CHAPTER XIII. THE PEACE COMMISSION (Continued).
The Frontiersman's Sympathy With the Peace Policy—Gila River Agency—Tonto Apaches at Camp McDowell—Report of J. H. Stout, Special Indian Agent—Report of Colonel N. A. M. Dudley—Report of Captain James Curtis—Talk With Da-chay-Ya and Shelter Pau—Report of Captain Netterville—Report of Colonel Dudley.‘‘
“We left Camp Grant at 6 o'clock, evening, September 19, preferring a night ride to the hot sun across the desert of fifty miles, from the San Pedro to the Gila River. We arrived at Florence, a new and enterprising town, chiefly occupied by Americans, on the Gila, by noon the next day. Here I met a number of citizens, and a party of miners who had just returned from an unsuccessful tour of prospecting among the Pinal Mountains near by. They all wished me ‘God-speed,’ and said they ‘hoped before God the President would be successful in his efforts to bring in the Indians upon the reservations.’ Nothing could have been kinder than their expressions of hearty good-will toward the present administration. From this I infer that I may have been hasty in my conclusions contained at the close of my last letter, that the ‘peace policy’ toward the Indians was unpopular in Arizona.
“Our ride down the dusty valley of the Gila, from Florence to the Pima and Maricopa reservation, a distance of twenty-eight miles, in the hot sun, on horseback, the thermometer standing at 135 in the sun, 104 in the shade, was fearful. The men and animals were thoroughly used up.‘‘ “GILA RIVER AGENCY.
“The agency building is a good one, though too small for the work to be done. A school house and room for the teacher should be built. Agent Stout and his young wife, the Rev. Mr. Cook, the teacher, and the physician, were at home and attending to their duties. Mr. Stout complained of want of means, the remittances received from Superintendent Bendell being too small to meet the quarterly dues for salaries of the officers.
“The chiefs were called together the next day, September 22, and we had a talk with them. Those present were Antonio Azul, the head chief; Swa-mas-kor-si, chief of Ki-ki-mi village; Ki-o-sot, 2nd chief of Ki-ki-mi village; Ki-co-chin-cane, chief of Shu-uk village; Miguel, chief of Staw-to-nik village; Candela, chief of Stu-ka-ma-soo-satick village; Se-per, chief of Pep-chalk village. I told them that, by the President's directions, I had been sent to
“The chiefs replied that they had some bad young men in their tribe, as we had among white men. That they go up Salt River, notwithstanding their remonstrances against it; if they got into trouble or were killed they could not help it and no one would be sorry, but that their whole tribe ought not to suffer for it. They have always lived peaceably with the whites and they meant to continue to do so. They said they required more land than the present limits of their reservation allowed.
“They were always led to suppose that the white men wanted them to kill the Apaches, but that if they knew the boundaries of the Apache reservation, they would keep off from it. I explained the boundaries of the Camp Grant reservation and told them that the Apaches complained bitterly of the Pimas and Papagoes for their constant warfare upon them and particularly of late of the Papagoes for having assisted at the massacre at Camp Grant and carrying off their children into slavery, and again repeated that these feuds must cease. That the President would have peace. They promised to tell their young men, separated from us on very good terms, and, lingering about the agency for some time, rode off well mounted on brisk looking ponies. Most of the tribe seemed quite prosperous and independent in their manner; indeed, this last quality they carry so far it becomes rudeness. They have a very large idea of their own importance and prowess, and I was informed that on one occasion when Colonel Alexander, who commanded at Camp McDowell, the nearest military post, threatened them with chastisement for some misconduct, they drew up five hundred fighting men of their tribe and dared him to come on. As Colonel Alexander had but one small company of cavalry, he had to forego the chastisement.
“I fear their young men will need a little disciplining before we shall have things run altogether smoothly on their reservation, and I sincerely hope Congress will make provision to purchase the additional land they really need for their support and comfort.
“On my return to Washington I received the following letter from the agent, showing how much the Pimas and Maricopas are suffering from the want of the water of the Gila River, diverted by the white settlers, and how serious is their dissatisfaction:’’ ‘‘
“‘Dear Sir: When you were here it was supposed from the amount of water in the bed of the river above here that there would be a sufficient quantity to reach the lower part of this reserve to enable our Indians to irrigate their fields as usual in preparing them for the reception of their crops. Though there was apparently plenty of water for that purpose, and though it continued to rise for a while after you left, it has now fallen to its normal state, and not a drop of it has reached their fields. The time for preparing their lands is now at hand, but having no water they can do nothing.
