Chiricahua Apaches after the Civil War (1866-1872)

Published on November 24, 2014 by Amy

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Civil War Battles
Civil War Battles

After the Civil War, Anglo-Americans swarmed into the Chiricahua homeland. Like Spaniards and Mexicans before them, they killed Apaches who defended themselves and their families. Immigrants believed it was their god-given right to take whatever they wanted.

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“The whole continent of North America appears to be destined by Divine Providence to be peopled by one nation, speaking one language, professing one general system of religious and political principles, and accustomed to one general tenor of social usages and customs. “(President John Quincy Adams, in a letter to his father, John Adams. In McDougall, Walter A. Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1997:78. )

Whether being ironic or not, Mark Twain expressed the sentiments of many Anglo-Americans when he wrote about “The Nobel Red Man. “

“He is little, and scrawny, and black, and dirty; and, judged by even the most charitable of our canons of human excellence, is thoroughly pitiful and contemptible…. “There is nothing figurative, or moon shiny, or sentimental about his language. It is very simple and unostentatious, and consists of plain, straightforward lies. His “wisdom” conferred upon an idiot would leave that idiot helpless indeed…. “He is ignoble–base and treacherous, and hateful in every way…. His heart is a cesspool of falsehood, of treachery, and of low and devilish instincts…. “(The) Red Man is a skulking coward … who … kills helpless women and little children, and massacres the men in their beds; and then brags about it as long as he lives…. (“The Noble Red Man” by Mark Twain, First published in The Galaxy, 1870. )

In 1871, the Indian Peace Commission, endorsed by President U. S. Grant, sent Vincent Colyer, Secretary of the Board of Indian Commissioners, to Arizona and New Mexico to create Indian reservations. Colyer described what he found.

“. . . (T)he Apache Indians were the friends of the Americans when they first knew them…. (T)hey have always desired peace with them, and when placed upon reservations in 1858 and 1859 were industrious, intelligent, and made rapid progress in the arts of civilization…. (T)he peaceable relations of the Apaches with the Americans continued until the latter adopted the Mexican theory of “extermination, ” and by acts of inhuman treachery and cruelty made them our implacable foes….” (Vincent Colyer, Secretary of the Board of Indian Commissioners, 1872:1. )

Arizona citizens condemned Grant’s “Peace Policy” and Colyer.

“(People) ought in justice to our murdered dead, dump the old devil into the shaft of some mine and pile rocks on him until he is dead. A rascal, who comes here to thwart the attempts of military and citizens to conquer… our savage foe, deserves to be stoned to death, like the treacherous black-hearted dog he is. “(John H. Marion, The Arizona Miner, 1871. Quoted in Wagoner 1970:133. )

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