Soon after coming into Arizona, after he had traveled to some extent through the Territory and had gained some knowledge of the situation, Gen. Howard said he wanted to have a grand conference with Indians and citizens and then would decide upon a definite plan to be adopted and policy to be pursued in settling the grievous Indian difficulties of Arizona, and maintain a permanent peace. He sent word to the Apaches, as many as could be reached, in the neighborhood of Camp Grant, to meet him, in company with General Crook, Governor Safford, Superintendent Bendell and others, at Grant on the 21st. inst. And he invited citizens and deputations from the Pima, Maricopa and Papago Indians--tribes at peace with the whites--to be present at and take part in the conference. In response to this invitation, a large number of American and Mexican citizens of the Territory, and representatives from the Pima and Papago Indians, commenced assembling at Camp Grant on the afternoon of the 20th and continued arriving all that afternoon and next morning. Generals Howard and Crook, the later accompanied by his Aide, Lieutenant Bourke, arrived about noon of the same day. Herman Bendell, Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Arizona, and J.H. Stout, Agent of the Pima and Maricopa Indians, arrived soon after with a deputation of forty-two Pimas; among whom were twelve Chiefs, led by Antonio Azol, their head Chief. Dr. R.A. Wilbur, Agent of the Papago Indians, come in about the same time with fifteen members of this tribe; among these were two captains; Francisco, one of them being the head Chief of his tribe. Some few Apaches were coming and going during the afternoon.
Among the citizens that came to be present at the conference were A.P.K. Safford, Governor of Arizona; J.E. McCaffry, U.S. District Attorney and Attorney General of the Territory; I.Q. Dickason, U.S. Marshal; Samuel Hughes, Adjutant General of the Territory; H. Ott, Sheriff of Pima county; and many other prominent citizens--American and Mexican.
All camped near together, citizens and Indians, on the banks of the San Pedro, a short distance below the military quarters, under some cottonwood trees. The first night in camp as well as that succeeding was remarkably quiet, considering the numbers and varied character of those assembled.
Shortly after arriving General Howard sent for Es-ke-van-zin (or Es-sim-en-zeen), who is reputed to be the most influential Chief of the Apaches in Central Arizona--himself a Pinal, but exercising more or less control over other tribes as well. Es-ke-van-zin appeared, and the General told him he had come as he had promised, to have a talk with him and his people, to learn their wants, and to tell them what the government proposed to do for them, etc. The General expected him and all the other Chiefs in this neighborhood, with their people, to meet him on the morrow, under some large wide spreading cottonwoods, that he pointed out, and there have the conference. The General told him that representatives from the Pimas and Papagos as well as Americans and Mexicans had come to make peace with them and bury old feuds, etc.
Eskevanzin immediately objected to the place that the General pointed out for holding the conference. He said that when the General as here before he talked to them at the Agency house (about three miles above the camp); that the house was still there, and he wanted to talk where they had talked before. This he insisted upon. General Howard was inclined to consider it of little importance where the conference was held, so they were got together; but General Crook was of the opinion that the point should not be yielded to him; that to make such a concession in the very beginning of the negotiations, though seemingly trifling in itself, would give them an important advantage and make it more difficult to treat with them. Eskevanzin finally agreed to the meeting on the banks of the San Pedro under the trees designated; but he said he had not understood that the "talk" was to come off on the morrow; he understood the General was to be here to-morrow (the end of the 25 days when the General promised to be back to hold a conference with him and his people), and would talk next day. He said that he could be here and talk for himself to-morrow, but that he could not get the other Chiefs in before the next day. After much parleying, this point also was settled, and Eskevanzin agreed to hunt up the other Chiefs and bring them on the morrow. He promised to be in with them next morning by 9 o'clock.
Next day they were awaited until about 1-1/2 o'clock P.M., when Eskevanzin accompanied by some half dozen others, said to be Chiefs, came in to have a "talk." The council was then called. General Howard seated himself with General Crook, Governor Safford and Superintendent Bendell along side. Agents Stout, Wilbur and Jacobs were present. The Pima and Papago Chiefs were ranged on the left. The Apaches headed by Eskevanzin sat on the right and front. Several ladies graced the council with their presence--sitting in the rear of the Apache Chiefs. Citizens, Mexican and American, and several officers, and Pima, Papago and some few Apache Indians gathered around to listen. Manuel, a tame Apache living at Tucson, was the principal interpreter from Apache to Spanish, while Dr. Handy, Mr. Wm. Oury, Jesus Marie Elias, Mr. Davis and others translated by turns from Spanish to English. Captain Antonio of the Pimas had his interpreter, Louis Maraja, who translated from Spanish to Pima.