“‘I was not a little astonished at this manifestation, but quietly told Chin-kum he must not go. I spent an hour in telling him of the fearful results which must surely follow such a step, and finally succeeded in inducing him not to go. But he told me this, that he would wait one month, and if the water did not come to them then, he would take his whole village, which numbered one hundred families, and move to the Salt River settlements, where, as he said, there is always water. As the settlers of that vicinity are and have been for years at enmity with these Indians, I assured him that trouble would certainly follow such a step as that, and urged him to remain on the reserve. He went away silenced, but not satisfied, and I have not the slightest doubt that in a month from now he and his village will leave the reservation.
“‘These Indians have always been well-disposed toward our Government, and for years they have served as a protection to travellers on this route from Texas to the Pacific coast. They claim the land lying above them on the Gila, but long since gave it up because they were assured that when they needed it they should have it. It seems to me that that time has come, and while these Indians are still friendly to the whites, it would, in my opinion, be a wise plan to give them a portion of the land they claim. A few thousand dollars would do this now, and may, perhaps, avoid an expenditure of ten-fold proportions, in case there should be trouble between them and the citizens here. The superintendent of Indian Affairs is away on business at San Francisco just now, so I write this to you.
“My object in coming here is to open communications with the Tonto Apaches, and for this purpose General Dudley has this morning sent out runners with white flags, and kindled ‘a smoke.’ I am informed that Da-chay-ya, the able chief of the Tontos, has been in at McDowell several times during the past few years, and that on two occasions he has been dealt with very treacherously; at one time shot in the back, and at another time attempted to be poisoned by a post doctor; whether he will answer my call remains to be seen. A party of Indians was reported last evening as having been seen by two straggling soldiers, making signs as if they wished to Come in, a few miles below the post. As I had informed the Indians at Camp Grant that I was coming here, and they had sent runners up this way, the officers here think that the Indians know it and wish to come in.
“4 p.m. The Indians have kindled their answering fires upon the top of the Sierra Ancha— a high mountain twenty miles from here—northward, near old Fort Reno. They are evidently in earnest, as the smoke at times is dense, extending at intervals over a distance of a quarter of a mile. We hope to see some of the Tontos here tonight.
“The party with the flag of truce, sent out at my request, by General Dudley, to try to open communications with the Tonto Apaches, returned this afternoon, having been only partially successful, as you will see by the report inclosed from Major Curtis. He had seen several Indians on the hills; exchanged friendly signals with them, and after spending a day immediately surrounded by them, had separated from them without any indications of ill will or molestation. It is very difficult to obtain their confidence so soon after they have been pursued by the soldiers, and as I am now dealing with another band of Apaches, different in their habits, and living quite apart from the Pinals, Coyoteros, Aravaipas, and the other bands with whom I so recently have held friendly intercourse, I am not in the least discouraged at Major Curtis not having in brought in any of the tribe. As you will see from his report he is quite sanguine that they will come in soon.
“That there may be no delay in this, and that every effort may be made to get them in, I requested Captain Thomas McGregor, who commands a detachment of troops in the field, under marching orders (temporarily suspended) from General Crook, to send out another flag of truce in another direction to the Tonto country.
“Although copies of your instructions of July 21, and orders of War Department July 18 and 31, written at the suggestion of the President, were forwarded to General Crook from Camp Apache, September 7, and have been received there, and an express messenger arrived here from there yesterday, yet no copies were forwarded to the officers here. They are much troubled about it and have written to the general. Fortunately it has made no difference in my progress, as I have gone right on with my work, and the officers here as well as at Camps Grant
“Altogether, I feel greatly encouraged and am confident that in Arizona, and among the Apaches, the President's policy of peace will be as successful as it has been in all other portions of the Indian country.
