CHAPTER XI. THE PEACE COMMISSION.
Governor Safford's Proclamation in Regard to—Arrival of Commissioner Vincent Colyer—Makes Ex Parte Report—Received With Cordiality by Military but not by Citizens to Whom He Refused Hearings—Colyer's Letters Reporting His Actions—Camp Apache—Industry of Apaches—Condition of Apache Indians— Reference to Camp Grant Massacre— Talks With Coyotero Apache Chiefs.
“WHEREAS, I am informed, as I am departing for the Pinal Mountains with a large force for the purpose of exploring the agricultural and mineral resources of that region, that a commission has been ordered by the President of the United States, to examine into the Indian affairs of the Territory, with the view, if possible, of securing a peaceful solution of the question, and my absence may continue until after the arrival of said commission, and
“WHEREAS, the object most desired by the people of this Territory is the cessation of Indian hostilities, and the means which will most speedily accomplish this result will be hailed with joy by every inhabitant.
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, A. P. K. Safford, Governor of Arizona, call upon the officers and citizens of the Territory to receive said commissioners with kindness and hospitality; to give them all the aid and information upon such subject before referred to within your power and knowledge. They have been selected with a view to their integrity and humanity of purpose, and sent here in the legal performance of duty. If they come among you entertaining erroneous opinions upon the Indian question and the condition of affairs in the Territory, then, by kindly treatment, and fair, truthful representation, you will be enabled to convince them of their errors.
Having spent some time in New Mexico investigating the Apaches in that Territory, Vincent Colyer, who was the Commissioner, reached Arizona, having been given ample powers to locate reservations, make treaties with the Indians, supply them with all things necessary for their actual wants, and gather them upon the reservations so established. Colyer did not take the settlers into his confidence, nor did he, at any time, try to get their side of the story. As he declared himself, his business was entirely with the Indians and with the military in the different departments; naturally, as a consequence, his report can only be considered as ex parte, and
The report of Colyer, which is contained in his letters printed in the following pages, recites the beginnings of the wars between the Apaches and the whites, and shows that, according to the records of the Indian Department, the Apache Indians were the friends of the Americans when they first knew them, and asserts, with how much truth no one can say, that they always desired peace with them, and that when they were placed on reservations in 1858 and 1859, they were industrious, intelligent, and made rapid progress in the arts of civilization.
The only Indians placed on reservations at the times mentioned, were the Maricopas and Pimas, which were, at that time, and always had been, friendly to the whites, and, as before stated, were the hereditary foes of the Apaches.
The report, continuing, says that their ill-will and constant war with the Mexicans arose from the fact that the Mexicans denied them any rights to the soil as original occupants, and waged wars of extermination against them; that the peaceable relations of the Apaches with the Americans continued until the latter adopted the Mexican theory of extermination, and by acts of inhuman
This is rather a broad assertion and it was not borne out by subsequent events. However, these representations were considered by the President, and Commissioner Colyer was directed to proceed to New Mexico and Arizona, and there take such measures as he deemed wisest to locate these Apaches upon suitable reservations, feed, clothe, and otherwise care for them, and the President instructed the War Department to cooperate with the Commissioner. In obedience to these orders he went to these Territories, and in consultation with the officers of the Army, Indian Agents in New Mexico, and officers of the Army under General Crook in Arizona, Mr. Colyer proceeded to put his plans into execution, and in his report he says:‘‘
“The Indians came in gladly in large numbers, and at last advices over four thousand, being one-half of all the roving Apaches, were living peaceably upon the reservations; that no depredations have been committed by any of these Indians since they came in, and that before spring, if
This, of course, was mere assumption. The citizens of Tucson, in common with all citizens of Arizona, were anxious to interview Colyer; find out just what his disposition was towards them, and what his plans were for ending the Indian war. It is nonsense to suppose for a moment that two hundred citizens would attack a fort like that of Grant while the military were in possession, well armed and equipped with gatling guns, just for the pleasure of murdering a few Indians there. General Crook condemned Nelson for issuing this order, saying that the road passing from Florence to within four miles of the post was a public highway and that to deny any armed American the right to enter the reservation, was to deny anyone the right to travel over this road, since it was necessary for self-protection
General Crook had issued an order to enlist twenty-five Apache Indians as scouts, to fight the Apaches, but upon learning that Colyer was coming into the Territory on a peace mission, rescinded the order. In reference to this Mr. Colyer says: ‘‘“The order countermanding the previous order of General Crook, of employing Apaches to fight Apaches, was made by the General himself, greatly to his honor.”’’ It should be remembered that General Crook, when hostilities were resumed by orders from Washington, enlisted Apaches to fight Apaches, and in this way conquered the hostile tribes.
