I also must apologize to my readers.
I set out to tell the full truth — but I failed.
It is of only modest comfort that I was doomed to failure – as are all historians.
I doubt I could tell the full truth about my own life, so I know I haven’t captured the undistorted “truth” about Cochise – especially given the limitations of the sources.
However, even if Cochise and all his family and friends had left long autobiographies – I would still inevitably skew the story as a result of my own cultural biases.
If Cochise could read this account, he would no doubt shake his head at the arrogance and hubris of the Whites and point out that I have it all wrong. My one slender hope is that he would conclude I was less wrong than many that have described his life.
He might even concede that I tried to tell the truth and wrote with respect and humility. I hope he would conclude I didn’t do too badly – for a White Eye. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE EARTH The old world was destroyed by water, by a flood.
There was only one mountain at the time of this flood that was not entirely covered by the water.
And that mountain is called today “White-Ringed Mountain.” No human beings lived through this flood, but there was a rooster that floated on the water and got on top of that mountain.
The water almost got to the top of that mountain almost covered it.
Now you can see the mountain with the white ring at the highest point the water reached.
I think that mountain is in Old Mexico. It seems to me that it all goes to prove that the earth is just an old world that has been cleaned up by a flood.
The way the story goes, there was a bad class of people before the flood; that’s why Life Giver brought the flood.
It rained hard for a long while, I’ve heard, but they don’t say how long.
Then after that Child-of-the-Water and White-Painted Woman made human beings. After the water had gone down, a bow and arrow and a gun were put before two men.
The man who had the first choice took the gun and he became the white man.
The other had to take the bow and he became the Indian.
If the second man had got the gun, he would have been the white man, they say. CHAPTER ONE: OCTOBER, 1869: HE TURNS TO FIGHT Cochise, the hard, scarred shield of his people, lay against the rough skin of the rock and watched the yellow dog coyote pick his way up the pine-picketed, boulder-studded slope toward silently waiting death.
He could almost hear the thoughts of the rock, long and slow – like a woman who dreams while her baby sleeps at her breast.
The thoughts of the rock comforted him – although he knew that the enemies who yearned so fiercely for his death and were drawing close now – the snare in the dust of his path.
Cochise watched with the motionless patience of the heron as Merejildo Grijalva lead the soldiers carefully up the slope toward where more than 150 Chiricahua warriors waited in perfect silence.
They lay coiled all along the wall of boulders just below the ridge, still as the rattlesnake in the moment before it lashes out with its mouth agape.
Cochise watched Grijalva come on with a heavy mixture of satisfaction and sorrow.
He cast his mind back across the years, to the day when his warriors had killed so many in that small village deep in Mexico, and then scooped up the boy to become one of the People.
The warriors often took the children in payment for the lives the Mexicans had in their turn gathered up and cast like leaves on the fire of the hatred that burned always between the two peoples.
Cochise had sheltered the baby into his own wickiup and raised him as a son, teaching the hard lessons of a warrior with unflinching discipline.
Grijalva had learned every lesson, thirsty as the sand.
But his heart had remained as false as a Mexican’s, and so when his chance came he ran away and joined the soldiers.
He had hunted the People now for these many months, running ahead like a camp dog – panting and eager.
Nnow Grijalva brought the soldiers up this slope, using everything Cochise had taught him to cling to their trail as the Gila Monster clings to the hand – poison dripping down its teeth into the wound. Cochise looked down along the line of the boulders, satisfied that he could not see his own warriors — although he knew where each one lay in the embrace of the rocks.
He closed his eyes for a moment, listening for the whispering of his Power – so he would know what he should do.
He wondered whether he had offended his Power in some manner, for his people had dwindled like a spring in a year without rain.
He wondered whether he had misunderstood his Power, in making war on the Whites, in running off the horse herd from the fort, in attacking the miners clawing at the body of the Earth, and in staying here in the mountains where the rocks lent him their Power.
Perhaps he should have gone down into Mexico until the soldiers grew tired of looking for him.
Impatiently, he shook off that thought — knowing that he must run down the mountain of his life without looking back, fated as the rain.
His Power had brought him safely through all of these years, when so many others had died.
Doubts could only weaken him now, like blood seeping from a wound. He opened his eyes and focused them on Grijalva and the five men with him, moving up the slope like deer into a clearing.
Cochise wondered how long it would take the many soldiers down in the trees at the bottom of the slope to come up once the warriors had killed Grijalva.
And he wondered whether other soldiers might already be coming down the canyon from the other end, or making their way up the slope on the other side of the ridge, or coming from each of the four directions – like wind to a ceremony.
He wondered whether the women and children and the few warriors he could spare had made it safely to the hiding places, from which they would gather again when the battle had ended.
So many uncertainties remained, like moving across ice that cracks and groans.
He had thrown out his lookouts with his customary care, spreading them out like the splayed fingers of his hand.
But the soldiers were everywhere these days, even here in the heart of the Chiricahua Mountains, where the rocks stood up like dancers and the Gahn spirits drummed in the earth so that sometimes he could feel the thrumming when he pressed his cheek against the stone.
He had been running from the soldiers for weeks, feinting like a knife fighter and then falling back and away when they lunged.
Now, finally, he had turned, knowing he would not find better ground.
He knew this ground as well as he knew the hollows of the body of his wife and had placed warriors overlooking every path, crack and crevice up which the soldiers would have to come to get at them.
He knew that the People had not won such a battle in many turnings of the leaves, but something had risen up in him.
He had turned now to this fight as to a lover, long absent.
He could only hope that it was his Power that turned him, not his pride or his anger. He brought his long rifle to his shoulder, with the etched silver inlay sun-warmed against his skin, and sighted on Grijalva, stealing from one scrap of cover to another and scanning the slopes ahead with the ferocity of an eagle.
Just as Cochise fired the shot that would start the fight, Grijalva pulled back from the bullet as though his own Power had whispered a warning.
Instantly, shooting started all along the ridge, and several of the soldiers with Grijalva dropped to the ground, crying out.
None of the bullets found Grijalva, although they all longed for him.
Three of the five men went down, but Grijalva and the other one retreated back down the slope to good cover.
Down below, Cochise could see the movement of the soldiers through the trees, coming up quickly. Cochise picked his shots carefully, knowing they had not much powder or bullets – their greatest weakness in this death fight with the soldiers, who had more bullets than the ants have sand.
The stories said Ussen had let Killer of Enemies – who loved the Whites — and Child-of-the-Waters – who loved the People — chose gifts for the people they each favored.
Child-of-the-Waters had chosen the bow, the arrow and all the best places for the People – so they could hunt and live free.
Killer of Enemies had chosen for the Whites the gun, corn and the ability to put all of their Power into metal – so they could make many clever things.
Now it seemed the gifts of Killer of Enemies would grind down the People, like corn on a stone. The soldiers were well led; they did not rush up the slope, which would have made them easier to kill.
When Cochise saw the rush of the soldiers stop behind good cover, he felt his heart settle in his chest.
In truth, he had known they would not come easily into the snare that he had concealed for them with such care.
The nantan leader of these soldiers had come from Fort Bowie, at the north end of the Chiricahuas, and had held to their trail and kept his head all the time he had chased them.
Cochise knew he could not count on this one to make a great mistake.
Several warriors showed themselves, hoping to taunt the soldiers to make them they would use up their ammunition or charge up the hill.
But the soldiers held their discipline – the one thing they could do better than warriors.
Cochise lay against the rock and waited, seeing the battle in his mind as though he was a red-tailed hawk floating above the mountain.
He knew how the ridge would look down there where the nantan was squinting into the sun, trying to make his decision.
Therefore, Cochise also knew that the nantan would send soldiers around to the right and around to the left hoping to flank the strong position of the warriors above him. Sure enough, in just the time Cochise had expected, he heard shooting on the left where he had placed Nahilzay and his warriors.
He knew Nahilzay would hold the warriors in the palm of his own Power, waiting until the soldiers had come within 100 feet before firing.
Nahilzay was tightly bound to Cochise, having married the daughter of the chief.
Nahilzay, a short, powerful man with the barrel chest of a bear and fierce dark eyes, had his own following of warriors.
He could not be commanded, only consulted and urged.
Nahilzay had many scars and his own strong Power and could not be patted into shape like wet mud by the Power of Cochise.
Naturally, these things made him all the more valuable – for love and loyalty stronger than gunpowder and bullets could not be commanded, only earned and freely exchanged.
Cochise listened until he was certain from the sound of the shooting the soldiers had been turned back.
Then he rose into a half-crouch and slipped along the line of rocks he had chosen before he took this firing position so that he could move to the other side, where he knew the soldiers would make their next probe. And so the battle continued through the hours of daylight, the soldiers probing, the warriors rising from where they had been placed by the Power of Cochise, the soldiers tumbling back down the hill – shooting as they gave back the ground they had gained.
Sometimes the warriors dashed after them, mocking them to show their courage, half drunk with the pride of standing in place and driving the soldiers back.
Cochise moved everywhere among them, careful of his cover, but disdainful of the bullets.
Every warrior who saw him felt his Power as he moved past, like the taste in the air that warns of approaching thunder. Finally, near sunset, the exhausted soldiers began to retreat back down the slope, as the warriors jeered and sent a few more hoarded bullets after them.
Just as the sun was giving way reluctantly to the darkness – which that troublesome Coyote had let out of the sack in the beginning of times – one very brave soldier went up the hill toward where the bodies of the first soldiers killed lay twisted and still in the red light.
Cochise admired the courage of the soldier who came up the hill after his friends, and saw that he had the markings of a nantan on his shoulder.
Still, Cochise was glad when a bullet hit the man in the face, taking away his jaw.
Cochise could admire courage in his enemies – but knew also that those were the very men most in need of killing. The warriors all gathered uneasily that night on the ridge caught between triumph and alarm.
They had driven off the soldiers – not just a patrol, but a large force.
This was a powerful thing and the few who had begun to wonder whether Cochise’s Power still spoke to him because of the losses they had suffered in these past few weeks, felt reassured.
They talked among themselves, each recalling other fights they had been in – each trying to remember the last time the People had stood their ground and driven the soldiers away.
Only Cochise could have done such a thing, they said quietly one to the other.
And yet, they had also lost good men that day.
Not many – but they all knew that a warrior was like a great, yellow-barked pine that once felled leaves an empty space for many years.
But killing soldiers was like cutting grass that would return in a week.
They knew that the word must already have hurried back to the soldier forts and to the roving columns that sought them always in the land that had once been theirs.
