ARAVAIPA APACHES SETTLE AT TUCSON
ILLUSTRATION: CHIRICAHUA APACHE, 1800
Allande laid the groundwork for the successful Apache peace policy of 1786. The settlement of Apaches, however, did not happen all at once. Oddly enough, the Chiricahuas, terror of the Americans in a later period, were the first to accept the freeration system. In September of 1786, the year the new policy was announced, they settled at Bacoachi near Arizpe, long before the other bands came in.
Captain Pablo Romero, Allande's successor, and Manuel de Echeagaray, commandant of nearby Santa Cruz, continued Allande's tactics during 1788 as far east as the Rio Grande. In June, Romero was killed by Apaches near Arizpe on his way to report his success to the commanding general there. The 1788 campaigns were so successful that Echeagaray became military commander of Sonora and Ensign José Ignacio Moraga, distinguished for bravery under Romero, was promoted to lieutenant and acted as Tucson's commander for the next five years.
It was Moraga who settled Tucson's first peaceful Apaches, a band of Aravaipas who came in on January 5, 1793. The following document, penned by Echeagaray from Sonora, gives the details. The Aravaipas were perhaps better suited than any other
band for the Tucson settlement. In their well-watered homeland near the juncture of the San Pedro and Gila Rivers, they had a long agricultural tradition and could be expected to settle down and raise crops.
To COMMANDER GENERAL PEDRO DE NAVA.
On January 6, the commandant of the Tucson presidio, José Ignacio Moraga, informed me that Nautil Nilché, leader of a group of Aravaipa Apaches known as the Vinictinines, and fifteen warriors accompanied by their women and children had trooped into Tucson the day before to settle in peace. Their total number was fifty - one. Nautil Nilché promised Moraga that more of their relatives would appear the next day. On the day of writing, forty-one Aravaipas came into Tucson to join their relatives as predicted.
In keeping with your instruction of October 12, 1791, I am ordering Moraga to give them gifts of raw sugar and outfit their leader with a suit of clothes. I consider this very important, since the peace of the entire Pimeria Alta stands to benefit so much from this. In fact, when Moraga sent one of these Apaches to present himself personally to me as an assurance of their alliance, I myself outfitted him with a complete suit of clothes. Their sincerity is further assured by six sets of enemy ears in Moraga's possession, which Nautil Nilché collected personally.
The paymaster of the Tucson presidio, Ensign Agustin Márquez, happens to be here in Arizpe at the present time to collect the company payroll. I have given him further instructions on how to consolidate this peace, so vital to our government and the Spanish province of Sonora. I intend to pay a personal visit to the Tucson presidio within the next few days, so important is this whole matter. I have even taken it upon myself to buy fifty head of cattle, pending government reimbursement at your command, to provision these Aravaipas and convince them that they have chosen a better life.
MANUEL DE ECHEAGARAY
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Desert Documentary by Kieran McCarty - Chapter 14
Tucson, Arizona: Arizona Historical Society, 1976.
© 1976 The Arizona Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.