Antonio, Apache and/or Pima Chief

In the Carlisle School records in Pennsylvania, the Apache Chief, Antonio is listed as having visited the school.  School records don’t say when this happened.

The Apache was one of the last tribes to be subdued.  They maintained Native ways long after most of the more Eastern tribes had resigned themselves to the inevitable.  This also meant that the Apache and other southwest tribes were much less familiar with white men’s ways and certainly unfamiliar with their cities.

In 1871, a document titled “Resources of Arizona Territory with a Description of the Indian Tribes; Ancient Ruins, Cochise, Apache Chief; Antonio, Pima Chief; Stage and Wagon Roads; Trade and Commerce, Etc.” was published by the authority of the Legislature.

Most of what little is available about Antonio is found within this and the following document.  However, in both documents, the Antonio recorded as an Indian chief is Pima, not Apache.  I wonder if this Antonio, or his son, is indeed the same man as visited the Carlisle School.  To people in Pennsylvania, there would be little difference between the Pima and Apache, and the word Apache was much better known than Pima.  If the Pima Chief, Antonio, is not the same man as the Apache Chief, Antonio, then I can find no existent records of Antonio, the Apache Chief.  Ironically, the Pima and the Apache were close neighbors but long sworn enemies.

“A few years ago the [Pima] head chief, Antonio, was induced to visit Washington and our great eastern cities.  He was much beloved and confided in the tribe and the many months he was absent left a void in their midst.  Sometimes unpleasant rumors were put in circulation that he was dead, and when the time approached that he was soon expected, the days and hours were counted with anxious solicitude.  Finally, the glad news came that Antonio was coming, and but a few miles away, and large numbers hurried forth to welcome him home again, and there was joy throughout the tribe.  After the excitement of meeting was over, the tribe gathered round to listen to his recital of the wonders he had seen.  He told them of the immense oceans and rivers; of untold thousands of ships sailing for months between given points at rapid speed; of the iron horse fed on wood and water; of the immense loads he drew; and how he fairly flew over mountains and valleys and never tired; of curious machines by which men instantly talked together though thousands of miles apart; of the immense towns and cities he had passed through, and of the countless thousands of men under arms (it was during our Rebellion) he had seen at one time.  They listened in silence, until he had finished and then waited for him to tell them that he was merely relating a fancy story – the creation of his own imagination; but Antonio remained serious, and when given an opportunity to regain his reputation for veracity, he firmly declared and insisted that every word he had said was true.  Then the truth began to flash upon the Pima mind that by long contract with the whites, the tongue of their beloved chief had become forked and he was no longer to be believed.  It was a sad day to the poor Pimas, and an unfortunate day for Antonio.  He is still their chief, but has never regained their entire confidence, though he studiously avoids relating any more of the marvelous things he saw during his travels.”

From the website, The Baldwin Project, Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known, by Oliver Otis Howard, we find some additional information about Antonio, excerpted below.  It appears, based on the record above, and the Carlisle records, that there may have been two generations of Antonios and/or the names Antonio and Antonito have been intermixed.  One thing we do know is that the Carlisle Indian school was not open during the Civil War, so Antonio could not have visited it at that time.  The Carlisle visitor may have been his son Antonio/Antonito.

“When Ursuth grew too old to lead the warriors, Antonio took his place and became the war chief. Soon afterward there came a year when there was no food in all the Gila Valley, so the Pimas took their wives with them to the San Pedro River. Here they made a camp for the women, and the men mounted the few Indian ponies and rode off in search of food. When they returned the camp and all the women were gone, for the wild Apaches had stolen in and taken everything. This was a fearful return, but Antonio lost no time; he and his warriors did not rest till they had overtaken the robbers in the Sierra Mountains. Here they had a terrible battle, but the Pimas won, and rescued the women who had been taken captive.

Later the government built a fort near where the Pima Indians lived, and sent General Alexander to take care of it.

After a while, in the year 1868, this officer was obliged to make war upon some Apaches, for they were stealing cattle and horses from the Pimas and white people. A hundred Pima Indians went with General Alexander and helped him make many charges over hills, rocks, and streams. Their wild ways and brilliant dresses delighted him during his great march into the mountains.

