CHAPTER XII. TROUBLES WITH THE INDIANS.
Skill and Craftiness of the Apaches—Inez Gonzales—Her Capture and Rescue—Position Taken by Indians With Reference to Captives—Interviews by Commissioner Bartlett With Mangus Colorado, Delgadito and Ponce.
From the very commencement of the American occupation of Arizona, the Indian began to give trouble. The United States had pledged itself, as has been seen, by the 11th Article of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, to protect the Mexican border as far as possible from Indian encroachments, and, also, whenever Mexican citizens were made captives by the Indians, the United States was to restore them to their homes. This was rather a mammoth undertaking, for at that time, exclusive of the Navajo nation, which was frequently at war with the whites, and which was a part of the Apache nation who supported themselves principally through stock raising, there were at least five or six thousand warriors of the different Apache tribes; different entirely from the Indians of the plains in their mode of warfare and tribal government.
These Indians never fought in the open, nor went into battle unless the odds were all in their favor. They understood the country well and from the rocky peaks, noted every wagon train and every party of whites that entered their territory. Through smoke signals, they could telegraph
An Apache never attacked unless fully convinced of an easy victory. They would watch for days, scanning every move, observing every act, and taking note of the party under espionage and of all their belongings. Their assaults were never made on the spur of the moment by bands accidentally encountered; they were invariably the result of long watching—patient waiting, careful and rigorous observation and anxious counsel.
For the most part they were truthful and inclined to observe their treaty stipulations. Their women were chaste, and polygamy, to some extent, was practiced among them. Horses were the evidence of wealth among them, and they were the most adept thieves known in any land, always on the alert to drive off horses, cattle and four-footed beasts of any kind.
It was the habit of the Indians to capture Mexicans and execute the males of age to bear arms with the most savage torture; adopting the children into the tribe, and selling the women to a class of human brutes who shipped them to Santa Fe, where they were sold for immoral purposes.
On the 27th June an incident occurred, which will long be remembered by every one connected with the Boundary Commission. It was such as to awaken the finest sympathies of our nature; and by its happy result afforded a full recompense for the trials and hardships attending our sojourn in this inhospitable wilderness.
On the evening of the day alluded to, a party of New Mexicans came in for the purpose of procuring provisions, etc., having with them a young female and a number of horses and mules. By what dropped from them, in the course of conversation, it was ascertained that the female and animals had been obtained from the Indians, and that they were taking the girl to some part of New Mexico, to sell or make such disposition of her as would realize the most money. As all traffic of this kind, whether in mules or captives, was strictly forbidden by the treaty with Mexico, I deemed it my duty, as the nearest and highest representative of the government of the United States in this region, to interfere in the matter. My authority for so doing, is contained in the second and third sections of the eleventh article of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo referred to, where it is declared that:—
It shall not be lawful, under any pretext whatever, for any inhabitant of the United States to purchase or acquire any Mexican, or any foreigner residing in Mexico, who may have been captured by Indians inhabiting the territory of either of the two republics, nor to purchase or acquire horses, mules, cattle, or property of any kind, stolen within Mexican territory by such Indians.
And in the event of any person, or persons, captured within Mexican territory by Indians, being carried into the territory of the United States, the government of the latter engages and binds itself, in the most solemn manner, so soon as it shall know of such captives being within its territory and shall be able to do so through the faithful exercise of its influence and power, to rescue them and return them to their country, or deliver them to the agent or representative of the Mexican Government. The Mexican authorities will, as far as practicable, give to the Government of the United States notice of such captures; and its agent shall pay the expenses incurred in the maintenance and transmission of the rescued captives, who, in the meantime, shall be treated with the utmost hospitality by the American authorities at the place where they may be. But if the government of the United States, before receiving such notice from Mexico, should obtain intelligence through any other channel of the existence of Mexican captives within its territory, it will proceed forthwith to effect their release and delivery to the Mexican agents, as above stipulated.’’
