Skip over navigation
Brown shield Brown shield Brown University Library Brown shield Brown shield Brown University Library Center for Digital Scholarship

1
Interview with Apache Chiefs, Held at Camp Grant, Arizona, September 15, 1871
William Kness and Conception Aquirre, interpreters.

Lieutenant Whitman informed the chiefs that his orders from the Secretary of War were to feed them so long as they remained at peace upon the reservation. Commissioner Colyer told them Congress had appropriated the money, and the President had sent him here with the cloth, and instructions to the lieutenant to feed them. If they left the reservation, the limits of which he explained to them, they were liable to be killed.

Esce-nela, chief, and Cassay counsellor, claims to have always kept the peace. Ten years ago he was at Goodwin, and then they had a chief named Na-nine-chay, who governed all their tribes. He has met many officers, but that I was the first one to express regret at the Camp Grant massacre. (William Kness here remarked the Lieutenant Whitman had expressed regret, but this chief was not present.) He had no doubt but that God put it into the heart of the President to send me out here. He is satisfied that God is listening to this talk. He intends now to talk with reference to eternity, as though the world was to last forever. He believes that I will tell him the truth. He has no doubt but that I am sorry for the killed at the Massacre. He is sorry for the Indians who have been taken away prisoners. He believes now that the centipedes and tarantulas (bad reptiles) among their enemies will no more hurt them. He believes that now we will protect them; that we are now as father and mother to them. He heard of our coming now he is glad to meet us. He said his people were living here peaceably, receiving rations three times a week, up to the time of the massacre. He believes neither the lieutenant nor any of the officers knew of the people coming to attack them. It was about 4 o'clock in the morning when they were attacked; 128 killed, 29 taken prisoners. He and all the captains lost some of their families. He lost two wives, four children, three men, (one an old man), and two of his nephews were taken away. He also lost fifty of his band. When the Tucson people attacked him, his best wife got separated from him and he could not find her. It was dark. If he could have found her he would have fought and died with her. There had been over five hundred of his people on the reservation at the time of the massacre. About thirty days after the attack about four hundred had returned, and were on the reservation when a lieutenant, and a party of troops under his command, fired into some of his people.

Commissioner Colyer asked: Does this country still please them, after what has oc


2
curred? Or, if Lieutenant Whitman and the interpreters and soldiers were to take them further up into the Pinal country, would they prefer it?

Answer. The country still pleases them; they wish to remain here; this has always been their home, the home of their fathers, and they want Lieutenant Whitman as their agent, and these two men as their interpreters. They wish to go out and hunt, and if this campaign is stopped they will show that they can behave themselves. They have now had their talk, and they would like to have their share of the goods distributed to them now. When the other chiefs come in they can have theirs.

In the afternoon they came again. Esce-nela said he had been thinking over what I had told him, and now he had come to speak of it. Said he wanted to plant wheat on the San Pedro, and corn on the Aravapa.

Commissioner Colyer remarked that the chief had changed his mind since yesterday. He said nothing to that, but that he wished the man who was there should remain there. Mr. Austin owns the farm. Mr. Filmore occupies it.

Talk with Es-cim-en-zeen, the head chief of the Aravapa Pinals

Es-cim-en-zeen said: "He was glad to come in to his old home. He was the first to come in and make peace before and was happy in his home here. He got his rations every three days. He was not living far from here. He was making tiswin (a drink) in peace, when one morning he and his people were attacked, and many of them were killed. The next day after the massacre he came into this camp because he knew it was not the people here who had done it; it was the people from Tucson and Papagos. He then continued to live here in the valley for nearly thirty days, when his people were again attacked; this time it was by a squad of military men, and, although none of his people were killed, yet that made him mad, and he went on the war-path. He now admits he did wrong, but he was grieved and angry, and he could not help it. The one who first breaks the peace is the one who is to blame. He believes Commissioner Colyer has come to make peace, and is glad he has put tobacco before him to smoke. They have always known that they had a great father and a great mother. The commissioner had sent out for him, and probably thought he would see a great captain, but he only saw a very poor man, and not very much of a captain. If he had seen him about three months ago, he would have seen him a captain. Then he had a band of seventy men, but they had all been massacred; now he has got no people. Ever since he left this place he has been in the neighborhood; he knew he had friends here, but he was afraid to come back; but as soon as he heard the commissioner was here then he came in. He never had much to say, but this he could say, he likes this place. He has said all he ought to say, since he has no people anywhere to speak for. If it had not been for the massacre, there would have been a great many more people here now; but after that massacre, who could have stood it? It was not possible for any man to have stood it. When he made peace with Lieutenant Whitman his heart was very big and happy. The people of Tucson and San Xavier must be crazy. They acted as though they had neither heads nor hearts.

