CHAPTER XII. INDIAN TROUBLES (Continued).
THE INDIAN'S SIDE OF THE QUESTION—STORIES BY MIKE BURNS, MOHAVE-APACHE—HIS CAPTURE BY U. S. TROOPS—INDIAN METHOD oF CATCHING ANIMALS FOR FOOD—FIRST WHITE MEN SEEN BY INDIANS—ILL TREATMENT BY SOLDIERS AND NAVAJO INDIANS—KILLING OF COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AF FAIRS LEIHY—MASSACRE IN SKULL V ALLEY—MASSACRE OF YAVAPAIS.
So much has been written of the Indian by the white man, so many reports have been made by the military, and other authorities, of the raids and massacres by the red man, and so little. is known of the Indian's side of the story, that the following stories of the Apache Indians, written by one of themselves, Mike Burns, will, without doubt, cast a new light upon the question, not only for Indian accounts of many battles with the white man, but also for descriptions of the methods of travel and customs and manner of living of the Indians. It is a pathetic narrative, elegant in its simplicity, and shows the deep feeling of an Indian brooding over the wrongs which he has received at the hands of the whites. It is an eloquent appeal for justice at the hands of those who took from him his lands, and robbed him of friends and relatives. It is given here without change of phraseology, and I think many parts of it will rank with the orations of Red Fox, Black Hawk and other Indians who have made their names a part of the history of this country.
Mike Burns, the author, is an Apaehe-Mohave Indian, born in Arizona, about the year 1864, as nearly as he can tell. When a child of about seven years of age, he was captured by Captain James Burns, of the United States Army, then in command of company G 5th U. S. Cavalry. He was raised by Captain Burns, being a member of his family until about the year 1880, when Captain Burns was ordered East on account of his health, but died at Fort Wingate, New Mexico, shortly after starting on his journey. Mike Burns was left behind in Arizona, but through the influence of General Wesley R. Merritt, was sent to Carlisle, where he received a common-school education. He now resides on the MeDowell Reservation in Arizona, but attends the terms of the Federal Courts in Arizona as the official Indian interpreter. Through good fortune the writer of this history was able to secure from Mr. Burns almost all the manuscript which he has been engaged in writing for several years, and the following a valuable contribution to the History of Arizona:‘‘
“I cannot state just how old I am now, because Indians have no way of keeping records of births or deaths, and I have no parents or any near relatives to tell me when and where I was born. All of my people were killed by the soldiers in what was known as the “Bloody Salt River Cave Massacre” (Battle of the Cave), in the year 1872. Lieut. E. D. Thomas, of the United States Army, told me that when I was captured, that I appeared to him to be about seven years old. I was captured by Captain James Burns and Lieut. E. D. Thomas commanding
“I was not so young a child when with my people but I could remember a good. deal about their life. I used to lead my old grandfather around in the caves on the Salt River Box Canyon to find woodrats' nests. My grandfather would use a figure 4 trap to catch woodrats, rabbits, squirrels, and birds. We used to set the traps in the afternoon and next morning go around and take out the animals which were in them. Sometime the coyotes would steal some of the small animals, but if coyotes were around, we would put thistle around the traps, and the coyotes would not go near the traps then. We would take the skins off the animals and roast them by the fire or boil them, and eat the little meat and drink the water they were cooked in as soup. We used to live this way and were very well satisfied with our way of living.
“The women would go to different places to gather herbs, or wild flowers which had seeds in them which were good to eat. The young men would go out hunting deer, and hardly ever came back. to camp without having deer meat. Deer meat was our principal food. The white people have often wondered, and sometimes even say to-day, ‘What did the Indians use to do for food?’ The Indians had more things to eat in those days than they have now. They did not have to buy everything in order to prepare a meal; those things grew in the midst of them, and the deer and other game was plenty everywhere. They could go out any time and kill enough to fill their wants, but now, no Indian can kill deer.