The soldiers would come out of their ant hills, converging on this spot as to a broken honeycomb. And yet, Cochise did not gather the warriors and fling them south, toward Mexico, where the soldiers would not follow. Instead, they moved a little north in the darkness – back toward Fort Bowie, keeping to the protection of the stone pillars and hiding places among the rocks standing upright watching the sky like the first people turned to stone. Cochise remained apart, circling some great question like a knife fighter, the point of his blade tracing the shape of it in the darkness.
How had he come to this place – where he could win such a battle, but still have so little hope? He had fought all of his life, killing so many enemies with his own hand that he could not remember them all even if he spent the night in counting them.
He had walked in the footsteps of Child-of-the-Waters – as his father had urged him to do from the first exhortation of his moccasin ceremony when he could not cover the track of a badger with his foot.
His Power had favored him and guided him and protected his people.
He had killed ten of his enemies for every death that had fallen on him as an obligation to avenge.
He had drawn back even strong leaders like a single bow and led more warriors than even his father, whose name had been great for many years, before the Mexicans killed him by treachery.
He had prayed and danced and done right in all things.
But now he seemed helpless against the pitiless numbers, pack trains of bullets, and soulless greed of these Whites.
Turn any White lose alone and he would die of thirst.
But bring them all together, and they seemed as irresistible as the front edge of a sand dune.
The harder he fought, the more death he drew to him – like lightning seeking a foolish man in a red shirt.
What had he done to bring this down on the people who had been given into his hands to protect? What prayer had he neglected? What offense had the People committed that the gifts of Child-of-the-Waters should be taken from their bleeding hands now? Cochise, who all other men feared, prayed and sang and waited for his Power to move him to the place he must go, seeking some solution to the riddle of his life.
Could it be that all his life, all his deaths, all his loss, all his struggle had only put off the inevitable surrender? Had it come to him now to turn his palms upward and let the Whites take from him everything that had belonged to the People, excepting only their lives? So Cochise passed the long night, casting his mind back through his life – seeking the answer to that one, deadly question. TWO WOMEN PLAY DEAD AND ESCAPE FROM THE GIANT The Giant used to kill people.
There were two women hunting for wild berries.
The Giant came along.
They saw that they couldn’t get away.
But they knew that he wouldn’t eat anything dead that he had not killed himself, so they took off their clothes and lay down as if dead.
Giant came along and saw them.
He took a stick and poked their nipples.
He played for a while and then got tired and left them.
When he was gone they got up and ran away. CHAPTER TWO IN THE BEGINNING No man’s life starts with his own birth, for every man walks along the path of those who came before.
Every warrior’s life starts with Child-of-the-Waters, who came down onto the Earth in the beginning times – before the first people, when the animals and the Powers were intermingled, talking one to the other.
Each one was both like a person and like a Power, like an individual and like all of the qualities of that individual, like a brave man and like Courage itself, all aspects of one another. At the first was only White Painted Woman – who was herself an aspect of Power.
But the world was full of monsters and Powers and the Animals who were Power and who used Power.
Human beings could not live in the world at the beginning times, because the monsters would devour them — even the children of White Painted Woman.
For a Giant lived near her camp and he would come to eat her children whenever she had them. But then a Spirit came to her one day and told her to take off her clothes and go out into the open under the sky and lie down there with her legs open.
She did as the Spirit had told her and a great cloud came over her.
Thunder sounded and the rain fell on her and seeped into her.
The Spirit told her that she would have twins, the children of Water and Thunder.
The Spirit said she must hide her children under the fire, so the Giant would not find them and eat them.
But when the boys were old enough to fire a bow, she should give them a bow and let them go out hunting. White Painted Woman did everything she had been told.
But sometimes she let her children out from under the fire to sing to them and nurse them and watch them play in the sunlight.
One time, the Giant heard them crying and hurried to her.
But she felt him coming and hid her children under the fire.
When the Giant questioned her, she said she was lonely for children and so had made the noise like a baby crying.
Then again another time the Giant came and found the piece of cloth she had used to wipe their bottoms.
But again she said she was lonely for children and had taken honeycomb that bees had left in a yucca stalk and smeared it on the cloth so that she could imagine that she still had children.
Then again another time the Giant came and found the children’s footprints in the dust around her campfire, but she said she had made the footprints herself.
The Giant did not believe her, but she made the footprints with the edge of her hand and the tips of fingers and he went away satisfied with her story. When the two boys were old enough, White Painted Woman gave them bows and arrows as the Spirit had instructed.
One time after that, Child-of-the-Waters wanted to go out.
It was raining and lightning.
His mother didn’t want the boy to go. “It is dangerous to go out now,” she said. “But I can go.
I am the son of Lightning,” Child-of-the-Water told her. Then White-Painted Woman said, “This is your son.” “I do not believe he is my son, but I will test him,” Lightning said. Lightning tested him.
Child-of-the-Water stood to the east and black lightning struck him.
But it did not harm him.
Then he stood to the south and blue lightning struck him.
Then he stood to the west and yellow lightning struck him.
Finally he stood to the north where white lightning struck him.
He was not injured at all. Then Lightning said, “Now I know he is my son.” Killer-of-Enemies was the brother of Child-of-the-Water.
He was the son of White Painted woman too.
Child-of-the-Water didn’t want him to accompany him on the hunt, but he came.
Child-of-the-Water wanted to send him back, but he came anyway. Child-of-the-Water decided to go out to kill the Eagle.
His mother told him it was dangerous and tried to keep him from it, but he said he would go anyway.
He killed a horse or a cow, filled the gut with blood, and wrapped this around himself. The Eagle picked him up and dropped him on a sharp rock.
The blood from the entrails came out and the Eagle thought he was dead and took him to the nest.
The Eagles had three little ones in the nest.
The old Eagles went out to look for more food. Then Child-of-the-Water asked, “when will your father come home?” “When the clouds gather and it looks like rain.” “And where will he alight?” “On that rock sticking up there.” When the father Eagle came, Child-of-the-Water was ready for him.
When the Eagle beat his wings just before settling down, Child-of-the-Water hit him with his war-club and threw him over the cliff.
Then he asked when their mother would come back. — “I’m big too,” he said.
He had an arrow of grama-grass.
Four times Child-of-the-Water asked his mother to let him go.
She refused three times, but the fourth time she smiled a little and let him go. The two brothers went out.
Soon they killed a deer.
They began to cut it up and to prepare a fire over which to cook some of the meat. “Maybe Giant will come and take this away from us,” said Killer-of-Enemies. “I hope he does come,” Child-of-the-Water replied. “Don’t say such things.
He is big and strong and kills people.” “I’m strong too.” Just as he said this, Giant came.
He looked at the roasted meat lying near the boys.
He picked it up and put it near himself.
Child-of-the-Water got up and brought it back.
The meat went back and forth like this four times. By this time the Giant was very angry. “What can you do?” he asked Child-of-the-Water. “I don’t care how big you are.
We are going to eat that meat.” Killer-of-Enemies was afraid and said nothing.
Child-of-the-Water told him to eat. Then the Giant said, “You’re too small to fight me.
Look at my arrow.” His arrow was a big pine tree.
It is not said what sort of wood he used for a bow. Child-of-the-Water showed his arrows of grama-grass.
Giant took them and rubbed them along his anus.
Child-of-the-Water could not lift the Giant’s arrows so he sat down on them and rubbed himself against them.
Now they were going to fight.
Each agreed to shoot four arrows.
Giant said, “I’ll shoot at you first,” and Child-of-the-Water agreed. When the Giant was about to shoot the first arrow, Child-of-the-Water stood facing east.
The Giant shot his first arrow.
As it came toward his breast, Child-of-the-Water said, “Phoo!” There was nothing in his mouth, but the pine tree broke into pieces as though lightning had struck it.
Each time the Giant shot another arrow, Child-of-the-Water turned clockwise to another direction.
Each time he said the same thing and the arrow was shattered.
Because Child-of-the-Water turned clockwise at this time, the Chiricahua do so today. When the Giant’s four arrows were used up, he had to stand and let Child-of-the-Water shoot at him.
He tried to make the same noise and he turned just as Child-of-the-Water had done.
But it did him no good.
The Giant was dressed in four jackets of flint, and each time Child-of-the-Water shot, one of these jackets fell to the ground.
Before the last shot you could see the Giant’s heart beating beneath the jacket, and when Child-of-the-Water shot the last arrow, the jacket was pierced and the Giant was killed. And then Killer-of-Enemies was glad.
They went over there and ate the meat they had cooked.
They took a piece of meat on their backs and took it to White Painted Woman, their mother. White Painted Woman had been worrying about the two boys.
Then she saw them coming with the meat.
She was so happy that she sang for those boys.
She was dancing.
This is the song she sang: “What a happy day it is To be bringing in such good news.” After this, Child-of-the-Water killed each of the other monsters that made it impossible for people to live in the world.
He killed the Buffalo that breathed fire and trampled anyone he saw on the open prairie.
He killed buffalo with the help of Gopher, who dug a hole beneath Buffalo so that Child-of-the-Water could shoot him in the heart as he lay down.
Then Child of Water killed the antelope that killed with his eyes.
This time he had the help of Lizard, who showed Child-of-the-Water the trick to making yourself the same color as the ground to become invisible.
When he had killed the Giant, and the Eagles, and the Buffalo and the Antelope, people could live in the world.
And they could follow the path of Child-of-the-Water, putting their own feet in his footprints so they could live rightly.
Every one learned that path, from the time they were babies in their cradle boards.
The father of Cochise and the mother of Cochise stretched his head and his heart over the frame of the stories, like the wet leather over the ash staves of a cradle board.
In this way, he learned that even a boy may kill a Giant, if Power favors him and if he does right and thinks right.
He learned that people can only survive with the help of Gopher and Lizard and all of the other aspects of Power.
In this way he learned that a warrior must use his wits as much as his courage or his lungs or his legs and that an enemy that seems too strong to kill, can nonetheless be defeated through cleverness.
In this way he learned the duties of a warrior – to protect the women and the children and to face danger and duty and death without complaint or fear.
So in this way he learned that the smallest breath of Power can shatter even an arrow as large as a tree and that an arrow made of reed may be enough to triumph in the hands of a warrior with courage and intelligence and the respect of his Power. Of course, Cochise learned many other lessons in his growing up – for he was born into a powerful and respected family in a dangerous time – when the flood of changes rearranged the world – like sandbars on a great river in the spring. He was Chokonen, one of the four divisions of the Chiricahua – who were the strongest fighting people.
The Chokonen lived mostly in the Dragoon and Chiricahua Mountains, but ranged freely over a large territory and spent much of the year living in Mexico – sometimes camping near friendly towns but mostly staying in the Sierra Madre and other mountain ranges, where the rocks, their friends, would protect them.
The Chokonen were close friends and allies of the Bedonkohes, who lived just to the northeast and the Chihenne who lived in the mountain ranges to the east.