“‘Sir: As you will remember, just before you left McDowell I sent Major Curtis out with a white flag to old Fort Reno; he was at the time unsuccessful in his attempt to open communication with them notwithstanding he saw several Indians on the bluffs and hills near him, none of whom showed any hostile demonstrations, He left his flag in the old ruin of a chimney of the stockade, returning to McDowell. This expedition had its good results, as events since have proved. The Tontos saw the soldiers with an emblem of peace. It was a strange sight. Days passed and no Apache visited the post; signal fires were constantly kept burning during the night at the garrison for some time. At last a party of four came in. I received them
“‘The Indian ration was reduced to one pound of beef and one pound of flour, or rather corn, upon which an Indian cannot subsist, and of course will not be content with it, as they have neither roots, game, nor fruit here to eke out the ration. I do not believe it requisite to keep them near McDowell. All that I have talked with express a desire to be allowed a reservation near Reno or Sunflower Valley; these points are away from the Pimas, from settlements, and need have only one company of soldiers near them with their agent. There is not a particle of doubt in my mind, all the stories to the contrary, that they, at this moment, are anxious for a peace, and a lasting one. No man can talk with them an hour without being convinced of this fact.
“‘Captain McNetterville, who has been out by direction of Major Curtis, and had a talk with Da-chay-ya, on his return seemed to have been most favorably impressed with their sincerity; before, I believe, he never had any confidence in them, and was in favor of exterminating them if possible. Dr. Howard, the medical officer who accompanied Captain McNetterville, expressed
“‘It must not be expected that a peace made with these various bands, scattered all over a great, wild territory like Arizona, New Mexico, and Sonora, will be perfect for a long time. Many bad Indians win refuse to come in. These will have to be hunted down; and if the good ones are now cared for, properly fed, reasonably clothed, and kindly treated, they can easily be induced, in my opinion, to help catch this class of renegades and bring them to proper punishment. It is going to take a good deal of patience, careful judgment, forbearance and humane treatment; but I have the strongest belief it can be accomplished. If we fight them one or two years, it has to be done in the end; for it is not to be supposed the Government is going to keep up a perpetual war on them.
“‘If I remain in the Territory, I only ask that I may be stationed at a post overlooking a reservation; for I know a race of beings possessing the intelligence so prominently exhibited by the Apaches can be taught to appreciate the advantages of living at peace with the whites, whom they frankly recognize as every way superior to themselves. But this desirable result can never be brought about by following two directly opposite policies at the same time—one war, the other peace.
“‘Sir: Since your departure I have been steadily engaged in trying to open communication with the Tontos and Apache-Mohaves. They sent in a messenger about October 14, and by the 20th I had in over eighty of them, from the two different bands above stated. Es-cal-la-tay, the head of the Four Peak Indians, came with his band, and the Apache-Mohaves with their own chief. I had only a short talk with them at the time, they being willing to wait until others would get in, so as to have a grand council and settle the whole matter. Da-chay-ya, with his Indians, had not yet arrived. At this juncture of affairs, and after they had been camped near me for three days, they suddenly disappeared about midnight, and went back to their mountain homes.
“I found upon inquiry that some rascally Mexicans had been talking to them, and, as near as I could learn, frightened them out by telling them that the Pimas were coming after them. I cannot prove this, but I believe it. That these Indians have a great dread of the Pimas is well known. I have written the Indian agent at Sacaton, Mr. J. H. Stout, telling him that he must keep his Pimas and Maricopas away from this post. These Mexicans are many of them guides, &c., and are well aware of the fact that if we make peace their occupation will be gone.
“‘Two days after these Indians left I sent Captain Netterville, Twenty-first Infantry, to Sunflower Valley, thirty miles from here, to renew communications and find out what was the matter. Inclosed please see his order, private instructions, and copy of report.
“‘They do not wish to come here and stay, for two or three very strong reasons: 1. They are afraid of the Pimas and Maricopas, and the latter can readily reach this place. 2. They are too far from their mountains to gather fruit or mescal or to hunt, and without some such aid they cannot subsist on a pound of beef and one of flour. 3. They have a natural indisposition to leave a country where they have always been accustomed to live. 4. They say that they can plant and get plenty of water on Tonto Creek (near Reno). It is, however, difficult to supply Camp Reno, as the road is very bad. Troops were stationed there at one time, but the post was broken up on this account.
“‘It seems to me that there ought to be a trusty agent constantly on the spot here to attend to all these things. I have but $400 that I can expend for them, which is but a drop in the bucket, when they all need blankets and clothing. All that I can do is to give them a little manta, calico, and tobacco. Then, again, I am peculiarly situated. If I take the responsibility of declaring a temporary reservation, my action may be disapproved by the department commander, or I may not be able to get the means of supplying it. Troops should be with them wherever they may be, and I have not the power to put them there. One thing seems to me certain, that
“‘Tonto and Greenback Valleys (the latter about twenty miles southeast of Reno) are said by those who have been there to be the best adapted places for this purpose in this whole Territory. Greenback Valley is small, but very pretty, and has plenty of timber and grass and fine bottom land for cultivation with but little irrigation. The road from here to Reno, as I said before, is very bad, but Reno can be supplied, as stated, by pack trains for the present.
