Horse Thief, Mescalero Apache Indian

Mescalero Apache Reservation

Horse Thief, Mescalero Apache Indian
Horse Thief, Mescalero Apache Indian

The area of New Mexico was acquired by the United States by capture and the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of February 2, 1818, and the Gadsden purchase of December 30, 1853. The Indians discovered therein by the Spaniards in 1539 were the Pueblos, or Towndwellers, along the Rio Grande or on streams tributary to it, the Apaches, in the south and west, some Utes in the north, with occasional foraging parties of Comanches, Pawnees, Sioux, and others. The Texan Indians, including the Lipans (Apaches), frequently roamed the southeastern portion and down into Mexico. The Navajos (Apaches) were the fierce and warlike Indian’s. They covered at times almost all of the area of New Mexico excepting the portion occupied by the Pueblos and their lands directly adjoining the missions or churches. Prior to 1846, the date of occupation by the United States, the Spanish and afterward the Mexican government had frequent difficulties with the New Mexican roaming tribes. The Apaches about Fort Stanton, known as the Fort Stanton Apaches, who removed to the Mescalero agency and reservation in 1873-1874, were most dangerous to the white people. The Santa Fe Trail, the road from St. Joseph or Westport, Mo., to Santa Fe and Mexico, became famous as an Indian raiding ground, for over it the commerce of an enormous region passed by pack train or in wagons. Finally a mail route was created. The Apaches made life cheap along this route for many years. Kit Carson and the trappers and hunters of fame, who made their headquarters along the Arkansas and Cimarron, and at Taos and Santa Fe, were at almost unceasing war with the Indians of New Mexico from about 1826 till after 1882. It can be said of the Apaches, including the Navajos, that they made war on all. They were unprejudiced marauders; they had no special tribal alliances, and when a chance for war or plunder occurred it was a matter of indifference whether it was Indian or white man.

The portion of the Navajo reservation lying in New Mexico contains 5,169 Navajos. There are also 993 on that part of the reservation which lies in Utah. The greater portion of the Navajos, 11,042, are on that portion of the reservation lying in Arizona, and therefore the description of the Navajo Indians and their reservation has been mainly given under Arizona.

The Jicarilla Apaches, living on their reservation in the northwestern corner of the territory, are fairly progressive Indians. The 2 reservations proper in New Mexico, the Mescalero and the Jicarilla Apaches, are quite unfavorable for food production, and the Indians on them are nearly all subsisted on government rations. The consolidation of these 2 reservations would be in the interest of economy. The first reservation established in New Mexico was the Apache reservation with Bosque Redonda as its center, by President Lincoln, in January 1864. The 19 pueblos of New Mexico are in fact towns or villages. They are on lands granted the Indians by Spanish or Mexican authority, and such have been acknowledged and, in all cases but 3, patented by the United States. The Pueblo Indians are citizens and respected as such.

Mescalero Agency

Report of Special Agent George B. Mechem on the Indians of the Mescalero Apache (Fort Stanton) reservation, Mescalero agency, Donna Ana County, New Mexico, September 1890.

Names of Indian tribes or parts of tribes occupying said reservation: 1 Mescalero, Jicarilla, and Mimbre Apache.

The unallotted area of this reservation is 174,210 acres, or 741 square miles. The outboundaries have been surveyed and partly divided.

It was established, altered, or changed by executive orders May 20, 1873, February 2, 1874, October 20, 1875, May 19, 1882, and March 21, 1883.

Indian population, 1890: Mescalero Apaches, 513.

Mescalero Apache Reservation

Description, The Mescalero Indian reservation lies in Donna Ana County, New Mexico, and contains within its boundaries 474,240 acres, of which vast area only 4,000 to 5,000 acres, or 1 per cent, could be cultivated by the aid of irrigation, the remainder being rugged mountains.

It is a magnificent forest of stately pine, cedar, piñon, fir, and scrub oak, and makes a picturesque sight with its narrow valleys, on either side of which are high, steep mountains, covered with tall and straight fir trees. All of these valleys and a portion of the mountainsides adjoining are covered with a dense grass, which grows to a height of from 1 to 2 feet.

The valleys range from 4,500 to 6,000 feet above the sea level. Along these valleys on either side, at the foot of the mountains, burst forth-large springs of good, clear water, and in some places are found sulphur springs.