“Ha-lo, which means ‘Rabbit,’ who is a man about one hundred and five years old, told me that the first white people travelled through the northern part of Arizona in the year 1847. Many Indians used to sit on the southeast side of the Bradshaw Mountains; they had their camps all through those mountains, and saw parties of the white man's travelling wagons coming across the country, wagons that had from twenty to thirty horses, which hauled them through rough canyons and over the hills. One day four young warriors decided to go into one of the white mens' camps to see if they could not trade some skins they had for something. They went to the camp in single file, and when they reached the camp all the white men got on their horses. The older people shook hands with the Indians, but the young men got on their horses and acted as if they were going to corral the young warriors. They rode close to them, holding their pistols and
“Ha-lo said that when he was a young healthy man he could run so fast that he could catch a young fawn, but that he never ran so fast as he did in trying to escape from these white men. A few days after this massacre, and after the white men had left the camp, some of the Indians went to the place and found two of the young Indians' bodies mutilated so badly that they could not tell who they were, and the bones of the third Indian were found nearby, having all the appearance of his having been boiled to death.
“Ha-lo also told me the following story: ‘A band of us had taken a herd of mules and horses, and we were all armed with guns and pistols and were coming from Bill Williams’ Mountain when we were overtaken by the soldiers. The soldiers overtook us because the animals made us travel slow, and one of the saddles came off of one of our party's horses, and I had to stay behind to help him fix it. Just as we had it fixed and were ready to start the soldiers came over a little hill just behind us. They were in close formation and came to within fifty yards of us, and I up with my gun and shot at them, and must have hit some of them because I never missed a mark when shooting with a gun. There were only twenty-five of us from our camp on Jock-Ha-We-Ha, which is the Indian name of Bill Williams' Mountain, and means “Covered with Cedar.” Two of the old men had horses and were riding them, driving the mules on ahead. I am the only one now living to tell about that fight with the soldiers. We stood them off, and the way it was done was like this: Many Indians had
“About the year 1865 the Colorado Indians, who were called by other Indians Mo-cav-va, or Mohava, lived on the banks of the great Colorado River. They were the first Indians who met with the whites, and were the advisers or agents of the soldiers stationed at Fort Mohave. Some of them used to visit the mountain Indians, who were known to them as Talle-ca-by-ya, or Apache-Ynmas, as they are now known. Their ranges were all along the west of the Bradshaw Mountains, to the south as far as the HarquaHala, and to the west as far as the Colorado River. They were on friendly terms with the Indians all along the Colorado River, the Yuma or Caehons, and also with the Mo-cav-vas, or Mohaves. They could understand one another's languages, and also the language of the Yavapais. It is said that these tribes of Indians, the Yumas, Mohaves, Walapais, Talle-ca-by-yas and Yavapais, used to be one family, but they got to quarrelling and separated, going in different directions. The ones that went west became separated again, one party going south and they were called the Cajones, or the Yumas. Another party went above the Colorado River, and they were called the Mo-cav-vas or Mohaves. Other Indians call them Havel-by-ya (the People in the Waters). At one time some of the Mohaves sent their runners over to these Talle-ca-by-yas to invite their headmen or chiefs to come to Fort Mohave to have a peace meeting. Many of them, about thirty-five, came to learn what they were to talk about. When they reached Fort Mohave they were told to go into a large house and they were kept there and killed, none went back. Some of their tribe afterwards went to a friendly
“After a while the very same white men who ordered these deeds committed, went out to bring these Indians from their homes on the Colorado River bottoms. The Indians learned of this, and held a meeting, and it was agreed to ambush the party of whites coming out to make a treaty and a watch was set for the party, which included Commissioner of Indian Affairs Leihy. One day a runner came in and said that Leihy and others were on the road between Date Creek and Kirkland. The Indians gathered on the roadside, hidden by the bushes. The approaching party consisted of Leihy, a driver, and an interpreter in a buggy, and one white man on a horse. The Indians in the bushes heard Leihy call out: ‘Do not harm me or my party because we are out among you Yavapais for the purpose of making peace with you, and all you mountain people.’ The Indians were glad to learn that they were going to meet the right party, the men they had long been looking for. The party came close on to the ambushing Indians, who were concealed on both sides of the wagon road, and all at once they attacked, shot the horses and all rushed in to get the first shot at Leihy. One big Indian proposed, and it was agreed, that no one Indian should claim that he was the man who had killed the great chief who was a white man, and who was the man who had made all the false treaties in order to bring all the Indians in to close range in order to kill them quicker and easier than fighting them at a distance.
