by Jack A. Becker

       As part of President Grant's "Peace Initiative" General Oliver Otis Howard was sent to the Southwest in the spring of 1872.  His instructions were to collect all roving bands of Apaches and place them on Reservations.  The Indians would be settled on their own lands, given protection from Anglos, fed, clothed and encouraged to make a living through agriculture and stock raising.
        Howard, a deeply religious man, who had lost an arm during the Civil War was known as the "Christian General" and was sent to finish the job his predecessor, Vincent Colyer, was unable to complete.
        Howard visited Camp Apache in May and left the first week in June for Washington taking with him eight Indian chiefs.  They included Santos of the Aravaipa Apaches, two Yavapai Chiefs, a Pima Chief and three White Mountain Chiefs, Es-Ca-Del Sila Head Chief, and Pedro and Miguel, Sub-Chiefs. Conception who was a Mexican captive was interpreter.
        Pedro was reluctant to go to Washington but told General Howard, "There's a white man who lives among them who has an incurable disease," he told him that he should go, (C.E. Cooley -Gold Fever).  Interpreters and soldiers made 26 in all.  They had two army wagons and one spring wagon, and rode horses or mules.
       After arriving in Santa Fe they took a four horse stagecoach to Pueblo, Colorado where a train would take them back East.  When they reached Pueblo, the Indians sat on the railroad tracks where Pedro began fingering the crossties with his hands.  They had never seen a train before, so when Howard told them to get on board they didn't know what to make of it.  Finally when they climbed on board and the train began to move they became fearful and hid on the floor covering their faces with their hands.  The general reassured them and soon they were sitting upright and looking out the windows.
        Howard noticed how intently the Apaches counted the mountains as the train went on.  Miguel finally told him that he could no longer count the mountains so he would have to rely on the general to find the way back home.
        In the East the two most popular attractions at this time were Niagara Falls, New York and the Eastern State Prison at Philadelphia.  Built by the Quakers in the 1830's, this colossal fortress had 450 cells, where all inmates had to do their time in solitary confinement with only a bible to read, never speaking to anyone.  Here the Apaches were subdued not believing people should be locked in cages.  This was the worst form of punishment.  Miguel told Howard that he had spent a year in jail at Santa Fe for a crime he had not committed.
        In New York the Indians saw tall buildings, Central Park and the shipyards.  Miguel who had lost an eye years ago saw a specialist who inserted a glass eye into the socket.  When he returned the Indians were amazed at this glass eye.  The doctor told Miguel to take it out and wash it once in a while, but Miguel said no to taking his eye out and washing it.  He said, whoever heard of a man taking out his eye?  It was difficult to tell which was which, he was very proud of this "eye."
        The Indians arrived in Washington June 20, 1872.  Here they talked to President Grant, but they were more impressed when they visited a school for deaf mutes.  The Indians used their sign language on the students using animals like dogs, bears or horses.
        Howard took them to a Presbyterian church in New York where Pedro spoke to the congregation through an interpreter.  "You have schools, churches, places where clothes are made, houses filled with wealth; you have wagons, horses, (railroad) cars and more then I can speak of.  We have nothing.  We are very poor.  I have been thinking hard.  We had long ago all the land.  The Indians were once as one man.  Now they are divided and the white man has all the land and all things.  Now, I am going to be a white man.  I will wear the white man's clothes, and eat the white mans food, and I want my children to go to school and learn to be white men."  The congregation gave Pedro a standing ovation.
        The Indians left Washington July 10, and returned to Santa Fe on the first of August.  From there they went to Fort Wingate (near Gallup, New Mexico) where Howard held a Peace Council between some Navajo Chiefs and Apache Chiefs on August 4th .
        When they returned to Camp Apache the chiefs told their people about tunnels through mountains, of bridges over wide rivers and telegraph lines along the way but, of course, no one believed them.  They were very curious however and excited about Miguel's glass eye and the army uniform given to Pedro by President Grant.  Howard left Camp Apache for Fort Tularosa, New Mexico on August 30, 1872.  "The second day out they met a man named Milligan and quartered at his ranch which was the only dwelling between Camp Apache and Fort Tularosa" some 70 miles southeast of Round Valley.  Milligan corroborated what Howard and his capable aide, Lieutenant Sladen, had heard there stating; Tom Jeffords was the only white man who could talk to Cochise.
       On September 4th while approaching Tularosa, Fred Hughes, the interpreter from Tularosa, met the party.  It also may have included Conception, a Mexican captive raised by Aravapai Apaches and George Stevens who accompanied General Howard.  Stevens was married to Francesca, a daughter of Es-Ca-Del Sila, Chief of the "Sierra Blanca" or White Mountain Apaches.

See Howard, Oliver Otis, "Famous Indian Chiefs I have known," New York, 1907. "My life and experience among our hostile Indians." Hartford, 1907.
Click here to read "Report of a Peace Council Between Navajo and Apache Indians", Fort Wingate, New Mexico, August 4, 1872 Roll 559, Microcopy No. 234