Saturday, January 19, 2013

Butterfield /Apache Pass Station

By the end of the decade, Cochise had emerged as the dominant Apache leader even surpassing his father-in-law Mangas Coloradas, who was pushing seventy. Cochise was fifty at the height of his medicine, and the land Cochise claimed ran from Tucson to Tubac to Nogales in the South, Highway #19, and then to Lordsburg in the East marked by today’s cities of Benson/Wilcox along  Highway #10 corridor punctuated by Fort Huachuca, Bisbee, Douglas in the south and Safford/Mt. Graham to the North and the Gila River/ Mountains in the Northwest plunging into southeast corner through Chiricahuas Mountains into Sonora/Chihuahua Mexico dominated by the towns of Fronteras/Janos. The other Indian Bands that were significant players were the Papagos, Pimas, Maricopa’s, historical enemies of the Apache. Pimas /Maricopa’s had been given land south of Tucson with tools/grain for farming and were quite successful. In 1854, Pete Kitchen came to Nogales, and built a profitable Rancheria on Potrero Creek with the help of the Opata from Sonora, and later became a fast friend of Cochise by saving his son Nachise from Mexicans. Cochise for this act of humanity promised to protect Kitchen wherever he traveled in Apacheria.

In 1858 the Butterfield Company arrived in the southwest by receiving a $600,000 Federal contract to develop an overland stage line from St. Louis to San Francisco with stops at El Paso, Tucson and Yuma. In all, Butterfield established 141 stations over 2800 miles. Stations were built at 20 mile intervals and by 1859 they had built stations in Chihennes and Chokonens country. Butterfield employed over 2000 people in the entire system, 100 in Apacheria alone costing $100,000 with nine stations. These stations were directed to preserve peace with the Indians, but were well equipped with Sharp rifles to defend themselves. Stations were built at Stein’s Peak, Soldier’s Farwell, Ojo de Vaca, the Mimbres River, Cooke’s spring and Barney’s station between Stein’s Peak and Soldier’s Farewell. The Apache Pass station  was the result of Cochise’s meeting with Michael Steck in December 1858 ,who was the first American to recognize the Chokonens as a separate Apache group, and who sought to enter into an understanding with Cochise about the Butterfield Line by offering cattle, corn, blankets , kettles. In April 1859, Steck again met with Cochise who however was disappointed by the small amount of supplies falling far short of the 15 wagons promised. These supplies were to seal the Butterfield agreement made between Steck and Cochise, but instead angered Cochise who felt dishonored  insisting that Steck leave Apache Pass and that he had no intention of ending the Apache raids into Mexico. For remaining peaceful against the Americans, not Mexicans, Cochise expected rations.

Apache Pass Station was unusually constructed. It was built of stone and was located in the heart of Cochise country between Dos Cabezas and Chiricahua Mountains being blessed with an abundant spring. Tragically it would have a devastating effect on the life of Cochise and the Apache people leading to twenty-five years of bloodshed between Pindah and Red. Cochise throughout his life would refer to Apache Pass with deep bitterness and regret. If Cochise had any inkling of how this one station would dramatically change his life it was never explicitly nuanced although there were ominous signs that relations between Apache/Pindah were edgy. The Apache Pass Station was managed by James Henry Tevis from Wheeling, West Virginia, who had frequent contact with Cochise in 1859/60. His memoirs, Arizona in the  50s, and his letter to the weekly “Arizonian” provide some insight into Cochise’s mindset and the evolving cultural dissonance between the two people. Tevis although impressed by Cochise’s physicality “as fine a looking Indian as one ever saw … who never met his equal with a lance” was nevertheless intimated by Cochise. According to Tevis whenever the soldiers or stage coaches left Cochise would appear often drunk by tiswin threatening his staff. Tevis and Cochise instantaneously disliked each another seeking to humiliate the other whenever possible. For instance, Tevis mocked Cochise over a failed Apache raid to supply his people after a harsh winter into Sonora claiming that with half of Cochise’s braves he would have been successful!

Cochise once challenged Tevis to a duel: his spear against Tevis pistol? (Cf, Roberts Once, p.51.). Another sore spot was Tevis part in assisting Cochise’s adopted son Merejildo Grijalva to escape to Fort Thorn, New Mexico, to act as a translator for Michael Steck. Grijalva had been captured by Miguel Narbona in 1849, raised Apache, and soon became part of Cochise’s extended family learning to become a warrior and acted as an interpreter for Cochise with Butterfield people at Stein’s Peak. Merejildo met Michael Steck at Apache Pass, who was impressed by his linguistic skills, and moved by his story as an Apache Captive, offered him a position. Why Merejildo left Cochise to become one of his fiercest adversaries remains unclear. One story has it that his Apache love was taken from him propelling him to leave the camp in bitterness. In summer of 1858, while Cochise was away in Navajo land Tevis made good Merejildo escape. Merejildo soon became an important scout and Cochise nemesis throughout the late 60’s and early 70’s. Cochise was deeply offended by this “blood betrayal” blaming the Americans more than Merejildo. (Cf, Sweeney, Merejildo Grijalva, p.11). Finally, was the issue of Cochise’s brother-in-law who was killed by Tevis over stealing sugar?  Tevis was aware that Cochise upon hearing of the death would seek to avenge the loss forced Tevis to resign hurriedly from Butterfield in September, 1859, for silver mining opportunities at Pinos Altos. In December of 1860, Tevis angered in part by his difficulties with Cochise at Apache Pass, his loss of job, orchestrated an attack of 30 well armed Texas miners on a peaceful Chihennes Band near Pinos Altos for stealing. Four Apaches were killed and 23 women/children captured. This unprovoked action by Tevis was represented another nail in the fragile peace between the Americans/Apaches reflecting the growing tension and racism building between the two people making peace an increasingly difficult proposition as the decade of the 1860’s unfolded. (Cf, Tevis, Arizona in the 50’s)

Even though Tevis described Cochise “as being two-faced … the biggest liar in the territory – would kill an American for any trifle, provide he thought he wouldn’t be found out,” other contemporaries like John G. Bourke indicate that Cochise got on reasonably well with Whites even supplying wood/hay to the station. Cochise certainly was not interested in precipitating a Pindah war in lieu of the losses experienced in Fronteras in 1858 in which 26 inebriated Chokonen warriors along with ten women were massacred by Mexican authorities. Such setbacks Cochise could hardly afford as the Apaches were already critically short of men and their strict mores on birth and child rearing did not lend it to sudden rises in population patterns. It was this shortage of men which explains why when Apaches raided they look for eligible boys to raise as their own. In some ways, children were even more important than the blankets/animals that they captured. Nor was he prepared to enter into a four front war involving the states of Sonora, Chihuahua and the territory of New Mexico/ Arizona! In some ways maintaining peace with the Americans was crucial to recovering and healing. In early summer, 1859, Merejildo Grijalva relates a story of how incensed Cochise was when he learned that members of his band had stolen ponies/mules from Sonora Exploring/Mining Company near Patagonia. He killed one of the warriors involved and had the remaining animals returned to Fort Buchanan. Moreover according to Grijalva and Fred Hughes, Tom Jeffords assistant, Cochise warned his warriors that although they could raid into Mexico they were to let Americans alone. In fact, Cochise indicated to Michael Steck in October of the same year his willingness to continue to protect the Overland mail through his territory as a sign of his desire to maintain peace. (Cf, Sweeney, Merejildo Grijalva p.11).