The Chokonen also often raided with and married into the bands of the Nednhis, who lived down in Mexico, oftentimes near the Mexican town of Janos and in the fortress of the Sierra Madre.
Other bands lived alongside the territory of the Chiricahua, including the Tonto and the White Mountain bands to the west and north.
But even though those bands spoke the same language, the Chiricahua often fought them.
The Navajo lived to the north, but they also were more likely to fight the Chiricahua than to join them in fighting. Cochise was born into a peaceful time, but their world was like a cracked rock on a cliff edge waiting for the weight of an unwary foot. Once the People had lived quietly, moving with the seasons like the bluebird.
In the summer, they lived high in the mountains.
In the winter, they lived down in the valleys.
They scattered seeds here and there, so they would have corn and squash when they came back in the spring or in the summer.
But mostly they moved as easily as the animals, first to harvest the mescal, then to gather the acorns, then to wait for the elk, then to harvest the fruit of the saguaro.
They carried only a few things with them and listened to the drumming of the Gahn in the mountains, in the rocks, in the deep canyons.
They lived in small bands – hunting and dancing and singing – with few enemies.
Sometimes when times where hard and they had not enough food, they went down into the river valleys where the bean-eaters lived — the Papago and the Pima.
Sometimes they would carry baskets of corn and seed away from the storehouses of the farming people.
But more often they traded with them.
Sometimes they fought the Yaqui, who lived in the valleys in Mexico.
But mostly they stayed to themselves in the mountains, giving thanks for the gifts of Child-of-the-Waters. — “Your life is like a trial.
You must be watched as you go.
Wherever you go there is some kind of danger waiting to happen.
You must be able to see it before it happens.
You must always be watchful and alert.
You must see danger in your mind before it happens. “If your mind is not smooth you will fail to see danger.
You will trust your eyes but they will deceive you.
You will be easily tricked and fooled.
Then there will be nothing but trouble for you.
You must make your mind smooth. “If your mind is not resilient you will be easily startled.
You will be easily frightened.
You will try to think quickly, but you won’t think clearly.
You yourself will stand in the way of your own mind.
You yourself will block it.
Then there will be trouble for you.
You must make your mind resilient. “If your mind is not steady you will be easily angered and upset.
You will be arrogant and proud.
You will look down on other people.
You will envy them and desire their possessions.
You will speak about them without thinking.
You will complain about them, gossip about them, criticize them.
You will lust after their women.
People will come to despise you.
They will pay someone to use his Power on you.
They will want to kill you.
Then there will be nothing but trouble for you.
You must make your mind steady.
You must learn to forget about yourself. “If you make your mind smooth, you will have a long life.
Your trail will extend a long way.
You will be prepared for danger wherever you go.
You will see it in your mind before it happens. “How will you walk along this trail of wisdom? Well, you will go to many places.
You must look at them closely.
You must remember all of them.
Your relatives will talk to you about them.
You must remember everything they tell you.
You must think about it, and keep on thinking about it, and keep on thinking about it.
You must do this because no one can help you but yourself.
If you do this, your mind will become smooth.
It will become steady and resilient.
You will stay away from trouble.
You will walk a long way and live a long time. “Wisdom sits in places.
It’s like water that never dries up.
You need to drink water to stay alive, don’t you? Well, you also need to drink from places.
You must remember everything about them.
You must learn their names.
You must remember what happened at them long ago.
You must think about it and keep on thinking about it.
Then your mind will become smoother and smoother.
Then you will see danger before it happens.
You will walk a long way and live a long time.
You will be wise.
People will respect you.” In listening to the stories of the father he worshiped, Cochise learned that the People could not be separated from the Places that cared for them.
It was not merely that the peaks of the Dragoons and the Chiricahuas held them up against the sky, so they could see their enemies approach from a day’s ride away.
It was not merely because the rocks stood up straight and caught the bullets of their enemies.
It was not merely that the mountains offered acorns in the winter and mescal in the spring and saguaro fruit in the summer.
It was not merely that they knew all of the hiding places, and the hidden springs, and the secret ways through the mountain.
It was that the places themselves smoothed the mind, and harbored wisdom so people would remain in harmony with the Powers that held their fate in cupped hands.
The People might breathe and dance and eat and defecate, and live in another place – but they could not remain themselves in another place.
All these things Cochise learned slowly, the light spreading like dawn to a dark sky, as he rode behind his father over the land that had made them both, listening to his stories.
The places molded and shaped him, even helping him in his ongoing struggle to master himself and the anger that flared up in him sometimes.
Cochise walked along a high ridge in his anger, trying to keep his balance.
On the one hand, he knew anger could bend others to his will.
On the other hand, he knew people would lose respect for a man who could not master himself – whose mind was not smooth. Nor did Pisago Cabezon neglect the physical training of his sons, for they knew from the beginning that they would be warriors and responsible for their people.
They vied with one another to see who could run farthest and fastest.
When they were five, they learned to climb up onto a horse by stepping on the leg and pulling themselves up with a handful of the mane.
By the time they were eight, they had begun their hard physical training.
They rose every morning before the sun, so they could pray to the sun in gratitude and then begin running.
They would run to the top of a mountain near their camp and then run back again before eating.
They learned to run with a mouthful of water, which they would spit out again when they returned to show they had the discipline not to swallow that water.
In the winter, their father would take them to a frozen stream and break the ice, and they would go into the water until he said they could leave it and then stand beside him without complaint.
He would send them back into the water again, until they had learned that pain and discomfort were unimportant.
Then he would set them to rolling snowballs. They ran constantly, taking care to smear grease on their legs to feed them.
Often times, the men who were in charge of the training would round up all of the boys and set out with them on a run.
Sometimes one of the men would run at the back of the group and use a switch to whip the boy who ran last.
And sometimes Cochise or Coyuntura would drop to the back of the group, going slower and slower, as the man lashed them with the stick.
Then when the other boys had gotten well ahead, they would suddenly tackle the man with the switch, so that they tumbled down in the dust.
Then Cochise would jump up and run on, staying ahead of the man with the switch who was now too far behind to bother the other boys. Often, the young boys yearned for the time when they could be warriors and would be set to fighting one another.
Sometimes they would set a small boy against a much bigger boy, and push that big boy to fight hard.
They did this because Child-of-the-Water had been only a boy when he killed the Giant, so that a warrior should understand that he must fight even a great enemy, even when he had no hope of winning.
Sometimes they would fight with slings and stones that could inflict serious injury, but they learned in that manner to dodge stones as they sailed through the air.
They played endless games with arrows, practicing incessantly.
They had many games that involved shooting, and often the winner would take the arrows of the loser.
Cochise quickly became one of the best shots with a bow, and after many hours of practice, he could shoot at a target and put two more arrows in the air before the first one hit.
Often, the boys would shoot at one another, to learn to dodge arrows.
One boy lost his eye when he was too slow and many boys were hurt in these games.
But the men only nodded and urged them on, knowing these lessons were better learned here in games with other boys than on a raid in the gunsights of their enemies. Cochise understood that the physical training was just another way to train his mind – to make his mind smooth and resilient and steady.
The places worked on him, and the running, and the release of fear when the other boys shot arrows, and the release of pain when the switch fell across his naked back.
He knew that the warriors and the other boys were all watching one another.
He never faltered.
He never complained.
He even sought pain, knowing that it was also a teacher.
He yearned to win the respect of the warriors, as his father had done. He learned early how to hunt and soon had a reputation as perhaps the leading hunter among the boys.
He learned to make the deer head mask and the leaf whistle to call the curious deer in closer.
He learned to fast before each hunt, so that Ussen would have pity on his hunger and grant him success in the hunt.
He learned the prayers and songs for the raven, which was associated with the hunt and who hid the animals from the hunters.
Cochise also learned about the obligation of the hunter. “You must not show yourself selfish in anyway,” admonished his father, for Deer Power would never favor a selfish man.
He learned that if he shot a deer he must offer that deer to the first man who came up to him while he was butchering it.
Usually, that man would only take a token piece of meat – but he might have a great need and take the whole kill for his family. “You say to him, ‘go ahead, help yourself.
Leave what you want for me,’” said Pisago Cabezon. “He can leave half or take most and leave you a little.
You can’t say anything.
He can take the skin and all.
If you have already butchered a deer and have it on your horse carrying it into camp and meet someone, that is different.
Then you give him whatever you want to.
It’s up to you.” Cochise finally began his training as a warrior at 15.
Each boy must serve an apprenticeship of four raids.
His father prepared him carefully for the first raid of his apprenticeship, an expedition to get horses from a Mexican village a long way off.
He asked a shaman with Power in such things to prepare for Cochise a shirt that would help protect him from bullets.
And the shaman gave the boy a charm with goose feathers, so that he would have access to the endurance of Goose.
Of course, the war leader in charge of the raiding party would be careful not to expose the apprentices to danger.
They would usually wait at a distance from the fighting.
They would go along to hold the horses, make meals, gather wood, make bedding, stand guard and serve any of the needs of the warriors.
And the warriors, in turn, called the apprentice Child-of-the-Water and treated him with reverence.
Cochise had learned the many rules he must follow.
He must drink only through a tube, wear a certain hat and scratch only with a scratching stick – each thing made by a shaman with much prayer and ceremony.
If he drank through a tube, it would make it rain and spoil the raid.
If he scratched with his fingers, he would grow whiskers faster and have soft skin.
He must not have intercourse and remember to speak respectfully and carefully about women.
He must not gaze upward or look over his shoulder or stand up quickly.
He must remain awake until given permission to lie down, or he would cause the entire party to grow drowsy.
He could not laugh or look over his shoulder.
He could eat only a little and never anything from the entrails or head.
Mostly, he would eat only the tough neck cuts of animals killed on the raid – for he could not eat anything from the inside of the animal except the lungs. He used only the raiding language, with its own vocabulary.
Perhaps 80 words that they used at home could not be spoken on a raid.
Instead of saying “owl” he would say, “he who wanders by night.” And instead of saying “pollen” he would say, “that which is becoming life.” And instead of saying “heart” he would say “that by means of which I live.” This showed respect and avoided making bad luck for the raiding party.
It also made raiding seem like a ceremony, and for all of his life thereafter Cochise loved the language of the warpath, so like a prayer. Cochise remembered everything his father told him, mindful that his behavior in his apprenticeship would determine his nature for the rest of his life.
His father had told him, “Don’t be a coward; don’t be untruthful; don’t eat too much when you come back to camp between raids, or that will be your nature.” He also began the lifelong task of learning the instincts and habits that would protect him through a long, violent life.
He learned never to travel across open spaces in the daylight, when the dust of his passing would send a message to his enemies for many miles around.
