Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Geronimo in 1886 in the Sierra Madre

Geronimo was a Bedonkohe [Chiricahua] Apache who lived in the "Southern Four Corners" region (southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, northwestern Chihuahua, northeastern Sonora) during the late 1800s. Born in the 1820s, scholars disagree on whether his birthplace was actually in Arizona or New Mexico. His original name "Goyakla," or "one who yawns," was replaced with "Geronimo" by Mexican soldiers. By the 1850s Geronimo was married with three children and also supporting his widowed mother. The entire Bedonkohe group went to Mexico in the summer of 1858 to trade with the Mexicans living in a town Apaches called Kas-ki-yeh (probably Janos). After their camp was established, the women and children remained behind while a group of men went into town to trade. On the third day, the men returned to the camp to discover that a band of Mexican soldiers from another town had come and massacred many people, mostly women and children. Among the dead were Geronimos mother, wife, and children. From that day, he vowed vengeance upon the Mexican troopers. He became a War Chief, leading the Chiricahua Apache in raids on Mexican towns and villages as well as attacking people throughout southern Arizona and New Mexico.
Some people give Geronimo the distinction of being the last Indian to surrender to the United States but actually he surrendered several times. In 1884, Geronimo, the Bedonkohe tribe, and members of other Apache groups surrendered and were taken to the San Carlos Indian Reservation. In 1885, he and 144 others escaped from the reservation, but surrendered to U.S. authorities ten months later in Mexico. As they were brought back across the United States-Mexico border, however, Geronimo and a small band escaped fearing they would be murdered. This band remained at large for the next five months despite being hunted by 5,500 men in a sweeping search that ranged over 1645 miles.
The negotiations for Geronimos final surrender took place in Skeleton Canyon, near present day Douglas, Arizona, in September, 1886. He and approximately 40 others, as well as Western Apache scouts who had faithfully served the U.S. military in tracking Geronimos band, were taken into custody. General Nelson A. Miles promised that they would be able to return to Arizona after a short incarceration in Florida.
The group was sent by train to Florida where they were detained for a year at Fort Pickens and their families at Fort Marion. The warriors were reunited with their families the following year at Mount Vernon, Alabama. The entire group was moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 1894, still classified as "prisoners of war". Geronimo lived at Fort Sill until his death, in 1909, at the age of 85. During his later life Geronimo was a celebrity. He made appearances at the 1898 Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, the 1901 Pan American Exposition, and the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition and was often presented as the "Apache terror." He was also given the honor of riding in Theodore Roosevelts inaugural parade after which he was given a personal audience with the President. Although he pled "Let me die in my own country, an old man who has been punished enough and is free," he was never allowed to return to Arizona.

Eastern Branch Of The Chiricahuas

The Warm Springs Apaches formed the eastern branch of the Chiricahuas who frequented southwestern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona, and Chihuahua, Mexico. The Warm Springs were also referred to as the Ojo Caliente, Coppermine, Mimbrenos, or Mogollones Apaches. Principal leaders of the Warm Springs included Mangas Coloradas, Nana, Loco, and Victorio.

The Warm Springs Apaches had no association with west Texas or Fort Davis until the late 1870s. In 1877, the Warm Springs Apaches were relocated to the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Within four months, some of the Apaches bolted the reservation and returned to New Mexico. Many of the Warm Springs Apaches under Victorio refused to return to Arizona after surrendering. Following an unsuccessful attempt to gain acceptance on the Mescalero Reservation, Victorio and his followers, joined by Mescalero malcontents left the reservation and waged a 14-month struggle against the U.S. Army. The campaign against Victorio peaked in 1880. Troops from Fort Davis were called into action. That summer, Victorio led his warriors across the Rio Grande from Mexico. Colonel Benjamin Grierson’s Buffalo Soldiers blocked his path and defended nearly every water hole in west Texas. After two skirmishes with Grierson’s troops in July and August, Victorio and his followers retreated back across the Rio Grande. In October, a command of Mexican soldiers cornered Victorio at Tres Castillos, Chihuahua. After a lengthy but one-sided fight, Victorio and most of his followers were killed.

