Soldiers, Indians, and Schools


IT was a hot sweltering desert-day in July when I proceeded westward from Oraibi to survey for the first time the contentious pueblo of Hotevilla, Chief Youkeoma’s retreat. I did not expect to meet this strange personality, but his very name caused me to have an interest in so rare a character: You-keo-ma, or ‘something quite nearly complete’ — as one might say, ‘almost perfection.’ An American Dalai Lama.

These Hotevilla cliffs have little of dignity; they picture chaos, as it was left by the rending and scarring of some violent earthquake in the ages gone. The pueblo itself was on the westernmost edge of the mesa. There, where the rocks dropped away again in huge broken steps, overlooking the vast Dennebito Wash country, the Hopi built their curious little houses of stone and mud. If not balanced on the edge of a precipice, apparently they are not happy. Fatalists — when the aged or blind plunge over it is regretted, but not grieved about sufficiently to disparage the site. Alcoves of the mesa benches were fenced with cottonwood boughs, and served as hanging balconies for burro stock. They had no cattle, few sheep, and fewer horses; but in those things that do not run counter to the tradit ions, such as corn meal and burros, they had great wealth.

There was one man with me, and he advised against going into the village. Indeed, I was not inclined to insist on it, for coincident with our topping the last, rise the roofs of the highest houses had been posted with guards, watching, watching us in an ominous manner — a custom that has prevailed for many years, and one that causes the stranger to feel a trifle less than comfortable.

‘Very likely they feel that we slipped up on them,’ I said to my companion.

‘Not at all,’ he replied. ‘They have been expecting you for days. They knew when you arrived at Oraibi yesterday. Be sure of it, old Youkeoma has gone underground and will remain in hiding until the coast is clear. Those watching fellows simply want to know where you go and when you depart. If we sought to take off a kid or two to school there’d be a fine row. They know we have no backing. I ‘ll bet they knew when you left the Agency and started out this way.’

All of which proved to be true.

We sat on a baking sand-hill and surveyed the place. It was simply a dirtier duplicate of the other pueblos. And if there is a place in America where aroma reaches its highest magnitude, then that distinction must be granted Hotevilla on a July afternoon. The sun broils down on the heated sand and rock ledges, on the fetid houses and the litter and the garbage, and all that accumulates from unclean people and their animals. Multitudes of burros and chickens and dogs. Hosts of dogs. Lank, slinking, half-starved, challenging dogs. Poisonous-looking dogs that would attack one.

The smell of cooking arose from the houses, a muttony odor — although it may have been burro-haunch — mingled with smoke and the thick incense of smouldering cedar. In and out of the doorways the women passed at their tasks, and one sat weaving a reed plaque. They were all indifferent, with a contemptuous sullen indifference, to the stranger. There was a perfect swarm of children, wary, watching children, ready to dart and hide, long-haired and dirty, and most of them as nude as Adam.

When it grew near to sunset the men began returning from the fields, plodding in with their sacks and staves and huge planters’ hoes. Many of them were aged, their long hair matted and snakylooking; but there were enough of the burly thickset fellows to give any official pause if he contemplated dictating to that outfit. Especially would an official pause in dictation at the time of which I speak, for the Hopi had defied two former superintendents and for several years had done exactly as they pleased, in utter disregard of all admonitions emanating by mail from Washington. Of course official Washington had not worried, and for the rest of the world the Hopi do not exist; but the example to about fifteen hundred other and disciplined Hopi and to several thousand unregulated and undisciplined Navajo, all in constant touch with these rebels, was not good. The Agents reaped the effect of this timid policy, and it had given them concern.

The Hopi had so acted at other times, and the methods adopted to correct them had not been of the happiest. Officials had threatened and, when the native did not stir, had offered bribes.

‘Your bones will bleach in the sun!’ one set had promised — to be followed by: ‘Won’t you come in and be good, for a nice new contract-stove?’ Now the bleaching process had affected only those so unfortunate as to die naturally, and the Hotevilla people were content with their piki stones and adobe fireplaces. The Indian does not respect those who seek to buy him. When a threat proves as empty as it is boastful, he is strengthened in no small degree. Washington has been much given to bluffing and buying.