Cochise voice tremor as he spoke to Dos-teh-seh over the loss of Merejildo or El Chivero (Goat Herder). They had practically had raised him as one their own.  El Chivero had become part of their family playing with Cochise’s eldest son Taza, had eaten and slept in Cochise’s wickiup, and had received warrior training from Cochise. Cochise reflected on the time he spent with El Chivero in strengthening his endurance by having him run with a mouthful of water to the top of the hill to teach him the benefit of breathing through the noise as a way to conserve body fluids.  He took pride at how the Mexican boy adopted the Apache ways and had become a trusted interpreter. He shook his head in dismay picking up his spear and Dos-teh-seh biting her lip commiserated asking “what happened?”  Cochise uttered ´’it was Tevis!” “Maybe I’ll draw him into a fight but he is too cowardly”. “Who does he think he is; he /Butterfield exist only at my pleasure”. “My hands are tied I cannot afford a conflict with the Pindah --- must eat my pride.”  Cochise took a deep breath and left the wickiup to reflect on the glittering, but darken lights sparkling along the Stronghold wall as night felled. He shivers experiencing a slight breeze carrying the pungent odor of mountain pine accompanied by the sound of a lonesome wolf from the canyon floor. “Ah my brother, the wolf” he muses to himself. “Maybe we are both doomed by the inroads of these Americans who are maddened by gold and silver ore, who wish to cut up our lands into parcels, who are freighting away the deer and the elk; who see us as wild animals who need to be hunted down and killed like you brother the wolf who likes us wants to remain free.” He hears footsteps approaching and recognizes his lieutenant’s steps: faithful Nahilzay, flanked by Skinyea and Pionsenay, brothers who although brave could at times be foolish, but were loyal to Cochise. The trio came with the news that Tevis had resigned. “Inju” (Good) Cochise uttered, and hearing the wolf sing again his confidence renewed that perhaps his people and the wolf could survive this storm just as Child of Water had taught them a long time ago in how to outwit the “Four Monsters”.

With Tevis departure from Apache Pass Station relations settled between Cochise and the Americans at Butterfield fell into a peaceful routine in which Chokonen and Station personnel interacted and became comfortable with each other. Hank Culver replaced Tevis as Station Agent. Fred Walsh took care of the mules and horses and James F. Wallace was a Butterfield driver who frequented the Station between runs. They all became familiar with Cochise and his people as the Chokonen supplied wood and purchased cloth, corn and kettles for nuggets.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Steck and Apache Solution/Mexican Treachery

From 1852 -1863, Dr. Michael Steck of Pennsylvania, and a graduate from University of Pennsylvania medical college, was appointed New Mexico Indian Agent for the southern Apaches. He was the best of Agents presaging Tom Jeffords’ work with Cochise’s people in the 1870’s. Steck came to know Mangas Coloradas quite well. Steck realized that the Apaches had an outdated raiding economy. His Apache blueprint called for teaching the Apaches how to farm, raise cattle, and to establish a safe haven for them on a reservation in the Gila/Santa Lucia area where they would be autonomous and secure from Pindah incursion. Unfortunately, Steck’s plans ran into political difficulty as Congress was unwilling to formalize his negotiations with Mangas through a formal treaty arguing that America had already conquered it from Mexico. The other difficulty was providing adequate supplies on time to the Apaches in the form of food, clothing and tools until they became self sufficient in farming and cattle rising.  But because of the uncertainty over supplies (11 pounds of corn for adults and half the amount for children) by the Federal Government, bi- annual in March/November, as compared to the lavish monthly supplies available by either raiding or trading in Mexico, Mangus and Cochise would pull away from Steck, and continued to work out favorable terms south of the Border even though the war there had intensified. 

In 1858, Steck encountered the elusive Chokonen leader Cochise at Apache Pass. Up until this time the Chokonen band had remained relatively obscured to the Americans as a separate Chiricahua group. Events however were occurring in southern Arizona that led Cochise to interact with Steck. In 1856, American troops under Major Enoch Steen had formally occupied Tucson ending decades of Mexican occupation. Steen rather than staying there however left to establish Fort Buchannan at the head of the Sonoita Valley. American troop presence brought more Americans into Cochise’s territory looking for gold, copper in the Tubac area. Even more significant was the opening of the Butterfield Overland Mail Company in 1857-58 through the very heart of Cochise country.  In 1859, Cochise again met with Steck promising to protect and to even supply wood for the Butterfield Line. Relations between Steck and Cochise soured over adequate supplies and by the fact that a young Mexican who he had raised, by the name of Merejildo Grijalva, escaped to work for Steck. Their last meeting occurred again at Apache Pass in November 1860 as Steck was planning to leave for Washington. By then it became clear to Cochise that Americans were long on promises but fell far short of providing the essential tools to assist his people to transition from hunters/raiders to ranchers/herders. Steck too had failed to establish a reservation for his people. Cochise sent Yones the wife of his brother Coyuntura to explore the possibility of reopening peace talks with Sonora. Regarding Steck he will pass from the Apache scene and became caught up in the Navajo war arguing with General James Carlton about the devastation of the “Long Walk”. Later Steck will turn to mining and then return to Pennsylvania in the late 60’s.

Mangas attempted at reaching an accord with the Americans however was not true of the “treacherous” Mexicans toward which he carried a deep anger. In the winter of 1857-58, Mangas lost two sons in Sonora, leading him to combine with Cochise in avenging the death of his sons and torching many Sonoran villages. 

(Cochise scouts saw the steady rise of puffs of smoke rising northeast , waited and then quickly relay the message to Cochise who was then in his summer Dragoon stronghold reflecting with his brother Coyuntura on Mexican treachery and growing Pindah presence in Apacheria. The “brown ones he knew for centuries, pale faces he didn’t know”? His people, Chiricahuas, unlike Mangas people, had only limited experience with Pindah but the question that gnawed in the pit of his stomach was how long the mountain fortress of Dragoons and Chiricahua would protect his people. The runner came to his wickiup bringing the sad news that Mangas two sons had been killed and he invited Cochise to avenge their death by meeting him at Stein’s Peak. Cochise at first hesitated, tightening his fist, turning to Coyuntura grimacing “I must tell Dos-te-she about death of her two brothers.” He went out into warm sun and beckoned his oldest wife to come to him sharing the painful news in the Apache way. She immediately began to wail, to cut her hair and to throw ash over her face in memory of her brothers. “They are gone” and their names would never be mentioned again providing a speedy release into the spirit world. Cochise beckoned his warriors, led by his trustworthy lieutenant Nahilzay. He mount quickly his favorite Black stallion urging speed by waving his favorite shot gun over his head leaving the stronghold for Doubtful Canyon, with sounds of women wishing them success ringing in their ears as they made their way down  the narrow canyon trail. Travelling rapidly and in small groups Cochise followers joined with Mangas forces. “Let’s us prepare our revenge on Mexicans for this terrible crime against my people and my family” Mangas screamed in anguish as his memory reminisced the scenes of his two dead sons. Fires were light and next four night’s warriors dance/pray around campfire preparing themselves for combat against their traditional Mexican enemy. Mangas called Cochise and other leaders to discuss strategy. “Let’s us break up into small groups rendezvous near Fronteras where we will spring on the nearby ranches and villages at first sign of light.” “Let them taste full fury of my pain and avenge their treachery and deceit over the years!” Striking early the Apaches caught Mexicans off guard and showed no mercy: burning, killing and looting all they caught or encountered. After several days of raiding Mangas/Cochise left Sonora and returned to their respective strongholds to ponder where they were and what there next step should be with growing Pindah presence.)  