Climate of the Mescalero Apache Reservation

In the summer months the climate is most delightful, the nights especially being cool and pleasant. The winters are somewhat severe.

Economic Condition of the Mescalero Apache Reservation

The Mescalero Indians are satisfied with their financial condition, and front their standpoint a more prosperous class of people, never existed former years before receiving aid from the government, they deeply felt the pangs of hunger and suffered much from the piercing winds of winter, the skins obtained from the chase being inadequate’ for clothing. Having become accustomed to a life of this kind, their needs are few. There is little suffering among them now. They are always ready and to appear in dire distress, the women in particular being beggars of the worst class. When thus engaged they pretend great hardships and privations, yet none of them would exchange place with the most prosperous farmer, mechanic, or businessman or woman. Begging with them is an art, which they practice with a degree of skill greater than that of the white professional beggar. They love to accumulate in this way, and many an old woman has Stored away for safe keeping flour, sugar, and tobacco, which she has obtained on the plea of being “out”.

The desires of a Mescalero lie largely in the filling of his stomach and a display of garments of many colors. All he asks is his native fare, with the addition of those articles which the government taught him to use.

In order to correctly estimate the amount each Indian receives from the government, they may be divided into two classes: school children, which includes all those attending school, both in the schoolroom and in the industrial department, and the policemen, 10 privates and 1 captain, in the first class, and all other Indians in the second class. The latter class is generally styled “camp” or “blanket” Indians.

The government issues weekly to each camp Indian about one-half pound of flour and three-fourths of a pound of beef for each day, with a small amount of coffee and sugar; and clothing is issued quarterly. The food thus issued is sufficient, if used economically, to maintain either man, woman, or child, with no need of exertion on his or her part to obtain more.

Very little improvement of either their mental, physical, or economic condition can be hoped for in the blanket Indians. When the government began issuing rations of coffee the Indians refused to take it, but by degrees they acquired such a liking for it that now coffee is valued more highly than flour.

The 513 Mescalero Indians own 400 head of cattle and 750 ponies and mules. 2 The ponies are their stock in trade, and they are adroit in their manner of dealing good judges of animals, and willing to warrant anything they have as being sound and all right. A dollar seems to be the smallest coin they care to take cognizance of they will ask that sum for the, most worthless trinket they possess, and for articles of more value their prices are correspondingly high. They show tact in maintaining a price, and evince apparent unconcern whether a sale is made or not. Generally they are willing to make a reduction of 80 or 90 per cent in order to effect a sale, but not until every effort has been exhausted and they are satisfied that to make the sale the reduction is necessary. Their manners in attempting a barter are ingenious. They never show any anxiety in the matter, but will usually carry the articles with them, hidden, under their blankets, and if not at first successful they will hunt the party up and bring themselves to his notice, at the same time endeavoring to show little concern.

Farmers of the Mescalero Apache Reservation

The farming done by these Indians is very little. They are apparently indifferent as to weeds in their corn. The value of corn and oats and other articles raised by the Indians last year and sold to the government amounted to $1,400, and to other parties about $700. The government paid them for corn about $1.25 per bushel, and 60 cents per bushel for oats. Much of the corn is used by them while green, they being very fond of roasting ears.

The excellent grass, of which the reservation has a good supply, is quite sufficient to keep their stock without much loss as compared with the price at which they value their labor. Possibly one reason wily the Mescaleros do not take more interest in farming is the fact that it requires considerable labor to get the ground in condition, irrigating ditches and drainage being necessary.

The reservation is the herding ground of large numbers of cattle owned by outside parties, and from these the Mescaleros take enough to equal in value the rental they should have, and with these, added to their regular rations of beef from the agency, they manage to keep a very fair supply of fresh meat constantly on hand. They are re-enforced in the meat supply by many kinds of wild, game, in which the reservation abounds, such as antelope, deer, and turkey. The flesh of cattle, deer, and antelope is cut up by the Indian women into thin slices and dried in the sun, which is then called jerked meat, and can be eaten at any time, cooked or uncooked.

When one desires to take a journey, to be absent 8 or 10 days, he fills a sack with this meat and is thoroughly equipped for the trip. Chili, something like red pepper, is a great favorite with the Indian and is usually a part of his bill of fare.

They are experts in counting money and. making change.