The Indian Service had not greatly concerned itself about these strange people until 1887. Between 1847, when the Hopi were acquired as one of the blessings of the Mexican War, and 1887, when the first school was planted in Kearns Canon, — forty years, — they had lived practically as undisturbed as since their coming from the cliff and cavern dwellings in the northern canons of the Utah border.

In 1890 the defiance of the Oraibi first caused notice. Old Lo-lo-lo-mi, their good chief, had been to Washington, and had agreed to place the children of his faction in the school. His counsels were disregarded by the opposition; in fact they imprisoned the old man and threatened him with death for this lapse from the traditions. Lo-lo-lo-mi was ‘too good,’ as his name implied. The Sub-Agent, Mr. Ralph Collins, arrested several of the war-chiefs and sent them to their Agent at Fort Defiance. When they returned they busied themselves making more trouble; so troops were sent to pacify and coerce them, and the first great blunder was made by an army officer. This officer accompanied Collins to the Oraibi mesa. They were warned that the hostiles had armed and meant to fight. Believing this to be so much bluff, they ascended the mesa to the pueblo. A war-chief, who had refused to attend a council, stepped out on one of the terraced houses. He was painted for the occasion, carried a rifle, and looked the part of his office. He was joined by a medicine man, who wore a raw sheepskin that dripped blood and besmeared his body. These two, knowing of many sympathizers within the hovels, dared the whites to combat and greatly abused them. The two white men prudently retired after an abortive parley.

Then came five troops of cavalry. The commanding officer invited the hostile headmen to a council below the mesa, and gave his word that they would be respected. They came, but stubbornly refused to change their minds as to this white man s educational propaganda. They were then seized and bound as prisoners; and were afterward marched up the pueblo trail as a screen for the soldiers. This was rank betrayal, and the effects of it live in the Oraibi country to this day.

‘Some white men do not keep their word.’ And at Oraibi, or at least among unreconstructed Oraibans, who are now the Hotevilla, it is wisdom to suspect all white men.

Collins, the civilian and Sub-Agent, had no part in this. He advised against it and deplored it. It would have been better to risk a bit of bad marksmanship, for which the Hopi is noted; it would have been better to beat a few worthless war-chiefs and medicine men to death, if that were actually necessary. One can forgive a battle — but betrayal rankles in the heart.

The prisoners taken at this time were sent to Fort Wingate. In a few months they were released on promise to be good, but when they returned from captivity they too refused to keep the parole given. The goose of an officer had produced a flock of ganders, and his work was to live for nearly decades. In 1894 troops were again in demand at Oraibi, and nineteen of the Indian leaders were sent as prisoners to Alcatraz Island. They were imprisoned about eight months, and returned impenitent.

In 1898 the Hopi suffered from smallpox. It was not so bad as that epidemic told of by the Spanish, but it was severe enough. Superstition and fright, combined with fatalism, are hard things to conquer among a people who know nothing of vaccination, who trust no stranger, and who prefer to die unassisted by aliens. Troops were necessary, to effect quarantine and to cremate bodies. In 1899, say the records, troops came again, and once more prisoners were sent to Fort Defiance.

All this time internal dissension was at work among the Hopi, and in 1905 these differences reached a climax. Tins quarrel involved nearly everyone within reaching-distance. Matters did not improve, and by 1906 the trouble had increased to the point where troops were necessary once again. They came. They rehearsed their parts perfectly, and prisoners were taken. A special inspector was sent in to observe matters, and he found himself in a very embarrassing position. The one hundred captives had arranged a hunger strike. Receipts for their prison mess equipment had been demanded of them, in strict accordance with the farcical methods of accounting then in vogue. The true Hopi hostile, loyal to high priest Youkeoma, had never signed for anything. He is reared to be wary of the white man’s papers. As he cannot read them for himself, he classes everything in the nature of a document along with the white man’s word, as illustrated by the first army-officer who betrayed him.