 Mangas and Cochise raised a large force of 500 Apaches to avenge the lost of Mangas’ two sons. Cochise and Mangas conducted a series of devastating raids into Sonora during the summer of 1858 perhaps killing as many as 300 Sonorans. Younger Apache leaders emerged during this period including Victorio and his sister Lozen, Warm Springs, and Geronimo, a war lieutenant of the Bedonkohes Band, who had just lost his wife, Alope, and mother and three children, to a Mexican attack in the spring of 1858. Geronimo was so devastated by his lost that he became a loose cannon as his desire for revenge overwhelm everything else. It was during the summer of 1858 that he adopted the name of Geronimo (St. Jerome) from his Mexican adversaries whenever they saw Goyakhla, (One Who Yawns), cried out in fear to St. Jerome, to protect them! Another prominent Chiricahua was Juh who came from Nedhi Band, and was closed to Geronimo through marrying Geronimo’s sister Ishton. He too like Cochise was quite tall but much heavier with a stutter. In counsel he often relied on Geronimo to speak in his behalf. The Apache need for revenge finally spent Cochise decided to return to the Dragon Stronghold with lots of supplies for his people.  

Cochise was well aware that Apaches needed Mexican allies to offset the growing gringo presence in Apacheria. (“Mexican villages and towns are vital to Apache survival, trade, commerce, supplies, horse, guns” he mused. He turned to Dos–te-she letting her know of how successful the raid had been but confided “maybe doing ourselves more harm than good”. He came into wickiup to dress himself for the night festivities in which warriors would share their bravery and successes followed by dancing and tiswin. Cochise realized that his people needed badly these moments of celebration to recover from the growing pressure placed on their way of life. He came to campfire and took his place next to Coyuntura listening to rhythmic sound of the drumming which placed him into an altered state of consciousness in which he relived a village attack seeing in his mind’s eye how quickly his warriors fell on the unsuspecting Mexicans farmers emerging mysteriously from the desert floor as they entered their fields and then rushed the plaza. In minutes it was over. Faces of the fallen reflect the shock of surprise as they fell to an arrow or knife or spear. And so it went from village to hacienda until Apache furor was spent and Mangas signaled “enough!” Hearing his name mentioned Cochise broke from his revere and returned to the circle to listen to heroic tales of his men to win the attention of the single Apache women gathering outside to listen. Gaans dancers appeared, protectors of Apache people, inviting spirit world to provide abundance and long life to Cochise and Chiricahuas. Dancing/drinking began and Cochise wiping his mouth from tiswin turned to Coyuntura “let’s take an early sweat tomorrow to discuss relations with Sonora/Fronteras” “We can’t afford to burn bridges there”! “Can we repair it?” “Peace brother”.)
At sunrise in July “Father Sun” rose brilliantly and cast it yellows, reds and oranges across the eerie Rock People who inhabited the Chiricahuas Peaks, Cochise and Coyuntura met in alcove of pine near a stream and watched as medicine man constructed the Sweat with willow limbs and covered the roof with juniper and blankets. They blessed themselves with sage and entered into the Sweat on their knees as  a sign of humility seeking in the healing mystery of the Sweat guidance , and watched quietly as the fireman brought in 7 “Grandfather Stone People” and placed them into the pit. Once they were arranged the ceremony began with the closing of the door plunging them into utter darkness save for the light emanating from the pit in the center of the circle. Cochise, Coyuntura, Nahilzay, and several other elders, singers and medicine man participated. Cochise as he listened to the songs, drumming, and sharing’s that occurred in each Round found himself engulfed by the Steam. It magically allowed him to release and let go, and he thanked the Creator for the land, the four-legged and winged creatures that provided food and acted as spiritual guides to the People and asked for guidance in leading his people. Leaving the Sweat refreshed he turned to Coyuntura and said “let’s return to Fronteras soon to re-establish trade with our Mexican neighbors. We cannot fight everyone! The Americans are tough foes and we need Sonoran weapons/supplies to defend ourselves.”
Returning to Fronteras with his Band, Cochise sent Coyuntura wife, Yones, who spoke Spanish to sound the Mexicans out. Yones rode back with a few others to Apache encampment on Rio Bavispe to report to Cochise who was impatiently waiting for her along with Coyuntura both concerned for her safety. “Well” Cochise asked? “They promise to meet on some French holiday, sounded like Bastille Day, promising a fiesta to celebrate a new beginning. Food, music, dancing and mescal would be provided.” “Can the Mexicans be trusted” Cochise asked. His mind rapidly reviewed past meetings that ended badly for Apaches. Turning to Coyuntura, Cochise quietly uttered. “Let’s try it but carefully!”
The next morning drew hot in the Apache camp. It was the season of Ripening when crops matured and seeds /grasses/corn became available.  As Cochise approached, his hair was fastidiously groomed hanging down over his shoulders in Apache fashion, dressed in a beautiful turquoise cotton shirt tied at the waist by a silver Concha belt he acquired in a raid. He carried a beautiful Navajo blanket with thunder designs; he motioned to the people to gather around him. He instructed: “we all know that the Mexicans can be treacherous. So to protect ourselves in Fronteras let’s now agree to be careful of drinking mescal and if anything goes wrong separate into smaller groups and travel to the stand of cottonwoods shaped like herd of Elk along Bavispe. From there we will make our way quickly northward to Chiricahuas.” A dust whirl suddenly appeared casting a shadow as they rode to Fronteras. Arriving at Fronteras, Cochise and his lieu tents approached the city leaders and exchange gifts as a sign of peace. Cochise the Navajo blanket; the Mexican delegation, Havana cigars. Apaches/Mexicans mingled together, accompanied by talking; music, shopping, tortillas, and mescal, when suddenly Cochise heard shouting and gunfire, and saw Cochon a leader go down and signaled to his people to leave immediately for the rendezvous. It ended badly for Chokonens who according to Edwin R. Sweeney “lost 26 men, 10 women and 3 chiefs.” Sweeney, ­Cochise, pp 112-113.
Cochise returning to western Stronghold trembled with rage over Fronteras and his own blindness, seeking counsel with Coyuntura about a new strategy. They sat in silence for some time broken by howling of coyotes in distance. “The defeat will be avenged, for Apache blood cries out for justice!” “War with Mexicans means that we must seek an accommodation with the Americans and once we have worked something out with Pindah we then can create the impression that an American-Apache initiative is underway making our raids into Mexico safer and more strategic. Mexicans have always feared an Apache/American combination! Now the question is where to begin relations with Pindah who we really do not know as we know the Mexicans.”This incident later appeared in “San Diego Herald”, Sept.18, 1858;”Los Angeles Star”, Oct.2, 1858. The Mexican act of deceit triggered another Fronteras attack in September by Cochise/Mangas from Stein’s Peak which was poorly executed, and led both to return to their respective northern strongholds licking their wounds to work something out with the Americans. It was getting much too hot south of the Boarder!

