Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Alchesay Cuts The Sky

July 17, 2019
   Here's a two-stepper. I took a photo of a dramatic sky when I was in Deadwood last month and last weekend I did a quick study of it and put it aside.

   Several days ago, I decided it really needed an Apache standing in front of it and so I whipped one in.

Daily Whip Out: "Alchesay Cuts The Sky"

   John Langellier was in the True West offices all day yesterday, working on a big cover story we are going to do on the under-appreciated White Mountains Apache and, so, Alchesay was on my mind.

Alchesay, standing
center, with scouts

   And, as I mentioned before, the guy was really photogenic.

   Thanks to Dr. Langellier for sharing these photos with us. He found them both. 

  Unlike some of his Apache cousins, Alchesay worked in his community to fight for a better life for his family and his tribe. And he didn't use violence to achieve it. He should be much more well known than he is. We aim to change that, at least a bit. Thanks John, and thank you Alchesay!

"Whoever fights can lose. Whoever does not fight, has already lost."
—Bertolt Brecht

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Oh, How Geronimo Loved Mexican Monte

July 16, 2019
   When the esteemed John Langallier comes up from Tucson, he invariably brings gifts, like this gem.

   And, if that wasn't enough, John also gifted me a framed example of the kinds of cards Geronimo loved to play with.

Apache Mexican Monte Playing Cards

   The artist E.A. Burbank claimed that when it came to Mexican monte, Geronimo "was always in the game up to his neck. It was fun to watch him handle the cards. He was as expert as the best of them. At times he would get excited and yell at the top of his voice. The betting was always on the turn of a card. And when Geronimo was dealing he would cover the money each time. No one could bluff him."

   In fact, Geronimo got kicked out of the Dutch Reformed Church for playing Monte. 

  Still noodling ideas for the G-Man and his split image.

The G-Man Split

"The all Indians as well as whites on the frontier - enjoyed having a good time. In those days young men played various hoop games; and dancing was a community affair. Many gambled, and the Mexican card game of Monte was a favorite." 
—H.B. Wharfield, in the book "Alchesay: Scout with General Crook, Sierra Blanca Chief, Friend of Fort Apache Whites, Counselor to Indian Agents"

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Case Against Geronimo: His Flimsy Excuse

July 15, 2019
   Geronimo broke out four different times. The third time, General Crook mounted a large military expedition to go into Mexico and bring him back. With the wary blessing of Mexican authorities (they were not happy about American troops in their country for any reason). Now, after the fourth time, in 1886, Crook meets up with Geronimo at Canyon del los Embudos (Canyon of the Funnels) just across the line in Mexico. Lt. Bourke makes mental notes and after the meeting writes down the entire encounter.  Geronimo opens the parlay with a long speech. Here are the highlights:

General Crook: What have you to say; I have come all the way down from [Fort] Bowie.

Geronimo: I would like Concepcion to act as interpreter. (Geronimo is leery of having an interpreter who might twist what he says, as he believes Mickey Free and others did previously.)

Crook: All right, but all the interpreters must remain to act as checks on each other.

Geronimo: I want to talk first of the causes which led me to leave the Reservation. I was living quietly and contented, doing and thinking of no harm while at the Sierra Blanca (White Mountains). I don't know what harm I did to those, I mean‚ Chatto, Mickey Free and Lt. Davis. I was living peaceably and satisfied when people began to speak bad of me. I should be glad to know who started those stories. I was living peaceably with my family, having plenty to eat, sleeping well, taking care of my people and perfectly contented. I don't know where those bad stories first came from. There we were doing well and my people well. I was behaving well. I hadn't killed a horse or man, American or Indian. I don't know what was the matter with the people in charge of us. They knew this to be so and yet they said I was a bad man, and the worst man there‚ but what harm had I done? I was living peaceably and well but I did not leave on my own accord. Had I so left it would have been right to blame me, but as it is, blame those men who started this talk about me. Some time before I left, an Indian named Nadiskay had a talk with me. He said; They are going to arrest you. But I paid no attention to him, knowing that I had done no wrong; and the wife of Mangus, Huerco‚ told me that they were going to seize me and put me and Mangus in the guard house and I learned from the American and Apache soldiers, from Chatto and Mickey Free, that the Americans were going to arrest me and hang me and so I left. I would like to know who it was that gave the order to arrest me and hang me.

