1873: AFFAIRS AT THE VERDE INDIAN RESERVATION, July 26.

STATE OF AFFAIRS AT THE VERDE INDIAN RESERVATION

"To the Editor of the Arizona Miner:"

"The public who pays the taxes by which our Government is supported, have a right to examine into and criticize the conduct of Government officials in all branches of service. ... Probably no one department of Government has received more general and searching scrutiny and censure than the Indian Bureau. ... At this time there is a general feeling of distrust and dislike of the Verde reservation, under the charge of Dr. J. Williams, which is the most important, in many respects, of any of the reservations for hostile Indians in this Territory, having within its limits the remnants of three tribes of Indians, viz.: the Apache-Mohaves, Apache-Yumas and the Apaches generally known as Tontos."

"On the 1st day of April there were 48 Apache-Mohaves on the reservation, who had surrendered as prisoners of war. On the 1st of May there were upon the reservation over 1,100 Indians under the care of the Indian Department. Dr. Williams took charge of the reservation April 28. He had previously for some months had charge of the Indians at Camp Date Creek, which resevation was abandoned and the Indians removed to the Verde. It is claimed by the military and citizen residents on the Verde, that before the Dr. took charge there, the Indians were disposed to be quiet and tractable, willing to be counted every day, and receiving their full rations daily. Dr. Williams began issuing rations every third day, and after two or three weeks extended the time to six days, and since about the middle of June has been issuing rations only once in seven days."

"Previous to April 28, while the Indians were under the immediate supervision of Superintendent Bendell, the Indians got 1 1/2 pounds of beef and 1 1/4 pounds of breadstuff, either flour or its equivalent in corn each day, the rations being delivered to the head of each family or to single Indians in person; and great care was used in giving passes to Indians, not more that two or three being allowed to leave the reservation to hunt at one time, and then only for two or three days, and no rations were issued to them until their return."

"On the arrival of the Apache-Mohaves from Date Creek the effect of Dr. Williams' style of treatment of them was soon made manifest. The Apache-Mohaves would not be counted and the others soon refused too. Instead of coming out and forming in line for the enumeration, as before, they have since been allowed to account for the number supposed to be on the reservation through their captains. Instead of coming in person to receive rations, which common sense would seem to indicate as the only sure way to keep control of them, the Indians are not requied to appear. Every seven days Masole, Hatostel, Pecula, Pehbay, Ocho-calma and other chiefs will come up and draw such rations as may be given them for the number of Indians they claim to represent. Passes have frequently been given to as many as 20 Indians for adsence of ten or fifteen days, and there are many who go as they please, without regard for permits, are under scarcely any control or discipline, and would leave the reservation in large numbers if not for fear of Crook's troops. Indeed, it would not be surprising if they should do so, if the statements made by the Indians themselves and men who have been employed on the reservation are correct. The former complain and the latter substantiate the statement, that the Indians do not get the supplies that were promised them when they came upon the reserve."

"The ration allowed them by the Government for each adult Indian is 1 1/2 lbs. of beef and 1 1/4 lbs. breadstuff per day, 10 lbs. of sugar and 10 lbs. of coffee to each 100 rations, with rice, soap, etc. Since Dr. Williams has been feeding them the Indians say they do not get as much flour and beef for their seven day's ration as they used to get in three days; that he gives them neither coffee nor sugar. And Chas. Ebner, who was butcher on the reservation, says he will make an affidavit that such are the facts; that the issue has frequently been as low as two-thirds of a pound of beef and three-fourths of a pound of flour, for a ration."

"Shulzer or Charlie Pan, an Apache chief, told Dr. Williams, plainly, that the Indians did not get their rights, and had no inducement to stay on the reservation; that to get enough to eat they were forced to go into the mountains to hunt and get mescal, and they would go and not come back only for fear the soldiers would kill them."

"Williams seems to have no energy, no decision of character, and the Indians neither fear, love nor respect him, but believe that he is crazy, and were it not for that fact would have killed him before now. Many of the employees at the reservation and the officers and employees at Camp Verde, do not consider him entirely sane, and do not hesitate to say that they believe him unsuitable and unfit for the position he holds."

"A gentleman who has visited the other reservations of Arizona this year, recently stated to the writer that there were no Indians on any reservation in the Territory who were better disposed, two months ago, to go to work, than those on the Verde, and that to-day none were in a more demoralized and insubordinate condition."

"The Indians on the Verde have never been disarmed and carry their weapons constantly with them on and off the reserve, and are daily growing more insolent and haughty; have threatened employees at various times with guns in hand, and settlers on the Verde and between there and Prescott are in a state of constant alarm." ...

"Seed for planting was issued to the Indians at Verde sometime ago --- corn, beans, squash and pumpkin seeds --- nearly all of which the wretches boiled and ate. Dr. Williams has plows and other farming implements, and he cultivates a small garden for raising stuff for the use of his own table and the agency employees, but although there is a good deal of land on the reservation that will raise good crops, even without irrigation, he has not required nor assisted his wards to cultivate it. A ditch might have easily been completed and in use that would carry water to irrigate 1,000 acres, if he had set the Indians at work, but the ditch is not begun."

"Williams has a 'head farmer' at the agency named Vincent, who is also post trader, and Dr. Williams' chief counselor. This head farmer is no more efficient than the Dr. himself, and the consequence is that everything runs at loose ends."

"The rules of the Indian Department allow the hire of laborers and mechanics at the usual rate of wages in the country, and rations; but men who have worked at this agency complain that Dr. Williams is not willing to pay customary wages, and will not issue to them the ration allowed, and several, after trial, have quit his service in disgust, and also in fear."

"Information has just reached Prescott that, the first of this week, Lt. Schuyler, with the chief clerk of the agency and the interpreter, started to go through the camps and count the Indians, who, on being requested to show the metallic checks (which were furnished to each Indian, each check having a number on it) the Indians threw the checks at the counting party and behaved in such a manner that the party, being rather weak, became alarmed and did not finish the count, but returned to the agency."

"The state of affairs on the Verde, if these statements are true, deserve the careful attention of every citizen of Yavapai county; and Chas. Eber, Geo. Wilson, A. G. Buttner and others are willing to make affidavit to these and other facts showing the incompetency and gross mismanagement of Dr. Williams."

"The writer has no acquaintance with the Dr. and of course no feeling of any kind towards him personally, but is satisfied that the many similar statements concerning the treatment of the Indians under his care must rest on a strong foundation, and justify the belief that there is no guarantee that the Indians will remain on the reservation a single day without a radical change in their treatment, a change not likely to be made while the Dr. is in charge."

(The Weelky Arizona Miner; Prescott; July 26, 1873; page 2, columns 4-5.)

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