After a general shaking of hands all were seated as above. Gen. Howard then opened the council by prayer; after which he said, addressing the Apaches: "Twenty-five days ago I had an interview with you here, and I promised to come again at this time, and I have kept my promise. I want to know whether Eskevanzin has anything further to say or to ask of me." Eskevanzin replied that he was going to talk for all, but first Santos (one of the Apache Chiefs) would talk a while.
Santos then said, that when General Howard saw him first he was with the Americans and he was still with them. General Howard promised to be here again in twenty-five days and he is here. Santos says that he (himself) is here and is with his brothers and sisters still. He has heard of the great Captain that he was somewhere, it is so--for he is here now (referring to Gen. Howard). Arizing and going before the General and laying a small stone on the floor, he said that he did not know how to read or write, this is his paper (pointing to the stone), and he wants a peace that will last as long as that stone lasts. He has the pen and paper of his father, and he puts the stone down there as an answer that he wants peace as long as that lasts, and as long as we want peace. God put this thought in him, to make a peace as lasting as the rock. He wants to be dressed like all those around him. Now that his father has come, not stones nor thorns were in the road to hinder him coming here. He has now come into his father's house and thinks that it will smoke well and enter his heart. Now that he has seen his father, he will eat and drink and sleep, and he will be contented. When he first came here he had nothing but veins, now he is fat, and that is the reason he is happy. Of the Indians that he used to see when he was small, none of them remain. Perhaps God had made very poor the men who lived before his time (referring to his own people). Perhaps God had made them poor and white men rich, and had given them plenty of corn and flour and cattle and hogs, and everything, and to them (the Indians) only water and mescal. Perhaps God had given the white men everything and put it into the heads of the Indians to steal from them. Perhaps God had made them do as they had done, but they would do so no more; by the permission of God they would do so no more. That is the reason why they had put the stone there, and so long as that lasts they would steal no more. His friends, the Pimas and Papagos, the Americans and Mexicans had come, surely they are going to talk with them, and they came as friends. Surely God gives them permission to do so, now they are all brothers, and God has permitted it. Formerly the Pimas and Papagos came to their (the Apaches') country to steal; and the Apaches went to the country of the Pimas and Papagos to steal. Now they are friends and would steal from each other no more. Now they are like brothers and sisters and will be friends until they grow old. Now they have the hair on their heads and the nails on their hands, and he hopes God will permit them to remain there. The Apaches hunt rats and deer like the Papagos; now they can hunt together. They are both armed with bows and arrows, and are equal, and hunt the same way, and perhaps they can hunt together in harmony now that the great father has come and made peace.
Es-kel-pel-do-ten-di, then speaks. Coming before General Howard and making the sign of the cross with his fingers, he says that he swears before God and the Virgin Mary, etc. etc. that he is in earnest. General Howard is his father and mother. He always wanted peace, because his brother asked and obtained peace at Goodwin. He is no captain; he only speaks for himself. God ordered him to give his hand to Gen. Howard when the sun was up there, (pointing to the heavens); that is the reason why he gave it. He has come over the top of the earth to give the General his hand. He has hands, and hair, and eyes, but he can not make a horse out of them, or dishes or money; he can only do what his body will do. Now he is here with all his friends and if the heavens should fall he would get away in safety.
Eskelpeldotendi resumes. He is happy now that the Papagos and Mexicans, and others have come to make peace. He is now like his friends that are looking at him: he will do nothing and they will do nothing to break the peace. He thinks the soldiers are here with their guns, (referring to the soldiers on the reservation), to prevent bad men on the outside from doing wrong. (Concepcion, who had been interpreting from the Apache into Spanish, was now relieved on account of incompetency, by Manuel, who did nearly all the subsequent interpreting from Apache into Spanish).
Es-kel-pel-etc. continues: He is very happy that his neighbors and countrymen have come to see him; he is very grateful in his heart. They would not have come if they had not been ordered by God Almighty, and the Virgin Mary, etc. (!) and he is glad to find things in the state they are. He has been praying to the Virgin and Jesus Christ (!) and it is from this, that the present state of things comes. He is glad that the Mexicans and strangers have come; he will now sleep well as if in another house, and they will do the same. He has no paper or pen, his mouth is all he has to correspond with. He has no machinery to make blankets or to make a horse.
General Howard told him that he and his people must raise corn and sell it, and with the money they could get anything they wanted; white men do this way. Eskelpeldotendi said he had spoken; and feels happy and is contented after what he has said, and after what the General has said.
Gen. Howard said they had talked to him long about peace do they think they are making peace for any but for themselves. Eskelpeldotendi replied that the peace they wanted is that which will permit them to go to Tucson and wherever they wish without danger and permit the Pimas and Papagos without danger.
General Howard asked them if they were ready to help us make and keep peace with the Apaches that are now hostile. Eskevanzin had told him the other day that if trails crossed this Reservation they (Eskevanzin and his men) would follow them, does he still promise to do this?