 Geronimo repeats the above refrains several more times, then he adds, "I was praying to the light and to the darkness, to God and to the Sun to let me live quietly there with my family. I don't know what the reason was that people should speak badly of me. I don't want to be blamed. The fault was not mine. Blame those three men. With them is the fault, and find out who it was that began that bad talk about me. I have several times asked for peace, but trouble has come from the Agents and interpreters. I don't want what has passed to happen again. Now I am going to tell you something else. The Earth-mother is listening to me and I hope that all may be so arranged that from now on there shall be no trouble and that we shall always have peace. Whenever we see you coming to where we are we think that it is God‚ you must count always with God. From this on I do not want that anything shall be told you about me [unintelligible] joke. Whenever I have broken out, it has always been on account of bad talk. From this on I hope that people will tell me nothing but the truth. From this on I want to do what is right and nothing else and I do not want you to believe any bad papers about me. I want the papers sent you to tell the truth about me, because I want to do what is right. Very often there are stories put in the newspapers that I am to be hanged. I don't want that any more. When a man tries to do right, such stories ought not to be printed in the newspapers. There are very few of my men left now. They have done some bad things but I want them all rubbed out now and let us never speak of them again. There are very few of us left. We think of our relations, brothers, brothers-in-law, fathers in law, etc. over on the Reservation and from this on we want to live at peace just as they are doing and to behave as they are behaving. Sometimes a man does something and men are sent out to bring in his head. I don't want such things to happen to us. I don't want that we should be killing each other.
What is the matter that you don't speak to me? I would be better if you would speak to me and look with a pleasant face. It would make better feeling. I would be glad if you did. I'd be better satisfied if you would talk to me once in a while. Why don't you look at me and smile at me? I am the same man; I have the same feet, legs and hands and the sun looks down on me a complete man. I want you [to] look and smile at me.

Crook: Let them (referring to the other Apache leaders present) finish their talk first.

Geronimo: I have not forgotten what you told me, although a long time has passed. I keep it in my memory. I am a complete man. Nothing has gone from my body. From here on I want to live at peace. Don't believe any bad talk you hear about me. The agents and the interpreters hear that somebody has done wrong and they blame it all on me. Don't believe what they say. I don't want any of this bad talk in the future. I don't want those men who talked this way about me to be my agents any more. I want good men to be my agents and interpreters; people who will talk right. I want the peace to be legal and good. Whenever I meet you I will talk good to you and you to me and peace is soon established; but when we go to the reservation you put agents and interpreters over us who do bad things. Perhaps they don't mind what you tell them because I do not believe you would tell them to do bad things to us. In the future, we don't want these bad men to be allowed near where we are to live. We don't want any more of that kind of bad talk. I don't want any man who will talk bad about me and tell lies, to be there, because I am going to try and live well and peaceably. I want to have a good man just over me. While living I want to live well. I know I have to die sometime, but even if the heavens were to fall on me, I want to do what is right. I think I am a good man but not the papers all over the world. They say I am a bad man; but it is a bad thing to say so about me. I never do wrong without a cause.
 Every day I am thinking how am I to talk to you to make you believe what I say and I think too that you are thinking of what you are to say to me.     There is one God looking down on us all. We are all children of the one God. God is listening to me. The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what we now say. To prove to you that I am telling you the truth, remember I sent you word that I would come from a place far away to speak to you here and you see us now. Some have come on horseback and some on foot; If I were thinking bad, or if I had done bad, I would never have come here. If it had been my fault, would I have come so far to talk to you? I have told you all that has happened. I also have feared that I should never see Ka-e-at-en-a again, but here he is, and I want the past to be buried. I am glad to see Ka-e-at-en-a. I was afraid I should never see him again. That was one reason too why I left. I wish that Ka-e-at-en-a would be returned to us to live with his family. I now believe what I was told. Now I believe that all told me is true, because I see Ka-e-at-en-a again. I am glad to see him again, as I was told I should. We are all glad. My body feels good because I see Ka-e-at-en-a and my breathing is good. Now I can eat well, drink well, sleep well and be glad. I can go everywhere with good feeling. Now what I want is peace in good faith. Both you and I think well and think alike. Well we have talked enough and sat here long enough. I may have forgotten something, but if I remember it, I will tell you of it tonight, or tomorrow or some other time. I have finished for today but I'll have something more to say by and by.

