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1879 MESCALERO APACHE AGENCY RECORD OF RATION ISSUES TO APACHE INDIANS – ROSTER INCLUDES FAMOUS APACHE WAR LEADER “NANA” (BROKEN FOOT) -  HAND WRITTEN RECORD OF SUBSISTENCE ISSUES WITH LIST OF APACHES RECEIVING AND THEIR SIGNATURES OR MARKS – A RARE HISTORICAL RECORD OF THE PEOPLE PRESENT ON THE AGENCY DURING THE APACHE WARS AND THE AGENCY SYSTEM:  This very historical document records the issue of rations to the Apache people present on April 30, 1879 at the Mescalero Apache Agency in New Mexico Territory.  In addition to being a rare offering of an early Apache Agency ration issue return, the first recipient’s name entered in handwritten script on this particular document is the famous Apache leader, Nana, or “Broken Foot”.   

The Mescalero Apache Agency was established in 1873 by President Grant, headquartered at Ft. Stanton located in Lincoln County, New Mexico Territory.  The agency headquarters was moved in 1883 to Blazer’s Mill, which is now known as Mescalero, NM, in Otero County, and where the tribal center exists today.   

This return records Nana in residence on the Mescalero Agency in the spring of 1879.  While the entries of issues of bacon, beans, beef, tobacco and other commodities appear routine, four short months later Nana and his people would break out of the agency to join Victorio and embark on one of the most violent chapters in the history of the New Mexico Territory, and the neighboring regions of Arizona and northern Mexico.   

“Broken Foot” (ca. 1800 – May 19, 1896), also commonly known during the period by his Mexican-Spanish name “Nana”, was a respected Apache warrior and leader.  While his tribal affiliation appears unclear, he is reported to have been born in Mimbres Country in present southern New Mexico.  Married more than once, one of his wives was Nah-dos-te, a Bedonkohe Apache and full sister of Geronimo.  The moniker “Broken Foot” referred to a lame left foot, caused by rheumatism, however according to the historical record, the foot did little to impede his prowess in battle.  Captain John G. Bourke described Nana as having "a strong face marked with intelligence, courage and good nature, but with an under stratum of cruelty and vindictiveness", and it was reported Nana wore gold watch chains in each ear lobe, presumably taken from dead victims.  

nana

Nana’s personal history is lengthy and his exploits are far too extensive to be recounted here.  However, the location where, and the date on which, this document was executed, and that it bears his name and his mark, places him on the threshold of one of his most notable exploits in his continuing bitter conflict with those who sought to conquer Apacheria.      

Nana appears in the history of the Apache Wars fighting alongside many of the principal, and most famous leaders of the tribe such as Mangas Coloradas and Victorio, serving the latter as one his most trusted lieutenants.  Victorio had ascended to the leadership of the Chihenne-Bedonkohe band.  The Chihenne were otherwise known as the “Warm Springs” Apaches, referring to Ojo Caliente, a natural hot spring located in the heart of their ancestral homeland some 250 miles southwest of Santa Fe.  From what I have been able to piece together from a very fractured historical record, Victorio had surrendered his band in 1877 with the understanding they would be located at the Ojo Caliente Agency, but instead they were sent to the San Carlos Agency in southeastern Arizona Territory.   

San Carlos was, and would be continue to be, one of the worst solutions the U.S. Government ever applied to the “Indian Problem”, combining the perfect storm of inhospitable climate and barren land with an abject misunderstanding of the Apache culture and inter-tribal alliances when they forced the internment of different bands of Apaches who were historic enemies onto the same land.  That various bands of Apaches would repeatedly flee San Carlos in search of a better home - if only temporarily until they were again forcibly returned - was a surprise only to those who had no appreciation or understanding of the situation.   

In August of 1879, Victorio led approximately 200 men, women and children out of San Carlos, destined for Ojo Caliente.  Nearing Ojo Caliente, Victorio’s column encountered a patrol of 9TH Cavalry soldiers under the command of Capt. Ambrose Hooker on September 4TH, and in the ensuing fight, at least five of the solders were killed and a large quantity of horses and mules were captured by the Apaches.  Victorio’s triumph was enough to trigger a widespread flight from the agencies across Apacheria, to include Nana leading his band out of the Mescalero Agency to join Victorio.  The combined force raided down through New Mexico and Arizona Territories, and finally into Mexico where in 1880, at Cerro Tres Castillos, Victorio’s band was surrounded by Mexican Army forces.  Victorio was killed and a number of women and children were captured and subsequently sold into slavery in Mexico, but Nana and a small band of warriors who had been on a scouting mission escaped.   