The ensuing day the three principal traders of the party were brought up to the fort, and separately examined, in reference to the manner in which they had obtained, and the right they had to the possession of the captive girl and the animals. These three persons were Peter Blacklaws, a trader in Santa Fe, Pedro Archeveque, a laborer of Algodones, and Jose Faustin Valdez, a laborer of Santa Fe.
Their evidence was somewhat conflicting—more particularly with respect to the female. It appeared that there was a party of about fifty men who had been trading with the Indians north of the Gila; a portion of them still remained there, whilst another portion (about twenty) were here, on their way back to Santa Fe. The whole had been trading under one and the same license, although it was acknowledged that the name of none of them, save Peter Blacklaws, was inserted in it; he, however, declared that he was authorized—which is hardly probable—to add to his party as many as he chose. This license was called for, but not produced, it being, as was stated, in the possession of the other portion of the party. They seemed to consider themselves fully authorized, by virtue of the license, to purchase any species of the property held by Indians, and this without any regard to the manner in which the latter obtained it.
As respects the captive girl, who it was acknowledged was bought of the Pinal Indians, even placing their conduct in the most favorable light, it was quite apparent that she was purchased, like any other article of merchandise, as a matter of speculation. According to part of the testimony, the expedition was fitted out for the express purpose of buying her; while others declared that the purchase was an incidental matter. It appeared that her apprehensions at being taken by these men still further from her home, instead of being restored to her natural protectors, had been quieted by assurances that her purchaser was acquainted with relatives of hers at Santa Fe; although his testimony showed, as might have been anticipated: that he had no such acquaintances at all.
The girl herself was quite young, artless and interesting in appearance, prepossessing in manners, and by her deportment gave evidence that she had been carefully brought up. The purchaser belonged to a people with whom the system of peonage prevails, and among them, as a general thing, females are not estimated as with us, especially in a moral point of view. The fate that threatened her under these circumstances, being too apparent, I felt under no necessity of regarding the protestations of Blacklaws, as to the honesty of his intentions, inasmuch as the treaty prohibits purchases of this kind 'under any pretext whatever.' I therefore deemed it to by my duty—and a pleasant one it certainly was,
Her name is Inez Gonzales, daughter of Jesus Gonzales, of Santa Cruz, a small frontier town near the River San Pedro, in the State of Sonora. She was then in the fifteenth year of her age. In the September preceding, she had left her home, in company with her uncle, her aunt, another female, and a boy, on a visit to the fair of San Francisco, in the town of Magdalena, about 75 miles distance. They were escorted by a guard of ten soldiers, under the command of an ensign named Limon. When one day's journey out, viz., on the 30th of September, 1850, they were attacked by a band of Pinal Indians, who lay in ambush in a narrow wooded canyon or pass. Her uncle was killed, and all the guard, save three persons, who made their escape. She, with her two female companions, and the boy, Francisco Paschecho, were carried away into captivity. She has been with the Indians ever since. The other captives she understands were purchased and taken to the north by a party of New Mexicans who made the Indians a visit last winter. No improper freedom was taken with her person, but she was robbed of her clothing, save a skirt and under linen, and was made to work very hard. She spent the whole period of her captivity at two of the regular rallying spots or planting grounds of the Pinals.
This tribe, known as the Pinal, or Pinalenos, embraces about five hundred souls, and ranges over an extensive circuit between the Sierra Pinal and the Sierra Blanca, both of which mountains are near the Upper San Francisco River, about five days' journey north of the Gila. Within this space the young girl knew of at least twelve female captives, besides numerous males. Generally, the Indians are very willing to sell, that being their object in making the captives. The men spend their time in hunting and depredating, and the women are required to do all the work in their wigwams, and generally in the field. All females in this respect being treated alike, their own faring no better than captives. Their food consists almost exclusively of the root of the maguay, baked as I have before described.
