I Am Geronimo
The story of my life
A Work of Fiction by Lin Stone
|In an early morning
attack the name of Geronimo rattles whole villages much like an
earthquake. Geronimo.. mention my name and Mexicans see the fierce
leader of Apache warriors determined to defend home and nation
for my people at all costs.
To this day, Just the sound of my name sells books in the Euromerican world. On magazine covers a picture leaps from a cliff, a knife is raised high to the sky, blood is dripping from the murderous point, Apache is wreaking horrible vengeance upon those trying to crowd his people off their own land.
With the voice of the ghosting drums that terrified settlers from Kingman to Guadalajara, and from the tail waters of the Colorado River to the headwaters of the Rio Grande, the name of Geronimo rang shivering notes of death. I have seen my name peal like thunder in royal courts around the world. Even today when I am an old man, the thought of my name brings such shivering dread to the Euromerican breast that I can never be allowed to tread mother earth's dirt floor at home in Arizona. If I escaped today there would be thousands of troops loaded on rail cars and rushed to keep me from reaching my home. I am Geronimo. You will listen as this tale I tale.
Geronimo is my name, this is my heritage, this is my story. If your eye is one that can look back through time you will know that I was born in No-doyohn Cañon, Arizona, in the early part of June in the year of 1829 CE.. There was a price on my head the day I was born because Usen had made me Apache. No-doyohn Cañon is in that country which lies around the headwaters of the Gila River.
There is no climate or soil which, to my mind, is equal to that of Arizona. Our home was beautiful and gave us all we needed to make our life a pleasure, but there was a price on my head the day I was born. We could have plenty of good cultivating land, plenty of grass, plenty of timber and plenty of minerals in that land which the Almighty created for the Apaches. It is my land, my home, my fathers' land.
There I was reared first to run, and then to ride. This range was our fatherland; among these mountains our wigwams were hidden; the scattered valleys contained our fields; the boundless prairies, stretching away on every side, were our pastures; the rocky caverns were our burying places and there was a price on my head the day I was born.
|For centuries we had been at war with the
Spanish butchers moving up from Mexico. They had tried
first to make us their slaves. When that failed then they
tried to wipe us out with bullets and with
poison. For many seasons before I was born, the Mexican government would pay one hundred dollars in gold for a
warrior's scalp, fifty dollars for a woman's scalp, and twenty-five
dollars for a baby's scalp.
I was the fourth child born in a family of eight children — There were four boys and four girls. Today my brother, Porico (White Horse), and my sister, Nah-da-ste, and me are held as prisoners of war in this Military Reservation called Fort Sill. If we are good Apache we have been promised deed to the land around Fort Sill.
Many hot summers have passed away since I was born but my eyes can look back and see the world as it was.
As a babe I rolled on the hard-packed dirt floor of my father's tepee. My mother sprinkled water on the dirt floor and the pattering feet of her children turned it into rock. As a babe I hung in my own tsoch, cradled upon my mother's back, or she would hang me suspended from the bough of a tree. I was warmed by the sun, rocked by the winds, and sheltered by the trees – as were other Apache. I knew the wasps and the birds and the bees by name for they were my friends. I watched butterflies sip at the flowers of the brush and I listened to the mourning dove coo for hours in the trees.
The first yellow breasts were trying their wings and the fluffy little ones were leaving the pine tree nest, one by one. They would line up on the limb and watch as their parents flew up and about with a good deal of chatter. Later, they would fly off a little ways, and then dash back to the limb as if they were astonished by the gift of flight.
Strings of quail dipped after their mothers through the brush. At her warning whistle they would freeze into the ground and disappear. My mother taught me to freeze into the ground and disappear too, when her warning whistle tingled in the air.
When I was a child my mother was like a yellow breast. Gathered around the evening fire, she taught her children the legends of our people; she taught us where the sun came from and how it warmed the sky.
She taught us the cycles of the moon and traced the wheeling stars,
the clouds, the lightnings and the storms.
My mother said that for each tribe of men Usen created He also made a home. "Their bounds are set. In the land created for any particular tribe He placed whatever would be best for the welfare of that tribe."
When Usen created Apache He also created homes for Apache in the West. He gave to them such grain, fruits, and game as they needed to eat. To restore their health when disease attacked them He made many different herbs to grow. He taught them where to find these herbs, when to pluck them and they learned the chants that would prepare the herbs as Apache medicines.
He gave Apache a pleasant climate and all they needed for clothing and shelter was at hand. Thus it was in the beginning: Apache and their homes were each created for the other by Usen himself. When they are taken from these homes Apache will sicken and grow weak like unto other men because the new earth gives them no strength. How long will it be until it is said, there are no more Apache on earth?
And yet, my mother also taught us that Usen does not care to be involved in the petty quarrels of men. He even lets the Mexicans go on living. She taught me to kneel and pray to Usen for the sap of strength to rise up from Mother Earth, through my legs and up to my heart. She taught me how to draw strength from the earth by the power of my thoughts.
As a people we prayed daily for health, wisdom, and for protection of the tribe. We never prayed against any specific person, but if we had aught against any individual we ourselves took the vengeance due. Apache had much cause for vengeance against the Mexicans.
Around the evening fire my father often told me tales about the brave deeds of our warriors -- the secret of their tracking, how they ran for 50 to 100 miles per day, day after day across the desert in the coyote lope, and most important of all my father told me the eternal tides of war and how to enjoy the pleasures of chasing game.
When I first began to run seriously he stopped me in mid stride and took me away, all by ourselves. There were two boulders for witness of his words. There he shared the secret of running forever with me -- and bound me to share it only with my own children. Once he showed me this secret I could identify who else knew it, having learned it even as Natchie and I learned it, from father to son.
My father also showed me how to master the side-leaning lope that would bring me safely down the side of a mountain faster than a stone can roll. Under his tutelage I could go leaping off the ledges, Usen would tell me which stones below me would stand fast, which stones would shoot out from under me in which direction, and which stones I could ride until they ground to a stop on an upward slope.
My joy was great as I gulped in the fresh air and felt the strength of the earth drawing up through my feet and legs.
With my brothers and sisters I played in the lands around my father's home. Before another summer had come six times in my life I could find my way home from anywhere inside a circle of one mile.
I learned that rattle snakes were deadly if I let them come upon me unawares, but also that they were fun to play with, and there were many of them back when my feet touched sacred soil, for the breezes were warm and the gnats were thick.
While our parents worked in the field we played at hide-and-seek among the rocks and pine trees; we scored points higher if we hid right out in the open, like quail, and could not be seen. So many times we loitered in the shade of the cottonwood trees or sought out the shudock to suck. This was a kind of wild cherry.
So many times we played that we were already warriors. We would practice stealing upon some object that represented an enemy, and in our childish imitation we often performed the feats of war that would some day be required of us.
The pine trees around me were silent unless winds were fierce. Then the tops would wave and buck against the clouds.
One day my father pointed out the split feather on the right wing of the buzzard so I could always tell a buzzard from a hawk or a young eagle. From that day forward I never said "bird" but always the proper name of that winged creature. Like Apache each creature had its own land to grow in.
Wood peckers would tat-tat from tree to tree. They preferred the higher boughs and seldom came down close to the ground where we could capture them.
The robins and the titmouse liked the lower limbs. Sometimes we would hide away from our mother to see if she could find us, and often when thus concealed we would go to sleep and thus remain hidden for many hours. Kingfisher lived near water; quail preferred low brush. Wild turkey and the turkey buzzards preferred tall trees.
The buzzards had a copse near my home where they gathered each morning to discuss their plans for the day. As sunlight began to brighten the day they would lift up of one accord into the sky and be gone.
Once I was hiding far from home and I heard buzzards begin to land near me to feed on the ripe carcass of a dead deer. Their wings cracked in the air like great flaps of deer hide slapped in the wind.
On the ground they circled the deer and one after another they would dart in to the deer and tear out a chunk of rotting flesh with their beak. Maybe there were 20, or even 30 of them in that circle. As I watched them dance around the deer it came to me what great fun it would be to sneak up on them and capture one before it could fly off.
The more I thought of it the much more fun the deed appeared to be in my mind's eye. It was just the thing to do and my family would cheer me for hours when I told them of the deed and showed them the bird I had captured.
And thus it came to pass that I crept towards the dancing buzzards. Never did a wolf stalk its game more carefully than did I mine that day. Yard by yard and inch by inch I made my approach so carefully and silently that the buzzards never suspected my presence until only one last bush stood between me and them.
Fascinated by my success and sucking in the glory of that impending moment of capture, I paused behind that bush and watched the buzzards dance. Only one at a time would dart forward and tear out a chunk of flesh. Then that one would spread wings outward and dance backwards from the carcass.
I planned my capture carefully. When the one closest to me danced back again I would leap forward and wrap my arms around its wings so it could not get away. It was a wonderful plan and to this day I can hardly contain my laughter as I live that moment over again and again. Only gradually did I realize that those buzzard beaks were sharper than knives.
Only gradually did I quit laughing at how close to them I had crept and begin to wonder at how my flesh would feel if they turned their beaks upon me. That was when I made the wisest decision of my life; I decided to see how fast I could get away from them without those buzzards being any the wiser that I had been there.
Even in my earliest memories I knew that the flesh of girls was different and they were important in the cycle of life. Of all the animals on earth, girls are the most precious to me. I knew what the older boys were trying to do long before anyone else of my clan, and I longed to capture the girls then too old and too big for me. Before I could sink my hands into their flesh for a passionate embrace they would get away or indignantly knock me down.
In the moonlight dust games I would sift through the clouds of dust we raised and capture one of the girls in wondrous embrace. Their flesh felt so different in my hands and I never wanted to let them go.
In those mountains of my early youth the days were warm and the nights were long. Every day was a new adventure. But, in looking back I wonder if even our most innocent games were not preparations for the world of war that lay before us. You see, the one game I remember best was sneaking up on real animals and pouncing upon them, as I had planned so well to do with the buzzards.
Dragonflies, locusts, doves, even squirrels were not safe from our clutching hands. As we grew more apt we graduated to catching lizards and snakes with our bare hands.
When the dogs treed a fox or wild cat I was the one that climbed into the tree and brought them down. When rattle snakes strayed into camp it was I that saw them first and decided if they lived or died for, by rights, the first one to see the encroaching animal would own its destiny. On our lazy days we would just turn the snakes around and make them go the other way. If we were bored we might practice capturing them over and over again. The rattlesnakes would get so buzzed they would try to climb trees to get away from us.
Just grabbing a rattle snake anywhere that just happened to be available could be very dangerous for us. Rattle snakes are always hazardous to hold when done improperly. Therefore the giant diamond backs we prized most were those as long as a man is tall.
Bad bites could be horribly fatal. These big snakes could twist right out of a small child's grasp, turn and strike. It took great courage to sneak up on them and that made the game more fun -- but I think my mother would have killed me if she had known of this particular game that we played.
The best capture we ever made though was a road runner. These animals can run faster than dogs and fly farther than quails. Their beak is a stabbing weapon, faster than a striking snake or running lizard. It was decided that we must capture one and we went looking. The first two got away from us But by the time the third road runner showed up in camp I had made up my mind how to make a capture.
As the first one to see the bird I started the run, at a walk. A second warrior would cut across to be in position to curb the road runner at a distant point. A third warrior raced to be another turning point and by that time I was in place for yet another turn. The bird we could never have captured in a dead hot race was soon run to earth at a walk. It fell over with a palsied collapse so profound even the oldest warriors in camp were visibly impressed. We made a wary pet of the bird.
As we took turns petting the road runner it was all we could do to refrain from plucking his long tail feathers. In the end we got the feathers anyway. We decided to tie a leather thong around his tail feathers and let him try to get away. When the road runner tired of that game we began startling him off into wild flight. One last time we did that and his tail feathers came out. It was amazing. I would never have dreamed a bird could fly without its tail feathers, but off our little pet flew and left his tail feathers behind. The longest one was mine by rights, but I shared the other feathers with my friends. We did a fire stick victory dance that night, whirling the burning coals into gleaming streaks in the darkness. The grownups laughed for many hours.
This was the first time I ever made a plan, introduced it to my comrades and captured their enthusiastic cooperation. This power was little less than intoxicating. From that moment on they never questioned my right to lead them when I laid my plans out.
When we were old enough to be of real service we went to the field with our parents: not to play, but to toil. When the crops were to be planted we were the ones that broke the ground with wooden hoes. We planted the corn in straight rows, the beans among the corn, and the melons and pumpkins in irregular order over the field where there was a rise. We only cultivated these crops as there was need, though.
Our family fields usually covered about two acres of ground. The fields were never fenced. It was common for many families to cultivate land in the same valley and thus share the burden of protecting the growing crops from destruction by the ponies of the tribe. Many creatures of the wild let us do all the work, and then moved in to make the harvests. We were plagued mostly by the raccoons, but also by deer, coyotes and various other wild animals. Coyotes loved to bite into the melons and would only tear out a small portion then go on to the next one. They eat sheep the same way. In a large flock they can kill 50-60 before they get tired.
Our dogs barked wildly at the approach of either coyotes or the wolves and we had to hold some of them back or lose them. The wolves would just snap them up if one brave dog ran out to meet them. But the coyotes would melt back as if they were afraid of the dog. When the dog was flushed with victory it would turn around to strut back home with its tail up like a deer's flag. "I did it; I drove the coyotes off!
Just as soon as the dog turned its back to return home, the coyotes would rush forward until the dog was forced to whirl about and chase the coyotes even farther out. Three , four times this scenario would be played out with the dog getting farther from our protection every time. No matter how hard we screamed, that dog could never get any closer back to us and the fire. By the time daylight came there would be no trace left on earth of our brave little dog. The Coyote Game was one I learned well and I would often put it to use later, when fighting Mexicans.
When my warriors were stung badly and their only thought was to get back home, I would also play the "WOUNDED DOVE" game. When you get too close to their nest doves will leap out into sight and flutter helplessly to the ground. "Oh! Look! My wing is broken and I can just barely flutter. Rush Forward! You can catch me easily."
But, every time, just before your hand closes on the prize, the wounded dove flutters ahead by an almost super-human effort. Turn your head just once and the dove is gone. Depending on how badly we were out-numbered, I would lead off up to a dozen Mexicans in search of an easy scalp, never dreaming that catching me was the very last thing on earth they would do.
Our melons were gathered as they were consumed. In the autumn pumpkins and beans were gathered and placed in bags or baskets; ears of corn were tied together by the husks, and then the harvest was carried on the backs of ponies up to our homes in the mountains. Here the corn was shelled, and all the harvest stored away in caves or other secluded places to be used in winter.
We never fed corn to our ponies, but if we kept them up in the winter time we gave them fodder to eat. Dogs and ponies were our only domestic animals. We had no need of raising cattle or other animals because we knew where the deer lived and often we even knew them by name. When hungry times came my father would step out to bring down a deer and we would feast on it. This was much more convenient than raising cows that didn't taste nearly as good as deer, or antelope.
as he once dressed in Days of Old
When he was the terror of two nations
I learned much of my primary battle cunning from my father. My father had much to teach me before he left this world, and so I have much more to teach you.
First, my father taught me how to move through the forest in wisdom. He said, you might need wisdom in stalking, or in approaching the outlying perch of some scout.
When stalking game we try to move against the wind through the trees. Now, in the forest, telling which direction the wind is blowing can be difficult for our frail human senses to determine. However, my father revealed a secret feather that would never let me down. I learned to clip a downy dove feather to my bow, or to my rifle's barrel, right close to the rifle's front sight. This is always a tiny feather, usually off the back or the breast of a dove or a yellow breast on our bow. Feathers from a humming bird are even better. That small feather can feel the feeblest wind current and tell us which way the wind is blowing, and how hard. Never use a feather off the wing.
Now, it isn't enough just
to go against the wind when you are stalking. A skilled warrior will also be going left
off the base direction of the wind, then he will shift and go right off the base -- all
the time moving forward, but all the while, going left, then right.
But using that oblique approach still isn't enough for a skilled
warrior. He will also be scanning ahead of him -- left, right, up,
and down – constantly changing the focus -- this scanning is being
done without turning your head because you don't want to tip anyone
off how vigilant you are. In fact, if you can practice that dip of
the head to make yourself look half asleep, so much the better
because you won't always know where all your enemies are.
Cats will relax in
place after you've gone, and the enemy -- if this is done with
finesse -- will climb down and set out to pursue you from a safe
distance. This will give you enough time to change your direction of
travel as soon as you are
out of sight and while he rushes forward to catch sight of you, you
will be closing in behind him.
This information could
have even more value to you if you look away from the bear into the
direction of the prevailing wind. Speaking of which, when we were in
strange country we would look at the tree tops. These will
usually be bent away from the prevailing wind. The more obvious that
bend is, the fiercer will be those prevailing winds. You can bank on
If an lone apache is traveling through enemy terrain at mid morning and he pauses to rest, which direction will his eyes be looking? Yes, always to the west his front will be looking. No enemy can come behind him without casting a shadow, but a very wise enemy will let his shadow fall on your back as he approaches so that you will not see it; if your back suddenly cools, it is time to leap aside and quit looking west. Is it not so? So it is.
The time of year and even time of day often determined which side of a mountain I would lead a band of men. When these variations were noted by the Mexicans or Pindos, they would attribute this to the uncanny ability of the “savage” to do or take the unpredictable course.
They never seem to perceive that the presence of rattle snakes, Gila Monsters, scorpions, mountain lions, javelina and el tigre had always to be considered and prepared for when choosing the site for camps.
The land we held sacred was an area little more than 300 miles deep by 600 miles wide. Popular fiction has it that this area is a desert with hardly anything out there. Army and Pindo peoples might blunder about and die in a small region of this size, but not Apache, and not the various other tribes of Indians that lived there, either.
Measure it out. The Gila River, the Hassayampa, Salt River, the Rio Grande were usually not that far off our beaten trails. Actually, during the 1880s when Apache was most dependent on the desert for the means of survival, there were also wild kine scattered throughout the land, while herds of wild horses could number as high as 100.
Coyotes, foxes, wolves and bears (including grizzlies), skunks, badgers, buzzards, eagles, hawks, bats and wild burros might be encountered at any time.
Personally, I would prefer to fight a wild bear than a wild burro. Once I saw a wild camel fight a wild burro. The burro won easily. Frequently, the actions of these animals determined the directions Apache used in times of attack, and retreat.
One question young warriors mention is the pebble-in-the-mouth story as a way of crossing vast distances in high temperatures without thirst. Actually I always preferred the dried bean of the palo verde tree. It is easy to imagine it tastes good. Unlike a pebble it made no noise when clicking against the teeth and lasted forever, whereas even the smoothest pebble would click and rattle against the teeth with the slightest twitch of the tongue – and besides, the pebble rapidly lost any taste it might have once had.
Furthermore, there were (at chosen times of the year) vegetation conditions that made it possible for Apache to make long marches without carrying any water reserves. For instance, grass would be greener in April, May and June than it would be in July, August and September -- but this is also when we were working our crops. Oh my. How many times I have worked until my back would no longer bend.
By taking to the trail in the last part of April through May and part of June there was no need to cumber our mounts with more than the most basic “provisions.” Kitchen utensils were never needed at all. There was no need of stopping for lunch because Apache would be munching on food he found along the way.
You have heard said of Apache's uncanny knowledge of water hole locations. Actually, you will find that water holes are often a last resort for a thirsty band of warriors. “Water Holes” are where water comes seeping up out of the ground. Usually there is little water there in the summer season. These are admittedly few and far between.
One of my favorite water holes was found at present day Agua Caliente. The warm springs worked wonders on my aging joints. Often the water holes in the desert were bitter, alkaline, or momentarily contaminated, usually by dead birds, dead deer or horses, etc..
Water catches, on the other hand can be as large as 30 feet across and the water is often still quite delicious well into summer. Instead of filing away hundreds of locations of catches all Apache has to do is look for powdered animal trails leading to where they now hold water.
In the desert all animals (except for the jack rabbit and the terrapin) must have water. All Apache has to do is look for “water trails” that cross our way, and this only if we happen to be hotly pursued so that we wandered out of our usual thoroughfares.
One mule deer can easily provide 10 to 15 hungry men enough sustenance to travel another hundred miles on horseback. With just the flick of the wrist, dove and quail are also easily harvested along the way. These won't feed the hungry tribe trying to escape soldiers, but when we scatter, food becomes more plentiful.
Very young warriors have asked me questions, like how mule deer are harvested by warriors on the march in hostile terrain. This is silly. Deer would be plentiful during these war path months and the harsh desert terrain makes the hunt much easier, not harder, as happens in the lush forested country back east. Mule deer lay up in the shade on hot days. This means under a tree. Trees (on the Arizona desert) are usually found in washes that are about 15-25 feet deep. These are visible from a distance. Apache would split up into two groups. One goes up the land and then across to the wash. Apache is on each rim and walk down the rim of the wash with a clatter of hooves. The deer hear them coming and begin moving away. They run right into the second party that is waiting for them. It is simple, and it is effective in that it hardly takes any time at all.
Then there was the permutation in October, November and December to consider when the Mexicans would be busy with gathering and preserving their rich harvests. The grass is still good for grazing but the large game animals are becoming scarcer because the water is disappearing. Because these things are known they can be used to best advantage.
We did not cultivate tobacco, but often found it growing wild. This we cut and cured in autumn, but if the supply ran out then the leaves from the old stalks left standing served our purpose almost as well. All Indians smoked — both the men and the women. Nearly all of our matrons smoked. Unmarried women were not prohibited from smoking openly, but they were considered immodest if they did so. No boy was allowed to smoke until he had earned this right by hunting alone and bringing back large game. This usually meant wolves or bears but sometimes wild cats or mountain lions counted if he told the story well.
Mountain lions and wild cats were not afraid of us when I was young. When they saw us coming they would flatten themselves down and wait for us to pass them by if they didn't want to be petted. One well-placed arrow could bring them down out of the tree. The hide of a mountain lion was much prized because it could be used in so many ways.
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|We ground our corn by hand with
stone mortars and pestles for bread, although our women also had grinding
boulders that they used after a rain. We sometimes crushed
our grain and soaked it, and
after it had fermented we made from this juice a beverage we called "tis-win,"
which had the slight power of intoxication. It was very highly prized by the
Apaches. This work was done by the women and children. When berries or nuts
were to be gathered, the small children and the women would go in parties to
hunt them, and sometimes stay all day. When they went any great distance from
camp they took ponies to carry the baskets.
I frequently went with these parties, and while out on one of these excursions a woman named Cho-ko-le got lost from the party and was riding her pony through a thicket in search of her friends.
Her little dog was following as she slowly made her way through the thick underbrush and pine trees. All at once a grizzly bear rose in her path and attacked the pony. She jumped off and her pony escaped, but the bear attacked her, so she fought him the best she could with her knife. Her little dog, by snapping at the bear's heels and detracting his attention from the woman, enabled her for some time to keep pretty well out of his reach.
Finally the grizzly struck her over the head with one of his paws. This tore off almost her whole scalp. She fell over from the blow, but she did not lose consciousness. When the bear leaned over her she struck him four good licks with her knife, and he retreated.
After the bear had left she patted her torn scalp back into place and bound it up as best she could with some old rags. Then she turned deathly sick and had to lie down. She froze into place beside a boulder so she could not be seen. That night her pony came into camp with his load of nuts and berries, but no rider. We hunted for her, but did not find her until the second day.
She had hidden so well that the bears, big cats and the coyotes and the wolves did not smell her blood. The grownups carried her home, and under the treatment of the medicine men all her wounds were soon healed. Ever after that we were proud of her because she had fought off a grizzly bear and lived to tell about it; she had been scalped and rose up to put the top of her head back on so that she still had her hair.
In a few years you couldn't even see the scars where it all went back together; but we all remembered her with pride, she was Apache. Back then, all Indians knew many herbs to use for medicine, how to prepare them, and how to give the medicine. This they had been taught by Usen in the beginning, and into each succeeding generation there came men to be born who were skilled in the art of healing. The urge to heal was born into them, a part of their thoughts from their earliest years just as some men were born to bend the bow and others to chip fine arrowheads.