The Pimas are proud of the fact that they have never killed a white man. They hate the Apaches and make war against them, but have always been the white man’s friend.

General Alexander and his wife were great friends of these Indians, but were sorry to see that they believed in many foolish things; Antonio as well as all the rest. They tried to cure sick people by rapping on rude drums or shaking rattles day and night beside them. Some of the chief men of the tribe taught the warriors to get drunk at their feasts, and to play games which made it possible for a few Indians to gain all the property of the tribe. They also performed rituals which the white men perceived as silly in time of famine, to bring food.  Three years later, a German missionary arrived to convert and educate the Indians.  He began by learning the Indian language using the services of an Indian interpreter, Louis.

Louis, Pima interpreter

Ursuth, very old, was still living when I first visited the Pimas. Antonio never learned to speak English, but learned something new every day, for Mr. Cook, the German missionary, taught the children and they told him.

When I first saw him, the chief, Antonio, was a lame old man, of medium height, with a bright, intelligent face; his black hair, a little mixed with gray, hung in two short braids down his back. His forehead was clear and high, and his dark eyes, always gazing straight at you, were steady and searching. With him was his son, Antonito, about twenty-five years old. He was stouter than his father, and kept his eyes always on the ground until we were better acquainted, when he would look into my face.

We met in the office of the Indian agent, Mr. Stout; and Mr. Cook was there with Louis to help as interpreter. Mr. Cook told Antonio who I was. He said he would like to show me his house, so we walked three or four hundred steps to Antonio’s house. It was like a big beehive outside, of rounded form and twenty or thirty feet across. The roof seemed to be made of hard clay such as is called by the Spanish word adobe. One side was square, and a door about four feet high and three feet across opened into it. As we entered after Antonio we stepped down two feet to the floor of hard sand and clay. On one side blankets were rolled up and placed against the wall. Saddles, guns, and belts hung opposite, and between were benches and some two or three Indian dogs. The Pimas have always lived in villages and built this kind of house, not as do other Indians, who live in tents. We talked a while but did not stay, for without any window or chimney the smell and smoke were too much for a white man to stand very long.

After our first talk Antonio opened his heart to me. He told me that wicked men had led his young people away and taught them bad ways. He said his people had been on the war-path in the past, but that they loved best to cultivate the land, raise fruits, and be at peace. “Some of our young men,” he said, “now want to fight these bad white men who steal our water.

Some time after this, a hundred miles west of Antonio’s village, I gathered part of five tribes of Apaches, two tribes of the Pueblos (those Indians who live in houses), many Mexicans, white citizens, and some American soldiers. This was to be a great peace meeting, and I wanted Antonio, who was my friend, to come and tell the other Indians about me. But he was too old and lame, so Mr. Cook and Louis (the interpreter) came, and Antonio, the chief of the Pimas, sent his son, Antonito, to the council in his place. He said his son would soon have to speak everywhere for the tribe and “might as well begin now.”

At the end of the council the old enemies, Apaches and Pimas, embraced each other, while tears of joy ran down their cheeks. One strong active warrior said to Louis: “Look on the man you killed in battle many suns ago.” It was indeed an Indian Louis had left for dead on the battle-field, and seeing him, he was greatly frightened, for he was very superstitious. But when he realized that this man was quite alive they embraced each other in promise of future good fellowship.

Later Antonito went with me to New York and Washington with a party of ten Arizona Indians, and the new and startling experiences did much to bind them forever to the interest of this great peace.

I made a second trip to Arizona later and on my way north visited the old Chief Antonio. Mr. Cook and Louis with Antonito had returned safely from the East, and Antonio never tired of hearing about the marvels they had seen and heard.”

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in Apache, Pima. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Antonio, Apache and/or Pima Chief

  1. revisatsimplylokal says:

    Very interesting, Roberta! Thanks!

  2. Very interesting, Roberta! Thanks for sharing. – Revis

  3. Steven Barnes says:

    Discovered this blog post looking for information on Antonio Apache. See this issue of the Carlisle school newspaper which relates on p. 4 some information about an Antonio Apache who visited the school from Chicago.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.