territory, not the size of their communities” (Sheridan 20). Grouping of small communities increased population, regional population, and agriculture that was wide spreading across the state. According to Sheridan, “The events that truly revolutionized human society in Arizona took place quietly, without notice: the exchange of seeds, the theft of a horse herd, the introduction of an iron plow. Those were the acts that changed people’s lives, even people who never lived under the flags of Mexico or Spain” (Sheridan 35).

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When it came time for the Spanish to begin their conquest into the southwest, it was not until the 1600’s. Efforts lead by Coronado, began the expansion of the Spanish into the southwest. Farming, exchange, animal hides, and trading began to see an increase in the region. “In the northern Sonora, most O’odham accepted, or were forced to accept, Spanish ideas about the way civilized people should live” (Sheridan 41). It was not until the 1850’s that the Spanish began to really build their roots and establish their ground in Arizona. The Spanish began to streamline their presidios and restructure the system. An adversary by the name of Juan Bautista de Anza began to rise and take lead as governor of the New Mexico region and employed the Navajos in an attempt to campaign and compete with other groups living near the Gila River (Sheridan 47). The Apache were part of a peace program to ensure peace with the Spaniards. It became a successful peace program. The river provided crops to flourish such as wheat, corn and beans. Cattle population was also growing. According to Sheridan, “the total non-Indian population hovered around one thousand, with three hundred to five hundred people at Tucson, three hundred to four hundred at Tubac, and fewer than one hundred at Tumacacori. The rest of Arizona remained in native American hands” (48).

By the early 1800’s Mexico had received its independence from Spain and it destroyed the mining industry (Sheridan 51). Ignacio Pacheco whom was mayor of Tucson, encountered foreigners coming into the region and within a decade, the frontier was progressing in the way of the Anglo. Sylvester Pattie and his offspring came to Arizona in the 1820’s and recalled history accounts of trading and trapping. Additionally, other groups of people were settling into the region for trapping purposes and moving along the terrain for furs, and trade. Later, when land grants and titles were gaining approval, it brought upon abandonment for the grants. When one group would attack (Apaches), the Mexicans would return the attack. By the 1840’s, Arizona was trying to survive from back and forth attacks. “It was not until the House of representatives ratified the Gadsden Purchase on June 29, 1854, suddenly, with the stroke of a pen, Mexican Arizona became a part of the United States” (Sheridan 65). Although the regions of the southwest was not a desirable area, it was acquired with the Native American communities. Sheridan states that, “Mexican American fell under U.S. law and, presumably, U.S. protection” (65). The new Arizona was a welcoming site for the people. They proudly held their flags high.

During the second half of the 1800’s, the frontier was expanding into steamboat trade along the Colorado River. Gold was becoming a hot commodity in parts of Gila city. The railroads provided stability and consistent trade. The beginning of war was upon the south and the Indian Territory was under a conquest. The Indians fought long and hard, but many perished. Near the 1900’s, the land for farming began to decline and the Indians land was diminishing. The railroad was developing with the onboard of Southern Pacific railroad and wagons as a mode of transportation. At this time, “As Arizona became more and more tied to the rest of the United States and less to northern Mexico, ethnic tensions between Mexicans and Anglos intensified” (Sheridan 130). The southwest began its development and prospering through leading efforts from big cities (DC, N.Y. and San Francisco). “A new era arrived, cattle, copper, and cotton” (Sheridan 130).

Arizona began its quest for statehood. According to Farlow, “The Unite States added to its material wealth when the enabling act of Congress permitted Arizona’s star to be placed in the national emblem. This is necessary and lends interest in following the steps that finally led to admission” (137). A bill sat before Congress in 1906 for Arizona and New Mexico to be part of the union, but it was not favored. New Mexico and Arizona were separated prior to the bill being introduced, yet statehood was still an issue and with Lincoln’s administration, they might be entitled to this honor (Farlow 141). Those individuals that argued for separation of statehood did not want Arizona to benefit from any advantage in becoming a state. “After the bill had passed the House and was about to become a law, the Arizonans began to organize for effectual resistance to Congress’ (Farlow 141). Arguments and discussions took place between parties on both sides. Such views included that Arizona was a vast area, and that the people of the region were different from other regions. A positive view regarding Arizona included how the state inhabited such a large amount of region for forest compared to other states in the nation. It was not until four years later, “the bill was reintroduced for admission of territory” (Farlow 142).

Furthermore, “In the Constitutional Convention of Arizona the recall was incorporated into that instrument by a vote of thirty-five to eleven “(Farlow 149). Several inspection of the authority and conditions were placed upon Arizona and the amended resolution of the proposed constitution to the people of Arizona passed on May 23rd” (Farlow 150). Farlow stated that, “On April 27, 1912, an amendment for the recall of judges, which was the first bill introduced was passed. The territory of Arizona passed into the Federal Union” (153). A true struggle to become the 48th state, a contributing and efficient state, but more importantly being recognized.