Crook: I have heard what you have said. It seems very strange that more than forty men should be afraid of three. If that was a fact, that you left the reservation for that reason, why did you kill innocent people, sneaking all over the country to do it? What did those innocent people do to you that you should kill them, steal their horses and slip around in the rocks like coyotes?

Geronimo: We did not know what we had done to Davis, Mickey, Chatto and Nodiskay. [Geronimo keeps coming back to these four men for setting everything in motion]

Crook: But what has that to do with killing innocent people? There is not a week that you don't hear foolish stories in your own camp, but you are no child‚ you don't have to believe them. You promised me in the Sierra Madres that peace should last, but you have lied about [it]. All the Americanos said that you were lying when I brought you up there to the reservation and I have had a constant fight since with my own people to protect you from them. And the white people say that I am responsible for every one of those people who have been killed. When a man has lied to me once, I want some better proof than his own word before I can believe him again. The feeling against having you come back to the reservation had about died out, when you broke out again; but now it is worse than ever.

Geronimo: That's why I want to ask who it was that ordered that I should be arrested.

Crook: That's all bosh. There were no orders for any one to arrest you.

Geronimo: Perhaps those who were going to arrest me were under somebody else's orders?

Crook: Geronimo, you sent up some of your people to kill Chatto and Lt. Davis and then you started the story that they had killed them and then you got a great many of your people to go out.

Geronimo: That's not so. You know one of these days that it's not so.

Crook: Everything you did on the reservation is known. There is no use for you to try and talk nonsense. I am no child. You must make up your own mind whether you will stay out on the warpath or surrender unconditionally. If you stay out I'll keep after you and kill the last one, if it takes fifty years.

Geronimo: I am a man of my word. I am telling the truth and why I left the reservation.

Crook: You told me the same thing in the Sierra Madre, but you lied.

Geronimo: Then how do you want me to talk to you? I have but one mouth. I can't talk with my ears.

Crook: Your mouth talks too many ways.

   It goes on and on, with Geronimo repeating the same lame excuses and blaming the rumors by the same four men. It is not flattering to the warrior. And it's a tragic fact, that after this talk, Geronimo, Naiche and their men got whiskey and got so drunk, Naiche shot his wife in the leg while he was in a drunken stupor and they set the hillside where they were camped, on fire, so they escaped in the night and went on another killing spree where a couple dozen more innocent people were slaughtered for the thin reasons espoused above.

   Crook lost his job over this debacle and, somehow, Geronimo actually parlayed with his replacement, General Miles, and got a reprieve to go live in Florida. Of course, the local authorities in Arizona wanted him to hang for his many murders. That he not only lived, but prospered in captivity, then eventually became the unlikely symbol of a Freedom Fighter, fighting for his homeland, is a very, strange and weird American tale.

Daily Whip Out: "A Bloody Tale"

"History is a cruel trick played on the dead by the living."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Geronimo The Homemaker

July 14, 2019
   The artist E.A. Burbank visited Geronimo at his home at Fort Sill in 1898 and reported that the "Human Tiger" was, in fact, an "immaculate housekeeper." Burbank wrote that Geronimo's wife was in poor health at the time so the old Apache "did all the housework, washing dishes and sweeping the floor." Burbank mentions that, "One day I carelessly tracked some mud into the house. Geronimo got the broom and swept it out giving me a look that plainly said, 'Don't do that again.'"

   Burbank also remembered that Geronimo "never left his house without putting out a saucer of milk for his cat, whose whiskers he had kept closely clipped. Why he used the scissors on tabby I never did learn."

Burbank stoking a fire

Elbridge Ayer (E. A.) Burbank (1858 –1949) was an American artist who sketched and painted more than 1200 portraits of Native Americans from 125 tribes. He studied art in Chicago and in his 30s traveled to Munich, Germany for additional studies. He is believed to be the only person to paint the war chief Geronimo from life. Apparently, Burbank painted the old Apache five times. Here's three of them.

G-Man in Seventh Cav

   Geronimo took care of the domestic chores of his children and his extended family after his wife Zi-yeh came down with a tubercular infection and died. He washed dishes, sweeping the floor, cleaning the house, and treating the children kindly. He was devoted to his daughter Eva, born in 1889. One visitor said, "Nobody could be kinder to a child than he was to her."

Geronimo with his daughter Eva.

   She died tragically as well, not long after Geronimo's death in 1908. That sad tale is in the book, coming this November.