It is a very rare occurrence to find these Indians without some money. They keep it securely under their clothing, hidden in a purse covered with beads, and they never boast of the amount they may have, always endeavoring to convey the impression that they have none, or in case they are making a purchase, that the money with which they pay for the article purchased is the very last they have. None of these camp Indians have at any time any great amount of money hoarded up, yet a few of the educated ones, who are in school here, have saved up several hundred dollars and have it placed to their credit in the Albuquerque bank, and these Indians are as modest in, regard to this matter as the uneducated ones.

No effort is made by the blanket Indians to get milk from their cows, or to obtain other, kinds of food than what has been mentioned. The only favorable outlook for these camp or blanket Indians seems to be the raising of cattle and horses. They take good care of their horses and mules and are beginning to pay considerable attention to cattle.

The reservation is admirably adapted for grazing purposes and of very little value for farming.

The educated Indians, or the ones attending the school, are by far the most successful farmers. They are the only ones that are willing to remain in houses and live like civilized people, and for the advancement of this class the agent is bending every effort.

To the school children and to the policemen when on duty the government issues double rations and increases the supply of clothing.

The advancement these Indians have made in agriculture is not very encouraging.

Schools of the Mescalero Apache Reservation

The school building has a seating capacity of 50 and is well furnished with modern appliances. The pupils are furnished everything necessary. There is a general superintendent, who has charge of the mental training, and an industrial teacher, who has charge of industrial instruction. In connection with the school is a cooking department, conducted by a man, assisted by the larger schoolgirls. There is also a matron and a seamstress and laundress.

The first and greatest task in connection with the school is securing the children from their parents, and to do this successfully requires a great deal of tact and good judgment on the part of the agent. Very few, if any, of the parents want their children in school. The children do not want to leave their huts and tents and filth and rags for the purpose, of being civilized and educated, and it is very doubtful if at any time afterward they are satisfied with the change. While the children to all appearances are pleased with the change, with the clothes and enough to eat, they never miss a chance to return to the camp, 5, 10, or 30 miles away, and remain there as long as they are allowed. There are about 35 pupils under the charge of this school and 20 are attending other Indian schools.

Of the Indian children now attending school nothing but praise can be said as to their conduct, their aptness to learn, their industry, and reliability. They are quick to obey, willing to do anything they are told, and to an observer who is ignorant of the past history of these educated Indians it would seem impossible that they ever would go back to camp and take up life just where they left it. When they do this they discard their comfortable coats and vests and cut off the upper part of their breeches, substituting therefor the breechclout and a “gee-string”, a blanket for the coat and vest, moccasins for shoes, put rings and chains in their ears, paint their faces and heads with many colors, adorn their heads with feathers in lieu of a hat, strap on belts of cartridges and revolvers, and sling a gun on the pony. The height of his glory, his ambition being satisfied, now is to steal anything that should come his way, lie to everybody he meets, and go home and order his 1, 2, or 3 squaws to carry in wood for a rainy clay. This condition of affairs only exists where the Indian is allowed to go back to his tribe. The influences of their earlier life and their parents seem to outweigh all else.

At this agency the industrial school has 20 cows. The girls, under the direction of the chief cook, make all the butter needed for the school. They make bread, cakes and pies, and are very useful cooks and. housekeepers while under proper direction. They are educated to sew, knit, wash, and iron. The boys are handy at anything to which they turn their attention. One is a blacksmith and does fair work. All of the larger ones know something about carpentering, painting, gardening, and all kinds of farming, and are very good workers.

Several of the boys and girls speak 3 languages: Apache, Spanish, and English. The latter seems to be the most difficult for them to speak, and they never resort to it unless it is necessary. In talking with those who speak both English and Spanish they prefer to use Spanish; when speaking to each other, they invariably use Apache. The girls particularly are very reticent in using the English language, in fact any language, to a white person. All the girls are very modest in appearance and conversation.

Notwithstanding the continued opposition of the parents to the education of their children, there is a noticeable change in some, respects. An Indian prefers his son who has been attending school to marry a schoolgirl instead of a camp girl or ignorant squaw. Some of the more intelligent Indians admit that the school is a good thing. Parents of the scholars pay frequent visits to the agency school and seem very proud of the advancement of their children. While the children are in school, the parents frequently sit on the doorstep and watch with eager eyes every movement of their offspring, sometimes coming in the morning and remaining until noon. During these visits to their children they usually bring them presents of moccasins and nuts. The children always seem to be glad to see their parents on these visits, and are with them as much as possible.