Each of us had a tribal skill that helped the tribe to survive. Some tribal members were skilled in cutting out bullets, arrow heads, and other missiles with which warriors were wounded in our battles. The first time I did this we were on the way home and the wind had blown us far out of our path. The warrior had a ball in his leg that had entered from the back and went around to the front. It was giving him much pain but he did not slow us down for the first three days. I felt the bullet beneath the skin and it was large. He could not reach the wound to remove the bullet so I passed his knife blade through the fire and the four of us asked Usen to bless it. Then I slit open the flesh behind the bullet and started over it with just a little bit of pressure. This was a stone knife and it was very sharp, but one prefers to pull with a stone knife because it does not drive well.
The skin was already ripe and the blade of the knife merely guided where the split would run. The warrior watched me make the long cut as if to make sure it was professionally done. It was beautiful to watch the skin split apart, like magic. Behind the incision a wad of pus came oozing out but it had no smell yet. We always recognized gangrene first by its smell.
This ball was deep beneath the skin and close to the bone. Those near the surface usually just pops right out. This was a wound the warrior could be proud of, deep. I pulled the knife back, through the muscle instead of across it, and the warrior grunted his appreciation. The other warriors nodded and one made a joke that all of us laughed at. While the wounded warrior laughed I clicked the stone knife along side the bullet and a little beneath -- then I flipped it out.
One of the other warriors caught it and gave it to our wounded comrade. We all laughed at how much sweat had popped out on his nose but he only grinned and was not angry, a sure sign the wound had big hurt in it.
I squeezed it from both sides so the blood ran freely. After it had bled well I spread the wound open again and packed it lightly with spider webs and tamped it full of crushed dirt dauber nests that had been slicked off from a rock wall near our tribal home. They are made out of dried clay that would not come apart when the blood touched it.
The warrior was fast asleep when I bound the wound together with a wide strip of wet rawhide. As it dries, the rawhide is supposed to draw up just tight enough to hold it in place. But we were running from the enemy and the warrior's sweat made the rawhide grow very loose. Every few miles we would stop so I could draw it taut once more. Usually the rawhide draws too tight and if there is no water to make it stretch then we just whittle the rawhide thinner so that it stretches longer. The reason our crude butchery worked so well is first because we were in fine shape physically, and second, our medicine has been gathered properly and blessed by tribal members as it is gathered and made.
The inside meat of green cat claws works well at healing open wounds too, but it is seldom to be found at the battle's scene, being found mostly near young mesquite thickets. The ripe cat tail rod is a good substitute if spider webs can't be found. In the spring time palo verde pods are preferred to dirt dauber crumbles. The soap yucca is used to clean out the wounds after the blood stops flowing and the flesh begins to heal. When any of us were wounded or ill, we were reassured of our medicine's potency because we knew this was tribal medicine, specifically made to heal the Apache.
In our gathering of the herbs, in preparing them, and in administering the medicine, the part that faith held in our prayers was just as important as the actual properties of the medicine itself. Usually about eight persons worked together in the making of medicine. There were specific forms of prayer and sings to attend each stage of the process.
Four members of the group attended to the sings and incantations and four others worked in the preparation of the herbs. This was eight members. There was magic in the number eight. I, Geronimo, was the fourth child to be born in a family of eight children. I was never lonely; there is magic in the number eight. Is it not so? I have done much gathering and tending of wounds, often in the open sunlight and using only a stone dirk or stout butcher knife.
By the time eight summers had passed before me I knew that I was born to lead men into battle I could already see the day plainly and feel the heat of its afternoon sun. I, Geronimo, looked down the stick of time and saw the day I would lead men to victory and glory.
The groove was already made and the thoughts of my mind flowed down that channel as naturally as little sticks on the top of water will flow down a stream. After learning my destiny, my every thought was for learning more and more of what it would take to do that. I intended to be ready when the time came, even as I was preparing to be ready to remove the bullet from the wounded warrior.
Small children wore very little clothing in winter and none at all in the summer. The soles of our feet were hard, like unto gristled bone. A thorn had to be very stout and aimed just right to pierce our feet. Goat head stickers were set just so by Usen so that goat head stickers would be carried from place to place. The spines would break off inside our feet and then fester inside. When the time was ripe my mother would take a stone dirk and slit my feet open to get the sticker to pop out. I have often wondered how women know when a child's feet have stickers festered in them because nothing will slow an Apache child down when it is time to frolic and run.
One time I brushed my thigh up against some cholla cactus. My leg looked as if a porcupine had swatted it. Mother took a strip of rawhide and looped it once around one spine at a time so that her hands were crossed and the loop was loose. Then she snapped her hands apart. The rawhide would come tight, and then yank the spine out of my leg. Yes, it hurt, but I was Apache and I laughed at the pain to make it light. There is nothing so good as a bright joke to take away the pain of anything.
Our women usually wore only a primitive skirt, which consisted of a piece of cotton cloth fastened about the waist. It extended to the knees. Our men wore breech cloths and moccasins. In harsh winters they sometimes added shirts and leggings, but in the main we prepared to be comfortable on the trail in any kind of weather.
Frequently when the tribe was in camp a number of boys and girls, by secret agreement, would steal away and meet at a place several miles distant, where they could play all day free from tasks. The young children were never punished for these frolics; but if their hiding places were discovered they were playfully ridiculed and we felt bad.
After dark came we would light fires at home and play around in the flickering shadows. The old men would tell us stories that taught us many lessons. My mother's brother told us the story of when he was tracking down a herd of wild horses. One pony came up to get a drink and it had a live Gila Monster biting down onto the side of the pony's head. It hung down like an extra ear, he said. Ten years later he saw that same pony and the Gila Monster was still biting down on the side of the pony's head.
This story taught us that the Gila Monster must grind down on anything it attacks and work its way into the beast's flesh before it can effectively release its poison. I have never forgotten that lesson. I have remembered that story all my life. Not once have I noticed a wild horse without looking to see if it had a Gila Monster biting down on it. That story is the way we were taught important lessons.
Some stories we loved because they never changed. No matter how old the ancient story teller was, in the beginning the world was covered with darkness. There was no sun, nor day. The perpetual night had no moon or stars to make shadows in the dark. There were, however, all manner of beasts and birds. Among the beasts were many hideous, nameless monsters, as well as dragons, lions, tigres, wolves, foxes, beavers, rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice, and all manner of creeping things such as lizards and serpents. Mankind could not prosper under the powers of such dark conditions. Man has only a crude sense of smell. But for the beasts and serpents the darkness let them live by what they could smell, and thus it came to pass that they destroyed all human offspring because they could smell them in the dark.
Also, in the beginning all creatures had the power of speech and were gifted with reason brighter than they do today. There were two main tribes of creatures besides man: the birds or the feathered tribe and the beasts that had fur. The former were organized under their war chief, the eagle.
These tribes often held councils, and the birds demanded that light be admitted in this world so they could soar in the sky. This the beasts with fur repeatedly refused to do because in the darkness they had much the advantage over the feathered tribe. So many of them fell that the birds made war against the beasts with fur.
The beasts were armed with clubs, but the eagle had taught his tribe to use bows and arrows. The serpents that spoke with forked tongues were so wise in the ways of the world that they could not all be killed. One took refuge in a perpendicular black cliff of a mountain in what is now Arizona, and his eye (changed into a brilliant stone) that may be seen in that rock to this day. The bears were magic, when killed, each would be changed into several other bears, so that the more bears the feathered tribe killed, the more bears there were. The dragon could not be killed, either, for he was covered with four coats of horny scales that the sharpest arrows could not penetrate.
One of the most hideous of the vile monsters was nameless for the fear of him was proof against arrows, so the eagle flew high up in the air with a round, white stone, and let it fall on this monster's head, killing him instantly. This was such a good service to the world that forever afterwards that stone was called sacred. A symbol of this stone is used in the tribal game of Kah. The tribes of fur and feathers fought and wrestled until they dripped with exhaustion, but at last the birds won the victory.
After this war was over only a few evil beasts remained in the earth, the birds were now able to control the moods of the tribal councils, and light was admitted to the world. It was only then that mankind could finally live and prosper.
Because the eagle had been chief in this grand fight, his feathers were worn by man as emblems of wisdom, justice, and power. Our medicine men use them for blessing the tribe. The strokes are much like waving dust and other impurities away from the body; the chant rings out, calling upon Usen for power. Other medicine men follow the cleansing chant.
Among the few human beings that were yet alive was a woman who was like a turtle and had been blessed with many children, but these had always been destroyed by the furred beasts. If by any means she succeeded in carrying her children away and eluding the others, then the dragon, who was very wise and very evil, would come himself and eat her babes.
After many years a son of the rainstorm was born to her and she dug for him a deep cave. The entrance to this cave she closed with sticks and then covered the sticks with the mud of dirt daubers which is very hard -- and over the spot she built a camp fire. This concealed the babe's hiding place and kept him warm. Many times I have stood over similar places and known there was a cave or emptiness beneath me.
Every day she would remove the fire and descend into the cave, where the child's bed was, to nurse him; then she would return and rebuild the camp fire.
Frequently the dragon would come and question her, but she would say, "I have no more man, and no more children; you have eaten all of them. Men can only have so many children, and then no more."
The dragon knew this was so with scaled creatures too so he went away for a time. But, when the man child was larger he would sneak out of the cave, for he sometimes wanted to run and play in the sunshine. Once the old dragon saw his tracks in the sand and they led to the fire then disappeared in the flames. Now this perplexed and enraged the old dragon because it perplexed him, for he could not find the hiding place of the boy, yet he knew that the boy lived; so he swore a mighty oath that he would destroy the mother if she did not reveal the child's hiding place. The poor mother was very much troubled; she could not give up her last child, but she knew the power and cunning of the dragon, therefore she lived in constant dread.
Soon after this the boy said that he wished to go hunting. The mother would not give her consent and begged of him not to go. She told him all about the dragon, the wolves, and the serpents of the world; but his mind was made up. He said, "Ho! To-morrow I go."
At the boy's request his uncle (who was the only other man then living) made a little bow and some arrows for him, and the two went hunting the next day. The uncle shot at a deer but did not kill it. They trailed the deer far up the mountain until they were very hungry and about to faint. Finally the boy killed a buck. His uncle showed him how to dress the deer and broil the meat. They broiled two hind quarters, one for the child and one for his uncle. When the meat was brown and tender they placed it on some bushes to cool. Just then a shadow came over them and the huge form of the dragon appeared.
The man child was not afraid, but his uncle shrank back into the bushes for he was so dumb with fright that he did not speak or move.
The dragon took the boy's parcel of meat and stepped aside with it. The meat was still too warm to eat. The dragon placed the meat on another bush and seated himself beside it. Then he said, "I know this is the child I have been seeking. Boy, you are nice and fat, so when I have eaten this venison I shall eat you too."
The boy was very tall then for he was gathering strength from the earth. His power was upon him so that what he said would come true. He looked into the eye of the dragon and he said, "No, you shall not eat me, and you shall not live to eat that meat either."
While his power was yet upon him the man child walked over to where the dragon sat and took the meat back to his own seat. The dragon was much astonished. He said, "I like your courage, but you are foolish; what do you think you could do if I would not let you?"
"Well," said the boy, "I can do at least enough to protect myself, as you may find out." Then the dragon took away the meat again, and then the boy retook it. Four times in all the dragon took the meat away from the boy, and after the fourth time the man child replaced the meat on the bush and he said, "Dragon, will you rise up and fight me?" Oh ho, the dragon was glad for this to come to pass, "Yes,” he said. “I will fight you in whatever way you like."
The boy said, "I will stand one hundred paces distant from you and you may have four shots at me with your bow and arrows, provided that you will then exchange places with me and give me four shots." "Oh! Good," said the dragon. "Stand up and let me shoot."
Then the dragon took his bow, which was made of a large pine tree. He took four arrows from his quiver; they were made of young pine tree saplings, and each arrow was twenty feet in length. He took deliberate aim, but just as the arrow left the bow the boy made a peculiar sound and leaped into the air. Immediately the arrow was shivered into a thousand splinters, and the boy was seen standing on the top of a bright rainbow over the spot where the dragon's aim had been directed. Soon the rainbow was gone and the boy was standing on the ground again.
Four times this was repeated, then the boy said, "Dragon, stand here; it is my time to shoot." The dragon said, "All right; your little arrows cannot pierce my first coat of horn, and I have three other coats — shoot away." The boy shot an arrow, striking the dragon just over the heart, and one coat of the great horny scales fell to the ground. With the next shot another coat fell, and then another, and the dragon's heart was exposed. Then the dragon trembled, but in his honor he could not move. Before the fourth arrow was shot the boy said, "Uncle, you are hiding there, dumb with fear; you have not moved and the dragon has not seen you; come here or the dragon will fall on you."
His uncle ran toward him. Then the man child sped the fourth arrow with true aim, and it pierced the dragon's heart. With a tremendous roar the dragon rolled down the mountain side — down four precipices into a cañon below.
Immediately storm clouds swept the mountains, lightning flashed, thunder rolled, and the rain poured. When the rainstorm had passed, far down in the cañon below, they could see fragments of the huge body of the dragon lying among the rocks, and the bones of this dragon may still be found there.
This man child's name was Apache. Usen loved this young lad for his courage. He taught him how to prepare herbs for medicine, how to hunt, and how to fight. He was the first chief of the tribe we now call Apache and Indians have always worn the eagle's feathers as the sign of justice, wisdom, and power. To Apache, and to his people, as they were created, Usen gave homes in the land of the west.
In time the Apaches were divided into six sub-tribes. To one of these, the Be-don-ko-he, I was born into. Our tribe inhabited that region of mountainous country which lies west from the east line of Arizona, and south from the headwaters of the Gila River.
East of us lived the Chi-hen-ne (Ojo Caliente) or, (Hot Springs) Apaches. Our tribe never had any difficulty with them. Victoria was their chief. He was always a good friend to me. He always helped our tribe when we asked him for help. Victoria lost his life in defending the rights of his people. He was a good man and a brave warrior.
North of us lived the White Mountain Apaches. They were not always on the best of terms with our tribe, yet we seldom had any war with them. I knew their chief, Hash-ka-ai-la, personally, and I considered him a good warrior. Their range was next to that of the Navajo Indians, who were not of the same blood as the Apaches. We held counc+ils with all Apache tribes, but never with the Navajo Indians. However, we traded with them and sometimes visited them.
To the west of our country ranged the Chi-e-a-hen Apaches. They had two chiefs within my time, Co-si-to and Co-da-hoo-yah. They were friendly, but not intimate with our tribe.
South of us lived the Cho-kon-en (Chiricahua) Apaches, whose chief in the old days was the wise and tough Co-Chise whose word was as firm as an oak when he gave it. His son, Naiche was chief after him. This tribe was always on the most friendly terms with us. We were often in camp and on the trail together.
To the south and west of us lived the Ned-ni Apaches. Their chief was Whoa, called by the Mexicans Capitan Whoa. They were our firm friends. The land of this tribe lies partly in Old Mexico and partly in Arizona. Whoa and I often camped and fought side by side as brothers. My enemies were his enemies, my friends his friends.
Still the four tribes (Bedonkohe, Chokonen, Chihenne, and Nedni), who were fast friends in the days of freedom, cling together even as they decrease in number. Only the destruction of all our people will ever dissolve our bonds of friendship.
My grandfather, Maco, had been our chief. I never saw him, but my father often told me of the great size, strength, and sagacity of this old warrior. Their principal wars had been with the Mexicans. They had some wars with other tribes of Indians also, but were seldom at peace for any great length of time with the Mexican towns.
Maco died when my father was but a young warrior, and Mangas-Colorado became chief of the Bedonkohe Apaches. When I was but a small boy my father died, after having been sick for some time. When he passed away, carefully the watchers closed his eyes, then they arrayed him in his best clothes, painted his face afresh, wrapped a rich blanket around him, saddled his favorite horse, bore his arms in front of him, and led his horse behind, repeating in wailing tones his deeds of valor as they carried his body to a cave in the mountain. Then they slew his horses, and we gave away all of his other property, as was customary in our tribe, after which his body was deposited in the cave, his arms beside him. His grave is hidden by piles of stone. Wrapped in splendor he lies in seclusion, and the winds in the pines sing a low requiem over the dead warrior.
After my father's death I assumed the care of my mother. She never married again, although according to the customs of our tribe she might have done so immediately after his death. Usually, however, the widow who has children remains single after her husband's death for two or three years; but the widow without children marries again immediately. After a warrior's death his widow returns to her people and may be given away or sold by her father or brothers. My mother chose to live with me, and she never desired to marry again. We lived near our old home and I supported her.
In 1846, being seventeen years of age, I was admitted to the council of the warriors. Then I was very happy, for I could go wherever I wanted and do whatever I liked. I had not been under the control of any individual, but the customs of our tribe prohibited me from sharing the glories of the warpath until the council admitted me. When opportunity offered, after this, I could go on the warpath with my tribe. This would be glorious. I hoped soon to serve my people in battle. I had long desired to fight with our warriors.
Perhaps the greatest joy to me was that now I could marry the fair Alope, daughter of No-po-so. She was a slender, delicate girl, but we had been lovers for a long time. So, as soon as the council granted me these privileges I went to see her father concerning our marriage. Perhaps our love was of no interest to him; perhaps he wanted to keep Alope with him, for she was a dutiful daughter; at any rate he asked many ponies for her. I made no reply, but in a few days appeared before his wigwam with the herd of ponies and took with me Alope. This was all the marriage ceremony necessary in our tribe at that time.
Not far from my mother's tepee I had made for us a new home. The tepee was made of thick buffalo hides to keep out the heat and in it were many bear robes, lion hides, and other trophies of the chase, as well as my spears, bows, and arrows. Alope had made many little decorations of beads and drawn work on buckskin, which she placed in our tepee. She also drew many pictures on the walls of our home. She was a good wife, but she was never strong.
We followed the traditions of our fathers and were happy. Three children came to us — children that played, loitered, and worked as I had done. Usen loved them and blessed them with happy smiles.
Daughter of Naiche, chief of the Chiricahua Apaches
|Even though we knew
the nation of Mexico had put a price on our heads, as far as we knew in the summer of 1858
we were still at
peace with the Mexican jefes just south of the border, as well as with all the neighboring Indian tribes.
And thus it came to pass in the spirit of jubilee that
our entire Be-don-ko-he tribe went south into Old Mexico to trade.
Our tracks were heavy and our way was slow because we took with us much pottery and we took weavings, and we took much rawhide and furs, El Tigre being the most valuable and therefore enriching me the most as I would climb right up into the tree with them. Our women also brought with them blankets that we had traded Mexican goods to the Navajo for.
Yes, even though we knew there was said to be a price on our heads we were foolish and thought our journey would be safe if we traveled as a tribe. And thus it came to pass that our whole Bedonkohe Apache tribe openly went through Sonora toward Casa Grandes, which was our destination. We were hoping there would be a fiesta with a rodeo where we could show off our horsemanship and riata roping capacities. We hoped there would be much chance for games to be played during the fiesta, or as you might say, gambling.
Even though we bet often and heavily this kind of gaming was not the same as is done by the Mexicans and the pindos for we usually won our wagers unless the game was -- umm, rigged. This they had to do because otherwise we would have taken their britches home with us. This consistent flow of winnings our way made them angry with us, as if we were the ones cheating.
They gambled to see how their "luck" was running. We bet simply to win. It was only natural that when their "luck" ran out our bets were running very much as we had planned for them to perform.
This was not evidence to us of our medicine, this was simply proof that we had eyes to see with and used them well.
This trip is about 350 miles long one way and there is much to see along the way. For Apache this journey is very pleasant and we travel slow so as to enjoy all that Usen shares with us. Hunger was almost never a problem; there were so many opportunities for hunting as we went. While it was admitted that jack rabbits could hear us coming, it was also said that not many other creatures could.
I was the first scout coming through one pass and right there below me was a big herd of pronghorn antelope. These animals can leave a horse far behind in a race and they are very beautiful even when they are standing still. Very seldom did Apache see them in our land. Their hides would be valued highly in Mexico. I slipped back into the pass and silently called the other scouts to me.
When I explained what was just ahead of us they were all excited and eager to creep out of the pass just to see them graze for it is not normal that eight Apache can get close enough to pattern a herd. This vision was most uncanny. Even though there were eight scouts watching them, the pronghorn did not realize that Apache was near them. We were afraid that our gaze would betray our presence and therefore we glanced away and watched them obliquely through hooded eyes.
Those few seconds were enough for the other scouts to capture an appreciation of that specific terrain. Had I asked any one of them to spot tag half of the herd they could have done so, not just for that day, but for many days thereafter. We withdrew to the interior of the pass where we could talk. I laid out a plan that would allow us to approach the antelope from three sides in such a way that if they ran away from us they might run right through the pass we were then standing in. In their heads they looked at the terrain, and then back at me. "Good," they nodded.
Ozone, Chihuahua, Loco
PRISONERS OF WAR
It took some working
but Apache were soon all in our places and the pronghorn still were not
suspicious at all. I have noticed that human prey are the same
way; give them a few months without attack and they think you never
Those of us armed only with bows were at the bottom of the box and those on the sides were stretched out wider apart because they had rifles. I was naturally on the bottom of the box as I was young Apache, but we had practiced much with our bows while those with rifles had little practice, for lack of ammunition. At my call of a quail all of us at the bottom of the box rose up in our places and took careful aim. We shot our arrows and brought down two antelope. At the fresh scent of blood the whole herd burst away from Apache just as I had planned and Apache on the sides of the box rose up and began screaming even as their rifles roared.
There the antelope sprang forward, their incredible speed is so beautiful to watch, but three more of them came tumbling down from the rifles. The remaining herd darted into the pass and Apache hurried after them as fast as our horses would go.
Suddenly, shots rang out ahead of us and then we heard screams of terror. Apaches will seldom run from an armed enemy, but on that day the whole Be-don-ko-he tribe fled from a herd of beautiful pronghorn antelope that had burst in upon them from out of nowhere. This sight was so funny that the eight of us that were scouts stopped our horses for we were in great danger of falling off from laughing so hard.
The sun moved a long ways before we could mount our horses once again. Apache was just coming back together when us eight scouts rode sadly into their midst. As solemn as the moon I paused and asked Mangas-Colorado, our chief. "Did you see a herd of antelope? We have lost one."
Hands went helpfully pointing in many directions to tell us where the antelope had gone. It was too much. The eight of us fell off our horses and could not get up. It was strange; the tribe did not see the humor even when we told them of all the meat we had brought down. I have found this is usually so in the way of humans. Even when I am one of those on the other side of the humor it does not seem to be nearly as funny as when I am one of those making it happen.
But, on that evening as I leaned away from the fire and thought back to my attack I saw that once again I had commanded men and they had seen the wisdom of following my directions. The power of it felt good in my hands.
|Just before reaching
Casa Grandes we stopped at another Mexican town called by the Indians "Kas-ki-yeh."
Here we loitered for several days, camping just outside the city. Every day we
would go into town to trade our hides, leaving our camp under the protection of a guard so that our arms, supplies, and women and children would not be disturbed
during our absence. It haunts me to this day, but with each passing day there were fewer guards left behind.
Since we did not move our camp, with each day we were leaving more trail pointing directly to our
camp. Like the pronghorn antelope we felt safe simply because nothing
had happened for so long.
Late on the fifth afternoon we were returning from town when we were met by a few battered women and children who told us that Mexican troops had attacked our camp. In the first burst of bullets they had killed all the warriors of the guard; Apache had all been conveniently found in the center of the camp, all at one time.
After the first hailing fire the Mexicans moved in and captured all of our pony herd. Some of the best animals had been mine for I was a shrewd trader even before my first kill. The Mexicans secured the weapons we had left so loosely and trustingly in camp, then they burned our supplies, and finally, almost casually, they had bashed in the brains of as many of our women and children as had not yet escaped.
The first babble of information was sufficient to tell us how terrible a destruction had happened. Our chief gave a go-away signal. Quickly we separated and fled from that trail as if it were a fire. We floated, too late, like shadows, from bush to tree and farther out to commanding views where we were concealing ourselves like quail as best we could until nightfall. All Apache from the camp still alive enough to move had found us by then. When we assembled at our appointed place of rendezvous — a thicket by the river we had had several hours without moving in which to think, wonder and hope for the safety of our loved ones.
