Tuesday, December 08, 2009

December 8, 2009
Rained all day yesterday. Big storm last night. At about 11:30 P.M. the wind really howled and we had rolling thunder to boot. Peaches cowered by my bed (yes, we've started letting her in at night so she doesn't bark and wake the neighbors). This morning as I drove to work, I noticed that a big plastic horse at the feed store had blown down as had every single tree in the Christmas Tree Lot. It's clearing out now (9:40 A.M.), but we are supposed to get more rain.

Meanwhile, I'm noodling the idea that yesterday's post of Mickey Free's childhood and today's post on The Apache Kid (below) will be part of a Foreword-Backstory-Intro to the graphic novel. I was inspired by watching the animated movie Up over the weekend (we got inspired to rent Christmas movies and got A Christmas Story and a WWI flick—I can't think of the name—Joeux Noel?—the box is at home). Anyway, Up, had a faux newsreel beginning in black and white, as a prologue to the story. It was quite fanciful and stylized but it worked just fine, although I'm hard pressed to imagine that it had any resonance to a kid today (a newsreel that runs before the movie? Really dad? Was this during the Civil War?).

The Apache Kid Goes South
The artist and illustrator, Frederic Remington wrote a piece for Harper's Weekly on Al Sieber:

Al Sieber is a thousand times a hero, but he does not in the least understand this. He has acted all his life in great and stirring events as unconscious of his own force as the heat, the wind or the turn of the tide. He is a pure old warrior, and nothing has come down the years to soften Al
Sieber. Until he met the Apache Kid.

It was General Crook who discovered what none of his predecessors could figure out, that only an Apache could catch an Apache.

Crook advised his officers to recruit the wildest Apaches as scouts. This they did, but it took an unusual man to control these warriors in the field, and the best of them all, was German born Al Sieber.

When I asked him his secret to control the fiercest of the fierce, he shrugged and said, “I do not deceive them but always tell the truth. When I tell them I am going to kill them, I do it, and when I tell them I am their friend, they know it.”

In 1881 Sieber took under his wing a young Apache called Hos-kai (handsome one). For seven years this young Apache worked with Al and the scouts. He became like a son to Sieber and he thrived under Al’s guidance and respected his mentor greatly.

For several years Sieber’s Boys, as they were called in the territory, rode the far ranges of the reservation, keeping the peace and punishing with prejudice anyone who dared break the law.

Those who left without a pass, or raided the settlements like in the old days, were seldom heard from again.

In Apache legend they became known as Sibi’s Crew, half-feared as devil riders and half respected for their honesty and courage. In addition to Sieber, the devil riders included Tom Horn, Mickey Free and The Apache Kid. They did much to bring peace to that restive neighborhood.

Sieber began grooming his protege to replace him. Hoksai showed promise as a stalwart soldier. He showed promise as a decision maker and a fair-minded judge. Increasingly, while Sieber was away, the Apache Kid was left in charge of the scouts.

Unfortunately, on one of these abscences, Hoskai came under the influence of the scout Curly who reminded the boy of his Apache obligation to revenge his father’s murder. Pressured by others as well at a tiswin party, the Kid was mighty conflicted between his obligations to Sieber and the army, and the traditions and laws of his people.

Tiswin & Tulapai
The Apaches are fond of a native brew which the Spanish call “tiswin,” but the locals call “tulapai,” (pronounced tool-ah-pie). Although the agents frown on it, pretty much everyone casts a blind eye to the debauchery, unless there are problems, and when Apaches drink the tulapai, expect problems.

Hoskai, accompanied by Curly and others went out to the guilty party's wickiup (a San Carlos Apache called Rip). The Kid meant only to scare Rip, but Curly made sure a bullet found its mark.

“I want to be a good shot, but I am not. The talent for this lies with others.”
—The Apache Kid

The Kid went AWOL and continued to drink, something else he was not good at. After he sobered up, the Kid wanted to come in and make it right with Sieber. After sending in a message to San Carlos that he wanted to parlay, The Kid came in with six other scouts, including Curly. They met at Sieber’s tent, which turned into a tragic pow-wow, when an altercation broke out and in the melee, Sieber was shot in the leg. Although the Kid fled before the shooting began, Sieber blamed the Kid.