Nana was able to recruit additional followers from the ready supply of dissatisfied Apaches living on the agencies and during of the following months effectively conducted one of the more legendary Apache campaigns - what would come to be well known as “Nana’s Raid” – and mind you, at the ripe old age of 80.  Targeting army supply columns and isolated ranches, his band is reported to have killed as many as 80 US and Mexican citizens, captured in excess of 200 horses, and covered more than 1,000 miles of rugged country while evading a considerable military force sent into the field to capture him.  Following the Cibecue Creek Massacre in August of 1881, Nana joined forces with Geronimo.   

Lt. Charles B. Gatewood, famous for his later pursuit of Geronimo, made this interesting observation of the raid published in The Great Divide in April of 1894:

     “From 1879 to 1881, New Mexico, northern Mexico, and a part of Arizona were     literally terrorized by Apaches whose chief was supposed to be Victorio.  The real     plotters of this mischief were Nana, Tomacito and Turrivio.  Victorio was a palsied,     aged, and decrepit chief, who was barely able to accompany the squaws and children    in their forays and who was finally surprised and killed by the Mexicans in 1881[sic]   along with many of the women and children of his tribe.  Tomacito and Turrivio were   killed in 1879, leaving Nana as the only surviving leader of ability among the Warm     Springs.” 

Nana finally surrendered to Gen. Crook in March of 1886, and like so many of the Apaches who had been at war with the United States, he was sent into exile at Ft. Marion, Florida.  With many of his fellow Apaches, he was returned west as far as Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in 1894, died there of natural causes in 1896, and is buried in the Beef Creek Apache Cemetery on the post.   

This return is the standard format of so many government records of the time.  It is printed so it can be folded for filing in a record “shoe”, the wooden boxes used to store documents prior to the days of filing cabinets.  Folded, it measures 9 ½” long and 3 ½” wide, and is printed with the title and various identifying record entries.  Once unfolded, it measures 19 ¾” long and 9 ½” wide, with the ledger entries and names all on one side.  The document is solid with no tears or broken folds, and with only very minor pin holes at some of the fold corners.   

While the names of the Apaches receiving the rations were written in by the agent or his clerk, each recipient made their “mark” – in all cases, an “X” – next to their name, signifying he or she had received the rations as described.  In fact, each of these Apaches handled this document in the course of the issue, rendering it a very significant identified artifact of the Apache Wars.   

Also listed on this return is Tomacito, another Apache leader of lesser renown, but apparently significant enough in his leadership skills and accomplishments to have been described by Lt. Gatewood in his article quoted above as “one of the chief plotters of this mischief”, referring to Nana’s Raid.  

The Mescalero Agency agent, Samuel A. Russell, had served as the agent at the Abiquiu Agency in northern New Mexico from 1874 through September 1, 1878.  A 62 year old native of Des Moines, Iowa, he began actively seeking an appointment to the Indian Commissioner’s office in Washington D.C. when he was offered the agent’s position at the Mescalero Agency.  He accepted the offer in November of 1878, however he did not arrive at his new posting until March 15, 1879.  His tenure was short, having reached a point of frustration and exhaustion, he tenured his resignation on December 27, 1880.  Although his time at Mescalero was short, it is worthy of note that he was the only agent to serve in that post since 1871 who departed without any accusations of fraud being leveled against him – quite an accomplishment in and of itself during that era. 

Russell’s signature appears on this return, and based on other examples of his writing from the same period that I have been able to locate, I believe he completed all of the entries on this form in his own hand, save for the signatures of the other agency employees and the “X” marks made by the Apaches.   

The return bears the signature of Jose Carrillo, the agency interpreter, certifying he had explained the nature and scope of the ration issue provided to the Apaches listed.  The recorded issues of rations is certified by the signatures of two witnesses, David O. Maxwell, a twenty year old Iowan native who was employed at the Mescalero Agency as a teamster, and Charles N. Russell, the agent’s twenty-one year old son who had accompanied the senior Russell when he reported to the agency.  

Although not mentioned in this particular document, it is an interesting historical side bar that the beef being sold to the agency was provided by many of the principals in the  “Lincoln County Wars” such as Chism, McSween, Tunstall and Dolan.  Cattle rustling and horse theft were a significant concern to the agents and Apache inhabitants alike at Mescalero, and there is little doubt that William Bonney, Pat Garrett and the other infamous characters of Lincoln County were regular “visitors” to the agency.  

A rare document in its own right which reflects the issue of rations on a 19TH Century reservation, this particular ledger could well be the only government document in private hands which bears the marks or signatures of two hostile Apache leaders of such historical significance and note.  This original document, dated during the height of the Apache Wars, is a valuable reference and a significant record of some of the participants in a well documented incident in the history of the New Mexico Territory.  (0206)  $2500

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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