Collection: Massacres of the Mountains

Cañon de Chelly and Bosque Redondo

We left the Navahos in their chronic state of war, that is to say, the state of robbing their neighbors and being robbed by them while the troops were absent, and of making peace when the troops marched against them. From the mass of conflicting testimony taken in 1865, in regard to the Indian history of New Mexico, and from other sources, it appears that one side made aggression about as often as the other, the common opinion being that the Navahos captured the greater number of sheep, and the Mexicans the greater number of slaves.

Sand Creek Massacre

On the night of November 28, 1864, about seven hundred and fifty men, cavalry and artillery, were marching eastward across the plains below Fort Lyon. There was a bitter, determined look on their hard-set features that betokened ill for some one. For five days they had been marching, from Bijou Basin, about one hundred and fifty miles to the northwest, as the crow flies, but some fifty miles farther by their route. When they started the snow was two to three feet deep on the ground, but, as they progressed, it had become lighter, and now the ground was clear.

Desire to Punish the Cheyenne Indians

It is equally certain that the desire of punishing these Indians was increased, with loyal people, by the belief that their hostility was produced by Southern emissaries. How far their hostility was so produced will never be definitely known, but there was reason for the belief, without doubt. Soon after the beginning of the war the insurgents had occupied Indian Territory and enrolled many Indians in Confederate regiments. The loyal Indians tried to resist, but, after two or three engagements, about seven thousand of them were driven into Kansas. From the men among them three regiments were organized, and the

Were the Cheyenne Responsible for the Sand Creek Massacre?

But were the Cheyennes responsible for all this? Quite as much so as any of the tribes. They began stealing stock early in the spring, and, on April 13, a herdsman for Irving, Jackmann, & Co. reported that the Cheyennes and Arapahoes had run off sixty head of oxen and a dozen mules and horses from their camp, thirty miles south of Denver. Lieutenant Clark Dunn was sent after them with a small party of soldiers. He overtook them as they were crossing the Platte, during a heavy snowstorm. A parley was commenced, but was interrupted by part of the

Indian Slaves in the Rocky Mountains

All through the Rocky Mountains, except in what we have called the northeastern triangle, this system of human slavery extended, and it had obtained such a root that it was very hard to extirpate. In Colorado it was brought to a summary end, so far as white slaveholders were concerned, in 1865, through the efforts of the government. Indian Agent Head, accompanied by Deputy Marshall E. R. Harris, visited all owners of Indian slaves and informed them that they must be released. Says Mr. Head, “I have notified all the people here that in future no more captives are to be purchased or sold, as I shall immediately arrest both parties caught in the transaction. This step, I think, will at once put an end to the most barbarous and inhuman practice which has been in existence with the Mexicans for generations.

Apache Resist the Advance of the Whites

No more serious phase of the Indian problem has presented itself to the American people than that offered by the Apache tribes. Aided by the desert nature of their country, they have resisted the advance of the whites longer than any other Indian nation. They have fought with bravery and inconceivable cunning. They have committed atrocities that devils alone would seem capable of, and have been subjected to atrocities that devils might blush to commit.

Yakima Malcontents of 1856

One thing, of course, is to be remembered – there were all degrees of offending, from the active hostile to the almost neutral, just as there are in every Indian war. The worst of them all were Kamiaken, his brothers Skloom and Shawawai, Owhi and his son Qualchian, the Yakima malcontents of 1856, who had been roaming among the tribes, exciting discontent and committing depredations where they could Kamiaken was the most influential of them all. He was a man of unusual stature and remarkable strength. No man in the tribe could bend his bow. He was rated the best

War with the Spokan, Coeur d’Alene, and Pelouse

While the commissioners were negotiating with the Mormons, an extraordinary outbreak occurred in the eastern part of Washington Territory, which hitherto had been a scene of peace between the red man and the white. It had been the boast of the Spokanes and the Coeur d’Alenes that they had never shed the blood of a white man. In the winter and early spring of 1858, however, it was represented that there was much restlessness among the northern tribes, especially in the neighborhood of the Colville mines, and Brevet Lieutenant colonel Steptoe, who commanded at new Fort WallaWalla, determined to make

Mountain Meadow Remains Buried

In the spring of 1859 a company of dragoons and two companies of infantry, under Captain K. P. Campbell, passed through the Meadows and buried the remains. Theirs was the last view of the Lord’s work. Dr. Charles Brewer, in charge of the burying party, reported; “At the scene of the first attack, in the immediate vicinity of our present camp, marked by a small defensive trench made by the emigrants, a number of human skulls, and bones and hair, were found scattered about, bearing the appearance of never having been buried; also remnants of bedding and wearing apparel. On

Mormons Passed in Preparation for War

During the long summer days that the Mormons passed in preparation for war, an emigrant train, known on the road as Captain Fancher’s train, was passing through Utah. It reached Salt Lake City in August, and took the “southern route ” which led through Provo, Nephi, Fillmore, Beaver, and Cedar City, and at the last named place joined the Spanish trail from Los Angeles to New Mexico, which ran thence southwest to the coast of California. These emigrants numbered originally fifty-six men and sixty-two women and children, most of them being from Carroll, Johnson, Marion, and other northern counties of