Some 8 or 10 years ago there were 2 schools in operation, 1 of these at the agency and 1 at the camp. The school at the camp proved to be a failure, owing to the removal of the Indians from one camp to another and the inability of the teacher to keep the children in the school. The open question seems to be what to do with them after they leave school.

Tribal Division, Habits And Customs

This tribe is divided into 2 clans, each with its recognized chief, whose duty is to act as spokesman and mediator, but whose influence is not felt to so great an extent as formerly. These 2 chiefs are very fair men, always advocating peace, and render the agent much service in managing the Indians.

Both of the chiefs have been to Washington, and proudly wear the large medals presented to them by President Garfield. The medals are attached to their vests, which are worn on the outside of the coat when worn at all. None of the Mescaleros are good talkers. They will unhesitatingly misrepresent facts to the government officials, yet they are greatly outraged if they are in any way deceived; but when once an agent gains their confidence, they implicitly trust him. Notwithstanding the several employees that the agency has, the Indians always come to the agent for information and advice.

One of the great obstacles which the different agents encountered was the whisky traffic among these Indians. According to the report of the agent in 1876 a great amount of whisky selling was going on among the Indians, and in the report of 1883 the agent says “the manufacture of ’tiswin’ and consequent intoxication have been entirely unknown during the year”. Very little, if any, whisky or intoxicating drinks are now sold to the Indians, owing to the stringent law and rigorous enforcement thereof by the agent and his employees. During the last year 1 person has been convicted of this offense and sent to the penitentiary. The offense was committed at a small town about 15 miles from the agency.

The manufacture by the Indian women of tiswin still continues, but strong precautions are taken by the policemen of the agency, and those found making it are promptly locked up in the guardhouse. Tiswin is made by taking corn and covering it over with dirt or manure Until it begins to rot, when it is taken out and the juice extracted, the liquid being much stronger than alcohol. After drinking this stuff all the badness of the Indian is exhibited; it makes them quarrelsome and dangerous, never having the effect of rendering them jovial or generous. It is safe to say that, taking these Indians as a whole, they drink intoxicants less than any other community of like numbers in the territory.

The home of the Mescalero is a tent of possibly 30 feet in circumference, with a small aperture for a door, which admits one into the midst of all the household belongings. Usually there is a fire in the center and a pot of meat cooking, as they have meals at all hours. Around this fire and against the sides of the tent are their blankets, skins, fresh meat, guns, flour, ammunition, and boxes with coffee, sugar, and trinkets. Educated or ignorant, high or low, all are the same. While one is making coffee in a vessel with no lid, another will bring in a whole leg of steer and throw it on the fire to roast, and while in the process of roasting he commences cutting off and eating; and so it goes all day long. A few have begun using salt on some articles of food.

The older Indians seem to be satisfied with the present order of things. They cling to their old custom of marriage and divorce. Most of the girls on arriving at the age of 12 or 14 years are considered eligible to perform the duties of a wife; in fact, if they are not married before they are 15, they are considered “old maids”. On arriving at the age of what they consider maturity the girl makes her first appearance at the Indian dance, together with all other girls of her class. An Indian dance is the great event of the season. After obtaining the agent’s consent and receiving an extra supply of rations, such as beef and flour, together with a supply of coffee, and sugar, all the Indian’s of the reservations, men, women, and children, pack up their tents and goods and drive their horses, mules, and cattle down to the dance ground and prepare for a 4 days’ dance. The tents are all put up on the dance ground, and in the center a large tent in the shape of a horseshoe is erected. In the center of the large part of this tent a fire is built, and back of this against the tent is the girls’ claiming place. At the entrance of the tent, being the narrow part of it is spread the deerskin, and around this the men are gathered, each provided with a stick used to keep time on the skin. In this same place is the drum used for the same purpose. On the outside of the tent is another fire, around which all the marriageable young men, stripped to the waist, with bodies and faces painted and disguised, together with several smaller boys acting as clowns, are to dance. Before entering upon their dance the girls go through a ceremony with their Indian priest. Then the priest, with a stick of rings, escorts the girls to their dancing place. Shortly the dance on the outside, plainly visible from the inside, begins. The same dancers dance all night long, with short intervals for rest, keeping it up 4 nights. The day is spent in eating and sleeping: Indians who are not engaged in making music or dancing are usually in other tents playing cards or eating. After the third dance of this kind the girl is eligible for the marriage ceremony. The young man who has had his eye on his future wife then proceeds to the home of the girl, and in front of her parents’ tent hitches his 1, 2, or 3 ponies, or whatever he may feel able to give her parents as a marriage gift, and without communicating to them leaves his property and goes back to his home. It is optional with the girl to accept or reject the offer. After an absence of 10 or 12 hours from the girl’s home the young suitor returns, and should he find his property where he left it, untouched, it signifies that his suit is not accepted, and he takes his ponies or whatever he offered; but if the property has been removed, it is notice to him that his suit is accepted. When the parents accept a young man as their future son-in-law they at once appropriate all the property left by him, and erect a tent for the young couple as a wedding gift a short distance from that of the parents, and the daughter is placed in it. When the young man returns and finds by the absence of his ponies that his suit has been accepted, he at once goes to this tent, and without any other ceremony they are then lawfully married. After the marriage the girl goes through one or more dances like the former ones, celebrating her marriage. The presents made to the parents by the suitor are considered in no way, the purchase price of the girl. It is considered that these presents will counterbalance the expense of the parents in making the tent and paying the priest for conducting the dances or ceremony.