1850's/Twilight Period in Apache/Pindah Relations

The 1850’s was a Twilight Period in Apache-American relations as each side attempted to access the respective strengths of the other. The Apache-American (Pindah) struggle generated different responses as each side attempted to feel out the other! Some American policy-makers called for extinction- humanely if possible and if not, no quarter should be shown. Others called for civilizing the red man by transforming them into farmers, ranchers, miners. Indian Agent, Sylvester Mowrey, however insisted that reservations/ acculturalization will devastate the tribes in the long term by exposing them to alcohol, disease and prostitution. Reservations were administratively efficient from the government’s perspective but culturally divisive for the various bands many of whom were historical enemies. Crowding all the Bands together in a specific place made it easier to play one group off against another. Making the reservations even worse was that they often were established on barren land where disease and death were rampant! The other issue to peace which made these reservations unattractive was the inadequacy of food and provision for the Apaches! Their poor locations made the goal of transforming the Apaches into ranchers, herders, farmers as advocated by Indian Agent, Michael Steck, and a mockery. Ranching and farming was contrary to the Apache warrior culture, a value deeply embedded in their psychic, and part of their own sense of independence and freedom. The conundrum facing Washington was that the historical Apache- Mexican War, along with the Apaches raiding economy, may it impossible for the military to prevent Apache incursions south of the Border despite the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In 1851, the military under Colonel Edwin Sumner decided to build a network of Forts in Apacheria as a way to stem the flow of raids into Mexico. The most strategic point was Fort Webster built at present day San Lorenzo/Santa Luca in the heart of Mangas Coloradas Chihennes’ land. But it was later removed to the Rio Grande and renamed Fort Thorn. Sumner decided to remove military garrisons from towns the size of Santa Fe, and establish them in strategic frontier points in Apacheria as a way to better control hostile Apache movement, and to better pursue their elusive enemy in search and destroy missions.  Cavalry patrols were to cris-cross the territory as a way of neutralizing Apache raids, providing protection for teamsters/miners, and settler’s wagon trains passing through or settling in the southwest.
Throughout the 50’s Mangas Coloradas and his protégé Cochise sought to weave a middle path away from an outright war against the Pindah as they intuitively sensed that they would not win against the technologically savvy Americans. Their need to conduct winter raids into Mexico for supplies and manpower had to be done in such a fashion as not to alienate the Americans. The technological superiority of the Pindah was made quite evident to the two leaders in 1857 when Colonel Benjamin Louis Eulalie Bonneville launched an expedition of 900 soldiers against the White Mountain Western Apaches and the Bedonkohes Chiricahuas in the Gila Mountains for their incursions along the Rio Grande. It was a rather complicated strategy involving a three prong encirclement operation, which although having limited success, because of the Apaches ability to vanish into the landscape, nevertheless left a deep impression on Mangas and Cochise with American firepower, and ease in mobilizing large numbers of troops when compared to the relative primitive weapons available to the Apaches, and their much smaller population base. Mangas Coloradas’ Chihennes were more vulnerable to western impact than Cochise’s Chiricahuas largely because of geography. In 1856, Michael Steck reported that Mangas’ band consisted of approximately a 1000 persons with many more being children and women than men which constituted only 20 % of those counted. (Cf, Sweeney, MC, p.331.) Mangus Coloradas Chihennes were reduced to 70 men/450 women & children; Bedonkohes of Geronimo, 125 men /500 women; Chokonens of Cochise, 125 warriors/500 women/children.  

Cochise and Mangas often sought each other’s counsel about how to handle the Americans/Mexicans. It was quite common for Mangas’ Mimbreno’s to join with Cochise’s Chokonens during the winter months to plot their joint raids into Sonora or Chihuahua. Both realized that Anglos tolerated the continuing Apache raids into Mexico as it spared them from Apache depredations, and confirm the Gringo racist prejudice that “Browns” were inherently weak/cowardly! They also played their own game of divide and rule, playing the Americans off against the Mexicans, as well as the states of Sonora and Chihuahua. Mangas at the time of Bonneville was negotiating with Janos, whereas Cochise was doing the same with Ignacio Pesqueria governor of Sonora at Fronteras. A factor motivating Mexicans to parley/trade with the Apaches was their fear that the Americans might ally with their historical enemies to seize northern Mexico for United States. Apache /Mexican relations historically followed a pattern of war, followed by negotiations/peace, and then war with excesses on each side. Apaches needed Mexicans for food, livestock, horses, mules, equipment, guns and markets. Mexican commercial symbiosis required trading with Apaches for gold, contraband goods and horses. Complicating trading arrangements was the Apaches habit of taking young Mexican boys on raiding parties, and the Mexican ruse of enticing them with whiskey in order to get their trade goods for next to nothing or to scalp them for money! Making survival more difficult for the Apaches was that the Mexicans in Sonora/Chihuahua had adopted a scorch earth policy of pursuing Apache raiders relentlessly, using Indian scouts from tribes that loathed the Apache, hiring mercenaries scalp or bounty hunters, and using trickery and bio/chemical warfare against their enemies. Maria Zuloaga of Janos an inveterate Apache hater and dominant Jefe in northwestern Chihuahua, who controlled the Corralitos’ mines, was fearful of an Anglo/Apache rapprochement in which Apaches would receive Americans arms for booty, invited Cochise and Mangus to parley in 1858 under a white flag, but instead they were feted poison food and drink leading to the death of 60 Chihennes/Chokonens. This alleged peace meeting with Janos leaders was a ployed used by the Mexicans to poison their Apache guest with tampered whiskey! This betrayal led Mangas to return to his beloved Santa Lucia to work out a more permanent agreement with John Steck who wrote about the poisoning event, Nov. 21, 1857, to James L. Collins, Superintendant of Indian Affairs, in New Mexico. Similar response occurred in Sonora under Ignacio Pesqueria, future Governor, following his decisive defeat in 1851 by the Apaches at Pozo Hediondo under Mangus Coloradas he too became militaristic and ruthless seeing in guns and treachery the only recourse to dealing with the Apaches.


Early Pindah Encounters Continued

Early Pindah Encounters Continued:

The next encounter occurred in 1851 with the appearance of the US Boundary Commission led by John Russell Bartlett and his guide John Cremony at Santa Rita Del Cobre mine. The Commission was commissioned by Washington to survey a final boundary between the United States and Mexico as a prelude to the Gadsden Purchase of 1853-54 in which American would purchase the territory south of the Gila River for $10 million dollars. Driving the deal was the desire to develop a transcontinental railroad from New Orleans to Los Angeles, to open the southwest to Southern expansion even though its deserts did not lend itself to plantations, slavery and cotton. The problem with the Bartlett Commission was that the Apaches, who had been here for centuries, were never consulted even though the area claimed ran right through the heart of their Chiricahua land! Mangas Coloradas and Cochise were deeply offended by the lack of respect that this Pindah assumption revealed. 