‘ If they won’t sign, let them starve,’ said the soldier in this case, and he was not at all worried about it. But the special inspector was very much worried about it. He had to be more careful of his civil job; so he managed early one morning, with the seductive aroma of boiling coffee and the alluring scent of fried bacon, to develop a hungry Judas among the younger men, who signed for the whole lot; and lo! by such means all tribulation was avoided.

So we had reached 1911, with the same old situation burning on the Oraibi mesa, save that the hostiles were now in a pueblo of their own, and could be dealt with, however justly or unjustly, without affecting those who had never actively resisted the Government. It was sheer nonsense to begin again the farce of supplication and argument, of cheap bribes and equally impotent threats. No bones had ‘bleached in the sun,’and there were not enough native police and loyal employees to risk an attempt at coercing this sullen horde. I returned to the Agency and wrote a very impolite report. Anything of truth that the Indian Bureau does not wish to know is impolite.

I recited the facts, and recommended that, as the Government had found it necessary to send in troops so many times before, and always after much backing and filling and abortive negotiation, — all to the amusement of the savage, why not send troops now, and quickly. This recommendation was dated July 28, 1911.

Government moves with a truly fearsome swiftness. It required until September 27, 1911, for the Secretary of the Interior to request the Secretary of War to detail cavalry to our distant point.

Another month drifted by, and on October 28 the Secretary of War detailed Hugh L. Scott, then colonel in rank, as an officer of Indian experience likely to have influence with these strange people. Under date of November 15, I was directed to cooperate with Colonel Scott —and as no allowance was made for the fact that it was winter, and mails were likely to be delayed along the one hundred and five miles of wagon-transport, the great Indian diplomatist and his officers and men had reached the Moqui Agency before my orders! Four months had been devoted to the delicate untwisting of red tape that a telephone conversation between Departments and a telegram to the nearest post would have settled in twenty-four hours’ time. How comfortable if those Hopi had been Ute, Apache, Navajo, or Sioux!


If you seek information on an Indian Reservation concerning things outside the line of routine, never ask the Agent in charge. He will have the important papers locked away from prying eyes, and will likely comment that it is none of your business. Why invite this rebuff?

Go to the mess-cook, the farrier, or the seamstress. They will have had all the essential details from some other post, from a mess-cook, a farrier, or a seamstress, who will have zealously garnered it from some leaky official, or mayhap from the telegraph-operator. Who told Sitting Bull that Custer had divided his command? By long odds it was a camp cook.

And when the school disciplinarian asked me one morning, as he was checking his watch with my chronometer, ‘When do you expect, the troops?’ I knew that an unusual order had issued.

He was correct in his assumption, for the laundress had been notified. Now I do not presume to assert that the Secretary of the Interior had notified the laundress — but she knew. Perhaps some other laundress had found the order in the Colonel’s wash. Anyway the column arrived just when she predicted.

It made a striking picture filing down the long canon hill-road, black riders against the sky and yellow sand, the field flag and troop pennant fluttering; and there was about it a certain campaign-note that caused as much consternation throughout the back country as if war had been declared, with Kit Carson back in the saddle.

Those of the wavering Hopi who lived apart from Youkeoma but leaned toward his policies when they dared, and who had been awaiting developments, began to rush their belated children to the schools. The smiling ‘friendlies’ industriously continued minding their home-affairs. And the Navajo, after one excited survey from the opposite mesa wall, completely disappeared from the landscape. Not a Navajo was to be seen about the Agency for a very long period. Their old chiefs, such as Hostin Nez and Billa Chezzi, could recall the captivity at the Bosque Rendondo, and the younger men had heard them tell of it. This was no time for argument, with the Nahtahni, and while they had lost nothing in the back country, still it invited a peaceful hegira far from the tents and bugles of that column.