Sunday Morning, September 17, 1871.--The chiefs calling to see Commissioner Colyer, he told them "he was glad to see them. They must not expect everything to go right at first. It takes a long time to heal a wound. They have a good friend in the President, and he will do his best to deal justly and kindly with them."

Ex-cim-en-zeen replied that "he thanked God. They are happy now but perhaps as soon as the commissioner has gone the soldiers will begin to kick them and point their rifles at them. That they don't like. They are contented now, but their young men are active, and being prevented from hunting they collect around the post, and get mixed up with the soldiers. Sometimes the soldiers kick them and throw stones at them; this makes trouble, as the young men feel bad."

Commissioner Colyer told them they would try to separate the post from the Indian agency. This they said was good, and it pleased them. They were glad that nothing had happened while he was here to break this good peace. They think the people of Tucson and San Xavier (the Papagos) must have a thirst for their blood. They seem to always pursuing them. They think that as soon as the commissioner has gone these people will return again and try to massacre them. They want, as soon as he hears anything of the kind, that he will return and judge for himself. They believe these Tucson people write for the papers and tell their own story. The Apaches have no one to tell their story, so they want the commissioner to come again. They think it must have been God who gave him a good heart to come and see them, or he must have had a good father and mother to make him so kind. The commissioner told them "It was God;" they said, "It was." They said, "They believed the Papagos could not have any God, they had always been so cruel, and had tried to persecute the Apaches as long as they could remember." It is just three days since they, the Apaches, have been here, and they have been happy. It seems to them that the arroyos (ravines) have been all smoothed over; that there are no more thorns and briers to prick them, nor snakes and reptiles to poison them. He said that Lieutenant Whitman knew


3
their story; knew how happy they were here in peace, up to the time of the massacre; knew all about that massacre; knew how he had returned after it; knew how he had been fired upon by the White Mountain soldiers. After that he wished to confess he had gone on a raid against the Papagos to recover his children. He liked Lieutenant Whitman, but he was so unhappy that if he had not heard that the commissioner was coming, he never would have come in.

Commissioner Colyer told them that "they must not fight the Papagos or white people any more. He had already sent for the children, and when he got back to Washington he would ask the President to request the government of Mexico to return their children."

Es-cim-en-zeen said, "It seems to him now as if he had children in his own hands. God had certainly put it in my heart. He was very happy."

Commissioner Colyer said that he would ride up the valley with them this morning to see the place of the massacre and hear their story.

Es-cim-en-zeen. A long time ago they took off a wife of his, and he believed she now is at Fort McDowell. "Na-zen-i-clee" is her name. She is living in the house of one of the captains of the soldiers.

September 19, 1871

Captain Chiquito, of the Aravapa. The commissioner told him he was glad that he had seen him before he left for Washington.

Captain Chiquito: "He has nothing more to say than the other chiefs had said; he confirms all that they have said. He had heard that his father and mother had come and he asked to see him. The same God who rules the sun, he believes, had sent me here to see them. Ever since the other Indians had told him that I was here he wished to see me, and for that reason he had hurried in from the hills. It must have been God who had put it into both of our hearts to hurry to see each other. He thanks us for having sent him out food and clothing last night."

Two Pinal Indians came with Ex-cim-en-zeen. Says that yesterday he sent a boy named Un-pi-al-kay to the Pinals, and about noon he saw a smoke on his trail, and he don't know what it means unless he saw his people. He was to return in four days. He will bring in all the people he can. He thought that all the Pinals would come into this reservation as soon as they heard of the treatment he was receiving.

I visited the scene of the massacre on Sunday morning, September 17: some of the skulls of the Indians, with their temple-bones beaten in, lay exposed by the washing of the run and the feeding of the wolves. I overtook Es-cim-en-zeen, who had ridden before us, and found him wiping tears from his eyes when he saw them.

By referring to the accompanying papers (Appendix A b, No. 2,) it will be seen that the account of this horrible massacre as given by Lieutenant Royal E. Whitman, Third Cavalry United States Army, the officer in charge of the camp at the time, is amply sustained by his brother officers and citizens then present. Some of these affidavits make the affair even more horrible than Lieutenant Whitman described it to be. Dr. C.B. Briesly, the post surgeon who as sent out to the bloody field to minister to the wounded on the day of the outrage says: "On my arrival I found that I should have but little use for wagon or medicines. The work had been too thoroughly done. The camp had been fired, and the dead bodies of some twenty-one women and children were lying scattered over the ground; those who had been wounded in the first instance had their brains beaten out with stones. Two of the best-looking of the squaws were lying in such a position, and from the appearance of the genital organs, and of their wounds, there can be no doubt that they were first ravished, and then shot dead. Nearly all of the dead were mutilated. One infant, of some ten months, was shot twice, and one leg hacked nearly off."