Mr. Colyer says he was ‘‘“received with cordiality by General Granger (commander in New Mexico), General Crook, and all the officers of the army in New Mexico and Arizona, and that there was at no time any discord of action.”’’
Upon his return to Washington the reservations which he had selected, and the arrangements which he had made for the protection and subsistence of the Indians upon them, under the care of the officers of the army under General Crook, were approved by the President and the Secretary of the Interior, and directions given by General Sherman for their permanency.
Of the complaints made by officials and editors of newspapers in Arizona, of a want of courtesy toward the white settlers, as well as the vituperation and abuse of the press of Arizona and California, the commissioner takes but slight notice. He said that the business for which he was sent was accomplished, and that he trusted for his
The report opens with extracts from the report of Agent Steck, Indian Agent for New Mexico, for 1857–58 and '59, showing the condition of the Apaches in New Mexico at that time in a very favorable light, and then, continuing, recites the slaughter of the Apaches of Mangus Colorado's band by Johnson in 1841, which has been before recited; the capture of Cochise and some of his Indians by Lieutenant Bascomb; the escape of i Cochise; the murder of his warriors which drove Cochise and his band into war against the whites, ending with the Pinole Treaty of King Woolsey, which has been fully recited in these pages, together with the killing of Mangus Colorado while a prisoner, and other outrages committed by the whites upon the Indians.
Mr. Colyer further says: ‘‘“With these official records before us, showing the injustice and folly of their treatment by the Mexicans in denying them any rights to the soil on which they lived as the original occupants; their goodwill toward the Americans, who, on their first acquaintance, treated them justly; their industrious habits and peaceable character when placed on reservations and allowed a fair opportunity to gain a livelihood; the inhuman treachery and cruelty on the part of white men, which have made them our implacable foes, and the heavy, cost, both in life and treasure, which these events have entailed upon us, we have felt it our duty, for the last three
“Congress, at the earnest solicitation of the board, having passed the appropriation of $70,000, referred to in our report of last year, ‘to collect the Apache Indians of Arizona and New Mexico on reservations, furnish them with subsistence and other necessary articles, and to promote peace and civilization among them,’ the board at its meeting in May directed ‘its secretary to visit the Apache country, to take such measures as might seem expedient to prevent the perpetration of further outrages like the Camp Grant massacre, and, if possible, avert the apprehended war.’
“On the 13th day of July, in company with Commissioner George H. Stuart, I called upon the President at Long Branch, New Jersey, and, reporting to him the condition of affairs in New Mexico and Arizona, we received letters from him to the Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of War, directing that enlarged powers be given to such agent as the Secretary of the Interior might select to effect ‘so desirable an object’ as above indicated.
“The acting Secretary of the Interior having selected me as the agent, authorized and requested me to proceed to New Mexico and Arizona Territories, and there take such action as in my judgment seemed wisest and most proper
The gist of his report is contained in letters from Mr. Colyer, which follow: The first two letters relate entirely to the Indians of New Mexico, and are not of particular importance to Arizona. The other letters I give in their entirety:‘‘
“Since my last letter, dated August 22, 1871, I have the honor to report that, in company with Nathaniel Pope, superintendent of Indian affairs in New Mexico, John Ward as interpreter, and Philip Gonzales, as guide, with an escort of twenty soldiers under a sergeant of the Fifteenth U. S. Infantry, Company K, we left Camp Craig, New Mexico, on the 23rd of August, 1871, with fifteen days' rations, for the Apache Indian country, in New Mexico and Arizona, to inspect the upper valley of Canada, Alamosa, beyond the mountains, at Hot Springs, Ojo Caliente, and the Tularosa Valley, to ascertain their suitableness for an Indian reservation. After a very interesting ride of three days, travelling about twenty-eight miles a day and camping at night, we arrived at noon of the 25th at Ojo Caliente. We here met, by appointment, O. F. Piper, Esq., agent for the Southern Apaches, who, in company
“We examined: the neighborhood of Ojo Caliente (Hot Springs) carefully, and finding the area of land capable of being cultivated far too small for the necessities of a tribe as large as this band of Southern Apaches, we were very reluctantly compelled to seek further. Its proximity to Cañada Alamosa, though separated by high hills or mountains, and, like that valley, it being a favorite place of resort of the Indians, made us hope to find it suitable for a reservation.
“Trojero, the scout, said that the Mexicans employed by General Crook, whom he met at his camp, were among the worst villains in Mexico, and the Indians were part of Miguel's band of peaceable Apaches from the White Mountain reservation, who said they had to enlist in the service or be considered enemies.