“At least three parties of Indians had been induced to go to Fort Mohave and never returned. They were told that the white man had sent out word to all the Indians throughout the country inviting the Yavapais to come in to Fort Mohave to make peace and receive rations, clothing, and all kinds of presents.
“The Indians killed Leihy, the two white, men with him, and one Indian who was from Fort Mohave and who accompanied Leihy as interpreter. There was another Indian with the party but he was found to be one of their own people. Most of the Indians wanted to kill him, too, but others did not, and finally his life was spared. He was found to be one of the parties who had gone in previously to Fort Mohave and he had been forced to guide the party of white men over the country. So this lone Indian was taken back to his people.
“The foregoing occurred near Skull Valley, near where so many of the Yavapais were slaughtered, and it was not so very long after that killing was done. Afterwards, when the white people came to that valley, they saw many bones and skulls of human beings, and so they named it Skull Valley. The bones and skulls were thick all along the valley, but where they were to have had the meeting they were thickest. At this massacre some ran for their lives because they had nothing to protect themselves with. They had been told that when they went to meet the white men they must not have any arms or weapons that they must leave their bows and arrows in the hills in order to show that they came in to meet the newcomers in a friendly spirit, and it was promised that the white man would not hurt
“When the different parties of Indians saw a camp of white men, they all came together and it was agreed by the chiefs that they should go down to the camp. This was the season when the acorns and the walnuts were ripe, and many Indians came there, near to those small springs and valleys, only a few miles from or west of the present town of Prescott and Iron Springs. There were men and women in the bands of Indians, and they decided to go down to the soldiers‘ camp where they expected that some presents would be given to them. Some of them were suspicious, however, and would not go down, saying that they would wait this time and find out from those who did go if the white soldiers received them peaceably and gave them
“This massacre of the Yavapais was entirely without provocation, as they had never taken anything from the white men, nor had they killed or molested any white man. The beginning of it was that there was a party of soldiers camped near there. Three Indians were out on a hunt
“Of the forty or fifty who rushed upon the soldiers with their bare hands, none came out alive to tell the story. The only ones who escaped were those who ran away in the beginning or who hid under the wagons and then ran away. When they looked over the valley they could see many dead bodies for a long distance. The soldiers have never told or written an account of that massacre. Many Indians were killed who had never seen a white man before. They never knew what kind of a human being a white man was, and, therefore, could not have molested them.
“A few years afterwards the Tallaka-pai-ya, or the Yuma-Apaches, those who lived in the vicinity of Camp Date Creek, where there were about three troops of cavalry stationed, often came into the post, or, at least, their young men did, to work around the kitchens of the soldiers, or to chop wood for the soldiers' fires, for which services they used to receive food, clothing, etc., and in that way they learned the English language from the soldiers.
“About five or six miles down the creek there was a cabin kept by two men, who lived by themselves, who sold whisky to the soldiers. Some of the soldiers would be absent from the post for two or three days from time to time, and the officers threatened to kill those Indians who were working around the post, thinking that the soldiers had been killed by the Indians. The soldiers, however, finally showed up, having simply strayed away on account of being too drunk to know the way home.
“Some of the Indians had seen some other Indians in the mountains dressed somewhat differently from the Indians around Camp Date Creek. The officer in command of the post told the Indians that they should head them off and bring them in, but the Indians were too foxy, they got away in the mountains before they could be headed off. The Yuma Indians, however, surrounded a small band of the raiding Apaches, killed four and brought their clothing to the post, but even then the soldiers did not believe that they had killed any of the Apaches, and the officer in command threatened to round up those Indians who had been coming in to the post every day and put chains on them and lock them
“At last those two men who had the whisky shop had a fire and their cabin was burned up and they were burned up in it. The soldiers got some of the Indians and went down there to try and find out who had done the killing and burning. They could not find any tracks of men, or anything to show that it was done by a raiding party. The Indians scouted around far in the mountains, but could not see any tracks. The commanding officer, however, had a strong suspicion that it had been done by the Yumas, and all the Indians were called together under the pretense that the soldiers wanted to make a treaty with them.”’’