The few survivors of Victorio’s band joined up with other Chiricahuas on the San Carlos and White Mountain Apache reservations, or joined forces with Geronimo and Juh. Following the surrender of Geronimo in September 1886, the Warm Springs Apaches were exiled to Florida. In 1887, they were relocated to Alabama, then Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in 1894. In 1913, the surviving Warm Springs Apaches were allowed to either remain in Oklahoma or join the Mescaleros in New Mexico.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sierra Madre Apache

Captive children.(excerpts from the 'Apache Diaries')(Excerpt)

Publication: Journal of the Southwest

Publication Date: 22-MAR-01

In 1889, the Apache Kid, a notorious Western Apache outlaw, fled south to hide in the Sierra Madre, where he formed a gang comprised mostly of Chiricahuas. In addition, a small number of Western Apaches broke out of San Carlos in the 1890s and headed south into the Sierra Madre, perhaps joining the others already there. The old Western Apache scout, Sherman Curley, told my father of the many times he served with the army during the '90s in pursuit of "renegade" Apaches who were thought to have broken out of the San Carlos reservation or who had come north from Mexico to raid ranches in southern Arizona.

Mexican folklore is rich in stories of these people, stretching all the way from the border towns of Naco and Agua Prieta, two hundred miles south to Yecora and Sahuaripa where the Mountain Pima live. The stories are told even farther south than that--as far south as the Barranca del Cobrc, Tarahumara Indian country.

Within twenty years of the surrender of Geronimo, settlers began to populate the Sierra Madre, and as they did so, they made more and more frequent contact with the Apaches there. Contact led inevitably to friction, and conflict soon broke out again. Tension built throughout the teens and early twenties, coming to a head in 1927 with a sensational murder and kidnapping near the village of Nacori Chico, about seventy-five miles south of the sister border towns of Douglas, Arizona, and Agua Prieta, Sonora.

While traveling along a remote mountain road in the Sierra Madre, a Mexican family by the name of Fimbres was attacked by a small group of Sierra Madre Apaches. The attackers killed the wife, Maria Dolores Fimbres, and kidnapped her three-year-old son, Gerardo. It was over in seconds. Maria was mounted on a horse, but her husband Francisco was walking and had fallen behind. He watched helplessly from one hundred feet down the trail. Immediately he mounted a massive manhunt in the mountains.

Newspapers on both sides of the border picked up the story, and it even ran in New York and California papers. While living in Tucson and beginning his work among the Western Apaches, my father heard of these events and went to Mexico with an experienced guide to find out about the Sierra Madre Apaches before they were all gone. It was said that Mexican ranchers were shooting them on sight.

After three years of fruitless searching, in April 1930, the Mexicans finally found and attacked a Sierra Madre Apache camp. A man and two women were killed, but there was no sign of the kidnapped boy, by now six years old and probably completely adapted to his life with the Apaches. Two weeks later at the spot where the three Apaches were shot, Gerardo's body was found, killed by the Apaches in revenge.

News of these events spread quickly. It was soon open season on Apaches in Mexico--if they could be found. Elusive as the Sierra Madre Apaches were, reservation Apaches in the United States knew all too well of their existence. Chiricahuas at the Mescalero reservation in New Mexico were certain they knew who this group was: their relatives who had stayed behind in Mexico when Geronimo surrendered in 1886.

As this section begins, it is November 1932, slightly less than a year since Grennie's return from his last trip to Mexico. He has made a trip to Mescalero and is talking with an old Chiricahua Apache named Sam Kenoi. This chapter uses the format of The Apache Diaries in which the narrative is handed back and forth between Grennie's diary and my diary.