He learned to find water by climbing to a high place and marking the tell-tale bits of green.
He learned never to approach water sources in the daylight, but to wait for the protection of night.
He learned to always rest and always sleep in places where he could find good cover quickly – but not in deep shade where his enemies would look for him.
Instead, the warriors would rest in a hollow of the ground, behind a bush, in some place where no one would think that a man might conceal himself.
And if he were caught in the open, he learned to lie still like the antelope fawn and perhaps very slowly pull a bit of brush in front of himself to break up his form – the way jaguar’s spots make him invisible.
He learned never to run toward the sound of shooting, but to circle around and investigate before showing himself.
He learned that when he saw someone following, he should make a small fire with smoke and then go off a ways to see who came to the fire.
He learned how to read tracks, so that he could recognize the individual print of the horse of each warrior in the tribe, so he could determine whether a horse had a rider.
He learned to break apart the leavings of a horse and know by that whether the horse carried a Mexican, or a warrior – and how long it had been since the horse of a Mexican was at home eating oats.
He learned to identify what band a man had come from by the print of his moccasin.
He learned the subtle arrangements of stones and twigs by which a warrior could leave a message for any members of his band, so that they could find him again or be warned about dangers up ahead or coming on behind. Cochise covered himself with honor in completing the four raids of his apprenticeship.
The warriors spoke well of him.
And so he came into manhood, and now could marry and attend counsel, and step forward into the firelight when war leaders sought warriors to accompany them on raids. It was good and right that he should have completed his training.
For as he learned his calling as a warrior, the world had changed.
The storm had been gathering like the thunderheads of summer, black and bursting with wind and thunder. Cochise ran eagerly toward the sound of thunder, glad that he could distinguish himself as a warrior after all the quiet times that had gone before.
But he was a young man then who did not understand death or weeping. He would learn that later. And ponder it all his life. USSEN GIVES CORN TO KILLER-OF-ENEMIES Ussen told Child-of-Waters and Killer-of-Enemies to separate.
Ussen told Killer-of-Enemies, “You go out this way and take one grain of corn and put it in the ground.
You will live from that.” So they gave this corn to Killer-of-Enemies and Yusn said, “you shall live happily on this grain of corn.” — Pisago Cabezon saw the first rocks of the avalanche bounding down the hill of these raids, and thought what he might do to stop it.
His Chokonens remained in the Chiricahuas for several seasons, then went cautiously back to Janos, in Chihuahua, with whom the Chokonen were still at peace.
But it seemed that the Spanish had gone.
Perhaps they had lost their war.
Now he had to deal with the Mexicans, who seemed more confused and suspicious.
They said they had very little to offer as rations.
Pisago Cabezon asked for farm tools, an interpreter and more rations.
The Mexicans gave them a few tools and Pisago Cabezon urged his people to farm a little bit to see if they could feed themselves without rations.
They lived near the Chihenne band of Juan Diego and tried to keep the peace.
But finally the rations stopped coming and the spotted sickness returned – so they again fled Janos. The People resumed a life of raiding and warfare just as Cochise, and Coyuntura, and Juan came into their maturity.
Their strength as warriors gave Pisago Cabezon added influence and he took them into his counsels.
Cochise quickly began to accumulate a personal following, so that even older and more experienced warriors would step into the firelight when he danced out to the drumbeat to accumulate a raiding party. Cochise by then already had a commanding presence.
He was taller than most warriors, standing nearly six feet tall He was upright as a pine, with the lithe grace of a lion.
He had broad shoulders, a deep chest, long muscular arms, a tapered waist and long, graceful legs with muscles like corded sinew.
Women nudged one another and lowered their eyes when he passed, for he was striking to watch.
He had strong angular features, with a handsome, prominent nose that had earned him a boyhood nickname.
This nose and the angles of his face gave him the aspect of an eagle, fierce and alert and intimidating.
His eyes bespoke Power — careful, deliberate deep and glinting with intelligence.
He watched everything with grave attention and a glimmer of calculation – so he could strip a man down to the bone and examine his joints with his intent, wary gaze.
But normally his eyes seemed kind and careful, with a wavering of humor behind them, like heat shimmers rising off coals.
He had learned to tether his coiled temper to the perch of his duty, but it still lunged sometimes against the cord of will which bound it when his he was treated with disrespect or when someone’s laziness or carelessness put others at risk.
The other warriors learned to have care around him – excepting only Coyuntura and Juan and his other brothers who teased and rough-housed with him.
Most warriors love to play small pranks on one another, smuggling nettles into the bedding, loosening a saddle cinch, putting pine pitch on the notch of an arrow, rolling their eyes and making crude jokes when a certain man turns his back so that everyone else will laugh.
Everyone laughs at such jokes, and loves to tell the stories later.
But something in Cochise did not invite such mockery.
He took it in good face, but even when he was a young warrior and all others were spilling pranks like a cracked olla, Cochise maintained a certain detachment – a dignity that the horseplay could not penetrate.
Save with his brothers, who delighted in pulling his tail – especially when others were watching. He learned the lessons of leadership from his father, understanding that a leader must dedicate himself to the welfare of his people.
His father told him that a leader must be sympathetic and by word and example help the People know how they should live.
He must be generous, giving everything to those in need.
A leader may have command in war – so that warriors will obey him – but in camp he only advises.
He must help the unfortunate and those whose luck is bad.
He must strive to avoid quarrels and settle disagreements within the group to maintain harmony.
But he is just like everyone else, except he has proven by his wisdom and his conduct that his words have merit. From the sanctuary of the Dragoons and Chiricahuas, the Chokonen sent many raiding parties into Sonora, while mostly leaving Chihuahua alone.
The Sonorans raised an army of 400 men, which they sent after the raiders.
But the slow moving force of poorly trained soldiers could not catch up to a raiding party.
They had to stumble over a careless raiding party in their camp to do any damage, and they did not dare make an expedition to the Chiricahua Mountains to strike at the camps the raiding parties left behind. The war went back and forth, with the deaths mounting on both sides.
Chokonen raiding parties ran off the horse herd from Fronteras and attacked the mail coach near Bavispe, striking and then retreating.
Then the Sonorans surprised a camp near the Gila River south of the Mogollon Mountains, killing many people.
So Pisago Cabezon, a rising young Chihenne war leader named Mangas Coloradas and Mano Mocha gathered up about 300 warriors to seek revenge.
Cochise rode with his father, believing in his youth that no one could stand against so great a force of warriors.
But they encountered a smaller Sonoran army and entered into a battle that went all day.
Because they had so many warriors, they fought the Sonorans openly – charging in with their lances and bows, showing their reckless courage.
But the Sonorans held their discipline, charging up against the disorganized mass of warriors from many bands.
The Sonorans also had guns and lots of ammunition, while only a few of the warriors had guns.
At the end of the day, the warriors retreated in confusion.
They had lost many men, but had killed only a few of the Sonorans.
The war party broke up in anger and confusion and the shattered pieces of it made their way back to the scattered camps of their women and children.
Cochise made careful note of this great loss.
He saw that the battle had revealed a great weakness of the People and a great strength of the Mexicans.
Certainly, the guns and horses of the Sonorans had made a great difference.
But more important was the way they had held their discipline, working as well together as a small raiding party.
By contrast, the warriors had each followed his own band leader, or had acted entirely on his own.
This was the beginning of the long hard lesson of his life, gained in the death and blood. Shortly, a Sonoran army surprised a large encampment in Arivaipa Canyon, not far from the Chiricahua Mountains themselves.
In that fight, the Sonorans killed more than 70 people, and suffered little loss.
These losses convinced some of the leaders they should make peace with the Sonorans after all, even if they could not get rations.
About 29 leaders including Juan Jose Compa and Mangas Coloradas went back down to Janos to make peace again. For most of his life, Juan Jose Compa pushed hard for peace with the Mexicans.
He had been captured by the Mexicans as a boy, and raised first as a slave, then in a family and then trained to be one of the priests.
But he had eventually gone back to his own people, using the things he had learned to try to stop the fighting and negotiate a peace.
In the negotiations, they relied, in part, for translation on a man who would soon cast a long shadow across the Chokonen.
He was a new kind of man – very pale with a bushy beard like an animal and vivid eyes all white around the pupil.
His name was James Kirker and he was an American, which was a tribe like the Mexicans living far to the east.
Some of them had been passing quietly through the Chokonen territory for years now, mostly going along the streams to trap beaver.
They would just throw the meat aside and take the skins, which seemed in keeping with the strange behavior of these White Eyes.
Most of the leaders saw no harm in them and urged their warriors to let them alone.
They did not know what sort of people these Americans might be, so they thought it best not to start a war as they had plenty to do in killing the Mexicans. Other White Eyes came along in the seasons that followed, including Kirker and another man – Robert McKnight.
They weren’t interested in beaver.
Instead, McKnight began running the copper mines at Santa Rita del Cobre, which was in the heart of the Chihenne territory.
The Spanish had started the mine and the Mexicans kept it up, but then McKnight took it over.
The Chihenne had tolerated this settlement in the heart of their land with misgivings, but they found they could trade meat and skins and things they’d taken in raids in Sonora with the miners, with McKnight and with James Kirker, who often went there.
Kirker was a good talker.
People said he could faster than Coyote, who had convinced all the Prairie Dogs to dance all night by the fire while he clubbed them over the head, one by one.
More important, Kirker had guns and powder, which he loaded onto mules and brought to the camps of the People.
He traded the guns and powder for horses, cattle and the gold and silver and money the warriors brought back from their raids.
Before Kirker and men like him came around, the warriors didn’t even bother to bring those things back because the coins were only good for ornaments, the paper only good for burning and the gold only good for making ear hoops.
But after the warriors discovered that Kirker would trade good guns for these things, they went through the packs and pockets of the people they killed to get some of it.
Kirker went freely from camp to camp, sometimes staying a while.
He even learned the tongue of the People, so he could translate for them when they talked to the Mexicans. But the peace that Juan Jose Compa made with Janos only lasted for one full round of seasons, partly because he could not control the raiding by other bands – especially the Chokonen.
Pisago Cabezon and his sons stayed out, and Cochise raided right to the outskirts of Janos, running off the soldiers’ horses.
The Chihenne living near Janos protested that they had nothing to do with this raid, although some of the more headlong Chihenne warriors were raiding with the Chokonen.
Juan Jose Compa explained that he could not command warriors, only urge them to remain at peace.
But the Mexicans could not seem to understand this, and the continued raids caused bad feeling that broke the peace.
Soon the war broke out again, and the Chihenne ran away from Janos. Now the fighting grew stronger than ever.
The Chokonen did not count everything like the Mexicans, but they killed maybe 200 people in Sonora and Chihuahua in the next round of seasons.