The whole affair was against all tradition. Three former Agents had argued and threatened and waited in vain, and the third had lingered helplessly at this post until revolt blazed out to singe his beard. Now this new Nahtahni had said very little; in fact, he had seemed depressed and a trifle bewildered. But here came the soldiers, a very different sort of ‘Se-lough’ from those three uniformed natives he was thought to depend on. The effect was immediate and lasting. And more than one official, having actual knowledge of conditions among the isolated Navajo, has agreed with me that such a column should file through that country every little while. There would be in both Indians and white men more of respect for the orders of the Government and fewer murders in lonely places.

And then I found the famous Colonel Scott seated at one end of my desk. I apologized for being so ignorant, having received no Departmental orders, and supposed that he would be thoroughly informed. Aside from the request that he cooperate with the Agent in this little frontier-squabble, it appeared that his mission was a survey, and action would await further instructions. Quarters were arranged for the officers and a camping-place for the men, and then the Colonel and I sat down to a discussion of conditions among the Indians of the Reserve. Having read of his career among the warriors of the plains, I felt that the less I said to this experienced soldier and tribal expert the better would be my chances for making no mistakes.

I hoped to create an impression of wisdom by keeping my mouth shut.

But Colonel Scott would have none of that. He had then, and has to this day, a most disconcerting method of propounding a question and then boring one completely through and through with a pair of gimlet-like bluegray eyes that pierce as if made of steel. He could see that I was very green and young at the business of being an Indian Agent, but he would not permit me to retreat before his age and superior rank.

‘I propose first to go among these Indians, and learn something of their reasons for this refusal to obey the wishes of the Department,’ he said. I remained silent.

‘ I will go alone,’ he said.

I said nothing.

‘You do not think they will receive me unpleasantly?’

‘Oh, no!’ I hastened to make up for lost time. ‘They are peaceful enough, so long as they are permitted to have their own way. Very likely they will receive you with much of courtesy and even hospitality.’

‘That is as I thought,’ said the Colonel, who has always gone alone into hostile camps — a method of conciliation that would give most people pause. ‘I will reason with them,’ he continued, ‘and I believe I can bring them to a sensible view of the matter we have to adjust.’

I said nothing.

‘What do you think of my plan?’

‘Why, sir, I would not presume to suggest —

‘That is not the question. You should be somewhat familiar with these Indian people by now. Will my plan succeed ? ‘

His eyes punched through mine, straight back into the brain, out through the skull of my rear elevation, and I knew they were drilling on through the stone wall immediately behind me.

‘Considering the experiences of former Agents, and even soldiers, Colonel Scott, and —'

‘Do you think my plan will succeed? ‘

‘ It is a very good plan to try, Colonel. It has been your method with other tribes, and it may prove successful here.'

‘But what do you think?’

There was no way of avoiding the truth. He would have it.

‘You will not succeed.’

He studied a moment or two.

‘I have dealt with unreasonable Indians,’ he said, slowly.

‘So I am informed, sir. But you have not dealt with the Hopi Indian, who is a religious fanatic; and since you pressed me for an opinion I had to give it. I can ask only that these people be not promised anything that will not be fulfdled. That has provoked half the trouble of the past. The Department has threatened them, and then curled up. They are accustomed to being betrayed by soldiers. They will talk endlessly; but if you expect to bring a Hopi to reason without a show of force, it is too much. You will not accomplish it.’

Whereupon the Colonel seemed satisfied that he had procured an answer from me, and next day he departed for the pueblo of Hotevilla, with an interpreter and a striker to attend him. His extraordinary knowledge and uncanny skill in the sign language would avail him nothing among the Hopi, for few of the Southwest Indians use this method of conversing. The deserted mission-house was placed at his disposal. The troop remained encamped in Kearns Canon at the Agency.

That night the mail brought those belated orders, in duplicate, from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to me, and from the Secretary of the Interior to Colonel Scott. I read them with amazement and a complete mixture of feelings. They had been drawn without deference to the facts, and were as completely garbled a set of instructions as one could imagine. By merely accepting the conditions imposed, the Indians could win, and the whole expedition be reduced to farce. Washington had been so careful to preserve a shield between it and the sentimental critics of the country that, no matter what I proposed doing and no matter what the officer agreed to assist in doing, the fat was in the fire if those orders were recognized.