The desire of Mangus Coloradas to establish good relations with the Pindah was undermined by the general American attitude shared by Bartlett and Cremony that Apaches were uncivilized, doomed to extinction and could quickly be marginalized. White man’s superiority, Manifest Destiny and racism were so ingrained in the Western psychic that for all practical practices modus operands between the two peoples was well neigh impossible. Americans showed no desire to appreciate Apache culture, and were often insulting in their demeanor. Two incidents reflected the cultural chasm between the two people: two Mexican youth who had been captured and raised by the Apache sought asylum from Bartlett and although he provide monetary recompense of $212.00 to the adopted Apache parents for their return the exchange was looked upon as a terrible insult to Mangus hospitality as they had been feeding the Commission and showed the American ignorance about Apache ways in which young Mexicans often were captured and raised Apache as a way to replenish their losses. Powerful emotional and familial ties developed that no amount of money could replace. Worse Bartlett later refused to turn over a teamster who got angry and killed an Apache. Mangus Coloradas insisted on Apace justice but Bartlett insisted that American law trumpet Apache law!  Bartlett offered $20.00 to settle the matter with the aggrieved family which fell far short of avenging the injustice that Apache jurisprudence demanded. Relations between Bartlett and Mangus Coloradas broke over this matter – as the Apaches raided their horses and Bartlett soon left Santa Rita Del Cobre. (Cf, Cremony, Life, Chs.5 & 6). 
Cochise as he waited for his Father-in-law Mangas to visit reflected on the growing intrusion of the Pindah in their lands. His instincts told him that they were dangerous and Apaches would have to be careful in their dealings. Though lighter in complexion than Mexicans, they apparently shared a similar hunger for gold, silver, copper, land and were not adverse to using guns or treachery to get their way, as their war with Mexico showed. He remembered the elders recounting the arrival of the Spaniards with their iron jackets, muskets, and strange animals and how they cruelly attacked and destroyed the Pueblo people with the destruction of Acoma being one of the worse incidents.  He wondered about his own people’s fate. Pausing, Cochise rises, takes a deep breath of sweet pine air, watches his wife Dos-te-she prepare food, while his oldest son Taza,  about 10 years old, arm wrestles with a friend kicking up a cloud of dust. “Best time is at dusk”, Cochise muses, reds/pinks/blues/greens shimmer as the setting sun disappears in direction of Tucson, birds are quiet, life rests except for rattlesnakes that enjoy the coolness of the evening and hunt their prey. Apaches don’t like moving at night because snake bites often require healing by a medicine doctor. Cochise calls for Coyuntura, his alter ego and confidant. He trusted his brother’s insight and discernment and often in sweat would share his concerns and fears about their future. He asks Coyuntura what brings Mangas to our campfire. Coyuntura replies Bartlett! At that moment he hears horses approaching the Strong hold and realizes it is Magnus with his lieutenants Delgadito and Victoria. Mangas rides a superb grey and easily dismounts greeting Cochise. They gather around the campfire invoking the Great Spirit to bless their meeting as it has serious implications for Chiricahuas. Mangas is a generation older than Cochise and leads the Chihenne band located in Southwestern New Mexico bounded by the Gila River and the Mogollon/Black Mountains. Because of his physical size, Mangas intimidates all he encounters, but as Cochise had come to realize, Mangas was very shrewd about the need of unity and sought to strengthen the hand of the Chiricahuas by marrying off his 2 daughters to other Apaches including one to White Mountain, Katuhala, and the other to Coyotero, Cosito. Cochise had learned a lot from Mangas since his marriage with Dos-te -she ,and Mangas saw in Cochise a leader who had both the sagacity and skill of the legendary Child of Water and hopefully could realize his dream of bringing Apaches together. After puffing a cigarette and passing it around, Cochise asked Mangas about the encounter with Bartlett. Mangas grabbed a handful of sand and threw it on the ground with disgust. “I went seeking understanding/peace and they spit on me!” He continues: “I even offered to fight with them against the Mexicans and then Bartlett insists that we must stop our raiding of Mexicans as Pindah now are at peace!” It’s enough to make me sick. How dare they come into our lands and tell us what do!  The others felt the anger mounting within Mangas as he continues to speak …gesturing with his “red sleeves”: “they insulted us with notion of white man’s justice in which they think everything can be solved with money … as though we can eat money or money can assuage hurt felt over the death of an Apache!” Mangas pauses, Cochise respectively asks “what are we do with Pindah now that they claim our land as theirs?” Mangas hesitates and then replies “play for time until we get a better handle on these intruders from the East.”  What was not said was how well armed the Americans were with their Spencer’s and Henry repeating rifles! Venus moves across the night sky, logs crackle as fire burns low, and Cochise motions for the counsel to end. Everyone slowly rises and made their ways to wickups to reflect on meaning of Mangas story for the Apaches. As Cochise moves across the camp he winces as he hears the ominous hoot of an Owl --- and muses: “a bad sign sound for the future of Chiricahuas”.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Early Pindah Encounters


At the very time that Cochise was emerging as the indisputable leader of the Chokonen Apaches, and wrestling with the deep personal losses at Galena over the death of his father and mother, events were unfolding outside his world in Mexico City and Washington D. C. that would have profound consequences upon his people. The Mexican- American War, 1846-48, will dramatically shift the political/cultural landscape for the Apaches as a new territorial line will be arbitrarily imposed on Apacheria by Washington placing it within the boundary of the United States. The primary trigger for this transcontinental adventure was the new Nationalism of “Manifest Destiny”, the sense that the West was an untamed virgin wilderness waiting for the superior plow of civilization and industrialism to transform it into a veritable paradise under the auspices of the elected White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Americans. Taming the West became a national policy under Andrew Jackson, whose election in 1828 ushered in the era of the “common man”. Jacksonian Democracy imagined an America of independent God fearing white, self-reliant farmers who were destined to expand the virtues of hard work and private property into the wilderness. “Manifest Destiny” had a strong dose of racism in it particularly directed at peoples  “Red” or “Brown” of color, who were not only culturally/economically backward, but were indolent and lazy, and had no idea how make this vast wilderness productive. It was this attitude of Jackson that led to the Indian Removal Act in 1830 by which the “Five Civilized Tribes” of the southeast, who despite their efforts at “civilizing themselves”, were still forcibly removed from their lands and sent to Indian Territory later called Oklahoma. The Cherokees still today lament this upheaval by commemorating the “Trail of Tears” in which 4000 Cherokees perished trekking westward at gunpoint in 1838.
The other side of racism was the American view toward the darker, swarthy Mestiza Mexicans, who were considered barely more advanced than their Indian cousins. This viewpoint was evidenced by the continued political instability in Mexico City, characterized by revolving Presidencies, and by the Mexican ineptitude in managing Texas. James Polk from Tennessee was a southern democrat nationalist who was committed to American expansion, and recognized that the United States absorption of Texas into the Union in 1845 would never be accepted by Mexico. The real prize however of a Mexican War was California, and not the New Mexico territories, as it would transform America into a transcontinental power. Another powerful southern motive was the hope of opening the New Mexico territories to southern expansion thus restoring the political “Geometry of Balance” between North and South, which had been offset by the opening of the Oregon Trail. The war was relatively short but intense, and was formally ended by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in February 1848. For a paltry $18 million dollars Mexico lost half its territory, and the great irony was that before the ink on the Treaty had dried, gold will be discovered in California. The boundary between Mexico and United States was finally established at the Rio Grande River.  Article XI would in particular impact Cochise’s people as the United States did agree to protect Mexicans from Apache/Comanche raids.  Ironically, the Mexican- American War re-energized the slave question for abolitionists as  it undermined the Missouri  Compromise which had stabilized America into a north free and south slave along  parallel 36 30 in 1820. Texas coming in as a slave state altered the relationship between north and south. Racial politics was intensified in America soon spilling over to the Apaches, who were viewed as backward, primitive and treacherous. (Cf, Eduardo Ruiz, ed., The Mexican War: Was It Manifest Destiny?)
Though the Apaches had lived in the southwest for many centuries their consultation was ignored as they were not deem civilized enough to be invited to the treaty discussions between America/Mexico that would shatter their hunter/gatherer lifestyle. The first formal meeting between the Apaches-Pindah (White Eyes) came in 1846 during the height of the Mexican- American War when General Stephen Watts Kearney led by Kit Carson was ordered to California. Kearney with a force of 300 men crossed the land of Mangus Coloradas where he encountered the impressive warrior near Santa Rita del Cobre copper mines. Mangus Coloradas offered to support the Americans in the Mexican War, but was rebuffed on the grounds that once the war was ended the “Great Father” would not tolerate Apache raids south of the Rio Grande boarder. Mangus was surprise if not stunned by the American response leading him to be suspicious. Especially since the Mexicans were the traditional Apache enemies and Mangas even had offered to fight with the American against the Mexicans. Mangas was stunned by this Pindah display of arrogance, but was wary of these newcomers sensing that they were tougher than the Mexicans, being well armed and disciplined. Throughout his life Mangas Coloradas attitude toward the Pindah was mixed. It was his ambivalence that sometimes led him to rely too much on diplomacy to achieve his goal of reaching an accommodation ultimately lead to his gruesome death under a flag of peace in 1863.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cochise Mentors/Early Years

