Indians in Arizona in 1890

Arizona territory was formed from the territory captured from Mexico and ceded by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, February 2, 1848, and the lower portion is a part of the Gadsden purchase, December 30, 1853. The “Gadsden purchase” was generally known as “Arizona” prior to coming under the jurisdiction of the, United States. The provisions of both. treaties extend over the Indians therein.

The Indian population was in character from the earliest time when noted (in 1542) about the same as now, and probably never could have exceeded 40,000 in number. The barrenness of the country and lack of water precluded a large population. The reservation Indian population of Arizona in 1890 was 28,452, its non-reservation Indian population was 1,512, Indians in prisons not otherwise enumerated, 17; a total of 29,981. Geronimo’s band of Apaches, 384 in number, deported from Arizona in the interest of peace, now live in Alabama, at Mount Vernon barracks, near Mobile. They are known as the Chiricahua Apaches. “Natchez” was also a chief of this band. The Pimas and Papagos have always been the friends of the whites, and the Papagos claim to have never killed a white man.

Apaches (Athapascans)

The early Spaniards gave the several Indian tribes they met the names they now bear. The entire resident Indian population of the region now known as Arizona, with the exception of the 7 Moqui pueblos in the northeastern portion, the Yumas, Papagos, and Pimas, at the advent of the Spaniards, was the tribes now generally known as Apaches, the most numerous branch of the Athapascan stock. The Apaches in the United States in 1890 number 21,422. They are by nature a fierce, nomadic nation, with some tribal exceptions, once roaming over the present territories of Arizona and New Mexico, and Chihuahua and Sonora, Mexico. A scourge and a terror to settlers, they held in cheek for many years the civilization of the country, which they, covered by their depredations. The fiercest Apaches are now at the San Carlos agency.

During the Spanish and Mexican control of Arizona the Apaches steadily resisted all attempts at conversion by the missionaries, gathered about them many of the disaffected tribes from adjacent territory and made frequent descents upon missions and towns, ravaging, destroying, and completely depopulating many of them. Their wars, although small in their way, were bloody and costly, both in men and money. Successful military campaigns broke up their predatory habits, and then efforts were made to gather them on reservations, where they could be cared for until capable of self-sustenance. In 1877, 3 great reservations were established. The lands of the several Indian reservations in Arizona are the poorest of any in the United States.

After the white occupation the Arizona Indians were called “Pueblos”, or town dwellers, because seine of them, notably the Papagos, lived in houses built of rushes or straw.

The United States army virtually controlled the Arizona Apache Indians from 1846 to 1884, and even now there are detailed army officers as agents at Pima and San Carlos. Garrisons of soldiers are kept at all agencies.

The first Arizona, Indian reservation established by law was the Gila River reservation, in 1859.

Apache Population in the United States in 1890

Total 21,422
Kiowa,, Comanche, and Wichita agency, Oklahoma326
Mescalero agency, New Mexico (including 40 Lipan Apaches from Mexico)513
Jicarilla reservation, New Mexico808
Navajos in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah17,204
San Carlos agency (including Cayoteros, San Carlos, Tontos, and White Mountain Apaches)4, 041
Apaches other than above off reservations in Arizona1,126
Mount Vernon barracks, Alabama384
Lipan Apaches with the Tonkawas in Oklahoma20


Department of the Interior. Report on Indians Taxed and Indians not Taxed in the United States, Except Alaska at the Eleventh Census: 1890. Washington DC: Government Printing Office. 1894.

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