As if we were ashamed, we stole in silently one by one to our rendezvous point: sentinels were told off and placed on the natural perimeters, and, when all of us were counted, I found that my aged mother, my young wife, and all three of my small children were numbered among the slain. My frail wife had fought so hard for the lives of our children that her head had been bashed in, so forcibly she wasn't even scalped because of all the blood and brains.
There were no lights or fires in this camp, so it was easy for me to slip away without being noticed as soon as I had learned how much I had lost. In a few minutes I found myself standing by the river. The dark waters were chuggling along as if nothing had happened. Little waves lapped at the bank, and an old raccoon came swaying down right beside me and began washing something in the river. I know that hours passed before I stirred again, for the moon had risen half my arm high, but my heart was not lifted and the stars in heaven were forever cold. Apache heart was too heavy even to speak.
When at last I heard the warriors singing for a council I took my place, but I went to stand far in the back. The knowledge came to me with solid conviction that my voice might have carried the decision into disaster for Apache; what the Be-don-ko-he tribe needed right then was a wise leader with many years of experience in dealing with war engagements gone far wrong.
I could have led our tribe into a retaliation so fierce there would not have been a Mexican left alive within five miles of us. And is not that the very reason we have councils? so that wisdom might prevail and Apache safely escape? I had no wisdom to share and thus I stood well in back, numbly listening for any indication where I could help Apache out the most.
The first item established was said that there were only eighty warriors left in the whole tribe. What a massive groan was heard when this was said. Another sub-chief reported that we were now entirely without arms and ammunition. Our bows were smashed, our arrows were gone. We had also lost all our trade goods and supplies. My heart grew heavier with every telling word. Word by word it was hammered home to us that we were entirely surrounded by the Mexicans, without weapons, far inside enemy territory, we could not hope to fight a successful engagement. And it came to pass that our chief, Mangas-Colorado, gave the order to start at once in perfect silence for our homes in Arizona by the light of the moon for naturally we had come across the desert on the filling and were leaving upon its flood. Therefore we had six hours of broad daylight before the sun rose.
I silently signified that I would be part of Apache rear guard of that section that would fade obliquely west -- for we were separating into three portions. It was paramount that at least part of the Be-don-ko-he tribe survive to wail in the mountains of home about this disaster. How else could the rocks of home hear our tale and know our fate unless some came home?
We would not, could not strike back at the Mexicans at that moment. When I heard this wisdom I wanted to cry so loud that the sound of it would sharpen my knife. Then came the worst blow of all. It was decided that we would leave our dead lying upon the field. At this news my heart moaned, but my throat and chest were Apache and not a sound escaped my lips. I could feel the evening breeze touching the soft lips of my wife. I could hear the wind ruffling her skirt, blessing her flesh for sleep and it was all I could do to remain there, to not leave the tribe and by myself alone go to her. But wisdom spoke to me and said this urge was for the peace of my heart, not hers. In our current circumstances she would have been the first to veto any attempt to come back for those bodies. With that knowledge came also the sure knowledge that Mangas-Colorado was the kind of chief I ever would wish to be. For as long as he was with us our councils spoke wisdom, and he followed its natural course, implementing our steps as if he were with each of us every inch of the way.
I stood aside until all of my group had passed. I had no weapon but my stone knife, and at that I was better armed than most. We were a pretty sorry lot, heading out from that catastrophe, but then I didn't wish to fight, anyway; nor did I contemplate any further thought of recovering the bodies of my loved ones, for that was a wisdom forbidden by the council and naturally I could not do anything to endanger all of the tribe that was left.
It has been said that I vowed vengeance on that field. But no, my sons, my heart was too heavy for this. If a Mexican trooper in full regalia had suddenly appeared before me and given me a rifle then bid me point it at his breast and fire I could not have done it for the life of me. My limbs were as thin, reedy water in a hot wind and my thoughts were full of tragedy.
I did not pray, nor did I resolve to do any particular course at all. But, I had no purpose left. At the proper time I simply turned and followed my part of the tribe. My steps fell silently, keeping me just within hearing distance of the soft noise of the feet of the retreating Apaches moving through the brush ahead of me. Naturally I paused frequently on solid stone to listen with my feet for any sign of pursuit.
The next morning some of the forward Apache scouts killed a small amount of game and we halted long enough for the tribe to pull a dead ironwood tree over beneath a spreading mesquite so we could cook and eat in safety. I had killed no game, and did not eat, even though there were hands stretched my way behind eyes stricken with sympathy for my loss.
During the council I had not spoken, nor at the river, nor at the camp where we ate. All that day I spoke to no one and no one spoke to me — But then, there was nothing to say. We had been attacked without warning and the massacre had been a routing success, for our enemy the Mexicans.
For two days and three nights we were on forced marches with scouts out before us and scouts out behind even me. There was no stopping, save only for meals when the right circumstances graced us. When we made our first rest camp it was near the Mexican border. There we rested two days. Here I took some food and talked with the other warriors who had lost someone in the massacre, but none had lost as I had, for I had lost all. Every one that I loved had been killed and I had not been there to die for them or die with them. My heart was heavy and my words were slow.
Naiche, His Mother, His Two Wives
and His Children
Within a few
days we arrived at our own home settlement. There to greet me were the decorations that Alope had made —
and there in half shadow were the playthings of our little ones. With a great gnashing of
my teeth I burned
them all, even our tepee, which was not required. I also burned my mother's tepee and destroyed all her
property. This I did for her as a dutiful son. The flames of her
rose in the smoke and floated up to vanish in the clouds. I
knew that I would never see her like again. She was perfect
maid to my father.
I was never again contented in our quiet home. True, I could visit my father's grave, but my wife, and my children had no graves and I could not behold his grave without perceiving the graves they had not. The stones of our mountains called me from our home and it is good that I went. Lonely flutes told our sad tale and the echoes were ever with me.
It was in those days alone that I wandered the mountains, practicing for hours with my bow that I now vowed vengeance upon the Mexicans who had wronged me, and whenever I came near my father's grave or saw anything to remind me of former happy days in the mountains my heart would ache again for revenge upon the nation of Mexico.
So good was my marking noch that I quickly primed enough fur to strike a bargain for an old rifle, and then for a young mare. The mare turned out to be far the greater bargain. If she could but hear my whistle she would gallop to me with great speed.
Together we stalked the desert wild cat and El Tigre. It came to pass that my old rifle could hear my eyes sing and my bullets would fly through the brush to bring down what my eyes had looked upon. Together we were amassing a fortune in furs and good medicine. I traded some for more horses and three young burros.
It took some sharp hunting and shrewd bartering skills to build up my arsenal of war again. The wild geese came just when we needed more arrows. Eight of us made eight more arrows and they were blessed by the eight of us to fly true. As soon as our tribe had again collected some arms and supplies Mangas-Colorado, our chief, called a council and we certified that all the warriors of the tribe were willing and anxious to take the warpath against Mexico. Being young, and because it was said that I spoke well, and had lost all, I was appointed to solicit the aid of the other Apache tribes in this war.
When I went to the Chokonen (Chiricahua) Apaches, Co-Chise, their chief, listened to me that night, and called a tribal council at early dawn. Silently the warriors assembled at an open place in a mountain dell and took their seats on the ground, arranged in rows according to their family ranks. Silently they sat smoking. At a signal from Co-Chise I arose and presented my cause as follows:
"Kinsman, the mountains have not been silent to our wailing calls; you have heard the stones tell you what the Mexicans have recently done to us without cause. All that I had were wiped, gone from me that day, but even if a Mexican had appeared before me and given me a rifle then bid me point it at his breast and fire I could not have done it. My heart was too heavy and my tongue so slow it had no words to say. This same sorrow the Mexicans shall feel after I raid them in their homes.
"My tribe goes now on the warpath. You are our relatives — you are our uncles, cousins, brothers. We can do to them what they have done to us. Let us go forward and trail them — I will lead you to the heart of their city — we will attack them in their homes. I will fight in the front of the battle. For every member of our tribe that perished at their hands a hundred Mexicans will disappear from the earth from my own hands.
"When they see me rise from the shadows with lightning flashing in my hands they shall scream my name at the clouds and throw down their arms as they turn to flee in terror. This is what I say to you from my own lips so you know it is true.
"You know that the Mexican Government offers a reward in gold for all Apache scalps — We have heard it would pay one hundred dollars in gold for a warrior's scalp, fifty dollars for a woman's scalp, and twenty-five dollars for a child's scalp. Until now only a few of us traveling alone have been killed and our scalps taken. Now they have attacked a whole tribe; many scalps were taken and the flesh of our people was left to rot for the buzzards. I ask you to follow my tribe on the warpath, to avenge this wrong done by these Mexicans.. My people have all been killed in that country, and I, too, will die if need be. — will you come? AH! It is well — you will all come.
"Remember the Apache rule in war — men may return or they may be killed. If any of these young men are killed I want no blame from their kinsmen, for they themselves have chosen to go. I have lost all that I had, if I am killed in this matter no one need mourn for me."
I returned to my own settlement, reported this huge success to Mangas-Colorado, and I was immediately despatched to the southward into the land of the Nedni Apaches. Their chief, Whoa, heard me without comment in his tepee, but he immediately called for a council, and when all were ready gave a sign that I might speak. I addressed them as I had addressed the Chokonen tribe, and they also promised to help us.
After a council of the warriors had deliberated, and had prepared for the warpath we danced. In this dance there is the usual singing led by the warriors and accompanied with the beating of the "esadadene," but the dancing is more violent, and yells and war whoops sometimes almost drown the music. Only warriors participated in this dance.
It was in the summer of 1859, almost a year from the date of the massacre of Kaskiyeh, that these three tribes were assembled on the Mexican border to go upon the warpath. Their faces were painted, the war bands fastened upon their brows, their long scalp-locks ready for taunting the hand and knife of any warrior who could overcome them.
Our families had been hidden away in a mountain rendezvous near the Mexican border. With these families a stout guard was posted with a strict injunction to be eternally vigilant for the rustle of ambush. A number of places of rendezvous were designated in case the camp should be disturbed.
When all were ready the chieftains gave command to go forward. Our horses were left behind. In battle, if the fight was hard, we did not wish much clothing about our person for each scrap of clothing is ample opportunity for a prison grasp where naked flesh could slip away. None of us moving forward were mounted and each warrior wore moccasins and also a cloth wrapped about his loins. This cloth could be spread over Apache when he slept, and when on the march would be ample protection as clothing. Each warrior carried three days' rations, but as we often killed game while on the march, we seldom were without food anyway.
We traveled in three divisions: the Bedonkohe Apaches led by Mangas-Colorado, the Chokonen Apaches by Co-Chise, and the Nedni Apaches by Whoa; however, there was no regular order inside the separate tribes. We usually marched about fourteen hours per day, making only three stops for meals. This happy pace usually carried us forty to forty-five miles a day, which is more miles than many pindos can travel on horses across those lands -- and we were traveling only in a leisurely gait, stopping often for food and fun.
I acted as the guide scout going into Mexico, and we followed the river courses and mountain ranges because we could better thereby keep our movements concealed. We entered Sonora and went southward past Quitaco, Nacozari, and many smaller settlements. I remembered them all in my sleep and we filed right past them as if they weren't even there. No one could say they had seen us pass.
When we were almost at Arispe we camped. Eight of us mounted up and rode forward to stand near the town until we were seen. Soon, eight men rode out from the city as if to parley with us. I waited until they had dismounted and turned their faces our way. Those with me stood still as I lunged forward at the eight men before me. The eyes of the entire town were upon me as my knife flashed and slashed. Their blood was spurting everywhere and they began falling to the earth with great groans and many shivering currents of shock.
Just because there were so many of them trying to get away from me I was afraid some of them would escape. "Bend them back to me," I pleaded.
Thus it was that my fellow warriors began to knee the witless few left back towards me so they would not escape. Their blood was hot on my hands but my grip never slackened for I knew the way of the slanting stone and I drew more blood with each swipe until there were only three men left, one with no eyes left to see with.
The town saw me pause to gather strength and they clasped their hands together and began to beg me to let their men live. "Jerone, Jerone, por favor." I paused then and turned my gaze to the onlookers inside the village. I raised my knife high so the sun would catch its glint. "Jerone, Jerone," I taunted them. "No favor!"
With that I leaped forward once more and slashed open the throat of one, and kicked the brains out of another that came to beg for his life. The last one gave me the most pleasure. His hands stretched out in petition and I thought how hard my wife and children, our brothers and sisters must have wanted to live. I grabbed that man by the hair of his head and slung him around in front of me. Then I straddled him from behind and leaned forward to give my arm an extra long stroke. Deep and savagely I raked the stone knife upwards from his belly node to his nose. There was much blood come from him before he died.
It was done. It was finished. I stood up and ordered the scalping be done. While this happened I raked my gaze across those bleached faces in the town. My knife hung poised above me as if for one last slash. I know they heard what my soul was telling them. "Tomorrow it will be your turn. Look for it. Wait for it. Your time shall come."
When the scalping was complete I called for a lance and put all eight scalps upon the beam. This I hoisted to be seen, then cried with a loud voice. "Manana, Manana."
Suddenly there were none of them left watching, for they turned and fled. My brother warriors also took half a step away from my hand. I ordered them to come back so I could explain what would now happen. "For one hour not one soul shall move. Then there will be men posted to go for help. These we must count coup on, but do so outside of the village where this cannot be seen.
"We will hold them living until the morrow dawns bright, then we will bring them all forward so they can be counted by many eyes. Then those with a grievance may step forward and decide the fate of one man in my sight. This will draw the warriors from the city before the last man falls -- and you shall see them come. They shall rush forward as firmly packed together as a sturdy wall -- and our war arrows shall snatch the light from their eyes and their voices shall tremble weak."
It was from this very hour forward that even the bravest of men shrank back from me with their eyes worried hollow. Even Mangas-Colorado watched me with eyes narrowed as if thinking in words deep of thought. I did not ask for this; it came of its own will and has brought me no peace.
By Lin Stone
|There were many eagles
in our mountains. These we hunted for their feathers. It required
great skill to steal up on an eagle. Besides having sharp eyes
that can see for miles as easily as we see to the end of our hands,
he is a wise wary bird that never lights first at some place where
he has a good view of the surrounding country. Like a good
Apache he studies the land all the way around before he goes to the
ground to pick up his meal. Knowing this, we can bait him in
to a new ambush, or we can lie in wait at spots where he lights
often, to go fishing from. When this is a favorite tree all we
have to do is get in close before she arrives. Every time he
takes off to pick up a fish, we move in closer, until at last we can
pick him off and bring him down.
Eagle couples often marry for life so it is an act of kindness to take both of them out at the same time. Eagle couples seldom hatch more than four little ones each year so we took care to bring down no more than we actually needed. If I had to die and come back as some animal, I would choose to return to earth as an eagle.
I have killed many bears with only a spear, and I was never injured in a fight with one. I have killed several mountain lions with arrows, and one with a spear. Both bears and mountain lions are considered good for food, and valuable for their skin. When we killed them we carried them home on our horses so the whole tribe could see how brave we were on the hunt. We often made quivers for our arrows from the skin of the mountain lion. These were very pretty, smooth and very durable.
Hunting mountain lions is not as hard as many people make it out to be. Many times I have climbed right up into the tree with them and bring them down with one arrow. If they grow scarce we can bait them in with a bleating goat. Otherwise we pick out where animals go to water and then move back to look for places where the lion might choose to use for ambush of its next meal. Some of these cats are big enough that they can bring down grown horses. El Tigre would try for a colt instead. Even a large wild cat can bring down a mule deer if it has enough experience to land in its proper place for killing. Deer that feel that dreaded claw bite into their skin will simply bolt and never think again. The cat in the proper position can rip the throat open; with every leap that deer is losing more blood. When blood is spurting it isn't long before the mind can no longer function.
Hunting bears with a spear is more fun than hunting lions and quite often there is more meat and larger hides from the bear. Those who hunt in pairs are seldom hurt, especially if they kill the bear before it becomes angry. Once you hear that "Woof, Woof" of impending attack you can expect the bear to try using his weight to end the fight. When this happens, both warriors must be ready to draw close together and take turns challenging the bear their way while the other warrior moves in for a killing maneuver. If the two warriors succeed in confusing the bear they can walk backwards and leave it, if no meat is needed.
All the bears I have met and killed depended on the raking blow to break the victim's neck or at least to rake the hide deep enough to strike some vital organ. Their killing swing is from their out side to their in side. This is so even when they are fighting a humming bird. I have never seen a bear use a forward jab. Therefore, with a killing edge on the spear I jab close to the bear, but off to the outside. When the bear swings to brush my spear aside she also gives my spear incredible speed and penetrating power. All I have to do is guide that blade to a killing place, and hang on, grab it back low to me and go in again. As long as the bear is alive and in a killing mood she will be helping me make a killing move. Hunting bears with a spear is more fun than hunting lions with a bow; but the enemy I prize the most, is man. Taking a man's life in combat, before the whole tribe lifts my spirit high so that I can see the battle scene as from the eyes of the eagle and rush to where the battle is the thickest. Such have been my exploits in murder and mayhem that the cry of "GERONIMO!" is often enough challenge that it freezes an entire Mexican village.
In the summer (1861) with twelve warriors I again went into Mexico. We entered Chihuahua and followed south on the east side of the Sierra Madre Mountains four days' journey; then crossed over to the Sierra de Sahuaripa range, not far east of Casa Grande. Here we rested one day, and sent two good warriors out as scouts to reconnoiter. They reported pack trains camped five miles west of us. I dreamed of much booty that night, and a thousand enemy scalps.
The next morning just at daybreak when these drivers were harnessing their mule pack train, we attacked them with a coyote ruse -- a shaking of branches and rustling of brush, much noise, as if we were 50 warriors strong. At first they were stunned, then I leaped into view with nothing but my knife in my hand. "GERONIMO!"
They broke ranks and rode away for their lives, leaving us with every bit of the booty. The mules were loaded with provisions, most of which we took home. Two mules were loaded with side-meat or -- as you would say today -- bacon; this we decided to throw away.
It was too much booty, but I insisted that we take all of it anyway. Because we had captured so much booty, we needed every warrior with us to help with the mules. Worse yet, we chose to go home by traveling straight north, drunk on our success. With every hot step I could see visions of the roaring flames being shook off in a great victory celebration. The other warriors were yelping in high spirits and started to take these pack trains home, going northward through Sonora, but when we drew near to Casita, Mexican troops overtook us.
This too happened just at daybreak and we had not completed our breakfasts. The truth is, we were gorging on the booty. I thought nothing of this, fearing nothing even though we had posted no guards. Therefore, we had no idea that we had been pursued or even that our enemies were near us until the very moment they opened a hot, peppering fire.
At the very first volley a bullet struck me a glancing lick just at the lower corner of the left eye where the skull soon grows thin -- and I fell, dead at the impact, but only unconscious as it turned out. All the other Indians fled to cover like quails. The Mexicans, thinking me dead, started in pursuit of the fleeing Indians. In a few moments my eyes fluttered open and discovered I was not bound -- or dead -- not even scalped. In fact, I was quite alone, but I could hear the chase developing, and I lunged off at full speed to get into the battle.
But just as I got up to speed another company hove into view. They opened fire on me in a vicious volley. Bullets were singing all around me in a volume to blur the rising crescendo of our locusts. I had stopped to give them a better target so they would waste all their ammunition. But, just then the whole troop of soldiers who had been chasing the other Indians turned in from the woods and suddenly I stood between two hostile companies. I knew the other Apaches would not return to help me, so I curled myself around as an eagle dancer might do, grabbing huge gobs of sand and flinging it over my head to make a dust in the early morning's unstirring wind. When the Mexican soldiers saw I was disappearing right in front of them the bullets began to blaze again.
I leaped into the air and screamed "GERONIMO!" each time. I was feinting a move towards the west and their bullets were trying to get ahead of me. Once more I curled myself low to the ground and threw up great gobs of dust; then stood up, but I did not stand there long. I lunged full length to the west, curled up, and began crawling on my belly in a rapid snake crawl.
This plan was exceedingly well executed, but when I came to my feet I stood there nose-to-nose with a Mexican soldier. He was shocked to see me appear out of thin air, as it were, and hauled back on his reins. I hauled down on his reins at the same moment and the horse began bucking. It would have been bad medicine for this Mexican to get away from me so I grabbed his hand on the reins and hauled him down to my level. Before his feet touched the ground good I had cut the scream off in his throat.
With his silent blessing urging me onward, I took off to the hills where I would find my friends. Bullets whistled in from every direction and came so close to me that I heard their zing. One bullet tore a chunk out of my leg and still had enough power to kill the horse. I was flung out of the saddle and then received yet another slight flesh wound on my side, but I leaped from the saddle and took off -- running, dodging, doubling back and fighting -- until I got clear of my pursuers for a moment. There was a ravine leading off to my right and this I followed until I was out of sight. There was a chance they had not seen my change of direction, so I paused until I heard hooves clinking on the stones. Then I clambered to the top and climbed up a steep canyon, where the cavalry could not follow. The troopers saw me, but very wisely, they did not dismount and try to follow. A few shots rattled around me and I turned to face them As loud as I could I screamed an eagle's scream, then bellowed against the rocks, "GERONIMO!" An echo boomed back at me from the mountain, "GERONIMO! -- GERONIMO!"
And so it came to pass that I finished climbing the side wall and slipped away towards the north. It had been understood that in case of surprise with this booty, our place of rendezvous should be the Santa Bita Mountains in Arizona. We did not reassemble in Mexico, but traveled separately and in three days we were encamped in our place of rendezvous. From this place we sadly returned home empty-handed. We had not even a partial victory to report. I again returned wounded. Again I was blamed by our people, and again I had no reply, but I was not yet discouraged.
Many of the warriors had gone on a hunt and some of them had gone north to trade for blankets from the Navajo Indians. I remained at home trying to get my wounds healed. One morning just at daybreak, when the women were lighting the camp fires to prepare breakfast, three companies of Mexican troops who had surrounded our settlement in the night opened fire. There was no time for fighting. Men, women, and children dove for the brush like quails, and fled for their lives. Many women and children and a few warriors were killed, and four women were captured. My left eye was still swollen shut, but the other could see well enough for me to hit one of the officers with an arrow. He had so many medals on his chest the arrow bounced away, but in the silence I made good my escape among the rocks. The Mexican troopers burned our tepees and took our arms, provisions, ponies, and blankets.
Winter was at hand and the name "GERONIMO" did not keep anyone's feet warm. There were not more than twenty warriors left in camp at this time, and only a few of us had secured weapons during the excitement of the attack. A few warriors followed the trail of the troops as they went back to Mexico with their booty, but were unable to offer battle. It was a long, long time before we were again able to go on the warpath against the Mexicans.
The four women who were captured at this time by the Mexicans were taken into Sonora, Mexico, where they were compelled to work for the Mexicans. After some years they escaped to the mountains and started to find our tribe. They had knives which they had stolen from the Mexicans, but they had no other weapons. They had no blankets; so at night they would make a little tepee by cutting brush with their knives, and setting them up for the walls. The top was covered over with brush. In this temporary tepee they would all sleep. One night when their camp fire was low they heard growling just outside the tepee. Francisco, the youngest woman of the party (about seventeen years of age), started to build up the fire, when a mountain lion crashed through the tepee and attacked her. The suddenness of the attack made her drop her knife, but she fought as best she could with her hand. She was no match for the lion, however; her left shoulder was crushed and partly torn away. The lion kept trying to catch her by the throat; this she prevented with her hands for a long time. He dragged her for about 300 yards, then she found her strength was failing her from loss of blood, and she called to the other women for help. The lion had been dragging her by one foot, and she had been catching hold of his legs, and of the rocks and underbrush, to delay him. Finally he stopped and stood over her. She again called her companions and they attacked him with their knives and killed him. Then they dressed her wounds and nursed her in the mountains for about a month. When she was again able to walk they resumed their journey and reached our tribe in safety.