Pisago Cabezon and Relles, who also led a large faction of the Chokonen, ran off the Fronteras horse herd, riding to within bow shot of the walls of the town to taunt the soldiers.
The soldiers chased them, but this time Pisago Cabezon set a trap, killing their leader and three soldiers.
After that, the warriors rode right into Chinapa and took everything they wanted because the soldiers were frightened and scattered and could do nothing. After that, they returned to the Chiricahuas to celebrate their great victory – with many days of dancing in which the warriors acted out their battles and their victories.
They invited some friends and relatives among the White Mountain people to come down for that, and this led on to a joint raid by the Chokonen and the White Mountain warriors on Tucson and Tubac, which were the closest Mexican settlements to the strongholds of the Chokonen.
They routed the small force of soldiers who resisted them and killed anyone they found outside the protection of the city itself. Of course the Sonorans fought back as blood always calls for blood.
An army of more than 400 Sonorans guided by Opata Indians, who had long been enemies of the People, and also some warriors from other bands, went deep into Chiricahua territory.
In Apache Pass, they surprised a band in the Mogollon Mountains led by Tutije, who was a friend and ally of Pisago Cabezon.
The Mexicans took Tutije back and paraded him through the streets of Arispe to shame him.
He gave them no satisfaction, looking about curiously with no show of distress.
Then they took him into the town square to hang him, so his neck would be bent and stretched in the after life and he would be shamed by this.
Still he said nothing as they hung him, only watched the jeering crowd, his dark eyes flashing with contempt.
Of course, when Cochise heard this he gathered up warriors and led them down into Sonora toward Arispe to kill as many people as possible. By this time, it was clear to the warriors that Power had spoken to Cochise.
They did not ask him directly, for one does not speak directly about Power.
They knew this because Cochise had a reckless courage that would have been foolish if his Power had not given him protection from bullets.
Moreover, People said Cochise understood his enemies’ plans, as though Power had warned him before the battle.
But no one was sure as to the nature of Cochise’s Power.
Certainly, Pisago Cabezon had Power — everyone could see that.
And they knew he was grooming Cochise for leadership, so everyone assumed he had given Cochise his ceremonies. Of course, Power must make the first approach.
Power resides in everything, and each Power expresses itself through the things that partake of its aspect.
Goose Power moves through the world and everything that expresses an aspect of its essential nature provides some connection to Goose Power – which confers great endurance.
Power has feelings and needs, just like human beings.
Power wants to talk to people.
It wants someone to learn its ceremonies, as a man wants to teach his son.
Power is always looking around for people that might suit it – especially people whose minds are smooth and resilient and steady.
You cannot gain the help of Power simply by learning the ceremonies, because if Power does not want you then, you’ll always do the ceremonies a little bit wrong and they won’t work at all.
Usually Power comes first to you, using flattery to win you over.
Power says, “I can’t find a better man than you are.
I like your ways.
There are many men here, but I can’t find a better one.
You are the very person for me.
I want to give you something to live by through this world, because you will meet many difficulties.” Sometimes people learn ceremonies from someone who has already made friends with a certain Power so they will have a better chance of attracting the attention of Power.
This can pose a danger also.
You can flatter Power by learning its ceremony and performing that ceremony with skill and respect, but if you make mistakes, you can also anger Power.
Then maybe Power will turn its gifts around or tell you things that aren’t true to humble you or even get you killed.
That is why some people don’t listen to Power, even when Power wants to teach them its ceremonies.
After all, Power can trick you and use you and make people talk about you.
Sometimes Power tests you, making you give up your friends and your family to it to prove your loyalty.
Or sometimes Power tempts people to become witches.
Sometimes Power will even tempt you, saying you can live a long time if you give it the lives of your wife and your children.
Sometimes people say to that Power, “I’m a poor fellow, and there are many other people here good enough for that.
Let me alone.
I don’t want your ceremony.” Of course, you have to be careful in doing this as well – so that you don’t anger Power.
Maybe Power will arrange for something bad to happen to you.
Or maybe that Power will go to someone else who knows its ceremonies and get them to witch you. Witchcraft was the dark underside of Power.
Most people used Power for good – but sometimes bad people would use Power for evil.
No one talked about witches – for they did not want to attract the attention of a witch.
But they kept their eyes out for it.
Witches would use someone’s hair or their clothing or a bit of bone – to direct bad luck or illness or some disaster onto someone who had angered them.
That’s why everyone paid attention if two fellows had a big fight and then one of them died soon after in a way that suggested witchcraft.
Whenever anyone got sick or had a lot of bad luck, they would try to think who they might have offended.
Had they refused to share their food? Maybe someone had come up and admired a beautiful Navajo rug in your wickiup and you had been greedy and selfish and refused to give that rug to him – then that person might have witched you.
That was one reason there was no use in grabbing hold of lots of things and belittling other people with all your possessions, for this only caused resentment and stirred up witches against you.
Then a witch might give you a stomach ache or some other problem, using his own Power – which sometimes communicated with him through his sexual organ or even his own flatulence.
On this account, people looked for signs that someone was a witch – strange ceremonies, little pouches with bones, leaving camp at strange times, running around naked and handling their sexual organs, wearing dirty clothes or smelling of rotten meat.
One of the surest signs of witchcraft was incest – or sexual desire for a close relative.
If the People caught a witch they would make that witch confess and explain who they had hurt.
Then they burned that witch alive.
Of course, this was also a dangerous thing to do – for some of those witches were strong.
Pisago Cabezon told Cochise about one case in which a woman and her husband were suspected of being witches.
They ran away when they heard people talking about them, but those people followed them and caught the woman and her baby.
She admitted she practiced witchcraft, although she didn’t have bones or pieces of hair or other things to invoke her Power.
However, she said she had caused the death of two good men in battle.
Those people didn’t believe that she didn’t have any objects with Power in them through which she cast her spells and offered to spare her if she gave them those objects – but she said she didn’t have anything.
They tied her up by her wrists and lit a fire under her and burned her up – although she took a long while to burn.
All the time she was burning, she didn’t make a sound.
In the end, they threw that baby in the fire also, although they hated to do that.
Later, all of the leaders of that band and most of the people who were there for the burning all died – for the witch had doomed them in her own dying. But despite the dangers of witchcraft, the wise and responsible exercise of Power remained essential to leadership among the People.
Few warriors will follow a leader who does not have Power, for war is much too dangerous to go out without any help.
The great leaders of the People all had Power over men, to guide their decisions, bolster their eloquence and bend the wills of other men.
How else could anyone lead the People, who treasure their independence more than do the lions? From the time he was a boy, Cochise longed for Power.
He searched through his dreams for signs.
He went out alone among the rocks and trees to pray.
He listened carefully to any mention of Power.
He looked for charms, to carry with him in a pouch on his belt.
He made his mind steady, resilient and smooth.
And when Power finally did come to him, he listened long and carefully.
He did not run after it like a dog to meat, but he spoke respectfully as to his father.
In return, Power gave him great gifts in war – protection against bullets, far seeing, the forewarning of danger, the endurance of Goose, the cleverness of Coyote.
Power gave him also gifts of leadership – eloquence in speech, force of will, and a long shadow to cast out over others.
And with the Power, came the responsibility to lead his people through the dangerous times that lay ahead, like the sunlit crossing of the desert. In the flush of his Power, Cochise was hungry for war.
The Mexicans seemed weak and helpless – the soldiers they sent out easy to evade.
Cochise and Coyuntura and Juan pushed always to the front of a raiding party, gathering glory for themselves and respect for their father.
Being young and full of anger and convinced of their Power, they did not understand why some of the old men spoke longingly of peace.
Every now and then, some Chihenne warrior from the camp of Juan Jose Compa, would find Pisago Cabezon with a message urging the Chokonen to make peace with Janos and with Santa Rita Del Cobre.
Juan Jose Compa said that James Kirker and others at Santa Rita Del Cobre were friendly, and would provide plenty of goods – guns, ammunition and supplies.
He said peace would favor them all.
Pisago Cabezon always listened respectfully, for Juan Jose Compa was a strong ally, but he never agreed to come in, and his sons and the other war leaders of the Chokonen continued to raid. The Sonorans continued to fight back as best they could.
They grew stronger after they made a new general, Elias Gonzalez.
People said he was a good fighter and not as greedy as the man who had been the commander before.
He raised an army of 400 soldiers and sent them into the Chokonen territory, but Pisago Cabezon stepped out of their path. Then word began filtering back that the Mexicans had a new tactic.
Cochise noticed it first in great puzzlement when he began to find the stray bodies of people, each with their hair cut off.
Many were from bands that had been trying to live peacefully near Mexican towns.
But many of them were Mexicans as well, people living in out-of-the-way places.
The People did not take the hair of human beings.
That would invite the Chindi ghost spirits of the dead ones to follow around after you and do mischief.
The People had as little to do with the dead as possible, burying their own dead quickly and then ever afterwards not even mentioning their names, so they did not invite the attention of the Chindi or disturb the loved one in the Happy Place.
When someone died, they took all of his things, piled them up in their wickiup and burned everything – partly as a gesture of respect and partly so the things the person had loved would draw them back from the Happy Place.
So the idea of cutting off the hair of a dead person and carrying it around as a trophy was repulsive to the People.
When he first started finding people without their hair, Cochise studied the nearby tracks.
Mostly the killers seemed to be groups of well-armed men – not soldiers.
He began asking people he captured about the killings.
Finally, he learned that the Sonorans had promised to pay money to anyone who could kill any of the People and bring their hair back as proof.
The Sonorans paid 100 pesos for the hair of a warrior, 50 pesos for the hair of a woman and 25 pesos for the hair of a child.
When the warriors learned about the bounty for even the hair of their children, anger rose up in them like flames into the great logs when the Gahn dancers whirl.
After that, they sometimes cut off a piece of the hair of Sonorans they killed, usually throwing the hair back down on the body in disgust.
Sometimes they cut out the heart, and left it there on the stomach as well – so that the person would walk around that way in the afterlife – just as their friends and relatives must walk around in the Happy Place without their hair. Then when the Earth Is Reddish Brown James Kirker found the camp of Pisago Cabezon , bringing with him supplies for trading.
Pisago Cabezon held a feast for Kirker, impressed that the White Eye spoke as the People, and seemed so willing to help them against the Mexicans.
He began to think that Juan Jose Compa was right, and that they should at least make peace with Santa Rita Del Cobre so they could bind up their greatest weakness in this long fight with Sonora – their lack of guns and ammunition.
But after the feast, when everyone was sleeping off the tiswin and the great quantities of whiskey Kirker had brought, the Sonorans under Elias Gonzalez attacked the unprepared camp.