“I carefully inspected the valley and neighborhood of the Tularosa river, and finding the same to possess most of the requisites necessary for a home for the Indians, it being remote from white settlements, surrounded by mountains not easily crossed, sufficient arable land, good water, and plenty of wood and game, I officially notified Colonel Pope that I would designate it as an Indian reservation, agreeably to the authority given to me by you in your letter of the 21st July; and I telegraphed to the Secretary of the Interior, via Santa Fe, to that effect, on the 29th August.’’
“I was received very kindly by Colonel Green, commanding, and the officers of the post, at Camp Apache, and found that at the time of my arrival dispatches had been received from General Crook at Camp Verde, countermanding his order to enlist Apache Indians to fight Apaches, which was construed by those present to mean a virtual suspension of hostilities. This order of General Crook, abandoning the practice of taking peaceable Indians from the cornfields and compelling them to go on the warpath against their brethren, speaks much for his humanity and good sense, and was a great relief to my mind. The General being on his way to Prescott, where his headquarters are established, and his campaign for the present being at an end, all fears of my orders crossing his movements are now removed. There are several tribes and bands of Indians, who have lived here for many generations, and who could not be removed to either Camp Grant or the Tularosa Valley without great suffering to themselves, possibly a war of great expense to the Government, and as this reservation had been set apart for this special purpose by the War Department, under the advice of the late General Thomas, I concluded, with the matured advice of Colonel John Green, to select it as a reservation, and asked that the protection, provisioning, &c., ordered by the Government, be extended to the Indians at this place also. I enclose you a copy of my letter to Colonel Green upon the subject. Before leaving Santa Fe I
“I inclose several reports of Lieutenant Colonel Green, giving an account of his experience with and the character of these Apaches. By referring to one of these letters you will see Colonel Green, First Cavalry, says: ‘The Apache Indians furnished one hundred and ninety tons of hay,’ for which he paid them in flour. They brought it into his camp, in the White Mountains, fifteen tons a day. They supplied the garrison with all the wood they used, bringing it in at the rate of thirty cords a day, using their hands and a few broken axes to break it off, and the hay they cut with old knives, and the whole was brought into the post on their backs, and it was really interesting to see the spirit in which they went to work, and what nice, clean hay they brought in, much superior to any I have seen furnished by contractors in Arizona. Yesterday upwards of four thousand pounds were brought. Even the children went to work with alacrity. One little child that could scarcely walk brought in nine pounds, for which he received three-quarters of a pound of flour, and was highly delighted with his success.
“I was sorry that the supply of grain at this post did not admit of my complying fully with the general's wishes in giving them corn for seed. I could illy spare a very small amount, so that their planting will not be as extensive this year as I had hoped. I am in hopes that by next year I will be able to furnish them with sufficient seed, and would also respectfully recommend that the department commander urge the necessity of furnishing the ruder implements of agriculture, as at present their only means of farming are sharpened sticks, and it is wonderful to see with what advantage they use them. They frequently ask for other seed than corn, particularly pumpkins, beans, squashes, and melons. It would probably be well for the Indian Bureau to send an agent to look after the interests of these people. I ask them, ‘Why are you so poor?’ and the answer invariably is, ‘How can we be otherwise? We had not much originally, and now we can get nothing; we do not steal; we cannot go to the mescal country, as we are liable to be met and killed by scouting parties.’ I know myself this to be the case, hence they have either to starve or steal; or we must feed them until they can raise enough for themselves. Mrs. Green informed me that when the sick garrison was removed from Camp Goodwin, on account of its unhealthiness, to this place, she was carried all the way, ninety miles. over the mountains, on a litter, by the Apaches, on their shoulders; she having been an invalid
“Immediately after the massacre of the peaceable Indians at Camp Grant by the citizens of Tucson, the news was received by the peaceable Apaches on the White Mountain reservation, and nearly all of them, some six hundred in number, under the leadership of Es-cet-e-cela, their chief, fled frightened to the mountains. The evening before their departure a herder, a soldier detailed for that duty was killed. The only band which remained was Miguel's, numbering about two hundred and seventy-five Indians, under that chief. Colonel Green demanded of Miguel the arrest of the murderer; Miguel replied that he did not belong to that band. The Colonel persisted, and Miguel sent out and had one of Es-cet-e-cela's Indians killed, and parts of the body brought in as testimony that the order was executed. On the arrival of General Crook some twenty-five Indians belonging to Miguel's band were enlisted as scouts, much against their will as we afterwards learned, to operate against the other Apaches.