Asa Deklugie, Wife and Children
This woman (Francisco) was held as a prisoner of war with the other Apaches and died on the Fort Sill Reservation in 1892. Her face was always disfigured with those scars and she never regained perfect use of her hands. The three older women died before we became prisoners of war.
Many women and children were carried away at different times by Mexicans. Not many of them ever returned, and those who did underwent many hardships in order to be again united with their people. Those who did not escape were held as slaves to the Mexicans, or perhaps even more degraded.
When warriors were captured by the Mexicans they were kept in chains. Four warriors who were captured once at a place north of Casa Grande, called by the Indians "Honas," were kept in chains for a year and a half, when they were exchanged for Mexicans whom we had captured.
We never chained prisoners or kept them in confinement, but they seldom got away. Mexican men when captured were compelled to cut wood and herd horses. Mexican women and children were treated as our own people.
In the summer of 1862 I took eight fine warriors that knew how to run and invaded Mexican territory. We went south on the west side of the Sierra Madre Mountains for five days; then in the night crossed over to the southern part of the Sierra de Sahuaripa range. Here we again camped to watch for pack trains. About ten o'clock next morning four drivers, mounted, came past our camp with a pack-mule train. As soon as they saw us they rode for their lives, leaving us the booty without a shot being fired.
This was a long train from Santa Fe, and packed with blankets, calico, saddles, tinware, and loaf sugar. We hurried home as fast as we could with these provisions, and on our return while passing through a cañon in the Santa Catilina range of mountains in Arizona, met a white man driving a mule pack train. When we first saw him he had already seen us, and was riding at full tilt up the cañon. We examined his train and found that his mules were all loaded with cheese. We put them in with the other train and resumed our journey. We did not attempt to trail the driver and I am sure he did not try to follow us.
In two days we arrived at home. Then Mangas-Colorado, our chief, assembled the tribe. We gave a feast, divided the spoils, and danced all night. Some of the pack mules were killed and eaten.
This time after our return we kept out scouts so that we would know if Mexican troops should attempt to follow us.
On the third day our scouts came into camp and reported Mexican cavalry dismounted and approaching our settlement. All our warriors were in camp. Mangas-Colorado took command of one division and I of the other. We hoped to get possession of their horses, then surround the troops in the mountains, and destroy the whole company. This we were unable to do, for they, too, had scouts. However, within four hours after we started we had killed ten troopers with the loss of only one man, and the Mexican cavalry was in full retreat, followed by thirty armed Apaches, who gave them no rest until they were far inside the Mexican country. No more troops came that winter.
Natchie Goody John Loco Porico Jasen
Hugh Sam Kelburn Asa Deklugie
For a long time we had plenty of provisions, plenty of blankets, and plenty of clothing. We also had plenty of cheese and sugar.
Another summer (1863) I selected three warriors and went on a raid into Mexico. We went south into Sonora, camping in the Sierra de Sahuaripa Mountains. About forty miles west of Casa Grande is a small village in the mountains, called by the Indians "Crassanas." We camped near this place and concluded to make an attack. We had noticed that just at midday no one seemed to be stirring; so we planned to make our attack at the noon hour. The next day we stole into the town at noon. We had no guns, but were armed with spears and bows and arrows. When the war-whoop was given to open the attack the Mexicans fled in every direction; not one of them made any attempt to fight us.
We shot some arrows at the retreating Mexicans, but killed only one. Soon all was silent in the town and no Mexicans could be seen.
When we discovered that all the Mexicans were gone we looked through their houses and saw many curious things. These Mexicans kept many more kinds of property than the Apaches did. Many of the things we saw in the houses we could not understand, but in the stores we saw much that we wanted; so we drove in a herd of horses and mules, and packed as much provisions and supplies as we could on them. Then we formed these animals into a pack train and returned safely to Arizona. The Mexicans did not even trail us.
When we arrived in camp we called the tribe together and feasted all day. We gave presents to everyone. That night the dance began, and it did not cease until noon the next day.
This was perhaps the most successful raid ever made by us into Mexican territory. I do not know the value of the booty, but it was very great, for we had supplies enough to last our whole tribe for a year or more.
In the fall of 1864 twenty warriors were willing to go with me on another raid into Mexico. These were all chosen men, well armed and equipped for battle. As usual we provided for the safety of our families before starting on this raid. Our whole tribe scattered and then reassembled at a camp about forty miles from the former place. In this way it would be hard for the Mexicans to trail them and we would know where to find our families when we returned. Moreover, if any hostile Indians should see this large number of warriors leaving our range they might attack our camp, but if they found no one at the usual place their raid would fail.
We went south through the Chokonen Apaches' range, entered Sonora, Mexico, at a point directly south of Tombstone, Arizona, and went into hiding in the Sierra de Antunez Mountains.
We attacked several settlements in the neighborhood and secured plenty of provisions and supplies. After about three days we attacked and captured a mule pack train at a place called by the Indians "Pontoco." It is situated in the mountains due west, about one day's journey from Arispe.
There were three drivers with this train. One was killed and two escaped. The train was loaded with mescal, which was contained in bottles held in wicker baskets. As soon as we made camp the Indians began to get drunk and fight each other. I, too, drank enough mescal to feel the effect of it, but I was not drunk. I ordered the fighting stopped, but the order was disobeyed. Soon almost a general fight was in progress. I tried to place a guard out around our camp, but all were drunk and refused to serve. I expected an attack from Mexican troops at any moment, and really it was a serious matter for me, for being in command I would be held responsible for any ill luck attending the expedition. Finally the camp became comparatively still, for the Indians were too drunk to walk or even to fight. While they were in this stupor I poured out all the mescal, then I put out all the fires and moved the pack mules to a considerable distance from camp. After this I returned to camp to try to do something for the wounded. I found that only two were dangerously wounded. From the leg of one of these I cut an arrow head, and from the shoulder of another I withdrew a spear point. When all the wounds had been cared for, I myself kept guard till morning. The next day we loaded our wounded on the pack mules and started for Arizona.
The next day we captured come cattle from a herd and drove them home with us. But it was a very difficult matter to drive cattle when we were on foot. Caring for the wounded and keeping the cattle from escaping made our journey tedious. But we used our mending wounded for scouts to make sure we were not trailed, and arrived safely at home with all the booty. It was a rousing good time to be alive.
We then gave a feast and dance, and divided the spoils. After the dance we killed all the cattle and dried the meat. We dressed the hides and then the dried meat was packed in between these hides and stored away. All that winter we had plenty of meat. These were the first cattle we ever had. As usual we killed and ate some of the mules. We had little use for mules, and if we could not trade them for something of value, we killed them.
In the summer of 1865, with four warriors, I went again into Mexico. Heretofore we had gone on foot; we were accustomed to fight on foot; besides, we could more easily conceal ourselves when dismounted. But this time we wanted more cattle, and it was hard to drive them when we were on foot. We entered Sonora at a point southwest from Tombstone, Arizona, and followed the Sierra de Antunez Mountains to the southern limit, then crossed the country as far south as the mouth of Yaqui River. Here we saw a great lake extending beyond the limit of sight. Then we turned north, attacked several settlements, and secured plenty of supplies. When we had come back northwest of Arispe we secured about sixty head of cattle, and drove them to our homes in Arizona. We did not go directly home, but camped in different valleys with our cattle. We were not trailed. When we arrived at our camp the tribe was again assembled for feasting and dancing. Presents were given to everybody; then the cattle were killed and the meat dried and packed.
In the fall of 1865 with nine other warriors I went into Mexico on foot. We attacked several settlements south of Casa Grande, and collected many horses and mules. We made our way northward with these animals through the mountains. When near Arispe we made camp one evening, and thinking that we were not being trailed, turned loose the whole herd, even those we had been riding. They were in a valley surrounded by steep mountains, and we were camped at the mouth of this valley so that the animals could not leave without coming through our camp. Just as we had begun to eat our supper our scouts came in and announced Mexican troops coming toward our camp. We started for the horses, but troops that our scouts had not seen were on the cliffs above us, and opened fire. We scattered in all directions, and the troops recovered all our booty. In three days we reassembled at our appointed place of rendezvous in the Sierra Madre Mountains in northern Sonora. Mexican troops did not follow us, and we returned to Arizona without any more fighting and with no booty. Again I had nothing to say, but I was anxious for another raid.
Early the next summer (1866) I took thirty mounted warriors and invaded Mexican territory. We went south through Chihuahua as far as Santa Cruz, Sonora, then crossed over the Sierra Madre Mountains, following the river course at the south end of the range. We kept on westward from the Sierra Madre Mountains to the Sierra de Sahuripa Mountains, and followed that range northward. We collected all the horses, mules, and cattle we wanted, and drove them northward through Sonora into Arizona. Mexicans saw us at many times and in many places, but they did not attack us at any time, nor did any troops attempt to follow us. When we arrived at our homes we gave presents to all, and the tribe feasted and danced. During this raid we had killed about fifty Mexicans.
THREE APACHE CHIEFTAINS
Naiche, son of Co-Chise; Asa, son of Whoa; Charley, son of Victoria
Next year (1867) Mangas-Colorado led eight warriors on a raid into Mexico. I went along as a warrior, for I was always glad to fight the Mexicans. But a peculiar event happened along the way. After we left Co-Chise we rode south until we circled to avoid Tombstone and began our dip into Sonora, Mexico. We were met by a large herd of cows being hazed by some cowboys who were being attacked from behind by some caballeros.
There were only eight of us but we lined up out of sight against the bluffs. When the cowboys were right up against us we rose up from the brush and wiped them out. The Mexicans heard the firing and approached with caution. All they found were the dead cowboys and a herd of cattle grazing peacefully. They rounded up their cattle and hurried them home with anxious glances over their shoulders, all the way. Eighty beeves were left behind and these we were soon driving homeward, but had no scouts out because there were only eight of us.
When we were not far from Arispe, Mexican troops suddenly rode down upon us. They were well armed and well mounted, and when we first saw them they were not half a mile away from us. We left the cattle and rode as hard as we could toward the mountains, but they gained on us rapidly. Soon they opened fire, but were so far away from us that we were unable to reach them with our arrows; finally we reached some timber, and, leaving our ponies, fought from cover. Then the Mexicans halted, collected our ponies, and rode away across the plains toward Arispe, driving our cattle back south with them.
All we could do was stand there and watch them until they disappeared in the distance. When Mangas-Colorado glanced at me all I could do was shrug. So he turned and led our sad march for home on foot. I tried to turn the march into a game, but the other warriors were too sad to play.
So swift was our 400 mile march that we arrived home in five days, but with no victory to report, no spoils to divide, and not even one hair from the ponies which we had ridden into Mexico with, either. The results of this expedition was considered disgraceful by the tribe. Mangas-Colorado took all the blame, but far too many other warriors glanced upon the rest of us with narrowed eyes.
Consequently, the other warriors who had accompanied Mangas-Colorado on this last expedition demanded a return to Mexico. They felt too keenly the taunts of the other warriors. Mangas-Colorado ducked his head to study the terrain at his feet and said not a word; he would not lead us back, so I volunteered to lead them. Six of us took off on foot, directly toward Arispe in Sonora, and made our camp in the Sierra de Sahuripa Mountains.
There were only six of us, but we raided several settlements (at night), captured many horses and mules, and loaded them with provisions, saddles and blankets. Then we returned to Arizona, traveling only at night and bunching up in some canyon during the day.
When we arrived home with all our booty the tribe sent out scouts to prevent any surprise by Mexicans, assembled for the feast. We danced by firelight, and divided the spoils. The only sadness was that Mangas-Colorado would not receive any of this booty. As our chief he had a large share coming which we did not begrudge one bit. Not only had he led us well in the previous raid, he had also kept the tribe safe from harm while we were gone. "No one can win all the battles," I told him. "A chief like you we will always need."
No Mexican troops had followed us to our home in Arizona. However, about a year after this (1868) Mexican troops made a bold invasion of Apache lands in Arizona. We hadn't even heard damage reports from the other tribes before we discovered they were knocking on our doors. They must have sent half their forces rushing on up to our homeland. They rounded up all the horses and mules of the tribe, that had been grazing, not far from our settlement.
It had been almost fourteen months since Apaches had made raids into Mexico. Several of the other tribes had gone down with a load of trade goods. Anyone could see we were willing to break the arrow and lay the tomahawk down. Therefore, we were not expecting any attacks to open the war again.
Fortunately, for our women and children, our warriors were all in camp, having just returned from hunting.
The first we knew of the attack was when the sun was just off noon and falling when two Mexican scouts were seen skulking near our settlement. They must have been sent to make sure we did not hear the rustling of our stock. We quickly killed these scouts, but while we concentrated on that, the real body of troops had gotten under way with the entire herd of our horses and mules.
A fast council was held, but the tribe decided it was useless for us to try to overtake them on foot. It was so hard to believe our tribe had not a horse left that the tribe mourned as if great deaths had visited us. And, to be put on foot so suddenly is a real shock to anyone, but mourning is for women.
I know this kind of shock our tribe was in, and I have always planned my attacks to deliver the same kind of shock to the enemy in return. When I took up my bow and arrows to bring our stock back single handedly, a host of eager warriors demanded the privilege of going with me. I chose the best twenty warriors we had that knew how to slip into the coyote lope, and we easily trailed the Mexicans. Apache scouts working for the army made great shows of getting down to study tracks left in the sand, hah! Trailing anyone is easy when you know they have just stolen your horses and are headed home. Our lands are not flat and there are certain landmarks that a herd of horses heading south must pass. We picked the nearest and dearest, and headed off in a lope and a route that would soon wear horses out. Two rotating scouts were out on the flanks so we couldn't possible lose the trail.
Perhaps the Mexicans were mounted on horses and us on foot but we slipped into the coyote lope that eats up the miles and we trailed the stock right down to a cattle ranch in Sonora, not far from Nacozari. We watched the caballeros until the sun set, then we crept forward until it wasn't even fun any more. I whistled for my horse to come to me and he searched for an easy way out, then began to tear down the corral he was in. When his clattering began we rose from the shadows and attacked the caballeros who had our stock in charge. We killed two men in the first burst of gunfire. The rest dived back into cover and left us to claim our horses alone, therefore we lost no warriors at all. In our anger we drove off all of our own stock and all of theirs as well. If I could have latched onto the big adobe casa of "El Patron" I would have brought it off with us too, I was so angry.
The moon gave us no help, but I kneed my horse into going home and the rest of them followed us, the other warriors followed the horses. About five hours later, one of our rear scouts came back in to say we were being trailed by nine jingling caballeros, lashing their horses to a killing lather. After a brief council I sent the stock on ahead with one of our steadiest drovers on my horse. The others followed them at a stepped up pace. I chose our three best warriors on horseback to come with me so that we could stay in the rear to intercept any attacking parties. They must have lost us in the dark. As we approached the Arizona line we discovered these nine jingling caballeros were back on our trail.
We watched them make camp for the night and picket their horses close to hand. The three of us worked closer and studied the terrain for attack so that when dark came we would not stumble. When I smelled dark midnight we stole into their cozy camp shadows and silently we led away all nine of their horses at one time, leaving the cowboys still fast asleep. Then we rode hard and overtook our companions.
We turned these horses in with the herd. The other Warriors laughed long and hard at our little trick. But the chance for danger overtaking us was not over yet, so we three fell back once again to intercept anyone who might trail us. What these nine caballeros did next morning I do not know, I do know they did not follow us, for we were not molested. When we arrived in camp at home there was great rejoicing in the tribe. In the celebration for returned horses and mules it was considered a good trick to steal the horses and mules and leave the Mexican cowboys sound asleep in the mountains, dreaming about dancing and romancing.
Chief of Kiowas Apache War Chief
When the Pindos came, at first they were just a mild distraction, like a blow fly that wants to lay its eggs inside your mouth and won't let you alone. All the time I was growing up we had never seen a missionary or a priest. Nor had I ever seen a Pindo. Thus so quietly had lived the Be-don-ko-he Apaches before the Pindos came. Our first Pindos looked so pathetic that I was slow to learn that a Pindo was more vicious than a wounded bear.
About the time of the massacre of "Kaskiyeh" (1858) we heard that some white men were measuring land to the south of us. In company with a number of other warriors I went to visit them. We could not understand them very well, for we had no interpreter, but we made a treaty with them by shaking hands and promising to be brothers. Then we made our camp near their camp, and they came to trade with us. We gave them buckskin, blankets, and ponies in exchange for shirts and provisions. We also brought them game, for which they gave us some money. We did not know the value of this money, but we kept it and later learned from the Navajo Indians that it was very valuable.
Every day they measured land with curious instruments and put down marks which we could not understand. They were good men, and we were sorry when they had gone on into the west. They were not soldiers. These were the first white men I ever saw.
About ten years later some more white men came. These were all warriors. They made their camp on the Gila River south of Hot Springs. At first they were friendly and we did not dislike them, but they were not as good as those who came first.
After about a year some trouble arose between them and the Indians, and I took the warpath as a warrior, not as a chief. I had not been wronged, but some of my people had been, and I fought with my tribe; for the soldiers and not the Indians were at fault.
Not long after this some of the officers of the United States troops invited our leaders to hold a conference at Apache Pass (Fort Bowie). Just before noon the Indians were shown into a tent and told that they would be given something to eat. When in the tent they were attacked by soldiers. Our chief, Mangas-Colorado, and several other warriors, by cutting through the tent, escaped; but most of the warriors were killed or captured. Among the Bedonkohe Apaches killed at this time were Sanza, Kladetahe, Niyokahe, and Gopi. After this treachery the Indians went back to the mountains and left the fort entirely alone. I do not think that the agent had anything to do with planning this, for he had always treated us well. I believe it was entirely planned by the soldiers.
From the very first the soldiers sent out to our western country, and the officers in charge of them, did not hesitate to provoke the Apaches. They never explained to the Government when an Indian was wronged, but always reported the misdeeds of the Indians. Much that was done by mean white men was reported at Washington as the deeds of my people.
The Indians always tried to live peaceably with the white soldiers and settlers when their boundaries were set; but they would move the boundaries almost from day to day. John C. Cremony was the only white man to become fluent in the Apache language that I knew of. To everyone else we were an enemy to be destroyed, by lead, or by lies. One day during the time that the soldiers were stationed at Apache Pass I made a treaty with the post. This was done by shaking hands and promising to be brothers. Co-Chise and Mangas-Colorado did likewise. I do not know the name of the officer in command, but this was the first regiment that ever came to Apache Pass. This treaty was made about a year before we were attacked in a tent, as above related. In a few days after the attack at Apache Pass we organized in the mountains and returned to fight the soldiers. There were two tribes — the Bedonkohe and the Chokonen Apaches, both commanded by Co-Chise. After a few days' skirmishing we attacked a freight train that was coming in with supplies for the Fort. We killed some of the men and captured the others. These prisoners our chief offered to trade for the Indians whom the soldiers had captured at the massacre in the tent. This the officers refused, so we killed our prisoners, disbanded, and went into hiding in the mountains. Of those who took part in this affair I am the only one now living.
In a few days troops were sent out to search for us, but as we were disbanded, it was, of course, impossible for them to locate any hostile camp. During the time they were searching for us many of our warriors (who were thought by the soldiers to be peaceable Indians) talked to the officers and men, advising them where they might find the camp they sought, and while they searched we watched them from our hiding places and laughed at their failures.
After this trouble all of the Indians agreed not to be friendly with the white men any more. There was no general engagement, but a long struggle followed. Sometimes we attacked the white men — sometimes they attacked us. First a few Indians would be killed and then a few soldiers. I think the killing was about equal on each side. The number killed in these troubles did not amount to much, but this treachery on the part of the soldiers had angered the Indians and revived memories of other wrongs, so that we never again trusted the United States troops.
Before we could make ourselves believe how vicious their hearts were the Pindos had circled us about and began moving in for the kill. Bullets, knives, poison and lies brought even the proud Be-don-ko-he Apaches low to the earth. Most terrible of all their weapons, lies are also their most cherished weapon.
A piece of paper we had never seen said that the Apache had no land to call home. Why is this? The Mexicans kept title to their homes when the Pindos won their war with Mexico. Any time someone was driven out of our land by a few Apache warriors it was called a depredation and troops were sent to make war on all of us to remove us from lands that we had held dear for hundreds of years. If we protected our land it was declared that we were invading lands of the Pindos, but we have never gone beyond the great river, nor have we crossed the many waters and tossed our spears at anyone on the cliffs beyond Dover, so how can it be that our red brothers have attacked the Pindos?
If we stayed at home, they found us easily and killed us off for sport. If one or two Apaches defended our rights, it was demanded that all of us must perish. If anyone was killed in our land it was said that the Apache had done this and their words were counted as truth while not one of our words from all of us could defend our innocence because we were a heathen nation.
This was our land, it was our land for centuries before the Pindos came. We signed no paper with the United States or the Mexican government that gave it away. Cities and towns were springing up on our choicest lands and no papers were even signed.
In 1884 Judge McCormick and his wife, were driving from Silver City to Lordsburg their young son, when they were ambushed by Apaches. The bodies of the adults were found soon afterward, but the child's body was never recovered. If everyone disappeared, then how did anyone know this work was not done by Mexicans? Lordsburg is not even in the land claimed for home by the Be-don-ko-he Apaches; we would not have been there, but soldiers came to root us out. This happened repeatedly.
In 1882 a man named Hunt was wounded in a saloon brawl in Tombstone, Arizona. During this brawl two other men had been killed, and, to avoid arrest, Hunt and his brother went into the mountains and camped about ten miles north of Willow Springs to await the healing of his wounds. A few days after they came there, Apache Indians attacked them and killed the wounded brother, but the other, by hard riding, made good his escape. The Be-don-ko-he Apaches did not do this, neither did the warriors of Co-Chise. The word of one drunken Pindo declared that Apaches had done this. Therefore ALL Apache must suffer and die. The word of one Pindo, afraid of being arrested for killing other Pindos is of higher value than all of the Apache. This killing was never proven to be the work of Apache. More likely it was the drunken Pindo who "escaped" from an hallucinatory attack that killed one more Pindo so he could go back into his own community. As for escaping from the Apache by hard riding, I have only one word to say: "HAH!"
In 1883 two Eastern boys went into Arizona to prospect. Their real outing began at Willow Springs, where they had stayed two days with some cowboys. These cowboys had warned them against the Apaches, but the young men seemed entirely fearless, and pushed on into the mountains of the Apache homeland. On the second morning after they left the settlement, one of the boys was getting breakfast while the other went to bring in the pack horses that had been hobbled and turned loose the night before to graze. Just about the time he found his horses, two Apache warriors rode out from cover toward him and he made a hasty retreat to camp, jumping off of a bluff and in so doing breaking his leg.
A consultation was then held between the two Easterners and it was decided that perhaps all the stories they had been told of the Apache zeal for protecting their homeland from invasions by Pindos were true, and that it was advisable to surrender. Accordingly a white handkerchief was tied to the end of a pole and raised cautiously above the top of the bluff. In about ten minutes the two Indians — one a very old warrior and the other a mere boy, evidently his son — rode into camp and dismounted. The old warrior examined the broken limb, then without a word proceeded to take off the shirt of the uninjured youth, with strips of which he carefully bound up the broken leg of the other Pindo. After this the two Indians ate the prepared breakfast and remounted their ponies. Then the old warrior, indicating the direction with his thumb, said "Doctor — Lordsburg — three days," and silently rode away. The young men rode twenty-five miles to Sansimone, where cowboys fitted them out with a wagon to continue their journey to Lordsburg, seventy-five miles further, where a physician's services could be secured.
Here we have the story of one very old warrior and a mere boy attacking two active Pindos that were well armed. This great victory was never celebrated in an Apache camp. Nor is there any word in this testimony that says the weapons of the Pindos were taken. That is like saying a young lad of ten summers shoots the owner of a candy store, and then takes no candy. If real Apaches had done this work not only would their rifles and side arms have been taken with all the ammunition that could be found, but also their knives and their boots, their belts, and their hats.
In another 1883 accusation two prospectors named Alberts and Reese were driving a team, consisting of a horse and a mule, through Turkey Creek bottoms, when they were shot by the Indians. The wagon and harness were left in the road, and the mule was found dead in the road two hundred yards from that place. "Evidently the Indians had not much use for him." The guns of the prospectors were found later, but the horse they drove was not recovered.
