"The American Indian
commands respect for his rights only as long as he inspires terror for
Brigader General George Crook
Lookout on Square Mountain,
southern Arizona Territory
was big for an Indian, especially an Apache. 6'1", loose-jointed
with short fingers and narrow, almost feminine features except for his
muscles, which ran like steel cords down through his arms and legs. His
deep chest was another giveaway, a legacy from generations of his
mountain-dwelling ancestors. His bare chest was covered by a buckskin
shirt consisting of only sleeves and a shoulder yoke, held down by a
blue canvas and leather belt of cartridge loops draped over his
shoulder. beneath his navy blue wool headband, small black pupils in
eyes sunk into his
handsome face didn't move. They were transfixed, watching a small
flatbed wagon rattle slowly toward him from the dusty distance.
was Naiche, grandson of Mangus Colorado and the second son of Cochise,
the legendary leaders of the Chiricahuas and the greatest Apaches of
this nineteenth century, now slowly winding toward its hard end. He was
nearly thirty years old.
Trail to the Winchester Mountains
cast by giant saguaros lengthened this late afternoon across a rough,
two-track trail heading toward the Winchester Mountains ahead. This
quartet of rocky peaks rose sixty miles east of old Tucson and seventy
miles north of the border, where it formed the northwest side of the
hundred-mile long Sulphur Springs Valley, the main southern Arizona
corridor for Indians traveling down into Mexico. Jacob Cox was well
aware of that ever-present danger as he slapped his two horses' rumps
with his long reins, urging them to pick up their tired gait now that
they were almost home.
gaunt, bearded mid-westerner on the shady side of forty, Cox turned to
his sister riding the plank seat of the wagon beside him.
beautiful Arizona spring, sis."
Jacob's free hand swept the air,
encompassing the palo verde bushes blooming yellow within their view, a
patch of lupines and Mexican gold poppies alongside the trail. New plant
life in spite of the usual wind, which sucked the winter's moisture
right out of the ground and contributed to the annual spring drought in
this southeastern corner of the Territory.
I love seeing the country this time of year. So clean, fresh. The
Apaches, you know, call late spring the season of "many
To the point, just like Apaches." His younger sibling tipped back the
narrower brim of her smaller dark brown cowboy hat to take in the whole
grand vista of the big valley, thirty miles across at its widest, its
5-10,000 foot peaks of the various small mountain ranges provided borders
along both sides of the valley. Deeply tanned and on the
sunny side of forty herself, Marta Cox was no woman to wear a sunbonnet.
was that poem?"
not by eastern windows only,
daylight comes, comes in the light,
front the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
westward, look, the land is bright!"
sharp eyes took all the bright land in. Good cattle country were it not
for its hereditary caretakers, the Apaches.
cherish our trips away, Jacob, especially to Tucson for the shopping and
someone else's cooking, but the sight of home again after a
hard journey always pleases me most."
older brother nodded again and smiled.
think these latest raids are as bad as we heard at the trader's?"
wiped off his smile. "Army's been fighting these wild Apaches for
twenty-six years now, Martha. Haven't whipped them for good yet, but
each time they run off the reservation, seems like there's fewer Indians
free and more soldiers chasin' them. Those odds can't last forever. Not
enough Apaches left."
his pony in the brushy wash lined with desert willow and hackberry, below the fairly flat hilltop over which
this rancher's wagon now rolled, a long-haired Apache spit onto his palm.
He rubbed the grime off the silver dollar sewn onto the upturned toe of one
of his knee-high deerskin moccasin boots, his n'deh b'heh. The
turned-up toe was a style distinctive to the Chiricahua and the metal
kicker protected his elk-soled moccasin from wearing out in cactus country sooner
than every few weeks. Perico rubbed his saliva onto the silver coin,
nearby, Delkay and Inday-Yi-Yahn passed a willow wood canteen between
them, as the former removed his buckskin shirt from under his
rawhide belt which held his muslin breechcloth draped down to his knees,
and yanked it over his head.
Apache warriors stripped before battle, their brown skin
blending better with the desert landscape than the white man's colored
cloth. These warriors handed their shirts and canteens and extra items
to a sixteen-year-old boy, Zhonne, who stood nearby holding the reins of
his pony. Besides his smaller size, the teenager was distinguished from
these fighters by his headgear, a leather novice's hat, or round
skullcap, to which were attached four types of feathers -- hummingbird,
oriole, quail, and eagle. His trainee's cap had no "enemies against
power," for the youth was not a full-fledged raider yet and wasn't even
allowed to fight, unless he had to defend himself.
youngest warrior-in-training was completing the last of his four
required raids with these men, acting as their servant and horse-holder,
doing what camp chores or errands were required, speaking only when
spoken to, before he could finally be invited into the ranks of fighting men. This time
the youth had to stay behind, to bring spare horses, weapons,
ammunition, or help up to the fight if needed.
was Geronimo's cousin, which gave him leadership responsibilities in
this little band of raiders. He
pushed back the derby hat atop his head and held his silver toe toward
the sun, adjusting it to aim some bright reflections up at Square Mountain, the
lowest peak in
Lookout on Square Mountain
his aerie atop a large boulder halfway up this 5700 foot pinnacle,
Naiche caught the bright signal flashes from the men far below
in the wash. His warriors were ready! The tall Indian untied a long length of
horse intestine slung over his other shoulder and drank sparingly from
one end, as he watched the wagon rattling toward the ranch nestled
at the foot of the mountain beneath him. Nothing else moved on the hilltop,
or in the arroyos rutting either side. Wiping his mouth, Naiche retied his
water carrier and slowly raised his big, Sharps hunting
rifle over his head and tilted its shiny steel trigger guard and breech
back and forth against the sun, answering them. Attack!
in the wash, the warriors caught the flashes from the mountain and
clambered atop their Mexican mustangs. Inday-Yi-Yahn ("He
Kills Enemies") adjusted his saddle made from two rolls of
rawhide stuffed with grass and tied to his horse's back, while Dahkeya
notched a cane arrow onto his mulberry recurved
bow, straightened his deerskin wrist guard and tested the tension of his
These short, tough men, few of them over 5'8" besides their leader, had
the smooth faces, small chins and strong jaws of Chiricahuas, to match
their smaller feet and hands common to Apaches. Narrow white stripes
slashed across each cheekbone under their hard eyes, indicated the
Chiricahuas were quite ready for war.
watched his companions ready themselves as he fingered the buckskin
thongs braided into his war charm necklace, which he'd strapped
over his right shoulder and under his left arm. Eagle feathers fluttered
from this ceremonial strap, fragments of obsidian, pieces of turquoise
and coral beans were sewn into it, too. Ussen, the sacred God of
all Apaches, would protect them.
took a deep breath, exhaled the clean desert air slowly, pulled his
stolen black derby tighter down over his long hair and nodded to
the others. Yanking their hackamores braided from horsetails,
the warriors jerked their horses' heads around and kicked them up, up the
steep dirt embankment of the ravine.
An adapted screenplay of The Sergeant's Lady is available from
Hoodwinks Productions in Los Angeles (310-578-5404) or