And here were more than one hundred men, with mounts and extra mounts, and a pack-train, and a wagontrain en route with additional supplies. Hay for the horses was being purchased locally at sixty dollars the ton, and oats in proportion; and these were but two items of the expense. A very costly piece of humor, indeed.

But the Colonel was at Hotevilla; and there he remained for ten days, talking, talking, talking, when he was not listening to Youkeoma. I had one report from a messenger, who found the old chief seated in the centre of the floor, facing the Colonel on his campbed, the interpreter to one side. It was the seventh day, and Youkeoma, in the recital of his traditions, had reached a date only four hundred years removed. To give the old chief credit, he never weakened. The Colonel, sitting bolt upright, would go into a doze, finish a nap, and pick up the thread of the discourse immediately on waking, to continue as long as daylight lasted.

Of course there were breaks in this programme. They invited the officer to a rabbit-hunt, and gave exhibitions of their fleetness in running and their skill with the rabbit-club or Hopi boomerang; and he witnessed some of their ceremonies. But the end of it all was talk — so many words arranged one after the other; one string in slow, even-toned English, studied, level, monotonously imperative; the other in imperturbable Hopi, rising and falling like Chinese, started with a long intake of the breath and finished in whispers when Indian lungs were exhausted.

Ten days of it. Priestcraft and sorcery, superstition and cruelty, differ very little among primitive peoples. The Hopi beginnings were very like our own. And in the ages past they had outtalked many enemies. The old man flattered himself that so long as the Colonel listened he was gaining credence; and that when the officer became completely hypnotized by weariness he would capitulate, and cry, ‘You win, old man! For God’s sake, give me a rest!’ Whereas Colonel Scott was awaiting a reply to a telegram forwarded through me four days after his arrival at the pueblo. He had recommended to the Secretary of the Interior that the children of the village be removed to schools, without further regard to this old fanatic and his sacred traditions. Youkeoma had confirmed my view of the situation. At the same time, Colonel Scott had written to me: ‘There is no use in arguing with a lunatic. If the Secretary says “Take the children,” come on with your transportation and police and the troops.’

These messages were carried by riders to the nearest telegraph-point. To have sent them by the archaic mailroute would have courted long delays. Hotevilla was forty-five miles from the Agency and the railroad eighty miles south of that, so a round-trip required two hundred and fifty miles of riding.

On the eighth day answers were received in duplicate, repeating the original conditions. Realizing that the buck was being passed in strict accordance with our traditions, I forwarded the Colonel’s copy to him by messenger, and ordered all necessary wagons to Oraibi. The lieutenant commanding the cavalry put his men in motion a little before midnight, to reach and surround the pueblo before dawn of the next day. Guided by Indian police, and following the shortest trails, they went directly to Hotevilla and had about it a picket-guard before the wondrous piece of whitecotton cloth, holding the hearts of all the people, swung up out of the East.


I found Colonel Scott at an early breakfast in the little mission-house, and reported to him that all things were right and ready save one.

‘I am directed to read this telegram to Chief Youkeoma, and, should he have brains enough to seize on its provisions, this whole affair will spell failure.’

‘Well, can’t you do these things?’ he asked in surprise.

‘No one of them can be carried out. The placing of the children in the boarding-school at the Agency is made contingent on certain equipment being at hand for their comfort, and the Office knows perfectly that such equipment is not at hand. I informed the Office to that effect some time ago, and the Office has not corrected the situation. Then parents are to be given the privilege of selecting the school in which their children shall be placed, either at the Canon or at one of the local day-schools. The day-schools are not close enough to permit attendance. The Indians know it. Should they accept the day-school proposition, it would require a troop of cavalry to get the pupils in each morning. Moreover, this whole attitude is equivalent to indulging a group of contentious savages in the belief that they are to be consulted, and that they shall have the privilege of decision.’

‘What do you propose to do about it?’ he asked.