How strange the guns were found left behind? The mule was found uneaten? Our favorite kind of meat? The prospectors were shot at by some kind of Indians and consequently, ALL the Apache tribes are blamed? How can anyone believe these deeds?
In 1884 another accusation came from two cowboys in the employment of the Sansimone Cattle Company. They were camped at Willow Springs, which is eighteen miles southwest of Skeleton Cañon, and therefore, not far from the Old Mexico border. Just at sundown their camp was surrounded by Apaches in war paint, who said that they had been at war with the Mexicans and wished to return to the United States. There were about seventy-five Indians in the whole tribe, the women and children coming up later. They had with them about one hundred and fifty Mexican horses. The Indians took possession of the camp and remained for about ten days, getting their supplies of meat by killing cattle of the company.
With this band of Indians was a white boy about fourteen years old, who had evidently been with them from infancy, for he could not speak a word of English, and did not understand much Spanish, but spoke the Apache language readily.
They would allow but one of the cowboys to leave camp at a time, keeping the other under guard. They had sentinels with spyglasses on all the hills and peaks surrounding the camp.
One evening when one of the cowboys, William Berne, had been allowed to pass out of the camp, he noticed an Indian dismounted and, as he approached, discovered that the Indian had him under range of his rifle. He immediately dismounted, and standing on the opposite side from the redskin, threw his own Winchester across his horse's neck, when the Indian sprang on his horse and galloped toward him at full speed, making signs to him not to shoot, and when he approached him, dismounted and pointing to the ground, showed Berne many fresh deer tracks. Then, as an understanding had been established, the cowboy remounted and went on his way, leaving the Apache to hunt the deer.
On the tenth day after the arrival of this band of Indians, United States troops, accompanied by two Indians who had been sent to make the arrangements, arrived in camp, paid for the cattle it was claimed the Apaches had eaten, took the Indians and their stock, and moved on toward Fort Bowie.
About 1873 we were again attacked in our Arizona homeland by Mexican troops in our settlement, but we drove them off. Then we held council and it was decided to make raids into Mexico. We moved our whole camp, packing all our belongings on mules and horses, went into Mexico and made camp in the mountains near Nacori. In moving our camp in this way we wanted to leave no one to spy on us, and if we passed a Mexican's home on Apache land we usually killed everyone there. Of course, if they offered to surrender and made no resistance or trouble in any way, we would take them prisoners.
Frequently we would change our place of rendezvous. We ranged in these mountains for over a year, raiding the Mexican settlements for our supplies, but not having any general engagement with Mexican troops; then we returned to our homes in Arizona. After remaining in Arizona about a year we returned to Mexico, and went into hiding in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Our camp was near Nacori, and we had just organized bands of warriors for raiding the country, when our scouts discovered Mexican troops coming toward our camp to attack us.
Battle of White Hill
The chief of the Nedni Apaches, Whoa, was with me and commanded one division. The warriors were all directed to advance toward the troops and we met them at a place about five miles from our camp. We simply showed ourselves to the soldiers and they quickly rode to the top of a hill and dismounted, placing their horses on the outside for breastworks. It was a round hill, very steep and rocky, and there was no timber on its sides. There were two companies of Mexican cavalry, and we had about sixty warriors. We crept up the hill behind the rocks, and they kept up a constant fire, but I had cautioned our warriors not to expose themselves to the Mexicans for any reason. Every time I screamed "Geronimo, Geronimo!" a hail of bullets would come my way. This land was covered with greasewood and ocotillo.
I knew that all we had to do was give the Apache war cry call and the troopers would waste their ammunition on imaginary targets. Meanwhile, we had killed all their horses, but the soldiers would lie behind these and shoot at us. While we had killed several Mexicans, we had not yet lost a man. However, it was impossible to get very close to them in this way, and at last I deemed it necessary to lead a desperate charge against them.
We had been fighting ever since about one o'clock, and about the middle of the afternoon, seeing that we were making no further progress, I gave the sign for the advance. The war-whoop sounded and we leaped forward from every stone over the Mexicans' dead horses, fighting hand to hand. The attack was so sudden that the Mexicans, running first this way and then that, became so confused that in a few minutes we had killed them all. Then we scalped the slain, carried away our dead, and secured all the weapons we could carry. That night we moved our camp eastward through the Sierra Madre Mountains into Chihuahua. No troops molested us here and after about a year we returned to Arizona.
Geronimo on the left and Asa Deklugie on the right
But, by this time, just by not being there to fight back, we were losing the war with the Pindos and there were many of their riotous settlements springing up in Arizona, therefore game was vanishing throughout our homeland. The buffalo were only memories and the deer were vanishing.
Almost every year we would live a part of the time in Old Mexico at the invitation of my friend Whoa, chief of the Nedni Apaches who was a brother to me, and we were invited to spend much of our time in his territory. The home lands of the Nedni Apaches, our friends and kinsmen, extended far into Mexico. Asa Deklugie, Son of Whoa, is my official interpreter. When I die Asa will become Chief elect for both tribes.
About 1880 we were in camp in the mountains south of Casa Grande, when a company of Mexican troops attacked us. There were twenty-four Mexican soldiers and about forty Indians. I do not know how they were able to find our camp unless they had excellent scouts and our guards were careless, but there they were shooting at us before we knew they were near. The Mexicans had surprised us in camp and fired on us, killing two Apache braves in the first volley. We were in the timber. I stood up and screamed "Geronimo, Geronimo!" There was a sudden silence as they realized whom they had engaged, and I gave the order to go forward and fight at close range. We kept behind rocks and trees until we came within ten yards of their line, then we sprang up face to face with them. Once more I screamed, "Geronimo, Geronimo!" and did a little dance. Then both sides shot at the other until all the Mexicans were killed. We only lost twelve warriors in this battle, but those twelve were sorely missed and a great wail went up in our camp when it was learned how many and which ones had died. All the glory in the world could not replace them.
This place was called by the Indians "Sko-la-ta." When we had buried our dead and secured what supplies the Mexicans had, we went northeast. At a place near Nacori, Mexican troops attacked us again. At this place, called by the Indians "Nokode," there were about eighty warriors, Bedonkohe and Nedni Apaches. There were three companies of Mexican troops. They attacked us in an open field, and we scattered, firing as we ran. They followed us, but we dispersed, and soon were free from their pursuit; then we reassembled in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Here a council was held, and as Mexican troops were coming from many quarters, we disbanded.
Behavior of both Mexicans and white men along the border line of Old Mexico and Arizona in the 1880s shows where the Apache got his education in the art of conducting lawless raids. Southern Arizona during the eighties had the Apache backed up to the wall. There was no law that might protect the Apache or Apache land; see one, shoot one, collect good money for the scalp -- This is the way our trials ran.
In about four months we
reassembled at Casa Grande to make a treaty of peace. The chiefs of the town of
Casa Grande, and all of the men of Casa Grande, made a treaty with us. We shook
hands and promised to be brothers. Then we began to trade, and the Mexicans
broke out gallons of mescal. Soon nearly all the Apaches were drunk. While they were drunk two
companies of Mexican troops, from another town, attacked us, killed
twenty Indians, and captured many more. Those of us still sober enough to run fled in all directions.
After the treachery and massacre of Casa Grande we did not reassemble for a long while, and when we did the council determined that we should return to Arizona. Once we were there we remained in Arizona for some time, living in San Carlos Reservation, at a place now called Geronimo. In 1883 we went into Mexico again. We remained in the mountain ranges of Mexico for about fourteen months, and during this time we had many skirmishes with Mexican troops. In 1884 we returned to Arizona to get other Apaches to come with us into Mexico. The Mexicans were gathering troops in the mountains where we had been ranging, and their numbers were so much greater than ours that we could not hope to fight them successfully, and we were tired of being chased about from place to place.
In Arizona we had trouble with the United States soldiers and returned to Mexico.
We had lost about fifteen warriors in Arizona, and had gained no recruits. With our reduced number we camped in the mountains north of Arispe. Mexican troops were seen by our scouts in several directions. The United States troops were coming down from the north. We were well armed with guns and supplied with ammunition, but we did not care to be surrounded by the troops of two governments, so we started to move our camp southward.
One night we made camp some distance from the mountains by a stream. There was not much water in the stream, but a deep channel was worn through the prairie and small trees were beginning to grow here and there along the bank of this stream.
In those days we never camped without placing scouts, for we knew that we were liable to be attacked at any time. The next morning just at daybreak our scouts came in, aroused the camp, and notified us that Mexican troops were approaching. Within five minutes the Mexicans began firing on us. We took to the ditches made by the stream, and had the women and children busy digging these deeper. I gave strict orders to waste no ammunition and keep under cover. We killed many Mexicans that day and in turn lost heavily, for the fight lasted all day. Frequently troops would charge at one point, be repulsed, then rally and charge at another point.
About noon we began to hear them speaking my name with curses. In the afternoon the general came on the field and the fighting became more furious. I gave orders to my warriors to try to kill all the Mexican officers. About three o'clock the general called all the officers together at the right side of the field. The place where they assembled was not very far from the main stream, and a little ditch ran out close to where the officers stood. Cautiously I crawled along in this ditch very close to where the council was being held. The general was an old warrior. The wind was blowing in my direction, so that I could hear all he said, and I understood most of it. This is about what he told them: "Officers, yonder in those ditches is the red devil Geronimo and his hated band. This must be his last day. Ride on him from both sides of the ditches; kill men, women, and children; take no prisoners; dead Indians are what we want. Do not spare your own men; exterminate this band at any cost; I will post the wounded to shoot all deserters; go back to your companies and advance."
Just as the command to go forward was given I took deliberate aim at the general and he fell. In an instant the ground around me was riddled with bullets, but I was untouched. The Apaches had seen. From all along the ditches arose the fierce war-cry of my people. The columns wavered an instant and then swept on; they did not retreat until our fire had destroyed the front ranks.
After this their fighting was not so fierce, yet they continued to rally and readvance until dark. They also continued to speak my name with threats and curses. That night, before the firing had ceased a dozen Apaches had crawled out of the ditches and set fire to the long prairie grass behind the Mexican troops. During the confusion that followed our tribe escaped to the mountains.
This was the last battle that I ever fought with Mexicans. United States troops were trailing us continually from this time forward until the treaty was made with General Miles in Skeleton Cañon.
During my many wars with the Mexicans I received eight wounds, as follows: shot in the right leg above the knee, and I still carry the bullet; shot through the left forearm; wounded in the right leg below the knee with a saber; wounded on top of the head with the butt of a musket; shot just below the outer corner of the left eye; shot in left side; shot in the back. I have killed many Mexicans; I do not know how many, for frequently I did not count them. Some of them were not worth counting.
It has been a long time since then, but still I have no love for the Mexicans. With me they were always treacherous and malicious. I am old now and shall never go on the warpath again, but if I were young, and followed the warpath, it would definitely lead into Old Mexico.
COMING OF THE WHITE MEN
Southern Arizona during the eighties had the Apache backed up to the wall. There was no law that might protect the Apache or their land; The only kind of justice parceled out to them was see one, shoot one, collect good money for the scalp -- This is the way our trials ran.
It was common to declare the Apache was LAWLESS -- but that is not true; we simply learned our law from the way Mexicans and white men along the border line of Old Mexico and Arizona in the 1880s were treating each other and us.
In 1882 a company of six Mexican smugglers were camped in Skeleton Cañon, ten miles north of the north line of Old Mexico. They were known to carry large sums of money, but as they were always armed and ready to defend their possessions they were not often molested by the Apache. As long as they restricted their efforts to smuggling we could think of them as performing valorous deeds in our behalf. On this occasion, just as they were rising in the morning to prepare their breakfast, five white men opened fire on them from ambush and all save one of the Mexicans were killed. This one, though wounded, finally made his escape. A few days after the killing some cowboys on a round-up camped at this place and buried the remains (what the coyotes had left) of these five Mexicans. Two years later, at the same place, a cowboy found a leather bag containing seventy-two Mexican dollars, which small amount of money had been overlooked by the robbers.
The men who did this killing lived in Arizona splendor for many years afterwards, and although it was known that they had committed the depredation, no arrests followed, and no attempt was made by any of the Mexicans to recover the property of their fellow citizens.
In 1884 a cattleman and four cowboys from his ranch started to drive some fat cattle to market at Tombstone, Arizona. The route they took led partly through Old Mexico and partly through Arizona. One night they camped in a cañon just south of the Mexican border. Next morning at daylight, the cowboy who had been on herd duty the last half of the night had just come in and aroused the camp when the Mexicans opened fire on them from ambush. The cattleman and one of the cowboys were severely wounded at the first volley and took shelter behind the camp wagon, from which position they fired as long as their ammunition lasted. The other three were only slightly wounded and reached cover, but only one escaped with his life. He remained in hiding for two days before his comrades found him. He saw the Mexicans rob the bodies of the dead and lead away their saddle horses, after having cooked breakfast for themselves in the deserted camp. He was severely wounded and all his ammunition was gone, hence he could only wait.
On the second day after this raid some of the cattle strayed back to the old ranch, thereby giving notice to the cowboys that there had been foul play. They found their wounded companions lying delirious near the decaying bodies of their comrades. No arrests were ever made in Mexico for these murders, and no attempt was made to recover damage or prosecute the robbers. These two instances show what kind of an example was set for the Apaches by the inhabitants of the two Christian nations with whom they came in contact.
As a tribe they would fight under their tribal chief, Mangas-Colorado. If several tribes had been called out, the war chief, Geronimo, would have commanded.
GREATEST OF WRONGS
Perhaps the greatest wrong ever done to the Indians was the treatment received by our tribe from the United States troops about 1863. The chief of our tribe, Mangas-Colorado, went to make a treaty of peace for our people with the white settlement at Apache Tejo, New Mexico. It had been reported to us that the white men in this settlement were more friendly and more reliable than those in Arizona, that they would live up to their treaties and would not wrong the Indians.
Mangas-Colorado, with three other warriors, went to Apache Tejo and held a council with these citizens and soldiers. They told him that if he would come with his tribe and live near them, they would issue to him, from the Government, blankets, flour, provisions, beef, and all manner of supplies. Our chief promised to return to Apache Tejo within two weeks. When he came back to our settlement he assembled the whole tribe in council. I did not believe that the people at Apache Tejo would do as they said and therefore I opposed the plan, but it was decided that with part of the tribe Mangas-Colorado should return to Apache Tejo and receive an issue of rations and supplies. If they were as represented, and if these white men would keep the treaty faithfully, the remainder of the tribe would join him and we would make our permanent home at Apache Tejo. The tribe decided that I was to remain in charge of that portion of the tribe which stayed in Arizona. We gave almost all of our arms and ammunition to Mangas Colorado and the party going to Apache Tejo, so that in case there should be treachery they would be prepared for any surprise. Mangas-Colorado and about half of our people went to New Mexico, happy that now they had found white men who would be kind to them, and with whom they could live in peace and plenty.
No word ever came to us from them. From other sources, however, we heard that they had been treacherously captured and slain. In this dilemma we did not know just exactly what to do, but fearing that the troops who had captured them would attack us, we retreated into the mountains near Apache Pass.
Regarding the killing of Mangas-Colorado, L. C. Hughes of the Tucson, Ariz., Star, writes as follows: "It was early in the year '63, when General West and his troops were camped near Membras, that he sent Jack Swilling, a scout, to bring in Mangas, who had been on the warpath ever since the time of the incident with Co-Chise at Bowie. The old chief was always for peace, and gladly accepted the proffer; when he appeared at the camp General West ordered him put into the guardhouse, in which there was only a small opening in the rear and but one small window. As the old chief entered he said: 'This is my end. I shall never again hunt over the mountains and through the valleys of my people.' He felt that he was to be assassinated. The guards were given orders to shoot him if he attempted to escape. He lay down and tried to sleep, but during the night, someone threw a large stone which struck him in the breast. He sprang up and in his delirium the guards thought he was attempting escape and several of them shot him; this was almost the end of Mangas Colorado.
But, we learned later that as a prisoner of war his head was severed from his body by a surgeon, and the brain taken out and weighed. The head measured larger than that of Daniel Webster, and the brain was of corresponding weight. It is said that his skull was sent to Washington, and is now on exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution.
Years later even General Miles said: "Mangas-Colorado had been foully murdered after he had surrendered." As we learned of the murder and mutilation of Mangas' body they were so revolting that we vowed and maintained similar hostility between Apaches and the United States for nearly 25 years.
"This is the way our enemy fights," I told our warriors before every warpath and in every council after that I reminded our chiefs how our civilized foes would fight. "They cannot be trusted to make a lasting peace and wars will erupt at any moment, without cause. Meanwhile, miners were sifting through our country as if they were on picnics. During the weeks that followed the departure of our people under Mangas-Colorado we had been in suspense, and failing to provide more supplies, had exhausted all of our store of provisions. This was another reason for moving camp. On this retreat, while passing through the mountains, we discovered four men with a herd of cattle going through our land.
Two of the men were in front of the herd in a buggy and two were behind the herd on horseback. I asked one Apache to go down without weapons, slipping, and sliding as if all alone. He really got into the part and stopped to splash dust all over him from head to toe. Then he began pleading for water as he came down the slide. I watched them carefully when he came into their view. They glanced at each other, and not behind them or ahead, so I knew they thought they were all alone out there on our land. I motioned for our warriors to fall on them. We killed all four, but did not scalp them; they were just stupid, not warriors.
Here was food driven right to our dinner table. We drove the cattle back farther into the mountains, made a camp, and began to kill the cattle and pack the meat for long migrations. Before we had finished this work we were surprised and attacked by United States troops. I gave the signal for quail fighting and I went into the wounded dove act. The troops dived after me and many bullets came my way. At first I had a spear, a bow, and a few arrows; but in a short time my spear and all my arrows were gone but by then the tribe could not be seen and I lifted my heart in the bold eagle strike. The troops had killed seven Indians in all — Only one was a warrior, three women, and three were still helpless children.
I had only been hit three times but I was surrounded, so I dived off my horse into the brush with more bullets slamming into the earth just bare inches from me most of the time. Every few minutes I would leap to my feet and scream for a phantom attack. Then I would leap back into the brush and squirrel away. Another call brought my horse running to my side, pausing only long enough for me to grab a handful of hair and then we were racing out of there.
The Government troops had been mounted when they struck our defenseless camp. While the women and children were quailing to escape our warriors had to find our horses and make an effort to protect our tribe. We were all poorly armed, having given most of our weapons to that division of our tribe that had gone to Apache Tejo. Consequently, even those valiant warriors that strived to bolster my attack fought with spears, bows, and arrows. We brought down enough men to make them sorry for attacking us, then we scattered in all directions and two days later reassembled at our appointed place of rendezvous, about fifty miles from the scene of this battle.
It was eerily strange, but about ten days later the same United States troops attacked our new camp at sunrise. This time our warriors fought all day along. Of course, our arrows and spears were all gone before ten o'clock, but for the remainder of the day we used rocks and clubs to fight. Naturally, we could do little damage with these weapons, but we held them pinned there on us until nightfall when we faded back to our camp about four miles deeper into the mountains where it would be hard for the cavalry to follow us. The next day our valiant scouts, who had been left behind to observe the movements of the soldiers, returned, saying that the troops had gone back toward the San Carlos Reservation. This explained how they had found us, using Apache scouts that knew our haunts.
A few days after this we were again attacked, by another company of United States troops. However, just before this fight we had been joined by a band of Chokonen Indians under Co-Chise. I had six bullet holes to attend to so we gave command of both divisions to his wise direction. Even under Co-Chise we were repulsed, and it was decided to disband. The women and children left unseen like quail, but the warriors weaved back and forth openly to draw fire and chase from our enemies.
Our Bedonkohe Apaches assembled on the edge of a gully. Some of our people wanted to assemble down inside the gully, but I insisted they come join us on the top.. I watched the pall form on the moon and then I explained, "It will rain soon."
The people glanced up at the moon as it came streaming out through tatters of dark cloud. They glanced back at me. "Rain?" I was not very popular right then as it was felt I was leaving the tribe unprotected on the top of the gully. Even though they were murmuring I had the people divide up into three camps loosely tied together and double guards were told off to natural perimeters. I walked from one camp through another and then back to my home base.
Every time I walked through the people would watch me move on through before they began talking again. It was an expectant silence, not a closed door, more like they expected me to begin giving more orders so they could leap to obey. I tried to be pleasant. "It will rain enough to wet our blankets and winds from the south will be strong enough to blow some of our tepees over."
"Rain?" they asked again. Behind my back, as I moved away, they said, "He is not a medicine man. It will not rain."
But the grandmothers murmured. "We are not medicine men either but we can smell rain already. The south wind is on its way and it will be raining here very soon."
About straight up time lightning suddenly flashed and lit up the landscape for miles. By the time I made one more circle of our camps the rain was ripping at the bushes, stripping leaves from every limb. The grandmothers nodded at me as I passed, and a giggle spread out in my wake.
There was no tepee for me so I nestled up against the clean side of a heavy rock and went to sleep with the wind howling over my empty ear. The man in the moon was standing on his head when I woke up. My feathers were too wet to wear. Water was rushing through the gully and a throng of valiant warriors stood on the bank watching the rocks and boulders being heaved about like so many twigs. "It is time for the women to break camp," I said, as one will say when the obvious must be spoken.
The warriors turned as if I weren't even there and went their separate ways, some as advance scout, some in the rear, and most warriors along the sides of the moving camp. "Watch for a grove of mesquite," one warrior called. The tribe was moving as one body in three separate groups.
Each of the three camps divided into three smaller camps and we had moved out an hour before full daylight; nine camps moving separately as one camp unaware of the other eight. As we came home I dropped out and went to hear the wailing stones and whispering pine.
Although I stayed there for hours there was no answer, but as I threaded my way back into camp a long string of valiant warriors fell in behind me or surged ahead to watch the sides of our human stream. When I spoke a mildly chastening word the nearest warrior turned his head my way as if he had heard the strange prattling of a child.
As we entered the camp I was shocked to be hailed as chief of the people.. a group of warriors of stalwart station and eight grandmothers had decided it was vain to wait any longer for the return of Mangas-Colorado and our kinsmen. Though I was old, what could I say to the new responsibility? Our people needed a chief and we have been trained from our youth that concern for the tribe comes before the individual.
There was a new tepee set aside for my use. A wise grandmother tended my fire and offered me meat. I could only shake my head and lie down. The grandmother brought hot healing stones and laid them against each of the six bullet holes in me. The tribe had known that I had been struck more often than usual, but thought nothing of my wounds, knowing I would soon be well once more. But before that time should come there would be many days and nights of hot healing stones to help me mend.
As the bull bats chittered to the evening stars that evening I heard reports from the tribe's most valiant warriors for the first time. "This I have done. -- this has been laid -- a second camp can be used now -- " Then they were gone and long minutes later the grandmother turned to me and whispered a withering rebuke, "a wise chief will learn to say, 'It is well!'" I turned my head and wept once more.
A few days later a council runner came in with the sad tidings that Mangas-Colorado and our kinsmen had all been treacherously slain. I slipped back to the wailing stones and wept many tragic tears for my people.
In vain did I cry out, "We are vanishing from the earth, yet I cannot think we are useless. Would Usen have created us in the first time if we were useless? Is it not true that He created all tribes of men and certainly had a righteous purpose in creating each one?"
For a long time we had no trouble with anyone. It was more than a year after I had been made Tribal Chief that United States troops surprised and attacked our camp. They killed seven children, five women, and four warriors, captured all our supplies, blankets, horses, and clothing, and destroyed our tepees. We had nothing left; and the coldest winter I ever knew was beginning. The cold was so fierce it felt like thin knives were stuck into our fingers and toes, then rocked back and forth. After the soldiers withdrew I took three warriors and trailed them. Their trail led back toward San Carlos.
While returning from trailing the Government troops we saw two men, a Mexican and a white man, and shot them off their horses. With these two horses we returned and moved our camp. My people were suffering much and it was deemed advisable to go where we could get more provisions. Game was scarce in our range then, and since I had been Tribal Chief I had not asked for rations from the Government, nor did I care to do so, but we did not wish to starve.
