Hispanics and Apaches on the border, coexistence and war
The Apaches appear in New Spain, fleeing. For more than 100 years, life on the border was threatened by attacks on Hispanic ranches and Spanish punitive expeditions.
+ Hispanic Footprints
Known to the Spanish (1540)
Since the beginning of the Spanish explorations, there is knowledge of contacts with the Apaches in the year 1540. The unknown history of Peace and War of New Spain, with the Apaches. Although they called themselves “The People”. the Spanish called them “Apaches”, probably to hear that the Zuñi called them that way. When to perform means “The enemies”.
The Apaches had great abilities to hide and camouflage themselves. Experts in escapes, and red herrings. Chasing them was not very advisable because of surprises. Their ambushes were very dangerous, so unexpected.
Coexistence and War with the Apaches
Already from the first Spanish explorations they were known and dealt with. With time they were getting closer and closer to the territories of New Spain, pressured by their Comanche enemies. And over time they became a danger. Especially more than 200 years later, when learning to use horses and get firearms
The Spanish sometimes collaborated or fought the Apaches, more than 200 years before the North Americans, especially in areas such as Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and northern Mexico.
Expelled from their lands
The Comanches and the advance of North American colonists pushed indigenous tribes, including the Apaches, to the South and West of New Spain.
In eastern New Mexico and northeastern Texas, the Querechos Indians lived. From the year 1540 they were known by the Coronado Explorer. Again in 1542 the Spanish made contact with these Indians, who Juan de Oñate began to call the Apaches enemies of the Wichita.
Initially they were displaced by pressures from other tribes from Canada, such as the Comanches. Later the advance of the Anglo-Saxon and French colonists pushed them towards New Spain.
When the Spaniards in New Spain, more or less, already controlled most of the indigenous tribes, more tribes appeared belonging to the Apache group and their rivals the Comanches. Once again it was necessary to organize and for this the defensive line of the Presidios was restructured.
Coronado Expedition from Mexico
The Spanish met the Apaches as early as 1540
On this long expedition from Colorado, they left Mexico north and encountered Apaches, Navajos, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Kansa, Osage, etc.
Coronado expedition route reaching Apache lands
Although at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Spanish relations with the Apaches were not good. The Apaches attacked Spanish places and they made expeditions of punishment and in search of slaves. The Apaches are known to support the Pueblo Indians in their struggles against the Spanish. Later a policy of pacification of the zone was tried.
Juan de Oñate tries to evangelize them and thus divide them, for this he requests the help of missionaries. They travel the area where they settle, in the West of the Sierra Nevada in the Lands of California and in the North of New Spain. Thus, already in the year 1598, the first attempt at assimilation was made. To improve contact with the Apaches, he has some evangelized indigenous people, Otomíes, and Aztecs brought in to improve communication.
Their lack of food and other products in their ancient lands were compensated by hunting buffalo. However, in the new lands there were no buffalo. They were unsuccessful attempts since they were nomadic peoples who, out of necessity of horses and cattle, attacked other sedentary peoples. For this reason they soon began to sporadically attack towns in New Spain.
They were divided into different tribes. Some of them, if they became more sedentary and dedicated themselves to raising livestock. Others even to agriculture.
Due to the pressure of the Comanches, since 1720 they presented themselves and asked the Spanish authorities to settle. They are authorized and they settle in New Spain. They soon spread through Texas and New Mexico, as well as areas of Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, reaching as far as northern Mexico (Sonora, Coahuila, and Chihuahua). This area would end up calling it La Apachería.
Spain helps the Apaches (1724)
Apaches Expelled from Upper Arkansas
Since the year 1700 the Apaches have been approaching New Spain. But it was in the year 1720 when, pressured by the Comanches, they decided to move. They appear and request permission to install. They are authorized and will remain from that moment in these lands.
Despite Spanish help, the Apaches are expelled from Kansas and Colorado. Comanches armed by French merchants drive them out of their traditional hunting grounds.
They reach Texas and New Mexico
They attack San Antonio killing those who come out to meet him
Some Apache tribes stripped of their territories by the Comanches flock to New Spain. Soon the attacks on ranches begin and they dare with San Antonio.
Apache with the hair of an enemy
Actually the custom of pulling the scalp of their enemies, was not started by the Apaches. When Mexico gained independence, a decree was published by which a sum of money would be rewarded to whoever wore the hair of an Apache man. If it was from a woman, half the reward would be given.
