The Documents

Apache Interviews and Correspondence (1871-1930)

The history of the Camp Grant Massacre does not end in 1871.  Although the perpetrators of the attack sought to exterminate the Apache and displace them from Aravaipa Canyon, neither of these eventualities came to pass.  There remain two large Apache reservations in Arizona today: the 1.67 million-acre White Mountain Apache Reservation and the 1.8 million-acre San Carlos Apache Reservation.  Moreover, beginning in the late 1870s, a number of survivors of the Camp Grant Massacre began to drift back to Aravaipa Canyon, where they established farms and campsites.  Other Apaches visited the canyon from time to time over the years to see friends or to gather wild plants for food and medicine.

Two of the leaders of this movement back to Aravaipa were the Apache chiefs who had arranged the initial truce between their bands and Lt. Whitman in 1871: Eskiminzin and Captain Chiquito.  Indeed, Captain Chiquito, who would claim in a letter to federal authorities that he “was born upon this land” in Aravaipa, would die at his farmstead in the canyon in 1919.

This section makes available several documents related to post-massacre Apache efforts to establish secure homes for themselves in Arizona.  The first is a short interview with several Apache leaders (including Eskiminzin and Captain Chiquito) in September, 1871, just a few months after the attack in Aravaipa Canyon. 

The second is an exchange of letters produced by reservation officials after Captain Chiquito’s death that attempted to document the chief’s family relationships and his use of land in Aravaipa Canyon.  Although focused principally on Captain Chiquito, the letters touch upon the presence of Eskiminzin’s former homestead as well as other Apache farms near Aravaipa Canyon.

The final set of documents is a collection of statements residents of the San Carlos Apache Reservation insisted be written down and sent to the Office of Indian Affairs in 1930.  While these statements make only a few allusions to Camp Grant, they reveal how the Apache had come to think of the reservation at San Carlos as a homeland that needed to be protected from outside intrusion.