We had heard that Chief Victoria of the Chihenne (Oje Caliente) Apaches was holding a council with the white men near Hot Springs in New Mexico, and that he had plenty of provisions. We had always been on friendly terms with this tribe, and Victoria was especially kind to my people. With the help of the two horses we had captured, to carry our sick with us, we went to Hot Springs. We easily found Victoria and his band, and they gave us supplies for the winter. We stayed with them for about a year, and during this stay we had perfect peace. We had not the least trouble with Mexicans, white men, or Indians. When we had stayed as long as we should, and had again accumulated some supplies, we decided to leave Victoria's band. When I told him that we were going to leave he said that we should have a feast and dance before we separated.
The festivities were held about two miles above Hot Springs, and lasted for four days. There were about four hundred Indians at this celebration. I do not think we ever spent a more pleasant time than upon this occasion. No one ever treated our tribe more kindly than Victoria and his band. We are still proud to say that he and his people were our friends.
When I went to Apache Pass (Fort Bowie) I found General Howard in command, and made a treaty with him. This treaty lasted until long after General Howard had left our country. He always kept his word with us and treated us as brothers. We never had so good a friend among the United States officers as General Howard. We could have lived forever at peace with him. If there is any pure, honest white man in the United States army, that man is General Howard. All the Indians respect him, and even to this day frequently talk of the happy times when General Howard was in command of our Post. After he went away he placed an agent at Apache Pass who issued to us from the Government clothing, rations, and supplies, as General Howard directed. When beef was issued to the Indians I got twelve steers for my tribe, and Co-Chise got twelve steers for his tribe. Rations were issued about once a month, but if we ran out we only had to ask and we were supplied. Now, as prisoners of war in this Reservation, we do not get such good rations.
Out on the prairie away from Apache Pass a man kept a store and saloon. Some time after General Howard went away a band of outlawed Indians killed this man, and took away many of the supplies from his store. On the very next day after this some Indians at the Post were drunk on "tiswin," which they had made from corn. They fought among themselves and four of them were killed. There had been quarrels and feuds among them for some time, and after this trouble we deemed it impossible to keep the different bands together in peace. Therefore we separated, each leader taking his own band. Some of them went to San Carlos and some to Old Mexico, but I took my tribe back to Hot Springs and rejoined Victoria's band.
General O. O. Howard was not in command, but had been sent by President Grant, in 1872, to make peace with the Apache Indians. The general wrote me from Burlington, Vt., under date of June 12, 1906, that he remembered the treaty, and that he also remembered with much satisfaction subsequently meeting Geronimo. — Editor.
IN PRISON AND ON THE WARPATH
Soon after we arrived in New Mexico two companies of scouts were sent from San Carlos. When they came to Hot Springs they sent word for me and Victoria to come to town. The messengers did not say what they wanted with us, but as they seemed friendly we thought they wanted a council, and rode in to meet the officers. As soon as we arrived in town soldiers met us, disarmed us, and took us both to headquarters, where we were tried by court-martial. They asked us only a few questions and then Victoria was released and I was sentenced to the guardhouse. Scouts conducted me to the guardhouse and put me in chains. When I asked them why they did this they said it was because I had left Apache Pass.
I do not think that I ever belonged to those soldiers at Apache Pass, or that I should have asked them where I might go. Our bands could no longer live in peace together, and so we had quietly withdrawn, expecting to live with Victoria's band, where we thought we would not be molested. They also sentenced seven other Apaches to chains in the guardhouse.
I do not know why this was done, for these Indians had simply followed me from Apache Pass to Hot Springs. If it was wrong (and I do not think it was wrong) for us to go to Hot Springs, I alone was to blame. They asked the soldiers in charge why they were imprisoned and chained, but received no answer.
I was kept a prisoner for four months, during which time I was transferred to San Carlos. Then I think I had another trial, although I was not present. In fact I do not know that I had another trial, but I was told that I had, and at any rate I was released.
After this we had no more trouble with the soldiers, but I never felt at ease any longer at the Post. We were allowed to live above San Carlos at a place now called Geronimo. A man whom the Indians called "Nick Golee" was agent at this place. All went well here for a period of two years, but we were not satisfied.
In the summer of 1883 a rumor was current that the officers were again planning to imprison our leaders. This rumor served to revive the memory of all our past wrongs — the massacre in the tent at Apache Pass, the fate of Mangas-Colorado, and my own unjust imprisonment, which might easily have been death to me. Just at this time we were told that the officers wanted us to come up the river above Geronimo to a fort (Fort Thomas) to hold a council with them. We did not believe that any good could come of this conference, or that there was any need of it; so we held a council ourselves, and fearing treachery, decided to leave the reservation. We thought it more manly to die on the warpath than to be killed in prison.
There were in all about 250 Indians, chiefly the Bedonkohe and Nedni Apaches, led by myself and Whoa. We went through Apache Pass and just west of there had a fight with the United States troops. In this battle we killed three soldiers and lost none.
We went on toward Old Mexico, but on the second day after this United States soldiers overtook us about three o'clock in the afternoon and we fought until dark. The ground where we were attacked was very rough, which was to our advantage, for the troops were compelled to dismount in order to fight us. I do not know how many soldiers we killed, but we lost only one warrior and three children. We had plenty of guns and ammunition at this time. Many of the guns and much ammunition we had accumulated while living in the reservation, and the remainder we had obtained from the White Mountain Apaches when we left the reservation.
Troops did not follow us any longer, so we went south almost to Casa Grande and camped in the Sierra de Sahuaripa Mountains. We ranged in the mountains of Old Mexico for about a year, then returned to San Carlos, taking with us a herd of cattle and horses.
Soon after we arrived at San Carlos the officer in charge, General Crook, took the horses and cattle away from us. I told him that these were not white men's cattle, but belonged to us, for we had taken them from the Mexicans during our wars. I also told him that we did not intend to kill these animals, but that we wished to keep them and raise stock on our range. He would not listen to me, but took the stock. I went up near Fort Apache and General Crook ordered officers, soldiers, and scouts to see that I was arrested; if I offered resistance they were instructed to kill me.
This information was brought to me by the Indians. When I learned of this proposed action I left for Old Mexico, and about four hundred Indians went with me. They were the Bedonkohe, Chokonen, and Nedni Apaches. At this time Whoa was dead, and Naiche was the only chief with me. We went south into Sonora and camped in the mountains. Troops followed us, but did not attack us until we were camped in the mountains west of Casa Grande. Here we were attacked by Government Indian scouts. One boy was killed and nearly all of our women and children were captured.
After this battle we went south of Casa Grande and made a camp, but within a few days this camp was attacked by Mexican soldiers. We skirmished with them all day, killing a few Mexicans, but sustaining no loss ourselves.
That night we went east into the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains and made another camp. Mexican troops trailed us, and after a few days attacked our camp again. This time the Mexicans had a very large army, and we avoided a general engagement. It is senseless to fight when you cannot hope to win.
That night we held a council of war; our scouts had reported bands of United States and Mexican troops at many points in the mountains. We estimated that about two thousand soldiers were ranging these mountains seeking to capture us.
General Crook had come down into Mexico with the United States troops. They were camped in the Sierra de Antunez Mountains. Scouts told me that General Crook wished to see me and I went to his camp. When I arrived General Crook said to me, "Why did you leave the reservation?" I said: "You told me that I might live in the reservation the same as white people lived. One year I raised a crop of corn, and gathered and stored it, and the next year I put in a crop of oats, and when the crop was almost ready to harvest, you told your soldiers to put me in prison, and if I resisted to kill me. If I had been let alone I would now have been in good circumstances, but instead of that you and the Mexicans are hunting me with soldiers." He said: "I never gave any such orders; the troops at Fort Apache, who spread this report, knew that it was untrue." Then I agreed to go back with him to San Carlos.
It was hard for me to believe him at that time. Now I know that what he said was untrue, and I firmly believe that he did issue the orders for me to be put in prison, or to be killed in case I offered resistance.
Victoria, chief of the Hot Spring Apaches, met his death in opposing the forcible removal of his band to a reservation, because having previously tried and failed he felt it impossible for separate bands of Apaches to live at peace under such arrangement.
Geronimo's whole family, excepting his eldest son, a warrior, were captured.
THE FINAL STRUGGLE
We started with all our tribe to go with General Crook back to the United States, but I feared treachery and decided to remain in Mexico. We were not under any guard at this time. The United States troops marched in front and the Indians followed, and when we became suspicious, we turned back. I do not know how far the United States army went after myself, and some warriors turned back before we were missed, and I do not care.
I have suffered much from such unjust orders as those of General Crook. Such acts have caused much distress to my people. I think that General Crook's death was sent by the Almighty as a punishment for the many evil deeds he committed.
Soon General Miles was made commander of all the western posts, and troops trailed us continually. They were led by Captain Lawton, who had good scouts. The Mexican soldiers also became more active and more numerous. We had skirmishes almost every day, and so we finally decided to break up into small bands. With six men and four women I made for the range of mountains near Hot Springs, New Mexico. We passed many cattle ranches, but had no trouble with the cowboys. We killed cattle to eat whenever we were in need of food, but we frequently suffered greatly for water. At one time we had no water for two days and nights and our horses almost died from thirst. We ranged in the mountains of New Mexico for some time, then thinking that perhaps the troops had left Mexico, we returned. On our return through Old Mexico we attacked every Mexican found, even if for no other reason than to kill. We believed they had asked the United States troops to come down to Mexico to fight us.
South of Casa Grande, near a place called by the Indians Gosoda, there was a road leading out from the town. There was much freighting carried on by the Mexicans over this road. Where the road ran through a mountain pass we stayed in hiding, and whenever Mexican freighters passed we killed them, took what supplies we wanted, and destroyed the remainder. We were reckless of our lives, because we felt that every man's hand was against us. If we returned to the reservation we would be put in prison and killed; if we stayed in Mexico they would continue to send soldiers to fight us; so we gave no quarter to anyone and asked no favors.
After some time we left Gosoda and soon were reunited with our tribe in the Sierra de Antunez Mountains.
Contrary to our expectations the United States soldiers had not left the mountains in Mexico, and were soon trailing us and skirmishing with us almost every day. Four or five times they surprised our camp. One time they surprised us about nine o'clock in the morning, and captured all our horses (nineteen in number) and secured our store of dried meats. We also lost three Indians in this encounter. About the middle of the afternoon of the same day we attacked them from the rear as they were passing through a prairie — killed one soldier, but lost none ourselves. In this skirmish we recovered all our horses except three that belonged to me. The three horses that we did not recover were the best riding horses we had.
Soon after this we made a treaty with the Mexican troops. They told us that the United States troops were the real cause of these wars, and agreed not to fight any more with us provided we would return to the United States. This we agreed to do, and resumed our march, expecting to try to make a treaty with the United States soldiers and return to Arizona. There seemed to be no other course to pursue.
Soon after this scouts from Captain Lawton's troops told us that he wished to make a treaty with us; but I knew that General Miles was the chief of the American troops, and I decided to treat with him.
We continued to move our camp northward, and the American troops also moved northward, keeping at no great distance from us, but not attacking us.
I sent my brother Porico (White Horse) with Mr. George Wratton on to Fort Bowie to see General Miles, and to tell him that we wished to return to Arizona; but before these messengers returned I met two Indian scouts — Kayitah, a Chokonen Apache, and Marteen, a Nedni Apache. They were serving as scouts for Captain Lawton's troops. They told me that General Miles had come and had sent them to ask me to meet him. So I went to the camp of the United States troops to meet General Miles.
When I arrived at their camp I went directly to General Miles and told him how I had been wronged, and that I wanted to return to the United States with my people, as we wished to see our families, who had been captured and taken away from us.
General Miles said to me: "The President of the United States has sent me to speak to you. He has heard of your trouble with the white men, and says that if you will agree to a few words of treaty we need have no more trouble. Geronimo, if you will agree to a few words of treaty all will be satisfactorily arranged."
So General Miles told me how we could be brothers to each other. We raised our hands to heaven and said that the treaty was not to be broken. We took an oath not to do any wrong to each other or to scheme against each other.
Then he talked with me for a long time and told me what he would do for me in the future if I would agree to the treaty. I did not greatly believe General Miles, but because the President of the United States had sent me word I agreed to make the treaty, and to keep it. Then I asked General Miles what the treaty would be. General Miles said to me: "I will take you under Government protection; I will build you a house; I will fence you much land; I will give you cattle, horses, mules, and farming implements. You will be furnished with men to work the farm, for you yourself will not have to work. In the fall I will send you blankets and clothing so that you will not suffer from cold in the winter time.
"There is plenty of timber, water, and grass in the land to which I will send you. You will live with your tribe and with your family. If you agree to this treaty you shall see your family within five days."
I said to General Miles: "All the officers that have been in charge of the Indians have talked that way, and it sounds like a story to me; I hardly believe you."
He said: "This time it is the truth."
I said: "General Miles, I do not know the laws of the white man, nor of this new country where you are to send me, and I might break their laws."
He said: "While I live you will not be arrested."
Then I agreed to make the treaty. (Since I have been a prisoner of war I have been arrested and placed in the guardhouse twice for drinking whisky.)
We stood between his troopers and my warriors. We placed a large stone on the blanket before us. Our treaty was made by this stone, and it was to last until the stone should crumble to dust; so we made the treaty, and bound each other with an oath.
I do not believe that I have ever violated that treaty; but General Miles never fulfilled his promises.
When we had made the treaty General Miles said to me: "My brother, you have in your mind how you are going to kill men, and other thoughts of war; I want you to put that out of your mind, and change your thoughts to peace."
Then I agreed and gave up my arms. I said: "I will quit the warpath and live at peace hereafter."
Then General Miles swept a spot of ground clear with his hand, and said: "Your past deeds shall be wiped out like this and you will start a new life."
Captain Lawton reports officially the same engagement, but makes no mention of the recapture (by the Apaches) of the horses.
SURRENDER OF GERONIMO
On February 11, 1887, the Senate passed the following resolution:
"Resolved, That the Secretary of War be directed to communicate to the Senate all dispatches of General Miles referring to the surrender of Geronimo, and all instructions given to and correspondence with General Miles in reference to the same." These papers are published in the Senate Executive Documents, Second Session, 49th Congress, 1886-7, Volume II, Nos. 111 to 125. For an exhaustive account of the conditions of Geronimo's surrender the reader is referred to that document, but this chapter is given to show briefly the terms of surrender, and corroborate, at least in part, the statements made by Geronimo.
Upon assuming command of the Department of Arizona, General Nelson A. Miles was directed by the War Department to use most vigorous operations for the destruction or capture of the hostile Apaches.
The following extracts are from instructions issued April 20th, 1886, for the information and guidance of troops serving in the southern portion of Arizona and New Mexico.
"The chief object of the troops will be to capture or destroy any band of hostile Apache Indians found in this section of country, and to this end the most vigorous and persistent efforts will be required of all officers and soldiers until the object is accomplished."
* * * * *
"A sufficient number of reliable Indians will be used as auxiliaries to discover any signs of hostile Indians, and as trailers."
* * * * *
"To avoid any advantage the Indians may have by a relay of horses, where a troop or squadron commander is near the hostile Indians he will be justified in dismounting one-half of his command and selecting the lightest and best riders to make pursuit by the most vigorous forced marches until the strength of all the animals of his command shall have been exhausted."
* * * * *
The following telegrams show the efforts of the United States troops and the coöperation of Mexican troops under Governor Torres:
"Headquarters Division of the
"The following telegram just received from General Miles:
"'Captain Lawton reports, through Colonel Royall, commanding at Fort Huachuca, that his camp surprised Geronimo's camp on Yongi River, about 130 miles south and east of Campas, Sonora, or nearly 300 miles south of Mexican boundary, capturing all the Indian property, including hundreds of pounds of dried meat and nineteen riding animals. This is the fifth time within three months in which the Indians have been surprised by the troops. While the results have not been decisive, yet it has given encouragement to the troops, and has reduced the numbers and strength of the Indians, and given them a feeling of insecurity even in the remote and almost inaccessible mountains of Old Mexico.'
"In absence of division commander.
"Headquarters Division of the
"Following received from General Miles, dated 18th:
"'Dispatches to-day from Governor Torres, dated Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, from Colonels Forsyth and Beaumont, commanding Huachuca and Bowie districts, confirms the following: Geronimo with forty Indians is endeavoring to make terms of peace with Mexican authorities of Fronteraz district. One of our scouts, in returning to Fort Huachuca from Lawton's command, met him, Naiche, and thirteen other Indians on their way to Fronteraz; had a long conversation with them; they said they wanted to make peace, and looked worn and hungry. Geronimo carried his right arm in a sling, bandaged. The splendid work of the troops is evidently having good effect. Should hostiles not surrender to the Mexican authorities, Lawton's command is south of them, and Wilder, with G and M troops, Fourth Cavalry, moved south to Fronteraz, and will be there by 20th. Lieutenant Lockett, with an effective command, will be in good position to-morrow, near Guadalupe Cañon, in Cajon Bonito Mountains. On the 11th I had a very satisfactory interview with Governor Torres. The Mexican officials are acting in concert with ours.'
"O. O. Howard,
General O. O. Howard telegraphed from Presidio, San Francisco, California, September 24, 1886, as follows:
" ... The 6th of September General Miles reports the hostile Apaches made overtures of surrender, through Lieutenant Gatewood, to Captain Lawton. They desired certain terms and sent two messengers to me (Miles). They were informed that they must surrender as prisoners of war to troops in the field. They promised to surrender to me in person, and for eleven days Captain Lawton's command moved north, Geronimo and Naiche moving parallel and frequently camping near it.... At Skeleton Cañon they halted, saying that they desired to see me (Miles) before surrendering."
After Miles's arrival he reports as follows:
"Geronimo came from his mountain camp amid the rocks and said he was willing to surrender. He was told that they could surrender as prisoners of war; that it was not the way of officers of the Army to kill their enemies who laid down their arms."
" ... Naiche was wild and suspicious and evidently feared treachery. He knew that the once noted leader, Mangas-Colorado, had, years ago, been foully murdered after he had surrendered, and the last hereditary chief of the hostile Apaches hesitated to place himself in the hands of the palefaces...."
Continuing his report, General Howard says:
" ... I believed at first from official reports that the surrender was unconditional, except that the troops themselves would not kill the hostiles. Now, from General Miles's dispatches and from his annual report, forwarded on the 21st instant by mail, the conditions are plain: First, that the lives of all the Indians should be spared. Second, that they should be sent to Fort Marion, Florida, where their tribe, including their families, had already been ordered...."
D. S. Stanley, Brigadier General, telegraphs from San Antonio, Texas, October 22, 1886, as follows:
" ... Geronimo and Naiche requested an interview with me when they first ascertained that they were to leave here, and in talking to them, I told them the exact disposition that was to be made of them. They regarded the separation of themselves from their families as a violation of the terms of their treaty of surrender, by which they had been guaranteed, in the most positive manner conceivable to their minds, that they should be united with their families at Fort Marion.
"There were present at the talk they had with me Major J. P. Wright, surgeon, United States Army; Captain J. G. Ballance, acting Judge-advocate, United States Army; George Wratton, the interpreter; Naiche, and Geronimo.
"The Indians were separated from their families at this place; the women, children, and the two scouts were placed in a separate car before they left.
"In an interview with me they stated the following incident, which they regard as an essential part of their treaty of surrender, and which took place at Skeleton Cañon before they had, as a band, made up their minds to surrender, and before any of them, except perhaps Geronimo, had given up their arms, and when they were still fully able to escape and defend themselves.
"General Miles said to them: 'You go with me to Fort Bowie and at a certain time you will go to see your relatives in Florida.' After they went to Fort Bowie he reassured them that they would see their relatives in Florida in four and a half or five days.
"While at Skeleton Cañon General Miles said to them: 'I have come to have a talk with you.' The conversation was interpreted from English into Spanish and from Spanish into Apache and vice versa. The interpreting from English into Spanish was done by a man by the name of Nelson. The interpreting from Spanish into Apache was done by José Maria Yaskes. José Maria Montoya was also present, but he did not do any of the interpreting.
"Dr. Wood, United States Army, and Lieutenant Clay, Tenth Infantry, were present.
"General Miles drew a line on the ground and said, 'This represents the ocean,' and, putting a small rock beside the line, he said, 'This represents the place where Chihuahua is with his band.' He then picked up another stone and placed it a short distance from the first, and said, 'This represents you, Geronimo.' He then picked up a third stone and placed it a little distance from the others, and said, 'This represents the Indians at Camp Apache. The President wants to take you and put you with Chihuahua.' He then picked up the stone which represented Geronimo and his band and put it beside the one which represented Chihuahua at Fort Marion. After doing this he picked up the stone which represented the Indians at Camp Apache and placed it beside the other two stones which represented Geronimo and Chihuahua at Fort Marion, and said, 'That is what the President wants to do, get all of you together.'
"After their arrival at Fort Bowie General Miles said to them, 'From now on we want to begin a new life,' and holding up one of his hands with the palm open and horizontal he marked lines across it with the finger of the other hand and said, pointing to his open palm, 'This represents the past; it is all covered with hollows and ridges,' then, rubbing his other palm over it, he said, 'That represents the wiping out of the past, which will be considered smooth and forgotten.'
"The interpreter, Wratton, says that he was present and heard this conversation. The Indians say that Captain Thompson, Fourth Cavalry, was also present.
"Naiche said that Captain Thompson, who was the acting assistant adjutant general, Department of Arizona, told him at his house in Fort Bowie, 'Don't be afraid; no harm shall come to you. You will go to your friends all right.' He also told them 'that Fort Marion is not a very large place, and is not probably large enough for all, and that probably in six months or so you will be put in a larger place, where you can do better.' He told them the same thing when they took their departure in the cars from Fort Bowie.
"The idea that they had of the treaty of surrender given in this letter is forwarded at their desire, and, while not desiring to comment on the matter, I feel compelled to say that my knowledge of the Indian character, and the experience I have had with Indians of all kinds, and the corroborating circumstances and facts that have been brought to my notice in this particular case, convince me that the foregoing statement of Naiche and Geronimo is substantially correct."
Extract from the annual report (1886) of the Division of the Pacific, commanded by Major General O. O. Howard, U. S. Army.
"Headquarters Division of the
"General: I have the honor to submit the following report upon military operations and the condition of the Division of the Pacific for the information of the Lieutenant General, and to make some suggestions for his consideration:
* * * * *
"On the 17th of May, 1885, a party of about fifty of the Chiricahua prisoners, headed by Geronimo, Naiche, and other chiefs, escaped from the White Mountain Reserve, in Arizona, and entered upon a career of murder and robbery unparalleled in the history of Indian raids.
"Since then, and up to the time of my assuming command of this division, they had been pursued by troops with varying success.
"After the assassination of Captain Crawford, on January 11, by the Mexicans, the hostiles asked for a 'talk,' and finally had a conference on March 25, 26, and 27, with General Crook, in the Cañon of Los Embudos, 25 miles south of San Bernardino, Mexico, on which latter date it was arranged that they should be conducted by Lieutenant Manus, with his battalion of scouts, to Fort Bowie, Ariz.
"The march commenced on the morning of March 28 and proceeded until the night of the 29th, when, becoming excited with fears of possible punishment, Geronimo and Naiche, with twenty men, fourteen women, and two boys, stampeded to the hills. Lieutenant Manus immediately pursued, but without success.
* * * * *
"Simultaneously with my taking command of the division Brigadier General Crook was relieved by Brigadier General Miles, who at once set out to complete the task commenced by his predecessor.
"Geronimo and his band were committing depredations, now in the United States and now in Mexico, and, being separated into small parties, easily eluded the troops, and carried on their work of murder and outrage.
"Early in May General Miles organized the hostile field of operations into districts, each with its command of troops, with specific instructions to guard the water holes, to cover the entire ground by scouting parties, and give the hostiles no rest.
"An effective command, under Captain Lawton, Fourth Cavalry, was organized for a long pursuit.