‘ Why, sir, since it would appear that Washington has none, I would supply a bit of intelligence and read it into these orders. And there would be a result.’

‘Are my orders the same as yours?’

‘Exactly the same; they are in duplicate.’

‘Well, I am a soldier, and I do not break orders.’

This came in a tone of utter finality, and I could see that it would be useless to advance argument.

‘Very good, sir. Then I suppose you will withdraw your men. This thing will go by default.’

But the Colonel had studied old Youkeoma for ten days, and actually he disliked as much as I did the accepting of stupid instructions issued by a Department that has a long record in buck-passing. And he felt that our dilemma might be dissolved by permitting the obdurate Indian to hang himself on the horns of it.

‘Let us have in Youkeoma,’ he said. ‘And you propose to read the telegram to him, stating plainly that these are orders from Washington. If he does not at once accept the conditions, will you be prepared to collect the children promptly, with a squad of soldiers and your police?’

’I do not think I shall need the police, and I do not want the soldiers in the village. If you will keep the picketguard as it is, and have a squad ready in case of trouble, I will go into the houses with two employees who know the people. I will bring out the children for medical examination. But I certainly do not propose to enter into debate with each savage as to schools, bedding, and commissary matters.’

‘Will you wish to make prisoners?’

‘Not unless there is positive resistance. That has been done before, and I cannot see that any good resulted. It simply indulged the ringleaders in their idea of persecution.’

‘Very good. Have the old chap in.’

Youkeoma came wrathfully into the council-room. His anger was like that of a trapped animal; his eyes gleamed with hatred, and he fairly quivered with rage. All morning he had fumed, realizing that he had wasted ten days of perfectly good oratory and traditions. He squatted on the floor.

‘This is your Agent,’ said Colonel Scott. ‘He wants to shake hands with you.’

I held out my hand to him.

Youkeoma looked me over carefully, and drew his blanket around his shoulders as if he had been insulted.

‘I am done with white men,’ he said. ‘I will not shake hands with you or any other white man.'

‘Here is a telegram from Washington. It must be read to you.’

The interpreter explained.

' I do not care to hear anything from Washington.’

‘But I must read it to you’ — and I straightway began. The interpreter translated the first sentence and the second — then the old fellow stood up. He waved his arm toward the soldiers outside, and cried angrily: —

‘You have your men here; why not go ahead and do what you want? You can cut off my head. Why don’t you do it? I will have nothing more to say to you. I am through with white people.’

And he stalked from the councilroom, the maddest man in Arizona; and that was the last of him for many months.

‘Now, Colonel, if you please, I will search the pueblo. Will you lend me your flashlight?’

‘What do you want with that? It’s broad day.’

‘I shall have to crawl into every corncrib and cellar in the place, and none of them have windows.’

He directed that soldiers accompany me through the village, but at the first house I asked them not to come inside. They remained in the street. This method was followed throughout the search. The two employees who had some knowledge of this population entered with me.

‘There should be three children in this house,’ one would say.

There were never any children in sight. The long, narrow, principal room would seem to have no doors leading from it. Racks of corn, carefully piled, lined the walls, and blankets and folded skins. The employees, having assisted in such matters before, began lifting down these blankets and piled furnishings, usually to reveal a small door, and beyond this door would loom the blackness of a corn-cellar. The flashlight showed more corn racked up, melons in piles, and filled sacks; but no children. I would scramble through the little trap to make a closer investigation, recalling how Judge Hooker had walled up his brood when the Hopi of the First Mesa protested against education years before.

In the first of these places there was no room for hiding between the sacks, and when I moved against them I could feel the corn they held. I prepared to leave the place, and was at the opening when I heard a sigh, as if someone had long held his breath and could hold it no longer. Back I went. No one among the melons or behind the racked corn. I began moving the sacks. Three were filled with corn on the cob; at the fourth my hand grasped the top of a Hopi head. It was like the jars of wine and the hidden thieves.

From the sacks we delivered the three children of that household.