Al almost died from the wound. Five inches of his lower leg were sawed off and removed. Small parts of this leg bone ulcerated through the wound for years after. His left leg ended up three inches shorter than his right. The man who fought in countless campaigns, was now a cripple, and he hated the Kid for it. He felt betrayed by his own son.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Remington’s cover for Harper’s Weekly created a firestorm of bad publicity for the army. The cover, showing Mickey Free bringing in the heads of two renegade Apaches, reverberated all the way to the White House. "Heads Will Roll" was the title of the cover, and heads did indeed roll at San Carlos, with Captain Pearce being reassigned and Al Sieber being demoted.

“Some say it was my cover illustration in Harper’s Weekly that got Al fired, but I don’t believe it. A new regime came to power at San Carlos and the gallant Sieber couldn’t adapt to the new ways.”
—Frederic Remington

After 21 years as chief of scouts, Sieber stepped down. He was 47 years old.

The soldiers called her Beauty because she was just that. Her real name has been lost to history. Beauty attended Carlisle Academy in Pennsylvania, but there was a scandal with a teacher and she was returned to the reservation. She loved but one man, but he was an outlaw.

Both the Apache Kid and Beauty were caught between the new world then developing in the great Southwest and the old. Mickey tried very hard not to have anything to do with either. But, all in all, the Kid’s life showed promise, but then it all went bad. The facts are these:

Promised safe passage and a truthful hearing, the Kid once again turned himself in and was court-marshalled and sentenced to death, but General Miles interceded and commuted his sentence to ten years at Alcatraz.

Under a heavy guard, the Apache Kid was sent by train to San Francisco, and by boat to The Rock. He was accosted by several California highwaymen imprisoned there and the young Apache had to fight. He learned bad things, but for the most part he was left alone.

On review in the east, the Kid's sentence was commuted because of prejudice, and he was set free and sent back to San Carlos. He wanted to see Beauty, but she had, in his absence, married Curly, the scout who many believe actually shot Sieber.

At first their marriage was good and her family was proud, but Curly came back from the sweats and claimed to hear voices in the howl of the wind. More and more he rejected the White Man's influence, including the frying pan Beauty received on her wedding day. They fought over it. He demanded they return to the Old Ways, but Beauty had been schooled at Carlisle in the east and she knew a thing or two about convenience.

"No frying pans! It is forbidden! We are on the Old Road! Ussen has blessed the Old Road!"

Sieber, hobbling around on crutches, went to Globe and got a court order to re-arrest the Kid on civil charges.

Newly elected Sheriff Glenn Reynolds was sent out and he arrested the Kid before he could free Beauty from her tormentor.

The Kid was brought into Globe just in time to see the Carlisle Kid hanged. Tom Horn quipped: "That's a hell of a waste of an education," before adding, "Remind me never to get hanged."

Al Sieber was the main witness against the Apache Kid in the civil trial, but defying her abusive husband, Beauty, who had placed her husband's belongings outside their wickiup, took the stand to vouch for the honor and integrity of the Apache Kid.

The Kid was touched—the jury was not.

This time the Kid was sentenced to seven years in the Yuma Territorial Prison, which might as well have been a death sentence, since very few Apache ever survived that hell hole.

Furious and tanked up on tiswin, Curly arrived at his former home and attacked Beauty with a knife, attempting to cut off her nose, as is the Apache custom for a straying wife.

Although he cut her badly, she managed to bean him with—a frying pan—sending his hulk into the fire.

He staggered out into the night, flaming, and plunged into Clear Creek and disappeared, smouldering, into the night.

The Apache Kid was being transported to the train station at Casa Grande, when he and seven other Apaches killed their guards and escaped.

All the other escapees were captured or killed by Mickey Free, but the Apache Kid vanished into Mexico and the Sierra Madres.

Mickey Free was assigned the task to hunt down his former friend, the Apache Kid and bring back his head. Mickey took up the trail and rode deep into Sonora, Mexico.

"To the citizen, he is a terror; to the soldier, a myth; and to his brother Indians, a hero with a charmed life, perfect attainments, and a glorious record."
—Powhatan H. Clarke, summing up the Apache Kid

End of Foreword-Backstory: This is where our story begins.

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