"I am old and broken by this fall I have had (he was bucked off Zi-yeh's pony). I am without friends for my people have turned on me. I am full of sins, and I walk alone in the dark."
—Geronimo, accepting the tenants of Christianity at the last tent revival in July of 1903

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Geronimo Rode With The Seventh Cavalry?

July 13, 2019
   Here's a couple more juicy tidbits from Towana Spivey:

Naiche and G-Man in Military Uniforms

   The image of Naiche was taken in 1898 at the Omaha Exposition in Nebraska.  He was in the US Scouts at the time (note the crossed arrows with USS over them).  Troop L, 7th Cavalry had shut down the year before and Naiche and the Apache POW soldiers transferred to the US Scouts.  The only difference in the two units was the army furnished the horses for Troop L and the US Scouts had to provide their own.  As a result their monthly pay was slightly higher than the $13 a Private made in the Troop L unit.  Sam Haozous, the future father of the famous Apache artist / sculptor Allan Houser, was a Corporal and a bugler in these units at the time.

The Geronimo image was produced in Mount Vernon Barracks, AL when the Apache (including Geronimo) were in Company I (as in "eye") of the 12th Infantry.  There are other images of Geronimo in his US Scout uniform at Fort Sill.  He was always displeased that he did not have a higher or special rank due to his legendary reputation as a war leader.  However, the army deliberately kept him at a lower rank so he would not feel too important. 
Geronimo Rode With the Seventh Cav?
   Many of the Apache warriors were enlisted into the US Army as POWs while in the Alabama prison before coming to Fort Sill in Oct 1894.  Initially, they were in Company I, 12th Infantry but when they arrived at Fort Sill they were converted to Troop L, 7th Cavalry.  This was one of Custer's old units that had been wiped out at the Little Bighorn in June 1876.  Troop L, 7th Cavalry was reconstituted at Fort Sill in 1891 and back filled with Kiowa, Comanche and Apache soldiers after that.  An all-Indian alternative to Troop L was the US Scouts, also under the army's command.  The tribal soldiers vacillated back and forth between these two units until Troop L stood down in 1897 but the US Scouts continued in existence. There are photos of Naiche in uniform taken in both Alabama and Fort Sill, O.T. and also of Geronimo in uniform with the US Scouts at Fort Sill.  It has always been interesting to see the looks on people's faces when you tell them Geronimo (an Apache POW) was a veteran of the US Army and a member of George Custer's old unit that had previously been decimated in Montana at the hands of Sitting Bull's warriors.
—Towana Spivey

"English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over and goes through their pockets for loose grammar."
—James Nicoll

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Last Tragic Days of Geronimo

July 12, 2019
   Heavy into the final research and layout of my next book.

A Teaser, or Two

   I want to flesh out the final days of the G-Man, as we call him, and The Top Secret Writer told me I should get in touch with Towana Spivey who just retired as the historian at Fort Sill, Oklahoma after 30 years.

   Thanks to Paul Andrew Hutton, I got in touch with Mr. Spivey and here are my notes, culled from what Towana related to me.

Rough Sketch of the G-Man Smirk

The Backslider

   After the turn of the Twentieth Century, many Fort Sill Apaches were converting to Christianity. Missionaries from the The Reformed Church of America arrived and had regular tent revivals. There is a photo of Geronimo at one of these revivals and, circa 1902, he was baptized and converted to Christianity. He had resisted for a long time, but he felt left out of the social activities and his comrade, Naiche, had already converted and had adopted the first name "Christian" Naiche. For Geronimo, the conversion didn't take, however, and he lost interest, or more accurately, he missed his drinking and gambling ways and so he fell off the wagon, and went back to his old ways. Naiche felt disdain for his old friend and blamed most of the bad luck that followed, on alcohol and "backsliding."
   Geronimo had other problems, as well. It pained him that even though he was a legend in his own time, many of the Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apaches (especially the converted ones) blamed him for the loss of their homeland and many began to shun him.
   All during this period, Geronimo had a lively business in nearby Lawton, where he met travelers at the Rock Island Train Depot. He would sell bows and arrows, which he made by hand, and he also sold pictures of himself and signed his autograph for cash. Oldtimers remember him riding up on his black horse, but instead of hitching it to the hitching rail out front of the depot, Geronimo tied his black horse to a nearby boxcar where he could see it. After selling all his tourist inventory, he would go back up town and buy a piece of his favorite lemon pie. Invariably, afterwards he would find someone to buy him hooch.
   In early February of 1909, after the 86-year-old warrior had made his usual rounds he was making his way back towards Fort Sill, when he fell off his horse near the junction of Beef Creek and East Cache Creek, just before dark. It rained during the night and his friends from Perico's village found him and brought him into camp the next day.
   He was suffering from exposure which turned into pneumonia. The Post Commander sent an ambulance from Fort Sill to check on him, but the In-dins at Perico's village refused to let him go because they regarded hospitals as a place to go and die. When the ambulance returned without Geronimo, the commander sent them back with strict orders to bring him into the hospital.
   Of course, when the ambulance finally brought him to the hospital, Geronimo died, which only added to the suspicion of the Apaches that the hospital killed him.
   The body of Geronimo was placed in the stone, two-room mortuary (aka The Death House) and as the word spread of his passing, Apache women came to mourn with wailing and the slashing of their arms in the old way.
   A photograph exists of the black horse-drawn hearse taking his body to the burial ground and Towana Spivey sent me a low res version of the photo, which I want for the book.

