Saturday, March 16 – I did the shopping & played tourist in Wickenburg. The surprise of the day was that Dave made it all the way to Surprise, suburban Phoenix. Another day that I didn’t see him till our meeting in front of Lowe’s in a massive shopping center area. The best part of this ride’s end is that it put us close enough to my kindergarten friend’s home to make that the overnight destination. More about our visit/reunion in the next post. We are actually still there!
I was happy to wander around Wickenburg a bit & enjoyed the Desert Caballeros Western Museum. It was a neat combination of westen art galleries and local history.
The discovery of gold in the area lead to an influx of settlers and a violent chapter in the town’s history. The kind of story we did not learn in history class when we were kids. Then it was all about settling the wild west and conquering the bad Indians who preyed on the pioneers. We were truly raised on revisionist history. Accuracy disclaimer: The following historical information is from Wikipedia, so it may not be entirely correct. But it’s definitely the easiest place to go for instant condensed information.
As the number of settlers grew, conflicts developed between Yavapai Indian tribal bands who rejected the treaty signed by their paramount chiefs, and American nationals who had settled on the frontier. With the outbreak of secession most of the United States Army units defending the American communities were directed elsewhere, thereby leaving the American communities vulnerable to attacks.
Yavapai hostile bands were quick to exploit this vulnerability and warriors led a large-scale surprise attack upon American families. By 1869 approximately 1000 Yavapai Indians and 400 settlers had died and thousands of American and Yavapai families were made into refugees. Eventually, local American militia stopped the elimination of Americans from the area but were unable to fully stop the attacks. With the arrival of full-time soldiers of the US Army, the combined militia and Army forces were able to cordon off the Yavapai onto their reservation and saved the remaining American settlers.
However, Yavapai recalcitrants remained for years and raids on stage-coaches, isolated farm houses, and periodic raids on American villages kept the area in a constant state of tension. Finally, following several murders of Yavapai chiefs allied with America by insurgent Yavapai warriors, hostile warrior tribal leaders mobilized the entire Yavapai warrior band into a massive assault on the primary American settlement of Wickenburg and massacred or drove out much of the American populace.
In 1872, in response to the assassination of friendly Yavapai chiefs, the take-over of the entire Yavapai nation and its reservation by hostile elements, and with most of the American area under continual penetrating raids by Yavapai warrior bands, General George Crook began an all-out campaign against the Yavapai, with the aim of forcing the insurgent Yavapai warrior bands into a decisive battle and the removal of Yavapai settlers from American territory. After several months of forced marches, feints, and pitched skirmishes by combined Arizona territorial militia and US Army Cavalry, Crook forced the Yavapai bands into a single decisive battle. In December 1872, the Battle of Salt River Canyon in the Superstition Mountainsdecisively routed the Yavapai, and within a year most Yavapai resistance was crushed.
Having broken their treaty with America several times, with most of the friendly and allied chiefs killed by insurgent Yavapais, who also killed Americans, Crook was authorized to enter into new negotiations with the aim of reducing the size of the Yavapai reservation and removing it to an area more readily cordoned off from American communities and their communication lines. The surviving Yavapai warrior leaders grudgingly accepted the treaty which left the nation in far worse conditions than previously. They were compelled to surrender their firearms, move to the Fort Verde Reservation, accept a permanent Army garrison on their territory, accept direct administration by American Bureau of Indian Affairs agents and commissioners, have trade firmly placed in the hands of American government agents, and be regulated by an Indian Police force picked and trained by the US Army and later Arizona Territorial officers. After only two years on the Rio Verde Reservation, however, local officials grew concerned about the Yavapais’ continued hostility, success, and self-sufficiency, so they persuaded the federal government to close their reservation and move all the Yavapai to the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.