When they appeared in the main room, laughing, the father caught them in his arms; and when they were taken from him the mother proceeded to play the same trick. It was easy to break his hold on them, but not so easy to handle a woman without giving grounds for complaint as to rough usage — a charge the Hopi like to make. But those children went into the street, notwithstanding all this hokum, and other employees took them before the physicians. There were three doctors present, the army surgeon and two physicians of the Indian Service. Each child received a thorough examination, and only those fit and above the age of ten years were taken from the village.

I do not know how many houses there are in Hotevilla, but I crawled into every filthy nook and hole of the place, most of them blind traps halfunderground. And I discovered Hopi children in all sorts of hiding-places, and through their fright found them in various conditions of cleanliness. It was not an agreeable job — not at all the sort of work that a sentimentalist would care for.

In but one instance was real trouble threatened. On coming from one cellar, I found the head of the house sitting in the centre of his castle with an axe at his feet. He protested against the removal of the children, and grasped the axe as if to use it. The men with me promptly removed the implement, and threw him into a corner.

By midday the wagons had trundled away from Hotevilla with fifty-one girls and eighteen boys. Our survey of the place in July had warranted an estimate of one hundred and fifty pupils, but in the five months that had elapsed an epidemic of measles and its terrible aftermath of bronchial pneumonia had swept the town.

‘Where are the others?’ the interpreter asked of a villager.

‘Dead,’ he replied, solemnly.

So much for expediency and Departmental delay.

Of those taken, nearly all had trachoma. It was winter, and not one of those children had clothing above rags; some were nude. During the journey of forty-five miles to the Agency many of the ragged garments went to pieces, and the blankets provided became very necessary as wrappings before the children reached their destination. It was too late to attempt the whole distance that afternoon, so the outfit went into camp at the Oraibi day-school, where a generous meal was provided, and the next day their travel was completed.


Across the great Oraibi Valley was the pueblo of Chimopovy, perched on the highest of the mesa cliffs. And this place had a suburb, dominated by one Sackaletztewa, a direct descendant of the gentleman who had founded the original Hopi settlement after their emerging from the Underworld. Sackaletztewa was as orthodox as old Youkeoma, and it was his following that had given battle to a former Agent and his Navajo police. I proposed to Colonel Scott that Chimopovy should be visited.

‘Take the troop to-morrow morning, and finish it up yourself.’

So next day the same scene was enacted. It was a short job, only three children being found; but here occurred something like resistance. All the protestants congregated in the house of Sackaletztewa. When I entered, a man opened a little cupboard of the wall and produced a packet of papers. They were offered to me as documents of great value. And they were strange documents — letters from people of the country who had read in newspapers of Youkeoma’s visit to Washington and his defiance of the Government. I suppose such persons have nothing better to do, and write letters of sympathy to the members of every Indian delegation that parades itself eastward in feathers and war-paint to present a fancied grievance. I recall the words of one of these papers, from some weakminded woman of Indiana: —

Chief Youkeoma, you are a noble man. Do not let the Government have your children. Their schools are not the place for your Indian lads, who know only the hunt and the open spaces. Resist to the last gasp. Die rather than submit. . . .

Very like she is now writing scenarios. Of course this correspondent had read Fenimore Cooper, and was filled to the neck with the story-book idea of Indians — lithe, clean, untouched by disease, and painted by romance. The Southwest has no such Indians; and Indians, whether lithe or not, are seldom clean, and never romantic. She knew nothing of filth and trachoma and child-prostitution, while the Hopi had brought such things to a fine degree of perfection. And she lived in Indiana.

Now there is a very wide difference between demanding the rights of Indians — rights that should be sacred under agreements, perhaps, and foreign treaties, such as those of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico — and inciting them to warfare and rebellion when teachers and physicians are striving to recover them from ignorance and disease. There is a vast difference between arguing that a title confirmed by three sovereign governments be not attacked for the sake of political loot, as in the case of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, and denouncing the educational system of the United States and advising a group of benighted savages to kill in a distant, lonely desert.