I never saw any of the Pinal Indians, though a band was met by one of the surveying parties on the Gila. They were described to me as a fine looking people. At first, they were shy; but when they discovered that our party were Americans, and were well disposed towards them, they became quite friendly. On inquiring of the Apache chiefs concerning them, I learned that they belong to the same great tribe, but seldom have any intercourse with the Apaches proper, being separated from them by broad forests and lofty mountains.
General Garcia Conde, the Mexican Commissioner, being encamped about twenty-six miles off, I dispatched a messenger to him, requesting his presence, to advise and co-operate with me in this matter. He accordingly visited me, and upon inquiring, found that he was acquainted
The fair captive was, of course, taken care of by the Commission. She was well clad with such materials as the sutler of the escort and the commissary of the Commission could furnish, and besides the more substantial articles of clothing provided for her, she received many presents from the gentlemen of the Commission, all of whom manifested a deep interest in her welfare, and seemed desirous of making her comfortable and happy. But with all the attention extended to her, her situation was far from enviable in a camp of over a hundred men, without a single female with whom she could hold any intercourse. She found employment enough in making her own garments, being quite expert at her needle, and occasionally spent an hour in reading the few Spanish books in our possession.’’
On the 23rd of September, the Commission having approached Inez Gonzales' home, she was, after having been with the Commission nearly three months, restored to her parents. Commissioner Bartlett describes this restoration in the following language:‘‘
As we drew near the town, numbers of the inhabitants came out to meet us, and welcome back the restored captive. When about half a mile distant, Inez wished to dismount and walk thence to the church, that she might first offer up her prayers for her deliverance from captivity, before going to her home. Accordingly we all dismounted and accompanied her to the door of the church; and there she was met by many more of her friends, when they all passed forward and knelt down before the altar. We left them engaged in prayer, and waited outside the church until their devotions were concluded. They then passed out, and escorted Inez, her parents, brothers and sister, to their home.’’
In a note Commissioner Bartlett says that he has spoken of the father of Inez Gonzales; that he was in fact her stepfather, and named Jesus Ortiz; that he seemed ardently attached to her, and told Commissioner Bartlett that he loved her as his own.
Commissioner Bartlett also gives an account of the difficulties attending his first attempt to restore to their homes two Mexican youths, who had been captured by the Indians, and sought his protection. The interviews following, between himself and the leading Apache chiefs, show the position which the Indians assumed, and which they defended with a great deal of native ability. This incident occurred at the Copper Mines where the Commissioner was encamped, and of it, Bartlett says:
Two Mexican boys suddenly rushed into the tent of Mr. Cremony, which was pitched in the outskirts of the place, and sought his protection from their Indian captors. He at once brought them to my quarters, and on being questioned, they stated that they had been stolen from their homes by the Apaches. One, named Saverro Aredia, and about thirteen years old, had been taken from the town of Bacucachi, in the State of Sonora, six months before; the other, Jose Trinfan, ten or twelve years of age, belonged to Fronteras, in the same State, and had been held a prisoner six years. Believing, from what they had heard the Indians say, who had visited the Copper Mines, that they would find protection with us, they sought our camp. They were both intelligent looking boys; their hair was cropped short, and they were entirely naked.