Bounty hunters, especially American, were dedicated to it. in massive plan. Hundreds of Apaches died. And since it was not easy to distinguish whether the hair was from Apache or from another tribe, they dedicated themselves to massacring every indigenous person they surprised.
Assaults on ranches to seize horses, women and children
The Apaches were basically nomads. They lived by loitering and looting their neighbors. They moved from the great plains to Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.
Their attacks were by surprise, usually in small parties that traveled at night and rested during the day. They camouflaged themselves skillfully and waited for their opportunity as long as it took. In the flight, they easily misled their pursuers by splitting into several games, so it was difficult to know which was the main game. They also presented ambushes, which discouraged their pursuers from continuing their search.
Although some of the Apache tribes became semi-nomadic. others continued their nomadic lives. Some parties of them attacked ranches. stealing livestock and even women and children. All at a subsistence level since they had no one to sell the cattle to.
Mission of San Sabá
To evangelize the Apaches,
A mission and a prison are being prepared in their lands
The Apaches were a group of tribes: Mescaleros, Navajos, Chiricahuas, Lipan, Jicarilla, Western Apache, etc. Each of them over time adopted different behaviors.
There was a need to control them, to avoid their attacks. He took advantage of the request of one of his heads of a mission. In an attempt to evangelize them, a mission and a fort (prison) were installed about 5 km from the mission. The reason was that the missionaries rejected the traditional Spanish method of building the Mission near the Presidio for better protection.
This separation between the mission and the prison was made with the intention of avoiding problems, but it was their downfall. In the Presidio (fortified ranch) the soldiers lived with their families and even cultivated the land.
A party of Apaches ride at dawn. Very skilled at hiding and with great patience, they waited for the best moment to attack
Tucson in danger
Unsuccessful Apache attack on the Tucson Presidio in Arizona in 1779
More than 300 Apaches face the Cuera Dragons
Apache attacks had always been on isolated ranches. But they started attacking some small towns. The audacity was growing and they attacked where they were least expected.
It was surprising that they attacked the own Presidio (Spanish Fort) of Tucson. Seeing the advance of the Apaches, 15 Cuera Dragons from the garrison launched a spear attack against them. The death of the Indian chief by a spearman was crucial. The defeated Apaches withdrew, abandoning the stolen loot. The battle was decided when the Apaches saw their chief’s head on the spear of a Cuera Dragon.
Apaches could lurk for days until the most opportune moment to attack
New Apache attack on Tucson (1782)
600 Apaches fail to attack the town and the Presidio
After one of the Spanish punitive expeditions to the interior of the Apache territory after some assault on ranches, the largest attack took place. The largest party of Apache warriors ever seen, some 600 attacked Tucson. Divided into 3 groups, they attacked the town, the entrances and the vicinity of the Fort.
The Spanish had about 45 soldiers and about 20 Cuera Dragons. In front they found about 600 Apaches who attacked by surprise, when the troops were scattered around the town waiting for the time of mass. Fortunately, thanks to the superiority of firearms, they were able to stop them, since they were armed for the most part with bows and arrows.
Although they attacked the population and the prison on several fronts, most of them were on foot, which made their movements slow. They withdrew after suffering several dozen deaths. They attacked again a few days later, but they also failed and were defeated.
The San Sabá disaster
The attempt to install a mission in the area fails. The mission was destroyed by the Comanches
After many years arguing about the need and viability of the mission, its construction was approved. An expedition was mounted and almost 500 people arrived in Sabá, of which only 100 were soldiers.
Apache camp with its tents or teepees
At that time that area was considered Apache territory and hunting area. The surprise was great when they did not find the Apaches. The few that appeared, went hunting. Of the expected 3,000 Apaches, there were only a handful of them.
The Mission was built for the missionaries and the Presidio for the soldiers. This was a very remote place for the Spanish. They were almost 150 km from the nearest place, of a certain importance, where they could get help, if they needed it.
Remains of the Spanish Fort of San Luis de las Amarillas- Normally called Presidio, they used to host a unit of Cuera Dragons
There was a Comanche attack. More than 2,000 warriors appeared, most of them armed with firearms. As a result of the attack, the Spanish mission was destroyed. It is believed that they were looking for the Apaches.
This fact has created the theory that the Apaches really only wanted the missions, because of the protection that the presidio provided with the Spanish soldiers who settled in their vicinity. But this time the missionaries did not want the soldiers near, and they settled away from them. For this reason, the Apaches, when they lost their protection, rejected and abandoned the mission.