They were nearly in among the wickiups before the first warriors saw them, and in the first few minutes of the fighting they had killed 10 warriors.
Among the dead was Chirumpe, the little brother who Cochise loved so dearly.
Kirker jumped up with the warriors when the Mexican attack began and himself rallied one group of warriors behind some good cover, showing them how to fire in volleys so that the shooting would have more impact.
The stand by several groups of warriors stopped the first rush of the soldiers so the women and children could jump up and run away.
Fortunately, Pisago Cabezon had selected the camp with his customary care, so the women and children had a safe route of escape and the warriors could hold back the soldiers – giving ground from cover to cover. After that, Cochise went to raid even more – living almost constantly on the warpath and killing as many Sonorans as possible, trying to ease the fury of his heart for the brother whose name he no longer spoke.
But the death of his son seemed to work a change in Pisago Cabezon.
He cut off his hair and grieved for a long while, going off alone to speak with his Power.
At first, he talked about seeking his revenge.
He sent out runners to allied bands – and also to the Navajo and the Utes – who were often enemy people.
And for a while, the runners went back and forth, so it seemed many people would join together to inflict a terrible punishment on the Sonorans.
But the great plan soon began to fall apart – perhaps because so much blood lay between the People and the Navajo and the Utes.
Or perhaps because the Power of Pisago Cabezon decided not to help him do this thing.
After that, Pisago Cabezon began to talk more about Santa Rita Del Cobre and Juan Jose Compa.
Often he would remember how James Kirker had fought with them against the Mexicans, even rallying the warriors to protect the women and children.
He said that James Kirker and the other White Eyes at Santa Rita Del Cobre might make good friends.
He said Santa Rita Del Cobre was part of Chihuahua, which was a different tribe from Sonora.
Perhaps they should make friends again with Chihuahua, but continue to raid Sonora.
Cochise was worried about the change in his father, for he did not altogether trust Kirker.
There was something cunning and dangerous about the man.
So Cochise mostly remained out raiding with the warriors who now comprised his personal following.
But when he came home, he listened to his father’s talk about peace with a troubled mind. In the season of Many Leaves, Pisago Cabezon took his personal following to Santa Rita Del Cobre and talked to the commander there about settling nearby and living in peace.
The nantan there said the Chokonen must make peace with Sonora as well, but that perhaps Elias Gonzales would listen to them.
A little bit later some of the Chihenne and Chokonen leaders, including Relles, Matias and Miguel Narbona, met with Gonzalez at Arispe – the very place where the Sonorans had hung Tutije.
Gonzales said he wanted peace with the People and would give them rations if they settled near the presidios. Pisago Cabezon and his sons did not go, for they were still camped near Santa Rita Del Cobre and did not trust the Sonorans.
But then the Mexicans in Santa Rita Del Cobre one day beat, stabbed, speared and shot a woman and two men – all relatives of Pisago Cabezon — for no reason anyone understood.
So the band left the area.
Cochise said they should avenge the deaths and kill anyone they could find near Santa Rita Del Cobre.
But Pisago Cabezon said they should go as quickly as possible away from that place.
A messenger from Relles said that now Sonora wanted peace, and although Cochise urged his father not to trust Gonzales, Pisago Cabezon seemed determined to end the fighting.
He went to Fronteras, the chief city of Sonora, to meet with Gonzales.
He was impressed with Gonzales, who seemed an honorable man and a good enemy – but perhaps a better friend.
Pisago Cabezon agreed to go back to Santa Rita Del Cobre to talk about a grand peace that would include both Sonora and Chihuahua. But the peace did not work out.
The Chihuahuans did not agree to it and would not provide rations.
The Chokonen and Chihenne settled in Sonora, but continued to raid settlements in Chihuahua.
After a while, even the peace with Sonora broke apart, as Pisago Cabezon and Juan Jose Compa could not control raiding by other bands, or even their own warriors. Still, Pisago Cabezon remained alert to the possibility of peace.
He could remember the peaceful times, when a man would sleep through the night and not start up four times holding his bow because an owl made a noise in a tree.
Now he had been fighting for many years.
He had lost his son and his relatives and many warriors – and still the Mexicans seemed as numerous as ever.
The size of his raiding parties had dwindled.
Once he had led 300 warriors in the great battle against the Mexicans, but now he could rarely raise more than a few dozen.
They had little hope any more of winning great battles, but had to go with a few warriors and pick their fights carefully.
So he looked for some opportunity to make peace. Then in the season of Little Eagles, Juan Jose Compa’s Chihenne and Nednhis where camped in the Animas Mountains when the sentries reported the approach of John Johnson, a White Eye trader who, like Kirker, had kept the Chihenne and Nednhis supplied with guns and powder.
He had with him 17 White Eyes and five Mexicans, and supplies for trading, so Juan Jose welcomed them.
The sentries said Johnson had two strange metal tubes on wheels with him, but Juan Jose did not worry too much about that – and his Power remained silent. The warriors feasted and danced with the White Eyes for the next two days, the boisterous mood of celebration greatly improved by the potent liquor Johnson brought.
The liquor of the Mexicans was stronger than tizwin, and did not spoil, so a man could stay drunk for days at a time.
The People would stay in their own camp, but then go to Johnson’s camp to trade and gamble and joke with the White Eyes, who seemed hard bitten men and well armed, but friendly and generous.
On the second day, the warriors, with many of their wives and children, rode carelessly into camp.
Johnson had made a big pile of presents in the middle of a clear space, so the women and children and warriors hurried toward the pile. Suddenly, one of the White Eyes threw the cover off of the metal tube on wheels and all of the other White Eyes pulled out guns they had concealed.
The metal tube on wheels roared, spitting out bullets like a swarm of bees.
Immediately, everyone begin running about in confusion.
Juan Jose, thinking someone had made a terrible mistake, ran to Johnson, begging him to stop his men from shooting.
But Johnson shot Juan Jose.
In moments, 20 people lay dead on the ground. They would have killed even more, but some of the warriors rallied and began shooting back.
Foremost among them was Mangas Coloradas, a Giant warrior who stood 6 feet 4 inches — already fierce in raiding.
He had a head like a buffalo, and penetrating, careful, calculating, fierce eyes.
He had so long a reach that few could survive for five minutes in a knife fight with him.
In council, he could set fire to grass with his words – driving his opponents before him like antelope.
He was shrewd and far-seeing, sure of his own mind, so striking in appearance that women who had never seen him talked about him, a sought-after story teller, and a terrible foe.
Some said he was called Mangas Coloradas, Red Sleeves, because of his fondness for colorful outfits – often taken from soldiers he had killed.
Others said it was because his sleeves dripped the blood of his enemies.
He had gained already a great reputation in war, distinguished more for the complexity and sophistication of his plans than for the sort of personal courage and headlong attack that had distinguished Cochise.
He had long questioned Juan Jose Compa’s strong embrace of peace and chaffed under the restrictions the chief imposed on him and on his raiders.
But he had gone along with his chief, bound by duty and family ties.
He had come to the feast with the others, but he had not drunk any of Johnson’s whiskey as he loitered on the edge of the festivities, with his dark, wary, cunning eyes moving constantly about.
He had reacted quickly when he saw the guns coming out and dashed for cover, stopping only to gather up a baby who had fallen from the arms of a dying woman as he ran.
Only later did Mangas Coloradas realize that the baby he had scooped up was his own son. So died Juan Jose Compa, the strong ally of Pisago Cabezon, and the great advocate of peace with Chihuahua.
And so rose Mangas Coloradas, whose life would soon loom up alongside that of Cochise, like two giant pines from the same root so tall all others lived in their shade. HORNED TOAD SAVES A WOMAN AND BOY FROM THE GIANT The Giant caught a woman and a little boy when they were out picking berries.
He put them in his basket.
While he was carrying them, they defecated in the basket.
Then, as they went under a tree, they caught on to a limb and got out. Giant got tired and put the basket down.
He saw that they were gone and saw the excrement there.
He looked back and saw them, coming down from the tree.
He started after them.
They ran and cried, but he was gaining on them. But as they ran they saw a horned toad. “Pick me up,” he called to them. “The Giant is afraid of me.” They stopped and picked up the horned toad and held it up.
Sure enough, the Giant was afraid and ran and they were saved. CHAPTER FOUR 1838 THE DEATH OF PISAGO CABEZON THE RISE OF COCHISE — Then he went back to the people. “Stop!” he told them. “Don’t drink that water!” It’s no good! Coyote has pissed in it! That’s why all of you are sick.” Then one of those people said, “We didn’t know.
We were thirsty.
The water looked safe.
We were in a hurry and it didn’t look dangerous.” Those people trusted their eyes.
They should have waited until their leader had finished looking around.
One of those children nearly died. It happened at Ma’Tehilizhe – Coyote Pisses in the Water. CHAPTER SEVEN 1861 “CUT THE TENT” – DRIVEN TO WAR Cochise waited quietly as a bow drawn back but not released, pondering the puzzle of the Americans.
He could feel the peace sliding away, as the shifting of a slope heavy with snow.
He knew this avalanche might bury the People and wondered whether he could still stop the slide.
In his heart, he believed the Americans offered a better chance of a negotiated peace than the Mexicans, who had proved treacherous beyond hope of change.
While other leaders went down into Mexico to seek a peace there, he held himself alert to the possibility of peace with the Americans. He prayed often, smoothing and steadying his mind, trying to see ahead to know what he must do.
He pondered his dreams, studying them as carefully as a hunter studies tracks.
Power had many ways of giving you warnings and sending you clues.
If you sneezed, it might mean someone was talking about you.
If you saw rings around the moon, you could expect a change in weather – or if you see a snake dead and turned on its back.
A shooting star will often point to where the enemy approaches and the shaking of the earth or the sudden darkening of the sun or the moon might warn of approaching epidemics in time to move camp out of the path of the pestilence.
Often, Power talked to people through trembling of their muscles.
Dreams often offered portents.
Dreaming of fire is bad and a dream of overflowing water was a warning about death.
So were dreams about losing your teeth – or having deer or bulls or any hoofed animal running after you.
Dreams often meant the opposite of what they seemed –if you dreamed about being sick it often meant you would be well for a long time, or if you dreamed about dying you would live a long life.
Dreams about summer – with its plentiful food and explosion of green –were almost always a good thing.
But dreams about the dead were almost always a sign of bad news coming. When runners came with news that a detachment of soldiers had camped near the Apache Pass stage station under a white flag to meet with Cochise and exchange presents, the chief gathered up his family and his most trusted warriors to go and meet with the nantan.
The runners said the nantan had come from the fort on Sonoita Creek, and seemed friendly and well disposed – although he had a large, well-armed force.
Coyuntura was in camp and readily agreed to go along, joking that someone must go along to keep Cochise from trouble.