Nov. 16, 1932, Mescalero Agency

Visiting here, I met Sam Kenoi, a Ndendaa'i Apache. I told him about hearing about there still being some Chiricahua in the Sierra Madre and he was very anxious to know if I knew the names of any of them. He knew of them apparently and from what can be gathered, the renegades now in the Sierra Madre must all be Ndendaa'i.


Sam knows of their existence, even of one of the individual names (it was Adilnadzi*d, mentioned in a later conversation) but apparently no more than that.

At this point Grennie assumes that all the Sierra Madre Apache are Ndendaa'i, the southernmost of the Chiricahuas. In fact, there were some Western Apaches: some of them captured when the Sierra Madre Apaches raided San Carlos and Fort Apache in the early twentieth century; and some of them Western Apache renegades who had broken out of the reservation in the 1890s.

As much as the Chiricahuas at Mescalero might have wanted it, as of 1932 they have had no recorded contact with the Sierra Madre Apaches. For Sam Kenoi and other Chiricahuas, knowledge of long-lost relatives in the old homeland would mean hope for the end to a separation, long thought to be permanent; but that hope is growing dimmer, for the final act in the drama of the Sierra Madre Apaches is opening in Mexico even as my father and Sam are talking.

Since the fateful battle of April 1930 that claimed the lives of three Apaches and ultimately, Gerardo Fimbres, no sighting in Mexico has been reported. From the footprints left at the scene of the fight, the Mexican attackers could tell that there were survivors--most of them just children.

Following the death of Gerardo, the most hard-bitten of the Mexicans commit themselves to a campaign of extermination. The government has washed its hands of the matter. The Sierra Madre, as always, is outside the law, and it is open season on Apaches.

In April 1932, only four months after Grennie left Mexico, an Apache camp is discovered and attacked, blood is shed, and a child is captured. The news eventually reaches Bill Curtis (my father's guide and companion during his Sierra Madre trips in 1930 and 1931) and Bill's wife writes about it to Grennie. These letters have not survived, but notes that he wrote much later do.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Apache Gaa-he' Dancers

The Mountain Spirits ensure the well-being of the people by protecting them from epidemic diseases and enemies. The Mountain Spirit Dancers or Crown Dancers "become" these sacred beings. The Western Apache call them the Gaan while the Eastern Apache know them as Gaa-he'

Once he made the Apache, YUSN, Life-Giver, set them on the earth and taught the tribes the Lifeway. Among the Lifeway's tenets were generosity, respect and kindness to others. YUSN sent the Apache the Gaa-he' as helpmates. The Gaa-he' demonstrated the Lifeway to the Apache and gave them strong medicine to fight disease and rituals to invoke blessings. Eventually, the Apache acted badly and the Gaa-he' left to live in the mountains.

When the Apache tired of their wicked ways, they found messages left by the Gaa-he' in caves in the sacred mountains. By imitating the dress and dance of the Gaa-he', which was revealed to them through the cave drawings and through the revelations of the medicine men, the performers of those rites could be touched by their power.

The Gaa-he', represented by mountain spirit dancers, continues to play an important role in Apache life. Energetic dances summon the Gaa-he's power and are accompanied by singing and music. Symbols such as the sun and moon, white triangles representing the sacred mountains, and evergreen boughs, absorb harmful spirits and intercede on behalf of the ill.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Mangas Coloradas


January 17, 1863: Mangas Colorado (Red Sleeves) was camped near the Mimbres River when he was sent a message from California volunteers Captain Edmond Shirland requesting a truce and a parley. Against the advise of his APACHE followers, Mangas agrees to a meeting. Mangas enters the soldiers' camp, near present day Silver City, in southwestern New Mexico, under a white flag, but he is seized immediately. He will be transferred to old Fort McLane, in southwest New Mexico.