Increase the network of Spanish Forts
18 Spanish Forts are established or reinforced
Spain takes action against the attacks of some Apache parties. The endowments of the prisons are increased. Everyone must have a minimum of 50 paid and Cuera Dragons. The largest like Santa Fé reached 75 soldiers. It also had a support militia. This would be the northern border with the indigenous tribes, for many decades.
However this did not solve the problem entirely. Thousands of head of cattle disappeared and more than 1,500 Hispanics also, among Spaniards, Christians, etc.
First Apache Peace (1779)
Spain fed up with the attacks of the Comanches that put pressure on the Apaches, further complicating the problem of these nomads, mounted a punitive expedition. In this expedition against the Comanches and their chief Green Horn, 600 Cuera Dragons and 200 Apaches would participate.
It was a great success, as it annihilates the Comanche warrior party. They take more than a hundred prisoners and kill the Greenhorn Chief. The prestige of this chief was so great, that soon, not only the Comanches rush to make peace with the Spanish. The Apaches are forced to sign peace agreements with Spain. Despite them there are some attacks like the one in Tucson.
Second Apache Peace (1786)
Bernardo de Gálvez helps to settle them
But most of the problem would not be solved until settlements are made. A few years later.
The great problem of the Apaches was their nomadic life since the disappearance of the buffaloes and their forced displacement to Nueva by the pressure of the Comanches armed by the French.
Gálvez as Viceroy, grants incentives for them to settle near the Spanish Presidios (Strong). Even providing food rations. Thousands of Apaches are transforming and abandoning their nomadic way of life. After 80 years at last, there is peace in general.
Border Mexico U.S, the conflict
At the end of the 19th century, the Apaches occupied lands in New Mexico and Arizona and northern Mexico (Sonora and Chihuahua). These lands, being divided by the border between Mexico and the U. S. A, was a large part of the problem. Traditionally, except for some periods, Apache relations were good. Little by little the missionaries did their work. and they lived together in New Spain.
On some occasions groups of Apaches attacked ranches and stole cattle and horses. Then the Spaniards mounted punitive expeditions until they hunted them down. The Apaches knew that the Cuera Dragons would follow them wherever they went, since there were no borders.
After the Independence of Mexico, the subject changed. A border appears between two different countries Mexico and the United States.
Treaties and Borders
Adams Onís Treaty
With this treaty between Spain and the United States, the border begins. Previously, if an attack by any indigenous tribe was carried out, they were pursued by the Spanish with their horse units, the Cuera Dragons, to practically the confines of North America if necessary.
Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty
After the signing of this so-called Friendship Treaty in which Mexico renounces half of its territory in exchange for compensation and the abandonment of the U.S troops that controlled Mexico Capital and some other territory, the new border is created.
The item that was not met:
The United States undertakes to control the indigenous tribes in its territory and prevent their passage to Mexico; not to buy or trade prisoners, articles, or livestock stolen in Mexico, nor to sell or supply them with firearms or ammunition; and to rescue and repatriate the prisoners of the Indians who have Mexican nationality.
Even later the United States forced to modify it, so that the treaty did not prevent them from selling firearms to the Apaches.
Soon the problems were accentuated. A traffic in products, animals and firearms began. What was stolen in Mexico could be sold in the U.S. Although it could be the other way around, that much more difficult, because the Texas ranchers were armed. While the Americans were useful to them they used the Apaches, later they practically exterminated them as well. As they did with 90% of the indigenous peoples of their territories.
In the Viceroyalty of New Spain, the indigenous people had rights and one of them is that they could not be transferred outside their traditional territories. On the other hand, Spain distributed territories and assigned property titles to protect them. When the Americans arrived in these territories, they found that they could not be legally expelled.
“The Spanish Law clearly and absolutely assures sedentary indigenous people, property rights over the land they occupy”
“This is beyond what this government can allow the tribes of this new state.”
(John Fremont, forerunner of the State of California)
That is why they dedicated themselves in a thousand ways from the annulment of the Spanish Laws, the creation of new laws, massive transfers, unfair distribution of territories, lynchings, etc. until they managed to end the indigenous properties.
The Field Grant Massacre
As the Spaniards did 70 years earlier, it was proposed to set up Apache camps near American forts. A provisional Apache camp, theoretically supported by the US Army, was attacked by ranchers from Tucson, causing 150 deaths, most of them elderly and women, since most of the warriors were hunting. In addition, many children were sold as slaves.