When these youths were brought to us, Mangus Colorado and Delgadito, two prominent chiefs of the Apaches, and a number of their tribe, were present; they already knew of the escape of the prisoners, and at once proposed that I should purchase them. I declined, telling them that the Americans did not buy captives; and, furthermore, that having sought my protection, I should not deliver them up. In vain I endeavored to make the chiefs comprehend our treaty with Mexico, and the principles of justice and humanity on which it was based. They did not, or would not, understand and left our camp evidently much offended. I requested Mangus Colorado to come to me on the following day when I would endeavor to satisfy him. The day arrived, but Mangus did not appear; and I
After the lapse of several days, the chiefs with their people, including the owner of one of the boys, again made their appearance. The matter was again talked over, but nothing was decided, and they returned to their camp. After several fruitless conferences of this sort, the affair was at length so arranged that the captives should be retained by us, and our friendly relations not be impaired. As this last discussion was one of much interest, it was taken down by one of the gentlemen present. I give it, therefore, at length, as the arguments used by my opponents display to good advantage their natural shrewdness of character. It was commenced by Mangus Colorado, who thus addressed me:
Mangus Colorado:—You came to our country. You were well received by us. Your lives, your property, your animals, were safe. You passed by ones, by twos, and by threes, through our country; you went and came in peace. Your strayed animals were always brought home to
Commissioner:—What we have said to you is true and reliable. We do not tell lies. The greatness and dignity of our nation forbids our doing so mean a thing. What our great brother has said is true, and good also. I will now tell him why we took his captives from him. Four years ago, we, too, were at war with Mexico. We know that the Apaches make a distinction between Chihuahua and Sonora. They are at peace with Chihuahua, but always fighting against Sonora. We in our war did not make that distinction. The Mexicans, whether living in one or the other state, are all one nation, and we fought them as a nation. Well, when the war was over, in which we conquered, we made peace with them. They are now our friends, and by the terms of the peace, we are bound to protect them. We told you this when we came to this place, and we requested you to cease your hostilities against Mexico. Well, time passed, and we grew very friendly; everything went well. You came in here with your captives. Who were these captives? Mexicans—the very people we told you we were bound to protect. We took
Ponce:—Yes, but you took our captives from us without beforehand cautioning us. We were ignorant of this promise to restore captives. They were made prisoners in lawful warfare. They belong to us. They are our property. Our people have also been made captives by the Mexicans. If we had known of this thing, we should not have come here. We should not have placed that confidence in you.
Commissioner:—Our brother speaks angrily, and without due reflection. Boys and women lose their temper, but men reflect and argue, and he who has reason and justice on his side, wins. I have no doubt but that you have suffered much by the Mexicans. This is a question in which it is impossible for us to tell who is right, or who is wrong. You and the Mexicans accuse each other of being the aggressors. Our duty is to fulfill our promise to both. This opportunity enables us to show to Mexico that we mean what we say, and when the time comes, we will be ready and prompt to prove the good faith of our promises to you.
Commissioner:—I want you to understand that I am the very one to speak; the only one here who can speak (peremptorily). Now do You sit down. I will hold no more talk with you, but will select a man (beckoning to Delgadito). Do you come here and speak for your nation.
Commissioner:—I wish to explain to our Apache brethren the reasons that have actuated us in this thing. We know that you have not done this thing secretly or in the dark. You came as braves in open day, and brought your captives amongst us. We are obliged to obey the orders of our great chief in Washington as much as you warriors are obliged to obey your commanders. The great chief of our nation says: ‘‘You must take all Mexican captives that you meet among the Apaches, and set them at liberty.’’ Now this you must know we cannot disobey. For this reason we have taken your captives from you.
Dalgadito:—We do not doubt the word of our brave white brethren. The Americans are braves, we know it; and we believe a brave scorns to lie. But the owner of these captives is a poor man; he cannot lose his captives, who were obtained at the risk of his life, and purchased by the blood of his relatives. He justly demands his captives. We are his friends, and we wish
Commissioner:—I will now tell my Apache brethren what can be done for them. The captives cannot be restored. The Commissioner cannot buy them, neither can any American buy them; but there is here in our employ a Mexican who is anxious to buy them, and restore them to their homes. We have no objection that this Mexican should do so; and if he is not rich enough, we will lend him the means.
Dalgadito:—The brave who owns these captives does not wish to sell. He has had one of those (two) boys six years. He grew up under him. His heart-strings are bound around him. He is as a son to his old age. He speaks our language, and he cannot sell him. Money cannot buy affection. His heart cannot be sold. He taught him to string and shoot the bow and to wield the lance. He loves the boy, and cannot sell him.
Here the council dissolved and repaired to the commissary's stores, attended by the Mexican purchaser, where goods to the amount of two hundred and fifty dollars were laid out, which they accepted, and thus the business was concluded.’’