Hollywood has as much (if not more) influence over the way we view history as historians do. After all, if it's on the big screen, there must be some truth to it. And history has not been kind to Native Americans. Many a frontier family kept their children in line by threatening them with Indian attacks and stories of scalpings and the like. It's no wonder our culture has grown up with the image of the painted, half-naked Indian wearing feathers and wielding a tomahawk. We have romanticized the frontier family, while vilifying those who tried to defend what they considered theirs.
Arizona and Texas were the Wild West. The home of cowboys, ranches, cattle, and infinite vistas. But, there was more to it than this. Living on the edge of civilization was difficult. It was made even more so by the hostilities it engendered among the native population, and the warfare that broke out led to the typical "us and them" mentality. It's not surprising then, that atrocities were committed on both sides.
Camp Grant, Arizona. A young, new 1st Lieutenant, Royal Emerson Whitman, assumed command early in the year. The Indian Wars were, for the most part, over, but it is said that because many of Tucson's businessmen profited from the war, they were reluctant to "let it go" and lose the business of the federal government. In February, a few old Apache women staggered into camp. Lt. Whitman took them in, fed them, and treated them kindly. Once the word got out, more came looking for help. Whitman created a refuge along Aravaipa Creek about five miles east of Camp Grant for nearly 500 Aravaipa and Pinal Apaches, including Chief Eskiminzin. The Apaches began cutting hay for the post's horse and harvesting barley in nearby ranchers' fields. It was a good situation for a few months, but the people of Tucson began to blame every depredation in Southern Arizona on the Apaches in the camp, despite that the camp was probably 80% or more women and children.
On April 30, a force of about 150 attacked the refuge camp. The 150 consisted of only six Anglos from Tucson. They had recruited another local tribe, the Tohono O'odham, and some Mexican nationals to help them. But, once the attack began, the Anglos stood by and watched while the other tribe did most of the killing. When it was all over, all but eight of the dead were women and children.This Day in History: The Camp Grant Massacre took place on April 30 of what year?
Labels: Apaches, Arizona History, Camp Grant, Massacre