By 1830, Cochise was entering into the summer of his existence, and although not a major leader as of yet his leadership skills were being fine honed through a combination of archetypes as warrior/seeker, lover/seeker, destroyer/creator as well as major events that would mold his personality /temperament. Resumption of conflict with Sonora/Chihuahua became a critical issue. Mexican Independence from Spain occurred on September 26, 1821, and dramatic shifted relations as the newly form Mexican Government was by the end of the decade unable to sustain financially the Spanish policy of providing material rations for the Apaches in the form of beef, grain, corn and cotton.  This led the Chiricahuas to revert back to their eighteenth raiding economy which however proved to be a slippery slope as it triggered a return to avenging Apache losses by attacking Mexican villages, haciendas, and ranches. Apache families cried out for honoring  their fallen loved ones by organizing  Mexican retributions which besides killing and looting involved seizing  Mexican children, males and females, who were brought back to their Bands and raised as Apaches. Similarly Mexican leaders retaliated by orchestrating military expeditions into Apacheria raiding, killing, ands capturing Apaches for working in the mines or providing domestic service for the wealthy in central Mexico. The “Fifty Year” war became increasingly ugly and would continue until the surrender of Geronimo in 1886. Hotspots were Fronteras in Sonora, Janos in Chihuahua, and the hated Santa Rita del Cobre mine in western New Mexico located in the heart of Mangas Coloradas territory. Apaches loathed the miners who were crude, vulgar and had no respect for the Gaans who lived in the mountains. The Sonorans were particularly hostile to the Chiricahuas and by the 1830’s implemented a genocidal policy that was particularly cruel and harsh involving the hiring of Bounty Hunters consisting of Mexicans, Indians and whites often at the lead. Pindah’s came into the southwest first as hunters/trappers/miners and then as Comancheros or traders who did business with the Apaches providing them with guns/whiskey and vital information about the movement of Mexican troops for stolen Mexican property. Cochise as a young man watches the unfolding of this war with Sonora, and to a lesser extent Chihuahua, which favored a peace policy, and the impact it was having on his people in terms of deaths. Cochise also watched how different Band leaders struggled with the matter of continuing the war, and how it split the People between those leaders who favored war versus those who sought making an accommodation. The war leaders included his Chokonen father Pisago Cabezon and Mangas Coloradas who led the Chihennes/Bedonkohes. Mangas went by two names. Initially Fuerte, Spanish for strong/brave/stout, and later Red Sleeve( Mangas Coloradas) either for his penchant to wear red or because of the legend that in one encounter  he covered his right arm in the blood of his Mexican enemy.(Cf,. Sweeney, MC, chps.2-4; Wellman, Death in the Desert p.6) Ironically, Cochise after his marriage to Mangas daughter, Dos –teh-se, drew closer to Mangas than Pisago. Mangas became for Cochise a sage or mentor who taught him how to think strategically, to weigh all sides, and to exercise prudence and discernment in making war. Mangas was aware that if the Apaches were to survive that they had to abandon their inter-tribal rivalry and unify. It was with this strategy in mind that he married off his daughters to key Apache /Navajo leaders. Mangas had keen political/geopolitical wariness, savvy in playing Chihuahua off against Sonora, and using the lands and mountains of western New Mexico as impregnable strongholds to retreat to, and to launch campaigns against Sonora and Chihuahua. Later with the arrival of the Americans he found himself manipulating and orchestrating across four states/territories, yet struggled over how best to respond to the Americans who like the Apaches were a warrior culture but with a technological sophistication making them much more dangerous than the Mexicans. Unlike Cochise, Mangas like the limelight, tended to be flamboyant, and this characteristic in part flowed from his great physical size of 6’6” with a massive torso and head .In 1851, Mangas had received from John R. Bartlett, US Boundary Commissioner, “a frock coat lined with scarlet and ornamented with guilt buttons” which gave him immense pleasure in displaying to his people until losing it to another Apache gambling. (Cf, Sweeney, MC, pp232-33).