“These twenty-five Indians, acting under Colonel Guy V. Henry's orders, had attacked a rancheria within hearing of the garrison at Camp Apache, and killed five Indians of Es-cete-cela's band. As I before reported to you, on
“Hearing that Es-cet-e-cela was in the mountains near the post, I dispatched his son-in-law, a Mr. Stevens, mailrider at the post, with a message for him to come in, a promise of protection, and a suit of clothes. Miguel had been sent for by Colonel Green, some days before. The two chiefs arrived the same afternoon, September 6th, and visited me apart.
“I told Es-cet-e-cela the war was over, and all offenses must be forgiven. He said the soldier-herder was not killed by one of his band, but by an Indian from Rio Bonita, sent over by the Indian survivors from Camp Grant massacre to stir them up to war. He complained of Miguel's killing an innocent Indian for it, and afterwards killing five more of his band without cause. We had hard work to reconcile him, but, with the aid of Colonel Green and Mr. Cooley, the interpreter, we succeeded. The chiefs met, stood some forty feet apart, eyeing each other, with arms folded haughtily. The interpreter stepped up, and, leading Miguel forward, put his hand into the hand of Es-cet-e-cela, when they first shook hands and then embraced.
“A few hours before the issue of clothing, the following interview with the Apache chiefs was held at Camp Apache, (Fort Thomas), Arizona Territory, September 7, 1871. In the presence of Colonel John Green and the officers of the post, Commissioner Colyer opened, the council with prayer, and, addressing the chiefs, said his words would be few; Colonel Green would inform them what his orders were from the President. The colonel told them that he was instructed to feed all the Apaches who came in and remained peaceable upon the reservation, the boundaries of which were explained to them. Commissioner Colyer then said that the great council (Congress) at its last session appropriated money to feed and clothe them as long
“Es-cet-e-cela shakes hands: ‘He asked God's blessing upon this meeting. It is getting late and he has but little to say. He has heard all that is said, and before God, he believes that it is good. Tonight he will sleep well. He won't have to tread sleepless over the mountains, but has a plain road. Now they have grass, can hunt the turkey, and have what they need. Some of his people are absent, but he will get word to them as soon as possible; for the purpose of getting them in he wants a pass.’
“Miguel.—‘He has but little to say. He sees now that we have fixed things so that he won't have any stones to stumble against. He, like the commissioner, has but little to say, but what little he does say he means to live up to. His reputation is well known as a man of peace. He likes his home and quiet way of living. He has always been a farmer on the Carrizo, and that valley has been father and mother to him. He sees that when the soldiers do wrong they have balls and chains to their feet, therefore he is afraid to do wrong, nor has he any desire to. In his youth he was wild, but since he was up to Santa Fe and talked with his governor, he has kept on the Carrizo and worked on his farm. He asked for Stevens and Cooley as his agents. He knows Cooley, and wants him to keep his young men from going out. Some of his people are sick, and he has corn to gather, so he wants
“The morning after the distribution of clothing, Miguel, Es-cet-e-cela, and Pedro, with several headmen, called at our quarters to bid us goodbye. Miguel said he should pray to the Great Spirit to take care of the commissioner, and, hereafter, if any soldier kicked him (Miguel), he should send him word to tell the President.’’ ‘‘ “DEPARTURE FOR CAMP GRANT.
“We left Camp Apache at noon, September 8, 1871, for Camp Grant, Arizona, with an escort of ten mounted infantry, under Lieutenant Peter S. Bumos; a packtrain to carry our provender, with some clothing for the Indians at Camp Grant, and such Indians as we might meet on the way. We had two Indian young men, one from Miguel's and one from Es-cet-e-cela's band, to accompany us, to act as runners to communicate with any Apaches they might meet, and inform them of the peaceful intention of the President, and of the establishment of
“Our route lay across the mountains to Black River, over to the headwaters of the San Carlos, down the San Carlos to the Gila River, across the Gila to Mount Trumbull, over that mountain to and down the Aravaipa Valley to Camp Grant. Our march through this portion of the heard of the Apache country was very encouraging. Our Indian guides, improvising white flags and signalling their friends of our approach by lighting fires and making smokes, brought them out by scores. They met us on the trail, bearing white flags made of white buckskin, and came from the most inaccessible places and from where you would least expect them. At night our camp was surrounded by them, and the soldiers soon got so used to their presence that we all slept soundly though they frequently outnumbered us five to one. During the whole march, though we were thus surrounded, not an animal was disturbed nor an article stolen. We opened our packs and distributed clothing to all, old and young.
“I have visited seven-eighths of all the Indians now under our flag, including Alaska, and I have not seen a more intelligent, cheerful, and grateful tribe of Indians than the roving Apaches of Arizona and New Mexico.’’ ’’