The sale of girls for wives against their will is never heard of among these Indians. There are a few Indians who have plural wives, but an Indian never takes his second wife without the consent, and generally the urgent request, of his first wife, and it is a rare occurrence to find one wife jealous of the other. The first wife, when encumbered with 2 or 3 children, having all the work to do, is quite satisfied to have some young girl assist her in her work, and for this reason some of them are anxious for the second wife.

The first marriage of these Indians conducted according to civilized ideas occurred on the 4th of July 1890. Two of the school Indians were married beneath the Stars and Stripes in the presence of a large gathering of people of the neighboring towns and a large number of camp Indians, the ceremony being performed by a Catholic priest. Immediately after the ceremony the young couple gave a reception in the agent’s parlor. Both of these people are still connected with the industrial school, living in a house near the agency house. It is the intention to encourage this class of marriages and to locate the married couples in the same neighborhood, close to the agency and away from the camp Indians, build them houses, and fit them up in civilized style. The boys are all capable of doing the carpenter work, and are only too willing to do it when assured it is for them. Several of them have selected their future wives from their schoolmates, and are only waiting to get the agent’s consent to be married.

The Mescaleros understand divorce law the same as their white brothers. The only difference between the two modes of procedure is a greater degree of fairness in the Indian way. When Mescalero men or women become dissatisfied with their partners they communicate the fact to the parents and brothers of each side of the house, and a council of these, together with the husband and wife, is immediately held. If a husband is the complainant he states his ease, together with his proof, to this council, and the woman is heard in her own behalf. In case the decision is favorable to the husband the wife’s parents bring back the property that was given them at the time of the marriage; in case the husband is in fault this is not done. It is dangerous for an Indian to desert his wife, unless he procures a divorce. Mescalero women of ill repute and unchaste have their noses out off. It has had the effect of putting a stop to unchastity. Only one woman has had the misfortune of paying the penalty for this crime. None of those loathsome diseases so prevalent among some other Indian tribes are found here.

Superstition of the Mescalero Apache

These Indians are very superstitious, their superstition keeps them in tents instead of houses. They have a great dread of the dead, and in fact will not remain in a house or tent where one has died. In case of the death of an Indian his tent and all his household goods are immediately burned, his pony is taken to his burial place and there shot, his gun, revolver, knife, and such articles are buried with him; then he is supposed to be ready to mount his pony and dash out into the fields of the “happy limiting ground”. Not many years ago the best pony that the deceased owned was selected to be killed, now the poorest is usually selected, and they begin to realize that his guns and other effects are frequently missed from the grave and recognized on the belt of the white man.

On becoming ill those Indians who live in houses are taken immediately to a tent to prevent the necessity of burning the house in case of death. Upon the death of it married Indian his wife trades off all his stock to some other Indian for a like amount. If the deceased has occupied land, cultivating it at the time of his death, the widow exchanges it for other land. She does not wish to remain in the same house or tent, cultivate the same land, handle the same horses or cattle, or in fact anything that was the property of her husband. After an Indian has died no matter how great he has been in the councils of war, they refrain from using his name. Upon the death of an Indian, his squaw, together with his and her sisters, after completing his burial, usually go up into the mountain and remain several days lamenting the loss of their relative. They are sometimes accompanied by the male members of the household, but these soon tire of the performance and go back to camp.