Cochise also took Dos-teh-seh and Naiche, so they could see the White Eyes close up and so the soldiers would see that he came peacefully to the meeting.
In his heart, he hoped this talk might lead to a chance to strengthen the peace with the Americans. Cochise and his warriors went into Apache Pass in the season of the Ghost Dance and camped not far from the soldier camp.
They were down in Siphon Canyon, a mile from the stage station that lay close to the spring.
This dependable spring was the reason this high pass between the Chiricahua Mountains and Dos Cabezas was important to anyone traveling, especially Whites riding horses and pulling wagons.
The next reliable water you could get to with a wagon lay 40 miles west at Dragoon Springs, after the long, hot crossing of the Sulfur Springs Valley between the 8,000-foot peaks of the Dragoons to the west and the Chiricahuas to the east.
Cochise made his camp and sent out other runners.
Some said they had heard the soldiers were led by a nantan named Lieutenant George Bascom, who was looking for a boy a White Mountain band had taken from a ranch nearby owned by a White man named John Ward, a hard, harsh, dangerous man.
Ward had married a Mexican woman, who had once been a captive among one of the bands of the People.
She had a warrior’s baby, but took the baby, ran away and ended up living on the ranch with John Ward as his wife.
He had adopted the boy – although some people said he used the boy harshly, and beat him sometimes – until the White Mountain band took him.
But the nantan had made no demands and seemed peacefully inclined, saying he only wanted to talk to Cochise and give his people presents. Cochise sent out runners to determine which band had taken the boy in case the nantan wanted that information.
While he was waiting, one of the stage station men – a friendly fellow named Wallace, who had always treated the Chokonen fairly, came alone into his camp to say the nantan up the canyon was eager to meet with him under the flag of truce.
In the meantime, lookouts posted in the canyon brought word a freight train was coming carelessly into the pass, taking no precautions.
Because he had come in some measure to trust Wallace and because the soldiers did not seem worried about the wagon train helpless in the pass, Cochise decided to meet with the nantan in the soldier camp.
He took with him Coyuntura, Dos-teh-seh, Naiche, the son of Coyuntura, a son of Juan and another of his good friends.
In all the years that remained of his life, Cochise would most regret that single afternoon when he had had trusted the White Eyes while his Power had stood silent.
Cochise went confidently into the middle of the soldier camp, although some 54 well-armed solders stood round about.
He followed along behind his own eagerness for a peace to protect his People from the destruction threatening them.
He brought with him his wife and child as a sign of his good faith, for he had never known the American soldiers to violate the white flag of truce.
Moreover, he believed the men from the stage station would not betray the Chokonen, who had only to close their hands to take their lives.
Cochise went even into the nantan’s tent, confident the stage station men would speak for him to the soldiers. The nantan was only a boy, not far out of baby grass – his whiskers soft and his face smooth.
At first, the nantan was polite – greeting them in a friendly manner.
Ward stood beside the nantan to translate, which displeased Cochise.
Ward was a rough and violent man and although he had married the Mexican woman and taken in a boy in whose body ran the blood of the People, he threatened anyone who came on his land.
Cochise watched Ward with a wary eye, wondering whether he was twisting the words to his own ends.
Nonetheless, the nantan offered them food from a table in the middle of the tent and also coffee in clever cups.
But after a few polite words, the nantan began to speak in a rough and disrespectful tone, which Cochise could understand well enough even without Ward’s sneering translation.
The nantan said Cochise had stolen the boy from Ward’s ranch and must return the boy at once.
Cochise answered soothingly, saying none of his warriors had taken the boy.
He thought maybe a White Mountain band had taken him.
But he would send out runners to the other bands – even the White Mountain bands – and ask them to bring the boy back.
He said he thought he could get the boy back within 10 days. But Bascom refused to listen, dismissing the words of Cochise in an insulting manner — as much as calling him a liar.
He said he would keep Cochise and his family prisoner until his warriors returned the boy. Cochise stood completely still staring into the face of the nantan as Ward translated, although he had already heard the hardness in the nantan’s tone.
Cochise felt his Power stir in him now, like a bear in spring.
Several soldiers stood close beside the nantan, their hands on their guns.
He could recall the many soldiers he had seen outside the tent as he entered and knew several waited on each side of the door to the tent.
He could see the whole campsite in his mind, together with the details of the slope just to the east of the camp – covered with the rocks that had known him all his life.
In the instant Ward finished the translation, Cochise had his knife in his hand.
In a single motion, he turned and slashed open the wall of the tent with a single downward sweep of his knife before any of the soldiers could so much as shift their stances.
In almost the same moment, Coyuntura and his son had their knives out as well and they followed Cochise through the cut in tent.
Cochise did not pause, but ran between two astonished soldiers.
From behind, Cochise heard the blast of Ward’s gun, and at the edge of his vision he saw all of the soldiers scattered around the camp turning toward him, their guns in their hands.
He did not pause, but sprinted toward the hill he had seen so perfectly in his mind.
But coming out behind his brother, Coyuntura caught his toe in the cloth of the tent and stumbled.
In a moment, the soldiers were on him.
The warrior coming out behind him ran into the guns of the soldiers, who cut him down with a volley of shots.
Many fired their guns at Cochise, who ran up the hill without looking back.
The bullets buzzed past his head, angry as bees.
The soldiers fired more than 50 times at Cochise as he dashed without pause to the top of the hill.
One bullet cut through his thigh as he ran, making blood stream down his leg – but he paid no attention to the wound.
He paused at the top of the hill and turned about to see the soldiers struggling after him – far behind.
None of the others had escaped.
The soldiers had hold of Coyuntura, and the other warrior who had been in the tent lay broken, bleeding his life into the dust.
Naiche and Dos-teh-seh and his nephews had never escaped the tent.
Looking down at his hand, Cochise saw he still held the beautiful coffee cup the nantan had given him.
He cast the cup aside and as the bullets spattered against the rocks that had once again befriended him, Cochise turned and disappeared over the crest of the hill. He ran quickly back to his camp where he had left the main force of his warriors.
They met him, trotting toward the sound of shooting.
He quickly took command of his men, stopping only a moment to bind up the wound in his leg to stop the bleeding.
Perhaps later it would stiffen and the pain would hobble him, but now he ignored it.
He sent out runners to bring back other bands, determined to trap the soldiers in the canyon until they had released his brother and his wife and his son and his nephew.
Then he led the warriors back to the ridge overlooking the soldier camp.
Cochise called down in a strong voice from the ridge, “Let me see my brother.” No voice floated back up the hill, but a moment later a volley of smoke and thunder came from where the soldiers had taken cover behind the rocks and trees – followed a moment later by the pinging and whistling of the bullets.
Cochise rose up in his fury, heedless of the bullets – knowing his Power had already protected him in from their hornet swarm as he ran up the hill. “I will be avenged,” he called down to the soldiers in a cold fury. “The blood of the People is as good as white man’s blood.
We have been falsely accused, and for every harm you have done to me and mine, I will be avenged.” Cochise then retreated from the ridge, putting out his warriors to keep the soldiers from escaping the canyon and waiting for his reinforcements to arrive. That night as darkness fell, Bascom broke camp and moved his men a mile up the canyon to the stage station, with stone walls that would give his men protection.
The warriors followed them, keeping good count and noting the soldiers had lots of ammunition and supplies for a long siege.
The warriors took up positions on the hills overlooking the stage station, setting signal fires to draw together the scattered bands of the Chokonen.
They watched the soldiers through the night, waiting for the fatal dawn. The next morning, Cochise gathered his warriors 600 yards from the stage station and put out a white flag.
When they received no response from the soldiers, one warrior took the flag and approached the soldiers – walking toward their waiting guns with great courage.
He called out to Bascom, saying Cochise would meet with the nantan halfway between the soldiers and the ravine where the warriors waited behind good cover.
Bascom said he would come and talk. A short time later, Bascom came out with two sergeants – Smith and Robinson – plus John Ward.
Cochise came out in his turn, along with two warriors and Francisco – his White Mountain alley who had been camped nearby and who had also married a daughter of Mangas Coloradas, whose sister was now a prisoner of the soldiers.
Perhaps 150 yards from the stage station, they stopped again to parlay – Cochise hoping the nantan would be reasonable now that his men were trapped in so dangerous a position.
Cochise tried to sound calm, although in his heart he wanted to flick out with his knife and cut the man’s throat clean through.
Muffling his pride and anger, Cochise pleaded for the release of his family – promising to find the boy Bascom sought.
But Bascom was stubborn as a mule, as sure of himself as a young warrior with the empty head and swollen pride of a rooster. Then Cochise saw the three stage station men – Wallace, Culver and Walsh – come suddenly out from behind the barricades the soldiers had put up round the stage station in the night, walking quickly toward the conference.
Maybe they wanted to convince Bascom to give up his prisoners and trust the word of Cochise.
But Bascom began backing away from Cochise and yelling at the three men, saying he would not trade his prisoners for them if the warriors captured them.
Fearing treachery and seeing a chance to take prisoners to exchange for his wife and son and brother, Cochise drew out his gun.
Shooting broke out immediately on all sides and the sergeant carrying the white flag was quickly hit.
Several warriors ran out from where they had been hiding to capture the three stage station men, who now turned and ran back toward the soldiers.
The warriors overtook Wallace and shot and wounded Culver, although he made it back to the soldiers.
Walsh reached the corral, climbing nimbly over the wall in a way the warriors admired.
But when Walsh dropped over the wall the soldiers killed him, thinking he was a warrior.
Bascom and his men made it safely back as well.
The soldiers remained crouched behind their cover, as the warriors gathered. All that night, the warriors kept watch on the soldiers.
They lit fires and danced, working up their courage and Power for the morning.
The shadow of Cochise danced crazily outward from the flames, jagged and huge and angry.
His anger burned through him, searing him, changing him.
He could not forgive himself now for having delivered his wife and his child and his brother into the hands of his enemy.
He had been as foolish as his father and Juan Compa and Yrigollen, and all of the others who had been seduced by the mirage of peace.
He could only blame himself now, for he had known better, had remembered Johnson, had remembered Kirker, had remembered all the times his people had been betrayed.
He should have remembered that Child-of-the-Waters had bid them slay their enemies, make a prayer of revenge and fight even in the shadow of the Giant.
Now Cochise swore to recover his brother and his family or to never more rest from vengeance.
He danced in a frenzy, his Power reaching out to the others so they became the jagged shadows of his rage. Cochise positioned his warriors carefully all around the stage station and throughout the pass.
Near dawn, the hidden warriors watched the sergeant from the day before lead a strong group of soldiers out of the stage station toward the spring 600 yards distant, as Cochise had known they must do.