From http://www.uapress.arizona.edu/samples/sam428.htm

Mangas Coloradas (Red Sleeves), 1797-1863

Mangas Colorado was at least six feet tall, with a powerful body and an enormous head. Anglo Americans regarded him as the greatest Apache leader of the mid nineteenth century ... He was a war chief, diplomat, and consummate strategist - one who, according to legend, married one daughter to Cochise, another to a Navajo chief, and a third to a leader of the Western Apaches. In a kin-based society, Mangas Coloradas wove a web of obligations that extended from central Arizona to Chihuahua.

His life spanned three chaotic epochs in Southwestern history. He was born in the early 1790s at a time when Spanish soldiers were scouring the Apacheria from Tucson to Texas. As a child he must have visited or perhaps even lived in the Apache peace camp near the presidio of Janos in northwestern Chihuahua, but he spent his adult years taking advantage of Mexican decline and decay. From his strongholds in the mountains of western New Mexico, he raided as far south as Durango in north central Mexico.

During the Mexican War, Mangas Coloradas welcomed the Anglo American soldiers and urged General Stephen Watts Kearny to join with the Apaches and conquer northern Mexico once and for all. Over the next fifteen years, however, friendship degenerated into wariness and war. In 1861, Mangas Coloradas tried to persuade miners in southwestern New Mexico to leave Chiricahua territory. The miners allegedly tied him to a tree and whipped him, so he and his warriors drove them out with fire and blood. The next year, he and his son-in-law Cochise ambushed troops from General James H. Carleton's California Column in Apache Pass between the Dos Cabezas and Chiricahua Mountains. The soldiers repulsed the ambush with howitzers, and Mangas Coloradas slipped away to nurse his wounds.

Finally, in January 1863 members of mountain man Joseph Walker's party of gold seekers lured the old chief into the deserted mining camp of Pinos Altos to talk peace. Instead, they seized him and delivered him to General Joseph R. West, who had orders from Carleton to "punish the Gila Apaches, under that notorious robber, Mangus Colorado." That evening, West placed Mangas Coloradas under the guard of two soldiers. According to Daniel Ellis Conner, a member of the Walker party, "About 9 o'clock I noticed that the soldiers were doing something to Mangas, but quit when I returned to the fire and stopped to get warm. Watchmg them from my beat in the outer darkness, I discovered that they were heating their bayonets and burning Mangas's feet and legs. This they continued to do [until] Mangas rose upon his left elbow, angrily protesting that he was no child to be played with. Thereupon the two soldiers, without removing their bayonets from their Minie muskets each quickly fired into the chief, following with two shots each from their navy six-shooters. Mangas fell back into the same position . . . and never moved."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Victorio Fought to the Death for Homeland

By Michelle Connell and Silvia Moreno

The Zuni called them "Apache," meaning "enemy." They called themselves "Nde" or "the people." The Chiricahuas, one of six regional groups of Apaches, were mainly hunters and supplemented their diet with cacti, fruits and other wild plants. They had battled the Spanish, the Mexicans and, finally, the white settlers who increasingly encroached upon their hunting grounds. They protected their mountain territories with their great warrior skills and the guidance of several brave leaders, among them Mangas Coloradas, Geronimo, Cochise and Victorio.

The origins of Victorio, like other legendary men, are controversial. Beduiat, his Apache name, was presumably born in the Black Range area of Southern New Mexico around 1825. However, Mexican legend says that he was born in Chihuahua, then kidnapped and raised by Apaches. His Apache family, along with prominent experts Eve Ball and Dan Thrapp, negate this theory, stating that Victorio was pure Apache. Apache leader Victorio and his small band fought to remain on ancestral grounds.

In 1837, Mimbreño Apache leader Mangas Coloradas combined his band with the Warm Springs Apaches on the Gila River in Southwestern New Mexico in an attempt to gain a peaceful life for his people. After the death of Mangas Coloradas in 1863, Victorio echoed his cry for peace and humane treatment of the Apaches.