After the marriage of a daughter the son-in-law makes it a point never to come in contact with his wife’s, mother. This custom is rigidly followed. During the day the rations are distributed, a time when every Indian will be at his post waiting for his turn to receive his quota, should a mother-in-law appear upon the scene and in close proximity, the son-in-law immediately vacates his position, even though be, be, upon the point of receiving his rations, and gracefully retires to the rear.

Religion of the Mescalero Apache

With very few exceptions the old ideas of Indian religion are unknown by the Mescaleros. They believe that their ideas of religion, of future punishment, of the formation of world and man, and of baptism are the old Indian ideas; yet there is no doubt that those Jesuit missionaries who many years ago cast their lot with them have by degrees infused into them their own religious ideas.

They believe that the white man is the descendant of Abel and the Indian the descendant of Cain, and they concede that Abel was a good man and Cain the opposite, consequently the descendants of Abel are better than the descendants of Cain. While they believe the above, the acts of the Indians in their murderous depredations and lawlessness are justified and are the natural outgrowth of their ancestor, Cain.

They have a crude idea that at the beginning of the world, or about that time, bows and arrows were placed on the same line with guns, and that the Indian and white man were placed equal distances from them and told to choose their weapons, and that the White man succeeded in getting the gun and the Indian the bow and arrow.

They reason from their knowledge of the sun, moon, and stars that there is a God. They believe in future punishment coupled with hell fire and brimstone; that it depends upon the behavior on earth whether the Indian takes up his future abode in this resort or in the coveted “happy limiting ground”. They have ceased to worship the sun or moon or rocks or animals, but they have formed no substitute worship. Possibly some crimes have not been committed and wrongs have been righted through fear of eternal punishment.

Now and then a minister of the gospel makes his appearance at the agency, and is listened to attentively by the school children. The camp Indians rarely attend any religious service.

Attachment For Teachers

There is a marked advancement in the work of the boys and girls who are under the charge of the matron and assistant laundress and seamstress. Their sewing, quilting, dressmaking, patchwork, mending and knitting are equal to that of their white sisters of the slime age and opportunities, and especially marked is their attachment to their teachers; with them they will converse in English, to them they come with their woes and complaints. The girls implicitly confide in them.

Physical Condition of the Mescalero Apache

The Mescaleros are, with a very few exceptions, very much below the whites in stature and size; the women in particular are small; all have straight, black hair, which, with the exception of the school children, is worn long and loose or done up in braids wrapped in red flannel.

The camp Indian’s clothing usually consists of a government shirt, breechcloth, and gee string and leggings, in: the summer made out of calico, highly decorated with beads, and in winter of heavier goods, with a government, blanket, which is worn diagonally over the left shoulder and under the right arm, held together with the left hand the ends twisted under their belt. A large number of the men wear hats. The women have no headgear, whatever, except when part of their blanket is used for that purpose. The women wear a kind of blouse with open sleeves from the shoulder down, out off at the elbow. This, with short skirt, leggings, and moccasins, comprises their wearing apparel.

Neither the men nor the women, the women in particular, attempt to envelop the whole body in clothing but, no matter how loosely they are dressed, their nakedness is always hidden from view.

The Indian women get old in appearance very rapidly. At the age of 30 or 40 years they would easily pass for persons 60 or 75 years of age. Notwithstanding all this they are as full of fun and wit as any of the young: ones, and retain all their cunning and sharpness to the end.

The general health of these Indians is perhaps as good as that of a like number of white people in the same locality. They still have their medicine man, but he never did wield much power among the Mescaleros, and the agency physician is rapidly taking his practice. This change of affairs has home about wholly by the success of the physician in treating the sick who have been brought very close to death’s door by the treatment of the medicine man. All the more intelligent Indians have confidence in the white medicine man. The others; unless; they think well of a physician as a man, seldom consult him as a physician.

The Indians in their camp life know nothing of nursing-the sick. Daring the last winter smallpox and grip, both made their appearance among the Indians and rapidly made their way into the school. At these critical times the efficiency of nursing was first put into actual practice. The young patients were put into clean beds and clothing, and were constantly waited upon by the matron and the assistant seamstress. The boys, in addition, were constantly waited on by their industrial teacher.