Eskevanzin did not answer the question, but said that he felt good after he had talked with Gen. Howard when he was here before; and he had gone back from the bad water, as he was told it would give him the fever, and he had been happy ever since.
Eskevanzin replied that it was; if any stock was stolen by Indians and traced to or through this reservation, he would send his men after it, and bring it back.
General Howard asked if he wished to say anything more to him. Eskevanzin said he had heard and understood well, and if any stock was stolen down about San Xavier or from the Pimas on the Gila and was found here, General Howard could do anything he liked to him, but there were bad Indians that would steal and then they would cry out "Eskevanzin! Eskevanzin!"
Eskevanzin replied, "That is well."
Eskevanzin said put a trailer (or trailers) around the line of the reservation, and if he finds trails that come near here they are made by his people, but if they go far away into another country they are made by Cachise's people.
Eskevanzin said that formerly, when he was in the mountains, he did not have such clothes as he now wore. He is here making peace and is contented. Bad Indians may commit depredations because they were jealous of him, that he is in here making peace; if they commit depredations he would go out with the soldiers after them. Before this he had made treaties and held treaties. [So it was interpreted; he meant probably that in former times, treaties had been made] and he had gone home and slept uneasy. Now the Pimas and Papagos wanted to talk with them, and they would go home contented.
Eskevanzin wanted Antonio (head Chief the Pimas) to talk with him and his people, and if he said the Pimas wanted the same as they wanted he would be contented. Antonio said he obeyed orders, he was here by order of the great General. He wanted Eskevanzin to speak first.
Eskevanzin said he was glad that all these captains and people had come. As long as that stone lasts the treaty will be kept; and the people will hear of it in Washington. The General carries a watch by which he sees the time and regulates his actions. Eskevanzin's watch is the sun. The hands on this watch never turn back; and what he says is like the hand of his watch. First there was three nations--the Apaches, the Papagos, (in which name the Apaches include Pimas, Maricopas, and Papagos proper), and Mexicans. The Mexicans had guns and the Indians had bows and arrows. The Papagos and Apaches were once friendly; and then became inimical. Now the time has arrived, when they will again be at peace. Formerly they had to betake themselves to the mountains and rocks, through fear; now that peace is made, they could come out into the open plains, and sit down under the shade, and not be afraid. In former years before the Americans had possession of the country, the Mexicans made very few campaigns against them; and the Apaches made very few campaigns against the Mexicans. Now they had put the stone there; and as long as that stone lasts, no more campaigns should be made by his people. They had placed it there in the presence of General Howard and before all these people, as a symbol that a new world had opened for them all. General Howard had asked him the other day, if he wished to see all these people, and he had said that he did. General Howard promised to bring them here, and he had kept his promise, and he was contented.
Antonio (head Chief of the Pimas) said he believed what Eskevanzin had said--that once they were all one people, (or were all living in peace). Now their differences were healed, and they were friends again; and he was satisfied they would remain friends. He said that Pimas understood and obeyed the laws of the Government and the commands of the President and Generals: and if they the (the Apaches) made peace it would not be long before they could do the same. He told Eskevanzin that he was glad to make peace with him; and desired him, as the captain of his people, to teach them as his children, to obey the orders of General Howard, and of the commanders over him; this is the best instruction he could give his children. (They then shook hands all round, and embraced affectionately etc.)
Francisco repeated that he had heard all that had been said, and was satisfied. The stone had been placed before them as a symbol of peace, and he wanted to see the professions verified. If the Apaches complied with their promises he would never again tread their ground with evil design; if he had done so in the past, he was provoked to it by their robbing. He obeyed the orders of his superiors, and he was here by their orders. If the Apaches observed the promises they made, they would dig a hole in the ground (figuratively) and bury all past differences; and it would be as if nothing had ever occurred between them. He had said all he wished to. They were now friends, and if the Apaches wanted to come to Tucson, they could do so without fear, and the Papagos would trade with them.
Eskevanzin replied that he was very thankful.
Governor Safford asked Eskevanzin if he thought he was making peace with the Americans and Mexicans all over the country, or only with the few represented at the conference. Eskevanzin replied that he did not consider he was making peace with the few only around him, but with all the people in Arizona and Sonora.
The Governor said the people were very glad, and would keep the peace as long as the stone lasts, or as long as the Apaches kept their promises of peace. But he told them there were bad Indians, who committed depredations; and that the good ones had better remain on the reservation until the bad ones could be found. Indians all looked much alike, and it was better, for the safety of these that were here, for them to remain.
[Owing to the great length of the proceedings, we are compelled to close and continue next week.]
[Arizona Weekly Citizen, May 25, 1872, p.1]