On Nov. 1865, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Lt. Col. N. H. Davis, held a conference in Piños Altos, N. M. with several tribal leaders, including Victorio. A war, led by Mangas Coloradas' nephew, Cochise, was well underway, and Davis intended to convince the Apaches to move calmly to Bosque Redondo in Southern New Mexico. Davis promised to supply them with enough food and clothing if they agreed to the relocation, or they would endure a continuing war.

In his book on the Apaches, Donald Worcester quotes Victorio as saying, "I and my people want peace … we have little for our families to eat and wear … we want a lasting peace, one that will keep. We would like to live in our country, and will go onto a reservation where the government may put us, and those who do not come, we will go and help fight them."

In 1870, after several requests by Victorio, President Ulysses S. Grant set aside a reservation for them at Ojo Caliente, or Warm Springs, their favorite area in Southern New Mexico, north of present-day Truth or Consequences. Ball tells us that it was a much smaller area than what Victorio considered Warm Spring territory, but he agreed peacefully, claiming it the ancestral homeland of the Warm Spring Apaches.MORE:

Geronimo's surrender — Skeleton Canyon, 1886

By James Hurst

On May 17, 1885, Mangus (son of Mangus Colorado), Chihuahua, Nachite, old Nana, the shaman Geronimo, and their followers fled the San Carlos reservation in Arizona in an attempt to regain the freedom they had known before the reservation system was instituted by the United States government. The restrictions of reservation life were difficult for these semi-nomads, and they longed for the openness of the land the Spaniards had called Apacheria. Although the Chiracahuas could not have foreseen it, this was to be their last attempt to recapture the old ways that many of their cousins had already forsaken.

The "renegades," or "hostiles," as they were called, consisted of thirty-five men, eight boys, and one hundred and one women and children. They would occupy the attention of five thousand troops, five hundred Indian auxiliaries, and an unknown number of civilians. In an area roughly the size of Illinois and comprising some of the roughest desert and mountain terrain in North America, they maintained themselves for sixteen months. In that time they killed seventy-five citizens of the United States, twelve White Mountain Apaches, two commissioned officers and eight soldiers of the regular Army, and an unknown number of Mexicans. The Apaches lost six men, two boys, two women and one child.

Following the breakout, some of the Apaches moved toward the mountains to the east, striking settlers and miners as they found them. General Crook arrived at Fort Bayard, New Mexico to establish a command post, and by the first of June the hostile bands had struck near Alma, Silver City, Camp Vincent, and Grafton, killing eighteen civilians. Believing that the Indians would move south through the slot between the Chiracahua Mountains and the Peloncillos and move through the San Simon Valley to Skeleton Canyon or through the San Bernadino Valley to Guadalupe Canyon, Crook ordered troops to guard all water holes between the railroad and the Mexican border.

In Skeleton Canyon, called Canon Bonita by the Mexicans, Chihuahua's band surprised eight troopers of Troop D, Fourth Cavalry, killed three men, burned the wagons and supplies, and drove off forty horses and mules. The Apache tornado moved south. They hid in the canyons and fought only when it pleased them. When they camped and were in fear of attack, they chose a place where surprise was impossible and where there was an easy line of escape. Skeleton Canyon was but one of many ideal canyons on the way to Mexico. By the middle of June, the fugitives had slipped past the Army's patrols and were in the Sierra Madre of Sonora, Mexico.
On March 27, Geronimo agreed to surrender on the condition that he and his followers would be returned to the reservation after two years' exile. Crook agreed, believing that he had secured the most favorable terms possible. President Cleveland and General Sheridan were infuriated, and informed Crook that the conditions were unconditional surrender, only sparing the Indians' lives in the bargain. The dispute between Crook's position and the position taken by Cleveland and Sheridan became moot, however, because on March 29, Geronimo, Nachite, and thirty-nine others bolted the encampment and fled for Mexico.

On the morning of September 8, 1886, General Miles sent the Apaches east on a train under heavy guard. Thus they began their years of captivity as prisoners in a strange land, and with their departure the Indian Wars of the Southwest came to an end.