"On May 3 Captain Lebo, Tenth Cavalry, had a fight with Geronimo's band 12 miles southwest of Santa Cruz, in Mexico, with a loss of one soldier killed and one wounded. After this fight the Indians retreated southward followed by three troops of cavalry.
"On May 12 a serious fight of Mexican troops with the hostiles near Planchos, Mexico, resulted in a partial defeat of the Mexicans.
"On May 15 Captain Hatfield's command engaged Geronimo's band in the Corrona Mountains, suffering a loss of two killed and three wounded, and the loss of several horses and mules, the Indians losing several killed.
"On May 16 Lieutenant Brown, Fourth Cavalry, struck the hostiles near Buena Vista, Mexico, capturing several horses, rifles, and a quantity of ammunition.
"The usual series of outrages, with fatiguing chase by troops, continued until June 21, when the Mexicans engaged the hostiles about 40 miles southeast of Magdalena, Mexico, and after a stubborn fight repulsed them....
* * * * *
"About the middle of August Geronimo and his band were so reduced and harassed by the tireless pursuit of the soldiers that they made offer of surrender to the Mexicans, but without coming to terms.
"Their locality thus being definitely known, disposition of the troops was rapidly made to act in conjunction with the Mexicans to intercept Geronimo and force his surrender.
"On August 25 Geronimo, when near Fronteraz, Mexico, recognizing that he was pretty well surrounded, and being out of ammunition and food, made overtures of capitulation, through Lieutenant Gatewood, Sixth Cavalry, to Captain Lawton. He desired certain terms, but was informed that a surrender as prisoner of war was all that would be accepted.
"The Indians then proceeded to the vicinity of Captain Lawton's command, near Skeleton Cañon, and sent word that they wished to see General Miles.
"On September 3 General Miles arrived at Lawton's camp, and on September 4 Naiche, the son of Co-Chise, and the hereditary chief of the Apaches, with Geronimo surrendered all the hostiles, with the understanding, it seems, that they should be sent out of Arizona.
"I am not informed of the exact nature of this surrender, at first deemed unconditional....
* * * * *
"I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"O. O. Howard,
Statement of W. T. Melton, Anadarko, Oklahoma.
From 1882 to 1887 I lived in southern Arizona, and was employed by the Sansimone Cattle Company.
In 1886 I was stationed in Skeleton Cañon, about 10 miles north of the boundary line between Arizona and Old Mexico, with J. D. Prewitt. It was our duty to ride the lines south of our range and keep the cattle of the Company from straying into Old Mexico.
One afternoon, when returning from our ride, we discovered an Indian trail leading toward our camp. We rode hurriedly out of the hills into a broad valley so that we could better discover any attacking parties of Apaches and if assailed have at least a fighting chance for our lives. We knew the Apaches under Geronimo were on the warpath, but they were far down in Old Mexico. However, our knowledge of the Indians led us to expect anything at any time — to always be ready for the worst.
When we reached the valley we struck a cavalry trail also headed for our camp. This was perplexing, for neither the Indians nor the soldiers seemed to have been riding fast, and both trails led toward our camp in Skeleton Cañon. This cañon was a natural route from Old Mexico to Arizona, and almost all bands of Indians, as well as detachments of United States troops, passed and repassed through this valley when going to Old Mexico or returning therefrom, but never before had two hostile bands passed through here at the same time and traveling in the same direction, except when one fled and the other pursued. What this could mean was a mystery to us. Could it be that the troops had not seen the Indians? Were the redskins trying to head the troops off and attack them in their camp? Were the troops hunting for those Indians? Could this be Lawton's command? Could that be Geronimo's band? No, it was impossible. Then who were these troops and what Indians were those?
Cautiously we rode to our camp, and nailed on the door of our cabin was this notice:
"BE CAREFUL, GERONIMO IS NEAR BY AND HAS NOT YET SURRENDERED.
Then we understood.
A short distance above our cabin we found the camp of the troops and we had just finished talking with Captain Lawton, who advised us to remain in his camp rather than risk staying alone in our cabin, when up rode the chief, Geronimo. He was mounted on a blaze-faced, white-stockinged dun horse.
He came directly to Captain Lawton and through an interpreter asked who we were and what we wanted.
As soon as the explanation was given he nodded his approval and rode away.
Prewitt and I rode away with him. We were well armed and well mounted and Geronimo was well mounted, but so far as we could see unarmed. I tried to talk with the chief (in English), but could not make him understand. Prewitt wanted to shoot him and said he could easily kill him the first shot, but I objected and succeeded in restraining him. While we were arguing the chief rode silently between us, evidently feeling perfectly secure. All this time we had been riding in the direction of our horses that were grazing in the valley about a mile distant from our corral. When we came to a place about a half mile from Lawton's camp, where a spur of the mountain ran far out into the valley, Geronimo turned aside, saluted, said in fairly good Spanish, "Adios, Señors," and began to ascend a mountain path. Later we learned that he was going directly toward his camp far up among the rocks. We rode on, drove our horses back to the corral and remained in our cabin all night, but were not molested by the Indians.
The next day we killed three beeves for the Indians, and they were paid for by Captain Lawton. On the second day two mounted Mexican scouts came to Lawton's camp. As soon as these Mexicans came in sight the Indians seized their arms and vanished, as it were, among the rocks.
Captain Lawton wrote an account of conditions and delivered it to the Mexicans, who withdrew. After they had gone and their mission had been explained to Geronimo the Indians again returned to their camp and laid down their arms.
On the next day word reached camp that General Miles was approaching and the Indians again armed and disappeared among the rocks. (Many of the Apache women had field glasses and were stationed every day on prominent mountain peaks to keep a lookout. No one could approach their camp or Lawton's camp without being discovered by these spies.)
Soon after General Miles joined Lawton's command Geronimo rode into camp unarmed, and dismounting approached General Miles, shook hands with him, and then stood proudly before the officers waiting for General Miles to begin conversation with him.
The interpreter said to Geronimo, "General Miles is your friend." Geronimo said, "I never saw him, but I have been in need of friends. Why has he not been with me?" When this answer was interpreted everybody laughed. After this there was no more formality and without delay the discussion of the treaty was begun. All I remember distinctly of the treaty is that Geronimo and his band were not to be killed, but they were to be taken to their families.
I remember this more distinctly, because the Indians were so much pleased with this particular one of the terms of the treaty.
Geronimo, Naiche, and a few others went on ahead with General Miles, but the main band of Indians left under the escort of Lawton's troops.
The night before they left, a young woman, daughter-in-law of Geronimo, gave birth to a child. The next morning the husband, Geronimo's son, carried the child, but the mother mounted her pony unaided and rode away unassisted — a prisoner of war under military escort.
On the afternoon of the day of the treaty Captain Lawton built a monument (about ten feet across and six feet high) of rough stones at the spot where the treaty was made. The next year some cowboys on a round-up camped at the place, and tore down the monument to see what was in it. Of course, all they found was a bottle containing a piece of paper upon which was written the names of the officers who were with Lawton.
After the Indians left we found one hundred and fifty dollars and twenty-five cents ($150.25) in Mexican money hidden in a rat's nest near where the Indians had camped.
About ten o'clock on the morning after the Apaches and soldiers had gone away twenty Pima Indians, accompanied by one white man, surrounded our camp and demanded to know of Geronimo's whereabouts. We told them of the treaty and they followed the trail on toward Fort Bowie.
That afternoon, thinking all danger from Apaches past, my partner, Prewitt, went to ride the lines and I was left in camp alone. I was pumping water (by horse-power) at the well, when I saw three Indians rounding up our horses about half a mile away. They saw me but did not disturb me, nor did I interfere with them, but as soon as they had driven that bunch of horses northward over the hill out of sight I rode quickly off in another direction and drove another bunch of horses into the corral. The rest of the afternoon I stayed in camp, but saw no more Indians.
The next day we rode over the hill in the direction these Indians had gone and found that they had camped not three miles away. There were evidently several in the party and they had kept scouts concealed near the top of the hill to watch me, and to shoot me from ambush had I followed them. This we knew because we saw behind some rocks at the crest of the hill in the loose soil the imprints left by the bodies of three warriors where they had been lying down in concealment.
At their camp we found the head and hoofs of my favorite horse, "Digger," a fine little sorrel pony, and knew that he had served them for dinner. We followed their trail far into Old Mexico, but did not overtake them. We had been accustomed to say "it was Geronimo's band," whenever any depredation was committed, but this time we were not so positive.
* * * * *
We do not wish to express our own opinion, but to ask the reader whether, after having had the testimony of Apaches, soldiers, and civilians, who knew the conditions of surrender, and, after having examined carefully the testimony offered, it would be possible to conclude that Geronimo made an unconditional surrender?
Before passing from this subject it would be well also to consider whether our Government has treated these prisoners in strict accordance with the terms of the treaty made in Skeleton Cañon.
A PRISONER OF WAR
When I had given up to the Government they put me on the Southern Pacific Railroad and took me to San Antonio, Texas, and held me to be tried by their laws.
In forty days they took me from there to Fort Pickens (Pensacola), Florida. Here they put me to sawing up large logs. There were several other Apache warriors with me, and all of us had to work every day. For nearly two years we were kept at hard labor in this place and we did not see our families until May, 1887. This treatment was in direct violation of our treaty made at Skeleton Cañon.
After this we were sent with our families to Vermont, Alabama, where we stayed five years and worked for the Government. We had no property, and I looked in vain for General Miles to send me to that land of which he had spoken; I longed in vain for the implements, house, and stock that General Miles had promised me.
During this time one of my warriors, Fun, killed himself and his wife. Another one shot his wife and then shot himself. He fell dead, but the woman recovered and is still living.
We were not healthy in this place, for the climate disagreed with us. So many of our people died that I consented to let one of my wives go to the Mescalero Agency in New Mexico to live. This separation is according to our custom equivalent to what the white people call divorce, and so she married again soon after she got to Mescalero. She also kept our two small children, which she had a right to do. The children, Lenna and Robbie, are still living at Mescalero, New Mexico. Lenna is married. I kept one wife, but she is dead now and I have only our daughter Eva with me. Since my separation from Lenna's mother I have never had more than one wife at a time. Since the death of Eva's mother I married another woman (December, 1905) but we could not live happily and separated. She went home to her people — that is an Apache divorce.
Then, as now, Mr. George Wratton superintended the Indians. He has always had trouble with the Indians, because he has mistreated them. One day an Indian, while drunk, stabbed Mr. Wratton with a little knife. The officer in charge took the part of Mr. Wratton and the Indian was sent to prison.
When we first came to Fort Sill, Captain Scott was in charge, and he had houses built for us by the Government. We were also given, from the Government, cattle, hogs, turkeys and chickens. The Indians did not do much good with the hogs, because they did not understand how to care for them, and not many Indians even at the present time keep hogs. We did better with the turkeys and chickens, but with these we did not have as good luck as white men do. With the cattle we have done very well, indeed, and we like to raise them. We have a few horses also, and have had no bad luck with them.
In the matter of selling our stock and grain there has been much misunderstanding. The Indians understood that the cattle were to be sold and the money given to them, but instead part of the money is given to the Indians and part of it is placed in what the officers call the "Apache Fund." We have had five different officers in charge of the Indians here and they have all ruled very much alike — not consulting the Apaches or even explaining to them. It may be that the Government ordered the officers in charge to put this cattle money into an Apache fund, for once I complained and told Lieutenant Purington that I intended to report to the Government that he had taken some of my part of the cattle money and put it into the Apache Fund, he said he did not care if I did tell.
Several years ago the issue of clothing ceased. This, too, may have been by the order of the Government, but the Apaches do not understand it.
If there is an Apache Fund, it should some day be turned over to the Indians, or at least they should have an account of it, for it is their earnings.
When General Miles last visited Fort Sill I asked to be relieved from labor on account of my age. I also remembered what General Miles had promised me in the treaty and told him of it. He said I need not work any more except when I wished to, and since that time I have not been detailed to do any work. I have worked a great deal, however, since then, for, although I am old, I like to work and help my people as much as I am able.
These are not the words of the Editor, but of Geronimo.
They were in Alabama from May, 1888, to October, 1894.
The Indians are not allowed to sell the cattle themselves. When cattle are ready for market they are sold by the officer in charge, part of the money paid to the Indians who owned them and part of it placed in a general (Apache) fund. The supplies, farming implements, etc., for the Apaches are paid for from this fund.
The criticism of Lieutenant Purington is from Geronimo. The Editor disclaims any responsibility for it, as in all cases where individuals are criticized by the old warrior.
Geronimo helps make hay and care for the cattle, but does not receive orders from the Superintendent of the Indians.
THE OLD AND THE NEW
UNWRITTEN LAWS OF THE APACHES
When an Indian has been wronged by a member of his tribe he may, if he does not wish to settle the difficulty personally, make complaint to the Chieftain. If he is unable to meet the offending parties in a personal encounter, and disdains to make complaint, anyone may in his stead inform the chief of this conduct, and then it becomes necessary to have an investigation or trial. Both the accused and the accuser are entitled to witnesses, and their witnesses are not interrupted in any way by questions, but simply say what they wish to say in regard to the matter. The witnesses are not placed under oath, because it is not believed that they will give false testimony in a matter relating to their own people.
The chief of the tribe presides during these trials, but if it is a serious offense he asks two or three leaders to sit with him. These simply determine whether or not the man is guilty. If he is not guilty the matter is ended, and the complaining party has forfeited his right to take personal vengeance, for if he wishes to take vengeance himself, he must object to the trial which would prevent it. If the accused is found guilty the injured party fixes the penalty, which is generally confirmed by the chief and his associates.
Adoption of Children
If any children are left orphans by the usage of war or otherwise, that is, if both parents are dead, the chief of the tribe may adopt them or give them away as he desires. In the case of outlawed Indians, they may, if they wish, take their children with them, but if they leave the children with the tribe, the chief decides what will be done with them, but no disgrace attaches to the children.
We obtained our salt from a little lake in the Gila Mountains. This is a very small lake of clear, shallow water, and in the center a small mound arises above the surface of the water. The water is too salty to drink, and the bottom of the lake is covered with a brown crust. When this crust is broken cakes of salt adhere to it. These cakes of salt may be washed clear in the water of this lake, but if washed in other water will dissolve.
When visiting this lake our people were not allowed to even kill game or attack an enemy. All creatures were free to go and come without molestation.
Preparation of a Warrior
To be admitted as a warrior a youth must have gone with the warriors of his tribe four separate times on the warpath.
On the first trip he will be given only very inferior food. With this he must be contented without murmuring. On none of the four trips is he allowed to select his food as the warriors do, but must eat such food as he is permitted to have.
On each of these expeditions he acts as servant, cares for the horses, cooks the food, and does whatever duties he should do without being told. He knows what things are to be done, and without waiting to be told is to do them. He is not allowed to speak to any warrior except in answer to questions or when told to speak.
During these four wars he is expected to learn the sacred names of everything used in war, for after the tribe enters upon the warpath no common names are used in referring to anything appertaining to war in any way. War is a solemn religious matter.
If, after four expeditions, all the warriors are satisfied that the youth has been industrious, has not spoken out of order, has been discreet in all things, has shown courage in battle, has borne all hardships uncomplainingly, and has exhibited no color of cowardice, or weakness of any kind, he may by vote of the council be admitted as a warrior; but if any warrior objects to him upon any account he will be subjected to further tests, and if he meets these courageously, his name may again be proposed. When he has proven beyond question that he can bear hardships without complaint, and that he is a stranger to fear, he is admitted to the council of the warriors in the lowest rank. After this there is no formal test for promotions, but by common consent he assumes a station on the battlefield, and if that position is maintained with honor, he is allowed to keep it, and may be asked, or may volunteer, to take a higher station, but no warrior would presume to take a higher station unless he had assurance from the leaders of the tribe that his conduct in the first position was worthy of commendation.
From this point upward the only election by the council in formal assembly is the election of the chief.
Old men are not allowed to lead in battle, but their advice is always respected. Old age means loss of physical power and is fatal to active leadership.
All dances are considered religious ceremonies and are presided over by a chief and medicine men. They are of a social or military nature, but never without some sacred characteristic.
A Dance of Thanksgiving
Every summer we would gather the fruit of the yucca, grind and pulverize it and mold it into cakes; then the tribe would be assembled to feast, to sing, and to give praises to Usen. Prayers of Thanksgiving were said by all. When the dance began the leaders bore these cakes and added words of praise occasionally to the usual tone sounds of the music.
Chihuahua and Family
The War Dance
After a council of the warriors had deliberated, and had prepared for the warpath, the dance would be started. In this dance there is the usual singing led by the warriors and accompanied with the beating of the "esadadene," but the dancing is more violent, and yells and war whoops sometimes almost drown the music. Only warriors participated in this dance.
After a war party has returned, a modification of the war dance is held. The warriors who have brought scalps from the battles exhibit them to the tribe, and when the dance begins these scalps, elevated on poles or spears, are carried around the camp fires while the dance is in progress. During this dance there is still some of the solemnity of the war dance. There are yells and war whoops, frequently accompanied by discharge of firearms, but there is always more levity than would be permitted at a war dance. After the scalp dance is over the scalps are thrown away. No Apache would keep them, for they are considered defiling.
A Social Dance
In the early part of September, 1905, I announced among the Apaches that my daughter, Eva, having attained womanhood, should now put away childish things and assume her station as a young lady. At a dance of the tribe she would make her début, and then, or thereafter, it would be proper for a warrior to seek her hand in marriage. Accordingly, invitations were issued to all Apaches, and many Comanches and Kiowas, to assemble for a grand dance on the green by the south bank of Medicine Creek, near the village of Naiche, former chief of the Chokonen Apaches, on the first night of full moon in September. The festivities were to continue for two days and nights. Nothing was omitted in the preparation that would contribute to the enjoyment of the guests or the perfection of the observance of the religious rite.
To make ready for the dancing the grass on a large circular space was closely mowed.
The singing was led by Chief Naiche, and I, assisted by our medicine men, directed the dance.
First Eva advanced from among the women and danced once around the camp fire; then, accompanied by another young woman, she again advanced and both danced twice around the camp fire; then she and two other young ladies advanced and danced three times around the camp fire; the next time she and three other young ladies advanced and danced four times around the camp fire; this ceremony lasted about one hour. Next the medicine men entered, stripped to the waist, their bodies painted fantastically, and danced the sacred dances. They were followed by clown dancers, who amused the audience greatly.
Then the members of the tribe joined hands and danced in a circle around the camp fire for a long time. All the friends of the tribe were asked to take part in this dance, and when it was ended many of the old people retired, and the "lovers' dance" began.
The warriors stood in the middle of the circle and the ladies, two-and-two, danced forward and designated some warrior to dance with them. The dancing was back and forth on a line from the center to the outer edge of the circle. The warrior faced the two ladies, and when they danced forward to the center he danced backward: then they danced backward to the outer edge and he followed facing them. This lasted two or three hours and then the music changed. Immediately the warriors assembled again in the center of the circle, and this time each lady selected a warrior as a partner. The manner of dancing was as before, only two instead of three danced together. During this dance, which continued until daylight, the warrior (if dancing with a maiden) could propose marriage, and if the maiden agreed, he would consult her father soon afterward and make a bargain for her.
Upon all such occasions as this, when the dance is finished, each warrior gives a present to the lady who selected him for a partner and danced with him. If she is satisfied with the present he says good-by, if not, the matter is referred to someone in authority (medicine man or chief), who determines the question of what is a proper gift.
For a married lady the value of the present should be two or three dollars; for a maiden the present should have a value of not less than five dollars. Often, however, the maiden receives a very valuable present.
During the "lovers' dance" the medicine men mingle with the dancers to keep out evil spirits.
Perhaps I shall never again have cause to assemble our people to dance, but these social dances in the moonlight have been a large part of our enjoyment in the past, and I think they will not soon be discontinued, at least I hope not.
Apache warriors do not go "courting" as our youths do. The associations in the villages afford ample opportunity for acquaintance, and the arranging for marriages is considered a business transaction, but the courtesy of consulting the maiden, although not essential, is considered very polite.
AT THE WORLD'S FAIR
When I was at first asked to attend the St. Louis World's Fair I did not wish to go. Later, when I was told that I would receive good attention and protection, and that the President of the United States said that it would be all right, I consented. I was kept by parties in charge of the Indian Department, who had obtained permission from the President. I stayed in this place for six months. I sold my photographs for twenty-five cents, and was allowed to keep ten cents of this for myself. I also wrote my name for ten, fifteen, or twenty-five cents, as the case might be, and kept all of that money. I often made as much as two dollars a day, and when I returned I had plenty of money — more than I had ever owned before.
Many people in St. Louis invited me to come to their homes, but my keeper always refused.
Every Sunday the President of the Fair sent for me to go to a wild west show. I took part in the roping contests before the audience. There were many other Indian tribes there, and strange people of whom I had never heard.
When people first came to the World's Fair they did nothing but parade up and down the streets. When they got tired of this they would visit the shows. There were many strange things in these shows. The Government sent guards with me when I went, and I was not allowed to go anywhere without them.
In one of the shows some strange men with red caps had some peculiar swords, and they seemed to want to fight. Finally their manager told them they might fight each other. They tried to hit each other over the head with these swords, and I expected both to be wounded or perhaps killed, but neither one was harmed. They would be hard people to kill in a hand-to-hand fight.
In another show there was a strange-looking negro. The manager tied his hands fast, then tied him to a chair. He was securely tied, for I looked myself, and I did not think it was possible for him to get away. Then the manager told him to get loose.
He twisted in his chair for a moment, and then stood up; the ropes were still tied, but he was free. I do not understand how this was done. It was certainly a miraculous power, because no man could have released himself by his own efforts.
In another place a man was on a platform speaking to the audience; they set a basket by the side of the platform and covered it with red calico; then a woman came and got into the basket, and a man covered the basket again with the calico; then the man who was speaking to the audience took a long sword and ran it through the basket, each way, and then down through the cloth cover. I heard the sword cut through the woman's body, and the manager himself said she was dead; but when the cloth was lifted from the basket she stepped out, smiled, and walked off the stage. I would like to know how she was so quickly healed, and why the wounds did not kill her.
I have never considered bears very intelligent, except in their wild habits, but I had never before seen a white bear. In one of the shows a man had a white bear that was as intelligent as a man. He would do whatever he was told — carry a log on his shoulder, just as a man would; then, when he was told, would put it down again. He did many other things, and seemed to know exactly what his keeper said to him. I am sure that no grizzly bear could be trained to do these things.
Mrs. Asa Deklugie Eva Geronimo
One time the guards took me into a little house that had four windows. When we were seated the little house started to move along the ground. Then the guards called my attention to some curious things they had in their pockets. Finally they told me to look out, and when I did so I was scared, for our little house had gone high up in the air, and the people down in the Fair Grounds looked no larger than ants. The men laughed at me for being scared; then they gave me a glass to look through (I often had such glasses which I took from dead officers after battles in Mexico and elsewhere), and I could see rivers, lakes and mountains. But I had never been so high in the air, and I tried to look into the sky. There were no stars, and I could not look at the sun through this glass because the brightness hurt my eyes. Finally I put the glass down, and as they were all laughing at me, I too, began to laugh. Then they said, "Get out!" and when I looked we were on the street again. After we were safe on the land I watched many of these little houses going up and coming down, but I cannot understand how they travel. They are very curious little houses.
One day we went into another show, and as soon as we were in, it changed into night. It was real night, for I could feel the damp air; soon it began to thunder, and the lightnings flashed; it was real lightning, too, for it struck just above our heads. I dodged and wanted to run away, but I could not tell which way to go in order to get out. The guards motioned me to keep still, and so I stayed. In front of us were some strange little people who came out on the platform; then I looked up again and the clouds were all gone, and I could see the stars shining. The little people on the platform did not seem in earnest about anything they did; so I only laughed at them. All the people around where we sat seemed to be laughing at me.
We went into another place and the manager took us into a little room that was made like a cage; then everything around us seemed to be moving; soon the air looked blue, then there were black clouds moving with the wind. Pretty soon it was clear outside; then we saw a few thin white clouds; then the clouds grew thicker, and it rained and hailed with thunder and lightning. Then the thunder retreated and a rainbow appeared in the distance; then it became dark, the moon rose and thousands of stars came out. Soon the sun came up, and we got out of the little room. This was a good show, but it was so strange and unnatural that I was glad to be on the streets again.