“‘I hope that you will take some action in this matter without delay. In the meantime I shall try and collect these Indians here or at Sunflower, and let them, if there, send for their rations. It is impossible for me to send out there, for I have not the means of so doing. You can see that I am so situated that I cannot promise them anything, and the whole thing may fall through for this reason. I think they mean to make a lasting treaty of peace if they can be made to feel that they are not being deceived.
“‘Sir: I have the honor to report that, in compliance with Special Orders No. 170, dated Headquarters Camp McDowell, Arizona Territory, October 25, 1871, I left this post and proceeded to Sunflower Valley, and complied as near as possible with special instructions given me by the post commander. I arrived at Sunflower Valley at 5:30 P. M. on the 27th of October, and went into camp at Stockade. On the morning of the 28th I commenced building fires and kept them burning during the day as signals. On the morning of the 29th my signals were answered from a hill near camp. At 10 o'clock four Indians came into camp: I gave them something to eat and sent them out at once to tell their chief, Da-chay-ya, to come in; that I wanted to have a talk with him. In the evening two more Indians came in from another direction, who said they belonged to Shelter Pau's band. I also sent them out with the same instructions. On the 30th four Indians and two squaws came into camp with a message to me from Da-chay-ya and Shelter Pau that they would come and see me the next day. I gave these Indians something to eat, and sent them out of camp to come in again when their chiefs came. On the 31st, about twelve o'clock, Shelter Pau and forty warriors arrived. In the afternoon of the same day Da-chay-ya, with twenty of his warriors, and four or five squaws, with children, arrived. I
“‘I then asked Shelter Pau what he desired to say. He said he had nothing more to say than Da-chay-ya; he wanted the same as Da-chay-ya did, and that he would come into the post the same time as he did. I then gave each chief
“‘Dear Sir: I thought you would be glad to hear how your policy was working at this point. Major Curtis has done all in his power, and consulted my views in nearly all his actions. It has been slow work, however, the responsibility having to be taken for everything done.
“‘Captain McGregor's command has never sent out the white flag you arranged for; I believe he intended to, but for some reason unknown to me he did not do it. The company of Mexicans enlisted as soldiers are still here, as worthless a set and as idle as I want to see.
“‘The council for the day was ended. They sent their parties up to the wood yard at dark, as they had been doing two nights previous, for their night's supply of fuel, built their fires and commenced cooking their beef. About seven p. m. they suddenly left in a body, Da-chay-ya, the Mohaves and all. That they were frightened off by some parties or person no doubt can exist, inasmuch as they left their meat cooking on the fire; besides, they left several of their bows and quivers filled with arrows hanging on the trees where they were encamped.
“‘At the council in the afternoon Da-chay-ya stated that he would leave some of his men back in garrison till he returned. What should have so suddenly changed his mind none of us is at all able to tell; the Mexican soldiers and citizen packers had free access to their camp, as well as
“‘I feel very much disappointed at this result; everything promised so fair. I heard Dachay-ya say two or three times that all his people would come in soon; that the Four Peak Apache-Mohaves were all in Sunflower Valley talking about coming in; that he thought they would come to the post with all their families in the course of ten days, when they heard what the soldiers had to say.
“‘I believe an influence was brought to bear upon him by outsiders which frightened him off. His former treatment made him suspicious and fearful of some treachery, notwithstanding he was assured that if no understanding was come to, he should be allowed to go unmolested back to his family, providing no depredations were committed by his band. Not a thing was taken by one of them that I have heard of, and there were hundreds of soldiers' shirts hanging on the clothes lines of the laundresses near their camp. There is a singular mystery regarding their sudden departure that I cannot understand.
“‘The robbery of the mail stage and the killing of five citizens, a week ago, by an unknown party, near Wickenburg, of course is laid to the Indians. At first even the Prescott papers partially admitted that it was a party of Mexican bandits from Sonora. Indians, when they attack a stage, are not apt to leave the horses, blankets, and