The other Apache leader that had significant impact on Cochise’s development was Miguel Narbona who replaced Pisago Cabezon as head of the Chokonens by the 1840’s. Miguel Narbona has a fascinating history and embodies many cultural metaphors pertaining to the Apache/Mexican animus. He was a Chokonen by birth. When quite young Miguel was captured in1812 by Sonoran troops under a famous military leader by the name of Antonio Narbona whose name he carried. In the war between Apache/Mexican taking prisoners on both sides was common. (Cf, Sweeney, C, pp.406-07; Aleshire, C, p. 92.) For Mexican society it created a lucrative slave trade by which Apaches were sold to wealthy families as servants, or else they found themselves working in the harsh atmosphere of the mines. Mexicans captured by Apaches did better overall as young Mexicans were raised Apache, women could marry Apache men and even “slaves” could in time gain their independence. It was Miguel Narbona who captured Merejildo Grijalva who was raised by Cochise, but left at eighteen to scout against his adopted father. Antonio Narbona was raised Mexican, but in 1822 he ran away and made his way back to his family band. Being raised Mexican meant that he spoke Spanish, understood the Mexican lifestyle of patriarchy, sexism, and was embittered by the racism he experience being Apache.  Narbona too was shocked by the “punishing” nature of the Catholic “God so different from the compassionate Life Giver, Ussen. Miguel Narbona, too, never recovered from the Mexican penchant for the restrictive /limiting architecture of their rancheros with square rooms, low hanging ceilings so different from the Apache lifestyle of openness and community which was to be found in the circular, egalitarian design of the Wickiup. By the 1840’s, Miguel emerged as war leader of the Chokenen’s with Cochise as his lieutenant. Cochise’s father Pisago Cabezon had aged, and was seeking accommodation with the Mexicans to the chagrin of Cochise. Cochise learned from Miguel many secrets about inspiring followers, winning their loyalty and allegiance. This included having a successful track record against the Mexicans, taking few losses, being generous with the distribution of Mexican booty among the needy Chokonens, and above all else being brave in battle. Miguel Narbona embodied all of these qualities which his understudy Cochise soon would transcend. Cochise bravery was testified by his body d being peppered by many scars from Mexicans/Pindah bullets. Cochise had a slight hunch from an arrow that came from a Comanche. Making Cochise even more imposing was his emphasis on truth; he could not tolerate lying and was known to kill those who lied or disobeyed him. His temper was legendary! As Cochise was crafting his leadership style among the Chiricahuas he was particularly influenced by the intangibles of “greatness”: vision, action and trust. Cochise vision was influenced by Pisago Cabezon and Mangas Coloradas desire to preserve the “Apache Way”, Cochise learned that it could best be accomplished through a combination of diplomacy and war, studying the strengths/weakness of the enemy. Cochise realized that vision without action was meaningless and this was the great contribution of Miguel Narbona. From Narbona he learned the secrets of campaign organization/planning, the tactical advantage of surprise by deceiving pursuers about numbers and size; creating illusions of vulnerability as a way to bait the enemy, confusing pursuers by vanishing into the desert/mountainous landscape, and being ever vigilant through an extensive network of scouting and mirror signaling and communications with those who traded with the Apache. Nothing went on within Cochise’s territory that he was not informed about days in advance making him an elusive adversary. Cochise too recognized the importance of discipline which ran contrary to the Apache ethos of absolute freedom and independence. His presence and medicine among his people was so persuasive that very few thought of deserting him for another. Cochise was indebted to Miguel for saving his life in 1848 during the Mexican-American War. Cochise and Miguel had like “coyote” become arrogant about the fighting ability of the Sonorans viewing them as sheep as they sought revenge for their atrocities against the residents of Fronteras. This arrogance led Cochise to be captured and placed in a cave under the Fronteras Presidio. Miguel rallied the Chokonens in behalf of Cochise starving Fronteras into releasing Cochise August 11, 1848.The residents of Fronteras were so fearful of further Apache reprisals that they fled to the larger town of Bacoachi. (Cf, Aleshire, C pp/69-72; Sweeney, M, pp.153-55). Narbona would lead the Chokenen’s until 1856 when he died being replaced by Cochise. Cochise would lead for nearly twenty years until his death in 1874, and drew heavily on his relationship with Narbona and Mangas Coloradas. His ties with Mangas lasted until 1863, when under a flag of peace, Mangas Coloradas was arrested at Fort McLean killed, and mutilated, by the American military.

Two other events that would scar Cochise making him intuitively suspicious of the newly arrived Americans, and confirming his deep loathing for Mexicans were the John Johnson killings in 1837 and James Kirker butchery in 1846. As the war between the Apaches and the two Mexican states of Sonora/Chihuahua intensified in the 1830’s/40’s, Mexican authorities began to implement a policy of extermination as the smartest way to end the Apache problem. They turned to the Gringos who were just appearing in the southwest panning for gold or trade or land, and began to hire them as bounty hunters enticing them with pesos/booty for Apache scalps. The bounty for scalps was 100 pesos for males, 50 for women, and 25 for children. In most cases scalps were never differentiated and it was Apache children, women, elderly and even friendly Indians who were most at risk. John Johnson was a trader who came from Missouri and settled in Montezuma, Chihuahua, in 1827; married and became involved in trade. In 1837, Johnson with seventeen fellow Missourians and five Mexicans decided to pursue Juan Jose Compas Mimbreno’s Band who had stolen Mexican livestock, and were making their way back to their stronghold in the vicinity of Santa Rita del Cobre. Governor Escalante y Arvizu of Sonora gave Johnson permission to go after the Apaches by offering Johnson half of whatever he took. Johnson caught up with the Apaches in the Animus Mountains, a favorite range for the Apaches as they moved across New Mexico/Chihuahua. Johnson after several days of trading/partying decided to bring out the whiskey, and later a small canon hidden turning it on the Apaches as they approached the sacks of corn meal located in the center of the plaza leading to the death of Juan Jose Compa and nineteenth others. The irony was that Juan Jose Compa was a peaceful leader, who had been corrupted by Mexican handouts at Santa Rita Copper mines managed by Robert Mc Knight; his death catapulted Mangas Coloradas into the leading Chiricahua leader who would be relentless in his furor against Mexicans.  Johnson’s deception would poison relations with the Apaches leading to greater retaliation and making Mangas Coloradas, Miguel Narbona and Cochise skeptical of the Pindah. (Cf, Rex W. Strickland, “Birth and Death of A Legend, The ‘Johnson Massacre’ of 1837”, Arizona and the West, V 18,#3, Autumn,1976).

It was at this time that Mangas replaced his name Fuerte (manly, strong, and stout) with Mangas Coloradas, and orchestrated along with Pisago Cabezon his revenge on Americans and Mexicans for the death of Juan Jose Compa. He first struck at American trappers along the Gila River. Twenty-two led by Charles Kemp were ambushed and mutilated by the Mimbreno’s. Three other Americans including Benjamin D. Wilson were cut off and captured, and then released by Mangus Coloradas perhaps as a warning to other Pindah to stay away from Mimbreno’s country? Or perhaps it reflected a struggle within Mangus of how best to respond to Americans bringing guns and bullets. Next he turned his attention to Santa Rita Copper mines. In 1838, Mangas did this by starving the community out which was totally dependent on outside supplies coming from Janos, Chihuahua. He destroyed all pack train entering /leaving Santa Rita. In time the inhabitants, numbering 3-400, had no other choice but to flee southward but became so bogged down by material things that most perished before arriving at Janos.( Cf, Wellman, Death in the Desert, pp1-20; Edwin R. Sweeney, M, p.80. questions the veracity of whether or not there was a “massacre”). The mine however was abandoned.