   The graveside ceremony was half Apache custom and half Christian. It's probably safe to say, neither side was happy about it.    

   Christian Naiche gave the eulogy over his old friend's grave and criticized Geronimo for backsliding on his Christian commitments.

   As mentioned, these notes were culled from Towana Spivey's emails to me. Here is his story:

On The Front Lines of This Story
   I was front and center with Geronimo for over 30 years and became close friends with many Apache people including several of the original POWs at Fort Sill.  Their history is relatively unknown, often misunderstood, and filled with lots of misinformation, especially surrounding Geronimo.  Anyone who does research on this subject will frequently be confronted with variations of the history depending on the source. 
My information is based on my own personal interviews and those of other military / civilian historians such as MSG Morris Swett and COL Wilbur Nye who spent their lifetimes living with the people they wrote about. Dr. Morris K. Opler was one of my anthropology professors in graduate school, and Eve Ball did a lot of her research and correspondence through the museum at Fort Sill.  In 1917 Swett interviewed various Apache informants about Geronimo's burial place and heard the stories of his remains being relocated to a "secret" place in order to avoid potential vandalism.  He believed this was the case for years until 1931 when he interviewed two elderly Apache women who were the last living participants in Geronimo’s funeral.  They verified he had never been moved and was still buried in the same spot.  Many of the Apaches still believe the story of the secret burial place today but Swett utilized independent field methods to confirm the accounts of the oldest living women in the tribe.  It has always been my experience working with the Apaches, that they would not be involved in moving a grave or handling the dead in such a manner. 
   Over several decades, I helped bury many Apache people and was frequently immersed in unusual and historic circumstances related to Geronimo.  This included direct contact with officials from George Bush's campaign when he was first contemplating running for president and was concerned about his grandfather’s involvement with the Skull & Bones Society; provided legal affidavits on Geronimo's burial history to President Barack Obama for use in federal court involving a lawsuit by Texas lawyers advocating reburial in AZ; had significant cultural experiences with Apaches who were angry about people who disrespected their values and burial places; addressed a national TV program featuring a descendant of the Knights of the Golden Circle “Sentinels” who advocated there was collaboration between Geronimo in his campaign against the US Army and the KKK mission of helping “the south to rise again”; and had a very eerie experience with a late night Welsh visitor who believed she was Geronimo reincarnated.  You could not make up some of this stuff!  I should write a book just about this aspect of Geronimo’s history sometime.
   My latest book currently in production is titled “EXPLORING THE DEPTHS OF HISTORY:  Featuring Certain Nineteenth Century Water Wells in the Indian Territory”.  It addresses several historic military and Native American sites in southern OK that I have been involved with during my professional career. 

—Towana Spivey, (Chickasaw citizen, and retired historian, archeologist and curator)

"When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground."
—Old Vaquero Saying


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Say Hey Alchesay

July 11, 2019
   We are looking seriously for a Maynard Dixon painting to put on the cover of our upcoming art issue. Today, Robert Ray found this beaut:

Maynard Dixon "Open Range"

   PhD. John Langellier is in the house and we're going over Apache images for a piece he's writing on Alchesay.

Alchesay, middle row, second from left.

   Dang that guy was photogenic.

   John is also sharing with me some very rare photos to include in my Geronimo book. Rebecca whipped out this little teaser utilizing some of them:

      Lots of work to do. Need to get past the obstacle of wanting everything to be perfect. Why?

"Perfect is the enemy of good."