That writer from Indiana should have been a field-matron for a while. I have no sympathy with this type of sentimentalist, and I deported some of them from the Hopi desert country when they appeared with their box of theoretical tricks.

I handed back the documents, and asked where the children were. Accompanied by my Tewa policeman, I entered a small room off the main house and found the three mentioned surrounded by relatives. The room filled up to its capacity and a harangue began. At Hotevilla we had not listened to argument, but here I thought it best to placate them, to explain things, rather more in line with the moral-suasion programme outlined by Washington. All talk led to one definite answer, growing sullenly louder and louder: ‘You cannot take the children.’

We had to make an end. When I proceeded to lift one from the floor, in a twinkle two lusty Indians were at my throat. The Tewa came to my assistance, his face expanding in a cheerful grin as he recognized the opportunity for battle, and three or four others draped themselves around his form. The sound of the struggle did not at once get outside. The Tewa began to thrash out with his arms and let his voice be heard. An employee peered inside and set up a shout. Then in plunged several very earnest fellows in uniform, and out went the protcstants, scrambling, dragging, and hitting the door-jambs. The Tewa followed to see that these things were properly managed, he being the local and ranking officer in such affairs.

That night I joined Colonel Scott at the Agency.

I had advised strongly against the immediate recall of the entire troop, and had expected that a sergeant’s squad would remain for some months to return runaways and to preserve discipline among those who might risk the power of my army of three policemen. It was not improbable that a band of Hotevillans would come to the Canon to demand their children, once the soldiers were withdrawn. They had staged this play before. But trouble on the Border called. It was then I sought the Colonel’s counsel. For a time he evaded a direct statement of his views, but I was insistent, and he said: ‘I would never permit an Indian to remove his child from the school against my orders to the contrary. They would find me sitting on the dormitory steps. Other methods of prevention you will have to devise yourself. ‘

He concluded with the words: ‘Young man, you have an Empire to control. Either rule it or pack your trunk.’


Now you will please not strive to conjure up a harrowing scene of terrified children, removed from their parents, lonely and unconsoled. They were not babies. They were nude, and hungry, and covered with vermin, and most of them afflicted with trachoma, a very unpleasant and messy disease. Some of them had attended this Canon school in the past, that time before their parents’ late defiance, and they knew what was in store for them — baths, good food, warm clothing, clean beds and blankets, entertainment and music, the care of kindly people. There would be no more packing of firewood and water up steep mesa-trails, and living for weeks at a time on flint corn, beans, and decaying melons. There would be meat not cut from hapless burros and excellent bread of wheat flour, gingerbread even; and toys and candy at that wonderful time the Bohannas call ‘Christmas.’ There would be games for both boys and girls, and no one at this school would interfere with their innocent Indian pleasures. Their parents would be allowed to visit them and bring piki bread; and the parents very promptly availed themselves of the privilege.

So there was nothing of exile or punishment involved in this matter; and if you have any true regard for childhood and defenseless children there will be seen a great deal of protection and happiness in it. I fancy that many of the girls — especially those who had reached that age when the maternal uncles, the ogres of the family, assign them in marriage as the old men please — had been counting the days since the news of the troop’s coming.

It was a busy time for the corps of school employees when the wagons arrived. Seventy-two children had to be recovered from the dirt and vermin that had accumulated during their long holiday. The less said about this the better; but I should have been amused to see the critics at the job of hair-cutting!

Those children spent four years at the Canon school, without vacations. A hen the school departments were closed in 1915, because certain buildings showed weaknesses and I feared their collapse, the Hotevilla children, having reached eighteen years of age, might decide for themselves whether or not they wished further education. With few exceptions they elected to attend the Phoenix Indian School. They had no wish to visit Hotevilla, and very frankly told me so. To illustrate their standpoint — Youkeoma’s granddaughter, an orphan, was not of age so to elect. She feared that I would consult the old man about the matter, and she knew that he would insist upon her return to the pueblo life. So she secreted herself in one of the wagons that would carry the older pupils to the railroad, and went away without my knowledge.