For Cochise however far worse than the Johnson massacre was the James Kirker slaughter involving the death of his father, Pisago Cabezon, mother, and 130 other Chiricahuas at Galeana in 1846? James Kirker was an Irish immigrant who made his way west opening a grocery store in St. Louis Missouri in 1821. He then became involved in the fur trade taking him into the southern Rockies, to Taos and Santa Fe. He soon joined with Robert McKnight owner of the Santa Rita Copper mines of New Mexico, where he served as teamster supply leader between it and Chihuahua City. He learned Apache as a middle man selling guns, whiskey and cloth for contraband which he sold in Texas. He became a Mexican citizen, married a Mexican and settled in Janos. His relations with Mexican officials, however, tended to be strained because of disagreement over his trading with Apaches and bounty money matters. As conflict between Mexicans and Apaches worsen in the 1830’s, Sonora/Chihuahua decided on a policy of Apache extermination turning to men like Kirker who knew the Apaches, to implement their policy of “ethnic cleansing” by offering them a lucrative bounty for scalps thus giving birth to a “horrific profession.” Chihuahua even levied a tax to outfit Kirker’s scalping enterprise. Throughout the 1840’s Kirker and his followers attacked different Apache camps with varying results, but the worse of these “scalping parties” would occur at Galeana on July 7, 1846, in which Pisago Cabezon trusting Kirker from past dealings was enticed to trade and drink under the pretense of peace. On the third morning of the fiesta as the Apaches awoke from a drunken stupor they were greeted by Kirker, and his band of scalp hunters with clubs, pistols and knives, and in the mayhem Pisago Cabezon and Cochise’s mother were scalped and mutilated. Cochise was devastated by these losses. Galeana would intensify his Mexican hatred, and increase his suspicion of the Pindah. Cochise experienced Kirker as a crazed/wild eyed American racial “serial killer”, whereas Kirker saw Indians as “untamed animals” and their Mexican brown “cousins” barely removed from the wilderness. This massacre painfully impacted the Chokonens as described by Jason Betzinez “as the ghastly butchering of our families.” (Jason Betzinez & Wilber Sturtevant Nye, I fought With Geronimo, p1.) No family escaped untouched! Ironically it would unify all Chiricahua Bands, ending the tension between war and peace leaders, to avenge the death of their family members. It would accelerate the emergence of Cochise as a major war leader who at thirty-five was entering into his prime. Kirker was never paid by state of Chihuahua for Galeana scalps. He then joined the American Army serving as a scout during the Mexican- American War, 1846-48. When the war ended he left for California where he died relatively unknown in Contra Costa County in 1852. (Cf., Ralph Adam Smith, Borderlander, The Life of James Kirker, 1793-1852). For the next two years, 1847-48, Miguel Narbona and Cochise would turn the northern frontier of Sonora into a wasteland following Galeana. Fronteras, Cuquiarachi and Chinapa were attacked. Villagers abandoned Cuquiarachi whereas Chinapa was burnt to the ground. Antonio Narbona would lose his life fighting his adopted son in Fronteras. (Cf., Sweeney, C, pp,59-64).

Apache Spiritual Philosophy

Spiritual philosophy: For the Apaches there is two planes of existence: spiritual and material. Man is ultimately “spirit” experiencing a time/space journey and each life is vital and needs to be relished and sustained as long as possible. Apaches believed that everything in nature was an embodiment or reflection of an underlying spiritual energy: animals, trees, rocks, all were animated by deeper energy. The energy could either be light or dark and two-legged had to be aware of these differences. Because their world was essentially spiritual they observed innumerable rituals and taboos to influence the spirit world. For example, when harvesting mescal they offered prayers to the sun-source of fire-asking that the mescal be cooked properly. They feared lightening, the “Thunder People”, and never planted in a field struck by lightning. They believed that the flint use in construction of arrow tips came from the “Thunder People”. Similarly ceremonies were performed before a hunt or raid including a sweat, absence of salt, and the night before the hunt they gathered around the fire and sang, prayed, and offered sacrifices to the spirit of the deer, antelope with the expectation that the animal would voluntarily sacrifice itself so that the band could survive. Wolves, coyotes, and foxes were considered taboo; tricksters who could bring harm and needed to be avoided. The Apaches never eat fish seeing it as a taboo related to snakes/reptiles which were often very dangerous, especially at night in the desert. Traveling at night was avoided as much as a possible because of the danger posed by rattlesnakes.
Time for the Apaches was cyclical, with peaks and valleys, and followed the seasonal movement of spring, summer, fall and winter, as embodied in Medicine Wheel. The Medicine Wheel along with number 7 captured the totality of existence including 4 directions, Ussen and the “People.”The number 4 was especially sacred as it implied basic life pattern of birth/death/rebirth as well as capturing the 4 cardinal directions, east, south, west /north; 4 colors, black, yellow, red, white; 4 seasons, spring, summer, fall, winter; 4 elements, earth, air, fire, water); 4 ages, infancy, adolescence, adulthood, elderly; 4 conditions of man , physical, emotional, mental , spiritual. The Medicine Wheel was called upon in sleeping, healing, locating things, invoking rain, planting/harvesting and was helpful in resolving clan/band relationships. Above all else the Medicine Wheel captured the underlying natural unity/interconnectedness within the web of the Universe as it provided clues to re-connecting with “Ussen” by discovering/following the moral principles of the “Red/Spiritual Path” by which Apaches learn to master darker impulses of each direction or season by living in the “heart” freeing them from fear of bringing dishonor to their family. Cochise always emphasized the importance of truth, of speaking from the heart and prided himself in never lying. (Cf, Cochise speech, “I am Alone”). Drinking tiswin an Apache beer made from corn, excessively especially on an empty stomach, and or drinking stronger Pindah whiskey, was very destructive to the Apache lifestyle leading many away from the “Red Road” and to family quarrels, destructive fights, death and loss of face.
For the Chiricahuas the land was “Sacred” and “Dark”, it embodied subtle energies/wisdom, good/bad, for the People to learn from. The Dragoons/Chiricahuas protected the “People” from their enemies allowing them to see days in advance settlers or soldiers crossing Apacheria, protected them from bullets, offered acorns in winter, mescal in spring, saguaro fruit in the summer. Every rock, crevice, tree, stream held a story that was invaluable to survival and was a living testimony or school to learn from.  The Apaches believed in Mountain People or Spirits called “Gaan”. “Gaans” were sent to earth by “Life Giver” to teach the Apaches how to live peacefully and were healing spirits. Men in ceremonies wore masks like Hopi Kachinas to take on their power. Rituals involved song, prayer and dance. The dancers invoked “Gaan” power for healing; prophecy and ceremony. Any disturbance of the land could anger the “Gaan” leading to earthquakes and terrible lighting storms. Cochise gained inspiration and strength from the landscape. Nature/places always called him, providing insights and direction. Yet the land held bitter memories and energy. Apache Pass was one of the worse places for him as it was there that his brother Coyuntura under a white flag was hanged. The Chiricahuas believed that one could capture the deep wisdom of the “Rock People”   by sitting in silence contemplating the pre-historical figurines that dotted the Chiricahua Mountain landscape. These Rock formations existed before time and eerily held a deep truth about mysteries of life. They precipitated deep altered states of consciousness and they spoke to the listener. Cochise being contemplated by nature often sought their knowledge and direction. “Rock People”, too, played a significant role in Sweat Lodge Ceremony, which was another favorite of Cochise, as its purification/healing rites brought clarity and insight. “The Rock People”  were brought in hot and placed in a pit and then sprinkle with sage and water which allowed their healing properties to penetrate the circle of two legged who participated accompanied by song and smoke. The ceremony ended with bathing in a mountain creek or stream and drinking clear water.  Cochise often refreshed/renewed himself in spiritual ceremony of “Sweats” as they restored his energy and allowed him to make better decisions for the safety of his people.