Until 1887 the Jicarillas were under the control of this agency, and they greatly outnumbered the Mescaleros. From the physician’s report of 1882 there were 240 cases treated, divided into (1) diseases of the digestive organs caused from gross feeding, and (2) slight pulmonary ailments from exposure. The physician expressed the idea that “the introduction of civilized habits would largely reduce both”. The 1883 report shows that the Indians were very anxious to be vaccinated during a smallpox epidemic that raged in that country during the winter of 1882-1883, and that the Indians escaped without a single case of smallpox. The report further states that there is a marked “increase in promptness with which Indians received medical aid”.

During the last year the agency physician treated 228 cases; 54 of these, were sore eyes, or conjunctivitis; caused by the smoke in the tepee largely and the want of protection from the sun’s heat, and part of it was; hereditary; 28 cases were rheumatism, 1 gunshot wound, 1 flux, 8 cases of dyspepsia, 5 inflammation of lungs, 17 inflammation of larynx, 1 inflammation of stomach. There were 2 cases o of diarrhea, 2 of remittent fever, 2 of worms, 14 of scrofula, 1 of cancer of tongue, 2 of neuralgia, 9 of insanity, 4 of congestion of brain, 3 of concussion of brain, 1 of inflammation of bowels, 4 of consumption, 3 of pleuropneumonia, 3 of typhoid fever, 4 of paralysis, 1 of dropsy of the heart, 11 of varioloid, and 3 of tonsillitis. Very few deformed persons are noticed among these Indians; and only three are reported by the physician. There are none defective in speech or hearing.
There are no diseases common among the Mescaleros different from those among the whites there is perhaps more scrofula and sore eyes. They insist on being treated for immediate relief, and consequently strong medicine, going right to the seat of pain, is given them, as they will not wait for the effect of medicines which act slowly.

There were 8 deaths reported to the physician, 1 of which was the result of accidental shooting. The births largely outnumber the deaths.

Very seldom more than 2 or 3 children are found in one family. Very few of the men or women walk erect, and their gait is anything but admirable. They walk as though they were afflicted with abdominal pains, though very few of them are stoop-shouldered. The Indian women walk less erect than the men. This is because they carry their papooses on their backs, as also wood, hay, corn, lumber, and every other article of transportation.

Good and sound teeth are suggestive of good digestion. No class of persons have better and whiter teeth than they. There are very few tobacco chewers among the tribe, but all are constant smokers, using cigarette only, which they make themselves, smoking from 20 to 50 a day.

There are about 360 single persons. There are very few girls over 15 years of age who are not or have not been married. About 35, all school children except one or two, wear citizens’ dress wholly; the remainder of the tribe wear but very little of it. Some of them wear hats, a great many of them shirts, and possibly half of the men wear vests; but few of them wear trousers. On special occasions they don a coat, usually with the vest on the, outside. There is probably not a single Indian who has not attended school who can read or write English, and very few of that class can use English enough for ordinary intercourse. There are over 100 children of school age, about 45 of whom have attended the agency school some time during the year. There is only 1 schoolhouse, which has accommodations for 50 pupils. It is a 1 story adobe, with a cellar underneath, worth, together with the furniture, about $2,000. These adobe buildings are of large-sized brick made of dirt and straw, which, after being thoroughly dried, are laid up after the fashion of a common brick house. The schoolhouse is plastered both inside and outside, and has the appearance of a stone house. There are 4 adobe houses besides the schoolhouse, worth about $5,000, and 9, mostly frame buildings, worth about $2,000. There are also 3 log houses, worth about $300, and 7 sheds, worth $250. The furniture at the agency is worth $1,000. There are about 30 dwelling houses occupied part of the time by the Indians; some are log, some adobe, and part are frame. Many of these houses are little more than huts.

Employment of Indians at the Mescalero Agency

The agent employs Indians generally in freighting from the railroad, a distance of 110 miles. They have earned during the past year, by freighting alone, nearly $500. They cut wood and sell to the different employees of the agency and neighboring whites. They sometimes sell ponies and cattle to the whites, and in these various ways they manage to obtain considerable money. The different trading stores close to the agency and the merchants in the adjacent towns are usually willing to give a great many of them credit, and the Indians usually pay at the time agreed upon.

There are not more than 5 or 6 Indians of mixed blood in this tribe.

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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  1. The statement giving tribes, areas, and laws for agencies are from the Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1890, pages 434-445. Tho Population is the result of the census.[]
  2. Report or the Commissioner or Indian Affairs, 1890, page 473.[]

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