We went into one place where they made glassware. I had always thought that these things were made by hand, but they are not. The man had a curious little instrument, and whenever he would blow through this into a little blaze the glass would take any shape he wanted it to. I am not sure, but I think that if I had this kind of an instrument I could make whatever I wished. There seems to be a charm about it. But I suppose it is very difficult to get these little instruments, or other people would have them. The people in this show were so anxious to buy the things the man made that they kept him so busy he could not sit down all day long. I bought many curious things in there and brought them home with me.
At the end of one of the streets some people were getting into a clumsy canoe, upon a kind of shelf, and sliding down into the water. They seemed to enjoy it, but it looked too fierce for me. If one of these canoes had gone out of its path the people would have been sure to get hurt or killed.
There were some little brown people at the Fair that United States troops captured recently on some islands far away from here.
They did not wear much clothing, and I think that they should not have been allowed to come to the Fair. But they themselves did not seem to know any better. They had some little brass plates, and they tried to play music with these, but I did not think it was music — it was only a rattle. However, they danced to this noise and seemed to think they were giving a fine show.
I do not know how true the report was, but I heard that the President sent them to the Fair so that they could learn some manners, and when they went home teach their people how to dress and how to behave.
I am glad I went to the Fair. I saw many interesting things and learned much of the white people. They are a very kind and peaceful people. During all the time I was at the Fair no one tried to harm me in any way. Had this been among the Mexicans I am sure I should have been compelled to defend myself often.
I wish all my people could have attended the Fair.
Shooting the Chute.
Iggorrotes from the Philippines.
Geronimo was also taken to both the Omaha and the Buffalo Expositions, but during that period of his life he was sullen and took no interest in things. The St. Louis Exposition was held after he had adopted the Christian religion and had begun to try to understand our civilization.
In our primitive worship only our relations to Usen and the members of our tribe were considered as appertaining to our religious responsibilities. As to the future state, the teachings of our tribe were not specific, that is, we had no definite idea of our relations and surroundings in after life. We believed that there is a life after this one, but no one ever told me as to what part of man lived after death. I have seen many men die; I have seen many human bodies decayed, but I have never seen that part which is called the spirit; I do not know what it is; nor have I yet been able to understand that part of the Christian religion.
We held that the discharge of one's duty would make his future life more pleasant, but whether that future life was worse than this life or better, we did not know, and no one was able to tell us. We hoped that in the future life family and tribal relations would be resumed. In a way we believed this, but we did not know it.
Once when living in San Carlos Reservation an Indian told me that while lying unconscious on the battlefield he had actually been dead, and had passed into the spirit land.
First he came to a mulberry tree growing out from a cave in the ground. Before this cave a guard was stationed, but when he approached without fear the guard let him pass. He descended into the cave, and a little way back the path widened and terminated in a perpendicular rock many hundreds of feet wide and equal in height. There was not much light, but by peering directly beneath him he discovered a pile of sand reaching from the depths below to within twenty feet of the top of the rock where he stood. Holding to a bush, he swung off from the edge of the rock and dropped onto the sand, sliding rapidly down its steep side into the darkness. He landed in a narrow passage running due westward through a cañon which gradually grew lighter and lighter until he could see as well as if it had been daylight; but there was no sun. Finally he came to a section of this passage that was wider for a short distance, and then closing abruptly continued in a narrow path; just where this section narrowed two huge serpents were coiled, and rearing their heads, hissed at him as he approached, but he showed no fear, and as soon as he came close to them they withdrew quietly and let him pass. At the next place, where the passage opened into a wider section, were two grizzly bears prepared to attack him, but when he approached and spoke to them they stood aside and he passed unharmed. He continued to follow the narrow passage, and the third time it widened and two mountain lions crouched in the way, but when he had approached them without fear and had spoken to them they also withdrew. He again entered the narrow passage. For some time he followed this, emerging into a fourth section beyond which he could see nothing: the further walls of this section were clashing together at regular intervals with tremendous sounds, but when he approached them they stood apart until he had passed. After this he seemed to be in a forest, and following the natural draws, which led westward, soon came into a green valley where there were many Indians camped and plenty of game. He said that he saw and recognized many whom he had known in this life, and that he was sorry when he was brought back to consciousness.
I told him if I knew this to be true I would not want to live another day, but by some means, if by my own hands, I would die in order to enjoy these pleasures. I myself have lain unconscious on the battlefield, and while in that condition have had some strange thoughts or experiences; but they are very dim and I cannot recall them well enough to relate them. Many Indians believed this warrior, and I cannot say that he did not tell the truth. I wish I knew that what he said is beyond question true. But perhaps it is as well that we are not certain.
Ready for Church
Since my life as a prisoner has begun I have heard the teachings of the white man's religion, and in many respects believe it to be better than the religion of my fathers. However, I have always prayed, and I believe that the Almighty has always protected me.
Believing that in a wise way it is good to go to church, and that associating with Christians would improve my character, I have adopted the Christian religion. I believe that the church has helped me much during the short time I have been a member. I am not ashamed to be a Christian, and I am glad to know that the President of the United States is a Christian, for without the help of the Almighty I do not think he could rightly judge in ruling so many people. I have advised all of my people who are not Christians, to study that religion, because it seems to me the best religion in enabling one to live right.
Geronimo joined the Dutch Reformed church and was baptized in the summer of 1903. He attends the services regularly at the Apache Mission, Ft. Sill Military Reservation.
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE
I am thankful that the President of the United States has given me permission to tell my story. I hope that he and those in authority under him will read my story and judge whether my people have been rightly treated.
There is a great question between the Apaches and the Government. For twenty years we have been held prisoners of war under a treaty which was made with General Miles, on the part of the United States Government, and myself as the representative of the Apaches. That treaty has not at all times been properly observed by the Government, although at the present time it is being more nearly fulfilled on their part than heretofore. In the treaty with General Miles we agreed to go to a place outside of Arizona and learn to live as the white people do. I think that my people are now capable of living in accordance with the laws of the United States, and we would, of course, like to have the liberty to return to that land which is ours by divine right. We are reduced in numbers, and having learned how to cultivate the soil would not require so much ground as was formerly necessary. We do not ask all of the land which the Almighty gave us in the beginning, but that we may have sufficient lands there to cultivate. What we do not need we are glad for the white men to cultivate.
We are now held on Comanche and Kiowa lands, which are not suited to our needs — these lands and this climate are suited to the Indians who originally inhabited this country, of course, but our people are decreasing in numbers here, and will continue to decrease unless they are allowed to return to their native land. Such a result is inevitable.
There is no climate or soil which, to my mind, is equal to that of Arizona. We could have plenty of good cultivating land, plenty of grass, plenty of timber and plenty of minerals in that land which the Almighty created for the Apaches. It is my land, my home, my fathers' land, to which I now ask to be allowed to return. I want to spend my last days there, and be buried among those mountains. If this could be I might die in peace, feeling that my people, placed in their native homes, would increase in numbers, rather than diminish as at present, and that our name would not become extinct.
I know that if my people were placed in that mountainous region lying around the headwaters of the Gila River they would live in peace and act according to the will of the President. They would be prosperous and happy in tilling the soil and learning the civilization of the white men, whom they now respect. Could I but see this accomplished, I think I could forget all the wrongs that I have ever received, and die a contented and happy old man. But we can do nothing in this matter ourselves — we must wait until those in authority choose to act. If this cannot be done during my lifetime — if I must die in bondage — I hope that the remnant of the Apache tribe may, when I am gone, be granted the one privilege which they request — to return to Arizona.
In 1894, Geronimo and 341 other Chiricahua Apache prisoners of war were brought to Fort Sill, where they lived in villages scattered around the post. Geronimo and the other Apache prisoners had free range of the reservation. He became one of Fort Sill's Native Scouts. Late in life he became a Christian.
After a few years of good conduct, Geronimo was granted permission to travel with Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show. In the 1890s and early 1900s he joined the Indian contingent at several annual World Expositions and Indian Expositions and was proud of the money he earned honestly by selling pictures of himself and giving autograph sessions.
Geronimo wished with all his heart to return to the hills of Arizona to live in peace for the rest of his days, but he was still a prisoner of war when he died of pneumonia on February 17, 1909. On his deathbed, he confessed to his nephew that he honestly regretted his decision to surrender. His exact words were reported to be: "I should have never surrendered. I should have fought until I was the last man alive."
In the hearts of many, his spirit never did surrender. To this very day Indians of various tribes visit his grave site and leave tokens of power.
In 1913 Native Americans were made citizens of the United States. By the year of 1962 the last of them were even allowed to vote and drink liquor just like white people. Their favorite president was Bill Clinton though; thanks to him they could at last inhale the clouds of a free American religion. Geronimo could rest in peace, at last.
LAST OF THE
BEDONKOHE APACHE TRIBE
In his last years on earth, Geronimo embraced Christianity, and stated "Since my life as a prisoner has begun, I have heard the teachings of the white man's religion, and in many respects believe it to be better than the religion of my fathers ... Believing that in a wise way it is good to go to church, and that associating with Christians would improve my character, I have adopted the Christian religion. I believe that the church has helped me much during the short time I have been a member. I am not ashamed to be a Christian, and I am glad to know that the President of the United States is a Christian, for without the help of the Almighty I do not think he could rightly judge in ruling so many people. I have advised all of my people who are not Christians, to study that religion, because it seems to me the best religion in enabling one to live right."
Geronimo joined the Dutch Reformed Church. Like many Native Americans he was puzzled by the behavior of Euromericans that contradicted what he was told religion was all about. Four years later he was expelled from that church, for gambling.
LAST OF THE BEDONKOHE
I (Stephen Melvil Barrett) first met Geronimo in the summer of 1904, when I acted for him as interpreter of English into Spanish, and vice versa, in selling a war bonnet. After that he always had a pleasant word for me when we met, but never entered into a general conversation with me.
That changed when he learned that I had once been wounded by a Mexican. As soon as he was told of this, he came to see me and expressed freely his opinion of the average Mexican, and his aversion to all Mexicans in general.
I invited him to visit me again, which he did, and upon his invitation, I visited him at his tepee in the Fort Sill Military reservation. In the summer of 1905 Dr. J. M. Greenwood, superintendent of schools at Kansas City, Missouri, visited me, and I took him* to see the chief.
Geronimo was quite formal and reserved until Dr. Greenwood happened to mention, "I am a friend of General Howard, whom I have heard speak of you."
"Come," Geronimo said immediately, and he led the way to a shade. He had seats brought for us, put on his war bonnet, and served watermelon à l'Apache (cut in big chunks), while he talked freely and cheerfully. When we left he gave us a pressing invitation to visit him again. In a few days the old chief came to see me and asked about "my father." I asked if he meant the old gentleman from Kansas City — “He has returned to his home."
"He is your father." Geronimo announced.
"No," I responded, "My father died twenty-five years ago, Dr. Greenwood is only my friend."
After a moment of silence Geronimo spoke again. This time in a tone of voice intended to allow no further discussion. "Your natural father is dead, this man has been your friend and adviser from youth. By adoption he is your father. Tell him he is welcome to come to my home at any time."
It was of no use trying to explain any more, for Geronimo had settled the matter in his terms and was not going to understand my relation to Dr. Greenwood except in accordance with Indian customs, therefore I let the matter drop.
In the latter part of that summer I asked Geronimo to allow me the privilege of publishing some of the things he had told me, but he objected. After some reflection he said that if I would pay him, and if the officers in charge did not object, he would tell me the whole story of his life.
I immediately called at Fort Sill and asked the officer in charge, one Lieutenant Purington, for permission to write the life story of Geronimo. I was promptly informed that the privilege would not be granted. Lieutenant Purington related to me many of the depredations committed by Geronimo and his warriors, and the enormous cost to the United States of subduing the Apaches.
He added that the silly old Apache deserved to be hanged, rather than spoiled by so much attention from civilians like myself.
At that point I suggested that our government had paid many soldiers and officers to go to Arizona and kill Geronimo and the Apaches, and that they did not seem smart enough to do it. Lieutenant Purington was offended, and I decided to seek elsewhere for permission. It seemed to me that I should start at the top. Accordingly I wrote to President Theodore Roosevelt that here was an old Indian who had already been held a prisoner of war for twenty years and had never been given a chance to tell his side of the story. I asked that Geronimo be granted permission by the president to tell – for publication and in his own way, the story of his life. I asked further that Geronimo be guaranteed that the publication of his story would not affect unfavorably the Apache prisoners of war. By return mail I received word that this authority had been granted. In a few days I received word from Fort Sill that the President had ordered the officer in charge to grant permission as requested. However, an interview was requested that I might receive the instructions of the War Department in the matter. When I went to Fort Sill the officer in command handed me the following brief, which constituted the whole of my instructions:
Lawton, Oklahoma, Aug. 12th, 1905.
Geronimo, — Apache Chief —
S. M. Barrett, Supt. Schools.
Letter to the President stating that above-mentioned desires to tell his life story that it may be published, and requests permission to tell it in his own way, and also desires assurance that what he has to say will in no way work a hardship for the Apache tribe.
Respectfully referred, by direction of the Acting Chief of Staff, through headquarters, Department of Texas, to the Officer In Charge of the Apache prisoners of war at Fort Sill, Oklahoma Territory, for remark and recommendation.
(Signed) E. F. Ladd,
Headquarters Department of Texas,
Respectfully transmitted to 1st Lieut. George A. Purington, 8th Cavalry, In Charge of Apache prisoners. (Thro' Commanding Officer, Fort Sill, O. T.)
By Command of Brigadier General Lee.
(Signed) C. D. Roberts,
Fort Sill, O. T., Aug. 31st, 1905.
Respectfully referred to 1st Lieut. G. A. Purington, 8th Cavalry, Officer in Charge of Apache prisoners of war, for remark and recommendation.
By Order of Captain Dade.
(Signed) James Longstreet,
Fort Sill, O. T., Sept. 2d, 1905.
Respectfully returned to the Adjutant, Fort Sill, O. T. I can see no objection to Geronimo telling the story of his past life, providing he tells the truth. I would recommend that Mr. S. M. Barrett be held responsible for what is written and published.
(Signed) Geo. A. Purington,
Fort Sill, O. T., Sept. 4th, 1905.
Respectfully returned to the Military Secretary, Dept. of Texas, San Antonio, Texas, inviting attention to 4th endorsement hereon. It is recommended that the manuscript be submitted before publication to Lieut. Purington, who can pass upon the truth of the story.
(Signed) A. L. Dade,
Headquarters Dept. of Texas,
Respectfully returned to the Military Secretary, War Department, Washington, D. C., inviting attention to the preceding endorsement hereon, which is concurred in.
(Signed) J. M. Lee,
Respectfully submitted to the Honorable the Secretary of War, inviting attention to the foregoing endorsements.
(Signed) J. C. Bates,
Respectfully returned to the Acting Chief of Staff to grant the necessary authority in this matter, through official channels, with the express understanding that the manuscript of the book shall be submitted to him before publication. Upon receipt of such manuscript the Chief of Staff will submit it to such person as he may select as competent to make a proper and critical inspection of the proposed publication.
(Signed) Robert Shaw Oliver,
Respectfully returned, by direction of the Acting Chief of Staff, to the Commanding General, Dept. of Texas, who will give the necessary instructions for carrying out the directions of the Acting Secretary of War, contained in the 8th endorsement. It is desired that Mr. Barrett be advised accordingly.
(Signed) Henry P. McCain,
Headquarters Dept. of Texas,
Respectfully referred to the Commanding Officer, Fort Sill, Oklahoma Territory, who will give the necessary instructions for carrying out the direction of the Acting Secretary of War contained in the 8th endorsement hereon.
This paper will be shown and fully explained to Mr. Barrett, and then returned to these headquarters.
By order of Colonel Hughes.
(Signed) Geo. Van Horn Moseley,
Early in October I secured the services of an educated Indian, Asa Deklugie, son of Whoa, chief of the Nedni Apaches, as interpreter, and the work of compiling the book began.
Geronimo refused to talk when a stenographer was present, or to wait for corrections or questions when telling the story. Each day he had in mind what he would tell and told it in a very clear, brief manner. He might prefer to talk at his own tepee, at Asa Deklugie's house, in some mountain dell, or as he rode in a swinging gallop across the prairie; wherever his fancy led him, there he told whatever he wished to tell and no more. On the day that he first gave any portion of his autobiography he would not be questioned about any details, nor would he add another word, but simply said, "Write what I have spoken," and left us to remember and write the story without one bit of assistance. He would agree, however, to come on another day to my study, or any place designated by me, and listen to the reproduction (in Apache) of what had been told, and at such times would answer all my questions and even add information to what he had spoken if he could be convinced that it was necessary.
He soon became so tired of producing the book that he would have abandoned the task except for the fact that he had agreed to tell the complete story. It seems like once gives his word, nothing will turn him aside from fulfilling his promise. A very striking illustration of this happened early in January of 1906.
Geronimo had agreed to come to my study on a certain date, but at the appointed hour the interpreter came alone, and said that Geronimo was very sick with cold and fever. The interpreter had come to tell me that we must appoint another date, as he feared the old warrior had an attack of pneumonia.
It was a very cold day and the interpreter drew a chair up to the grate to warm himself on all four sides after the exposure of his long ride. Just as he was seating himself he happened to glance out of the window. He rose quickly, and without speaking he pointed to a rapidly moving object coming our way.
A moment later I recognized the old chief riding furiously (evidently trying to arrive as soon as the interpreter did), his horse flecked with foam and reeling from exhaustion. Dismounting he came in and said in a hoarse whisper, "I promised to come. I am here."
I explained that in his physical condition he must not try to work. Geronimo stood before us for some time as if waiting for us to change our minds, then left the room without speaking. With his head bowed obliquely to the cold north wind he remounted his tired pony and began the ten long miles of the trail home — he had kept his promise.
When Geronimo and I had finished his story I submitted the manuscript to Major Charles W. Taylor, Eighteenth Cavalry, commandant, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, who gave me some valuable suggestions as to additional related information which he thought I should ask Geronimo to give. In most cases the old chief gave the desired information, but in some instances he refused, but always stating his reasons for so doing.
When the added information had been incorporated I submitted the manuscript to President Roosevelt, from whose letter I quote: "This is a very interesting volume which you have in manuscript, but I would advise that you disclaim responsibility in all cases where the reputation of an individual is assailed."
This sounded like good advice. Accordingly, I have appended notes throughout the book disclaiming responsibility for adverse criticisms of any persons mentioned by Geronimo.
On June 2d, 1906, I transmitted the complete manuscript to the War Department. The following quotation is from the letter of transmission:
"In accordance with endorsement number eight of the 'Brief' submitted to me by the commanding officer of Fort Sill, which endorsement constituted the instructions of the Department, I submit herewith the complete manuscript of the Autobiography of Geronimo.
"The manuscript has been submitted to the President, and at his suggestion I have disclaimed any responsibility for the criticisms (made by Geronimo) of individuals mentioned."
Six weeks after the manuscript was forwarded, Thomas C. Barry, Brigadier General, Assistant to the Chief of Staff, sent to the President the following:
"Memorandum for the Secretary of War.
"Subject: Manuscript of the Autobiography of Geronimo. The paper herewith, which was referred to this office on July 6th, with instructions to report as to whether there is anything objectionable in it, is returned.
"The manuscript is an interesting autobiography of a notable Indian, made by himself. There are a number of passages which, from the departmental point of view, are decidedly objectionable. These are found on pages 73, 74, 90, 91, and 97, and are indicated by marginal lines in red. The entire manuscript appears in a way important as showing the Indian side of a prolonged controversy, but it is believed that the document, either in whole or in part, should not receive the approval of the War Department."
The memorandum is published that the objections of the War Department may be made known to the public.
The objection is raised to the mention on pages seventy-three and seventy-four of the manuscript of an attack upon Indians in a tent at Apache Pass or Bowie, by U. S. soldiers. The statement of Geronimo, however, had been substantially confirmed by L. C. Hughes, editor of The Star, Tucson, Arizona.
On pages ninety and ninety-one of the manuscript, Geronimo criticized General Crook. This criticism is simply Geronimo's private opinion of General Crook. We deem it a personal matter and leave it without comment, as it in no way concerns the history of the Apaches.
On page ninety-seven of the manuscript Geronimo accuses General Miles of bad faith. Of course, General Miles made the treaty with the Apaches, but we know very well that he is not responsible for the way the Government subsequently treated the prisoners of war. However, Geronimo cannot understand this and fixes upon General Miles the blame for what he calls unjust treatment.
One could not expect the Department of War to approve adverse criticisms of its own acts, but it is especially gratifying that such a liberal view has been taken of these criticisms, and also that such a frank statement of the merits of the Autobiography is submitted in the memorandum. Of course neither the President nor the War Department is in any way responsible for what Geronimo says; he has simply been granted the opportunity to state his own case as he sees it.
The fact that Geronimo has told the story in his own way is doubtless the only excuse necessary to offer for the many unconventional features of this work.
Just the sound of his name breathes life to the sentence on the page. A picture leaps to mind, a knife raised, blood dripping from the murderous point, a warrior with vengeance spearing from his eyes. Geronimo... the fierce leader of Apache warriors determined to procure home land security at all costs. With the voice of the ghosting drums that terrified settlers from Kingman to Guadalajara, and from the tail waters of the Colorado River to the headwaters of the Rio Grande, the name of Geronimo rang shivering notes of death.
In 1894, Geronimo and 341 other Chiricahua Apache prisoners of war were brought to Fort Sill, where they lived in villages scattered around the post. Geronimo and the other Apache prisoners had free range of the reservation. He became one of Fort Sill's Native Scouts. Late in life he became a Christian.
After a few years of good conduct, Geronimo was granted permission to travel with Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show. In the 1890s and early 1900s he joined the Indian contingent at several annual World Expositions and Indian Expositions and he sold pictures of himself and also held autograph sessions. This is his story.
Because he has given me permission to tell my story; because he has read that story and knows I try to speak the truth; because I believe that he is fair-minded and will cause my people to receive justice in the future; and because he is chief of a great people, I dedicate this story of my life to Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States.
This is a new work, a compilation of fiction embraced with the recorded history of Geronimo as provided by Stephen Melvil Barrett, Superintendent of Education in Lawton, Oklahoma. But there were so many important questions of terrain and vegetation that the very civilized Mr. Barrett never thought to ask Geronimo that I have taken it upon myself to – as you may have noticed -- through this work of fiction have taken up the task of weaving new information into the basic story provided through Mr. Barrett. Let me explain why I have done this: Civilized people never really pay minute attention to the terrain, the daily temperatures, trails, water, animals and vegetation, and yet these made overpowering constraints on the movements of the Apache, Yaqui, Pima and Ah'Aughtum. Today it is even worse because there are nice, straight highways across the land where once upon a time even mules were hard-pressed to meander in the same general direction for more than two days in a row.
Over a century ago temperatures often soared to 118 degrees, and I have personally seen the thermometer go over 132 degrees.
Victoria's son, Charlie now lives here in the Fort Sill reservation with us. Naiche, the son of Co-Chise, who was my companion in arms, is now my companion in bondage. Capitan Whoa is dead now, but his son Asa is the one interpreting this story for me.
Naiche, son of Co-Chise, was Geronimo's lieutenant during the long, protracted Apache wars in Arizona.
W. F. Melton
At whose camp in Skeleton Cañon Geronimo surrendered
From the moment the command for war is given with the Apaches everything assumes a religious guise. The manner of camping, cooking, etc., are exactly prescribed. Every object appertaining to war is called by its sacred name; as if, for instance, in English, one should say not horse, but war-horse or charger; not arrow, but missile of death. The Indian is not called by his ordinary name, but by a sacred name to which is subjoined "brave" or "chief" as the case may be. Geronimo's Indian name was Go khlä yeh, but the Mexicans at this battle called him Geronimo, a name he has borne ever since both among the Indians and white men.
The double lion picture is taken from public domain work kept at http://digitalmedia.fws.gov/FullRes/natdiglib/9448D09A-3DE0-44AD-A88E6BD5BEFD5104.jpg