As we transition into Arizona’s government and the how it is divided, we see that Arizona government is composed of three branches. This includes the Legislature, Executive and the Judicial branch in which all serve and are functioning for the citizens of Arizona. Each branch is responsible for a certain aspect of the states governing policy, creating laws, and enforcing the laws. The Legislative branch includes the two main houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives for the state of Arizona. Additional offices include the Governor and other committees. The current Governor for Arizona is Doug Ducey as he began his office in 2015 and currently won the election on November 6th. The Executive branch is composed of various departments, administrations, and agencies that carry out the law on behalf of the United States. The Judicial branch is composed of the Arizona Supreme court and judges, as their main task is to manage the Arizona law. McClory et al stated, “In 2013, women made up 35.6% of the Arizona legislature, the third highest in the nation” (5). In addition, Kyrsten Sinema was appointed to lead the Senate for the Democratic Party after a long haul in counting ballots from the recent election on Nov 6th, 2018. She is also the first to be a Senate member as an openly bisexual individual.

As we discuss the counties within Arizona, we must first understand that there are fifteen counties in the state of Arizona. Farrow states that, “The power is divided between an elected board of supervisors and separately elected officials. Supervisors are elected from separate districts within the county and all have a four-year term. The board determines the budget, taxes, and oversees county employees and appeals” (2016). Farrow also stated that “The different types of municipal include: law enforcement, utilities, fire, public housing, and zoning, regulate traffic, roadways, and building safety.” (2016). Each county is responsible for their territory and area. No other county may enforce or have jurisdiction over another county.

Moving onto the Tribal government that is within the realm of Arizona is “a major challenge that tribal leaders assert sovereignty over tribal affairs. Many Native Americans believe they have an inherent right to make their own decisions about their societies and their homelands” (Sheridan 319). As Sheridan states, “The Supreme Court has ruled that Congress has “plenary power” over Indian nations based on doctrine of discovery” (319). It was not until the 1970’s that gaming among the tribes began to boom as the state they were in had no basis to rule over them. “Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that was compromised by Arizona John McCain” (Sheridan 320). With the booming business of gaming among the Indian tribes, it brought in more income and education to the tribe and area. As Sheridan pointed out about the Indian territory “during the twentieth century, the government expanded its authority over Indian education, healthcare, and above all Indian resource use” (323). One issue arose and that was land. Who controlled it, and who did not? Land was divided and utilized for various purposes. The federal government truly operates and mandates most of the land that is not privately owned. This caused problems among the Indians, ranchers, and loggers. Ultimately, Arizona morphed into a “Sunbelt where the society was in constant flux” (Sheridan 336).

The final governmental issue to discuss begins with the twentieth century of Arizona and all changes and adjustments the state has undergone and taken on. As a state, Arizona is monitored and mandated in part of the United States Constitution. However, the responsibility per state is a force within itself. Some arising issue the state has undergone include human rights, educational funding and immigration. During May 2018, all teachers participated in a strike or walk out for the state of Arizona to receive appropriate funding for educational staff. Arizona is the 48th underpaid state for teacher’s salaries compared to the United States. With the walkout beginning April 26th, 2018 – May 3rd, 2018, a compromise was awarded and the result was to increase teachers’ pay up to 20% by 2020. Does this make Arizona on par to the national average? Will teacher’s salary as well as educational funding be a continued efforts and argument? Governor Doug Ducey approved the raise, but in 5-10 years will this become an issue again and another teacher walkout happen?

Immigration has also been a struggling issue for Arizona as it is near the border. According to Sheridan “The Immigration reform and Control Act of 1986 tried to clamp down on the border by increasing enforcement budget” (388). Our security measures have tightened and now with our new administration in Washington and trump as our president, the problem with the border is even a louder argument. The purposed wall to secure the border and immigrants coming into America has proven to be a national issue and not just with Arizona. Human rights are written throughout the Bill of Rights and holds true to the people of the United States. However, slavery, and women’s rights have all been questionable and challenged by minorities and groups advocating for the true right. According to Brown “Ending slavery is deeply connected and will require a deep focus on discrimination and inequality, and the systems that allow these to persist” (84). The end of slavery was just the beginning. “Throughout history, the scope of human rights has expanded gradually to encompass all human beings, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or social status” (Leib 43). This last statement should reflect and embody all individuals that they have a right and are part of something bigger than they are. I hope that this right will gain the true attention it deserves not just from people, but also from Congress and all people of the world. Understanding this concept will be the test of time.

In conclusion, reviewing the history of Arizona has been a reviving experience. The last time I read about Arizona, was in school over twenty years ago. Even though the history has not changed, the understanding is much different today from twenty years ago. In addition, back when I was studying Arizona and its government, much has changed in terms of our rights, immigration, and funding for programs. Our state, much like the United States, always seem to be fighting for human rights and advocating for the people. Views will remain opposing and never streamlined. Arizona has come a long way with being one of the last states to be part of the nation. It is a young state and has much to learn with room to grow. 

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Human Rights. (2022, Jun 20). Retrieved from