The official apology was the death of a white man, something very credible, given the Apaches’ record. Although when President Grant found out, he was enraged by such bestiality, and called it “pure murder,” the trial was a sham and the murderers about a hundred inhabitants were acquitted.
Geronimo (1858 and 1886)
Baptized as Gerónimo in Arizpe (Sonora), a very common name since its founder was the Jesuit Gerónimo del Canal. Later he moved to territories of the current State of Arizona, which at that time was still from the land of Mexico.
Relations with the Apaches actually worsened after the Independence of Mexico. Gerónimo (Chiricahuas) who became an important Apache Chief was born in Sonora. His name comes precisely from his baptism in one of the Spanish missions. You can see the great importance of missions. He knew the Spanish language. He moved to New Mexico at a very young age.
After an attack by Mexican troops against a town, in which his family died, he took up arms. In the attack on his town, his wife and his children died. From that moment on he took up arms against both the Mexicans and the Americans.
Revenge for the injustice they committed to him, accused of kidnapping the daughter of a settler, he filled the glass and got up together with a group of Chiricahuas. He joined his father-in-law Mangas Coloradas and other Apache chiefs like Victorio.
Colored Sleeves (1861-1863)
The reward for each hair of an Apache, caused a draw effect, and multitudes of American adventurers dedicated themselves to hunting Apaches for the reward.
In 1937, an event occurred that would change him. An American adventurer, because he was married to a Mexican woman, had access to the territory of Mexico. When traveling the territory he always visited one of the Apache chiefs Juan José Compá.
This was an Apache educated by Spanish missionaries with aspirations to the priesthood, which he later abandoned. For this reason, not only did he know the Spanish language well, he also knew how to read and write. Juan José eventually considered him his friend. Although his scouts informed him that Johnson had a double game and that he was hired by the Mexicans to kill him. He did not believe it. This adventurer had very clear plans to obtain the rewards for the Apache hair, and for the death of Chief Juan José.
He appeared in the town of Santa Rita del Cobre and managed to lure Juan José by deceiving him, making him believe that he wanted to trade. This brought together a large group of Apaches. He gathered the entire village, huddled together next to a blanket, and fired a blunderbuss full of shrapnel. There was a massacre, the shrapnel killed or wounded the entire group. As he fired the blunderbuss at point-blank range, one of his men shot Juan José. This wounded man managed to reduce his attacker and without suspecting that it had happened, he asked his friend for help. Finished off by Johnson himself, this relative of Mangas Coloradas, was one of the dead. Among those killed, there were also many women and children. The names clearly indicate the Hispanization of the Apaches. It is believed that Mangas Coloradas, suspecting something, was nearby and managed to escape.
Este suceso le marcaría. Esto junto a otras malas experiencias con los estadounidenses, provocó su rechazo. A partir de ese momento se convirtió en un ser vengativo y dirigió una partida de Apaches. Para ser más efectivos se unió a Cochise (casado con una de sus hijas).
Después de ser la pesadilla de los estadounidenses durante una década, fue engañado. Se creyó que los blancos querían realmente negociar y cuando iba a parlamentar fue atrapado. Fue torturado salvajemente por los soldados, fuego, apedreado y disparado, hasta morir.
Bautizado como Pedro Cedillo conocido como Victorio, nació en Chihuahua (Tres castillos), y peleó junto a otros jefes apaches como Mangas Coloradas o Cochise. Luchó hasta el último hombre, contra los soldados en la Batalla de Tres Castillos. Se defendieron ferozmente, y cuando se les acabó la munición, atacaron armados solamente con hachas y cuchillos, pereciendo todos.
Lozen, la guerrera apache
Mujer apache, fuerte y feroz. También era Chamán, y utilizaba sus poderes para la adivinanza. Hábil estratega, se hizo famosa por adivinar la estrategia del enemigo blanco.
Era la hermana del Jefe Apache Victorio. Este consideraba fundamental su ayuda y su visión esencial para sus supervivencia y campañas militares. Una vez captura, vivió muy poco tiempo, tal como era habitual, con la mentalidad tradicional común, heredada de los Puritanos Ingleses de la época, de acaba con todo indígena norteamericano. Acabó muriendo por las penosas condiciones de los prisioneros.
Estuvo encarcelada, tras la rendición de Gerónimo, como tanto otros apaches. Curiosamente enfermó y murió de tuberculosis, tal como murieron otros muchos indígenas abrigados con mantas ya contaminadas, que les proporcionó el gobierno.