The stage station had no water, and the horses and soldiers would have used their water in the long night, listening to the drums and the singing in the darkness.
Cochise let them get the water and return safely to the stage station, still hoping that if he held his hand Bascom would come to his senses and release his prisoners.
Even a boy given too much authority may see past his pride eventually. Cochise waited until the sun was directly overhead before he made his next move.
He pulled Wallace to his feet and tied his arms roughly behind him – then led his one prisoner out into the open in front of the soldiers, a rope cinched up tight around his neck.
Wallace pleaded with him, saying the lieutenant was an obstinate fool and promising to go and convince him to release his prisoners – but Cochise hardened his heart and paid no attention.
Then Cochise shouted out to Bascom, offering to trade Wallace and 16 mules for his family.
But Bascom refused.
Cochise shouted out again, saying they were good mules – army mules.
But this only made Bascom angry and he said he would only trade his prisoners for the boy he had come to find.
He said Wallace had disobeyed his order and so gotten himself captured, and Bascom would therefore not trade for him.
Some of the listening warriors later said one of the soldiers argued loudly with the nantan, insisting he make the trade and save the life of Wallace.
But Bascom would not relent, so Cochise dragged Wallace roughly away, anger and despair growing in him like two great trees from the same root.
But he was not yet ready to give up the lives of those he loved, so he resolved to get more prisoners and to make Bascom yield up his family, no matter what that might cost. He sent one party of warriors to guard the entrance to the pass.
Then he led another group to overtake the slow-moving wagon train loaded with flour for Tucson that was by now nearly ready to leave the pass.
The warriors rode up to the wagon train, whose leader had come through the pass often before.
He had never been bothered by the warriors and sometimes gave them small gifts of the flour he carried.
He did not know Bascom had set fire to the dry tinder of the uneasy peace that had protected him on all his other trips.
The warriors rode up in a friendly way, then suddenly surrounded the wagons.
They seized the nine Mexicans and three Americans.
They cut the mules out of the harnesses.
They had no use for the nine Mexicans, so they tied them to the wagon wheels and then set the wagons on fire – watching in grim satisfaction as the Mexicans writhed and burned.
Then they took the three Americans to their camp, to trade for the family of Cochise. Cochise told Wallace to make a talking paper for Bascom.
The paper said, “treat my people well and I will do the same by yours, of whom I have four.” He left this talking paper fastened to a bush on a hill where the soldiers could not miss it.
Then he set himself to wait, believing that when Bascom found the note he would make the trade.
Even so, Cochise knew he could not wait much longer.
As soon as word of the attack on the wagon train and the trapped soldiers got out, the Americans would come from all directions.
If he waited too long, the arriving soldiers would trap the Chokonen.
He must remember that all of their lives were in his hands, not merely the lives of his brother and his wife and his son. The warriors waited and danced and prayed through another night, hoping the soldiers would release their prisoners now that Cochise had so many prisoners of his own.
Cochise consulted his Power and worked on the fighting spirit of his men as one stretches leather across a saddle frame – for he was determined to fight the soldiers rather than to yield the lives of his family to them.
He thought of Coyuntura in the steel shackles surrounded by his enemies, feeling already the flame of sorrow even the thick smoke of his anger could not conceal. They waited quietly all through the next day, hoping that when the soldiers found the talking paper they would send out a white flag and offer to exchange their prisoners.
Moreover, Cochise had sent runners to Mangas Coloradas to bring help.
However, Cochise doubted he could wait long enough for his father in law to come, for soldiers might already be converging on the pass from the two soldier camps within a two-day ride.
He knew he was balanced here on the knife-edge of danger and the advantages in numbers and position he held now could all shift quickly against him.
Still, he waited – hoping the talking paper would speak for him and force the nantan waiting so quietly in the stage station to yield.
In the meantime, he had another problem.
One warrior had been seriously wounded in the shooting with the soldiers and was now dying.
When the man died, his relatives would demand revenge on the White prisoners he held to trade for his family.
He did not know whether he could resist a demand for the death of at least one of the prisoners and still keep the warriors together, for they all had reasons of their own for fighting – not only to recover Coyuntura and Dos-teh-seh and Naiche.
In the wait, the number of warriors gathered had grown.
Geronimo with a strong party of Bedonkohe had come and Mangas Coloradas had word as well.
These strong warriors added to his strength, but reduced his absolute control – for he could only count on the unquestioning obedience of his personal following.
Cochise balanced all of these things by doing nothing, but keeping his scouts well extended. In the evening, word came that a stagecoach was heading up the long slope toward the pass.
Cochise sent a war party to the west end of the pass to capture more prisoners coming on the stagecoach, which would have taken two days to make the journey from Tucson.
The warriors opened fire on them as they came into the pass, killing one mule and wounding the driver and another man.
But another of the stage men jumped down, cut out the wounded mule and took the reins again.
The warriors did not press them too closely, for respect of their fast-shooting guns.
Besides, they had already torn apart a stone bridge over a gully just ahead and knew the stage would not make it the final three miles up the canyon to where the soldiers were still trapped.
But the driver saw the broken bridge and lashed the wagon mules so they jumped over the broken part and pulled the wagon right on over the gully, to the surprise of the waiting warriors.
They had also rolled rocks down onto the wagon road further on, but the driver skillfully maneuvered the wagon around those rocks.
Soon, the wagon made it safely to the stage station, so the warriors had missed their chance to gain more prisoners. That night the wounded warrior died.
His brother, who was a fierce warrior not in the personal following of Cochise, went in a fury to where the American prisoners were kept and drove his lance though the body of one of the prisoners.
Cochise came running when he heard the commotion and nearly drove his own lance through the body of the distraught warrior who had disobeyed his orders, but then held his hand.
He would only spread disorder and anger through the ranks of his warriors and his allies if he struck now.
Besides, he could well enough understand the grief for a brother – for Cochise would feel that same grief rising already in his chest. Cochise waited again all through the following day, although he knew the ground had shifted under his feet – the tumbling of the first stones in an avalanche of death.
He directed all of the women and children and old men and boys too young to fight to pack their camps and leave, scatter and make their way to distant meeting place where their husbands and brothers and fathers could find them after the battle.
Cochise held fading hope Bascom might now offer to trade and pondered what he would do should Bascom relent, for he must conceal the death of the White prisoner.
But his Power now told him he must fight, so Cochise kept all his warriors out of sight to convince the soldiers the warriors had left the pass.
Perhaps they would grow careless and give Cochise an opening, like a slash in the tent through which Coyuntura might still escape.
Cochise withdrew the warriors to a distance where they danced and prayed, putting on their war paint, seeing to their weapons and their charms and consulting their Powers for the coming fight.
But in pulling back, Cochise left an opening for the soldiers.
In the darkness, Bascom sent out a small party of soldiers toward Tucson, the hooves of their horses wrapped with cloth to muffle the sound of their passing.
They stole safely out of the pass, covering the 125 miles to Tucson in just 24 hours.
Now the word had gone out about the trapped soldiers and Cochise had only a little time left to save his family. The next morning, the warriors returned quietly and carefully to positions overlooking the stage station and the nearby spring.
Cochise now had the support of Francisco’s band and Geronimo’s Bedonkohe and some Chihenne bands allied with Mangas Coloradas, who joined in when they learned the daughter of the great chief had been taken by the soldiers.
Bascom had answered his plea for an exchange by his silence, so Cochise knew he must make this last gamble for the life of his family.
He had fashioned a plan in the days spent watching the soldiers.
Each morning, they sent out their horses for watering in two groups.
Perhaps if Cochise struck at the soldiers with the horses, Bascom would send men out to rescue them.
At that moment, the main body of warriors could rush the stage station and overwhelm the defenders.
Cochise set out the warriors and settled down to Power and luck and opportunity to summon him. The soldiers did just as Cochise had hoped.
Two soldiers came out of the stage station, moving cautiously toward the spring – looking on all sides for any footprints in the snow to warn them warriors were still nearby.
But Cochise had told his warriors to leave no such footprints.
The sergeants went carefully to a hill overlooking the spring, to be sure no warriors were waiting near it.
Then they signaled Bascom back in the stage station to send out the horses for watering.
As Cochise watched, he felt events shift in his favor.
For Bascom sent all the horses out at once, instead of cautiously in two groups.
Cochise held back his eager warriors, as a hunter holds the bow pulled back while the calm of aiming settles over him.
He let the horses all get to water, as far from the stage station as possible – so the soldiers would relax their attention a little.
But as the soldiers started back to the stage station, Cochise gave the signal and a large body of warriors rushed out of Siphon Canyon to cut off the soldiers and the horse herd from the stage station, where most of the soldiers still waited with their guns and boxes of bullets.
The warriors came on in all of their glory, singing war songs and riding fearlessly.
The soldiers with the horses began firing as the warriors approached, abandoning any effort to control the horse herd.
Many of the warriors broke away from the attack to go after the horses and mules and soon had gathered up a herd of 56 animals.
The warriors still pressing the attack also turned aside, leaving the path open to the stage station – for they wanted soldiers to come out to rescue the ones they’d trapped near the spring.
Sure enough, a strong party of soldiers set out from the stage station almost immediately. Now Cochise appeared suddenly on the other side of the stage station with a strong party of warriors and charged across the dangerous open ground toward the stone walls of the station.
But the foolish young nantan kept a good head under fire and quickly shifted more men with many guns to well-prepared defenses.
The strong shooting killed three warriors and wounded many others, breaking up the attack before the warriors could reach the walls of the stage station.
In return, they killed only one of the stagecoach men and wounded a soldier.
The warriors broke and fell back.
Cochise pressed the attack longest and nearly ran on into the stage station through the bullets his Power turned aside – but finally turned back when he saw he would only be throwing the stick of his life into the fire of the soldier’s guns.
The People did not respect futile courage or an arrogant charge against strong defenses and poor odds.
They knew how to die bravely and when a cornered warrior had no escape he would sing his death song and fight to the last.
But they had fought for generations against better-armed and more numerous opponents and had only survived because they chose their fights and their ground carefully.
It was not their way to press this attack against many guns behind stone walls, so when the warriors saw their surprise had failed they turned and made their way back to good cover.
Cochise had no choice but to follow.
He knew then he had gambled and lost the life of his brother. The warriors withdrew and the leaders met to consider what they should do.
Runners came saying more soldiers were coming, although they were still a long way off.
One shaman said a great storm would soon find them.
Cochise knew the storm would cover the tracks of the scattering war parties.
He knew he could not hold the warriors in place any longer, even for the sake of Coyuntura, who was loved and respected by many bands.
He could not even hold them back from killing the prisoners now, since they had three more deaths to avenge.
In truth, he had not even the heart to try – for he felt Coyuntura was dead already.
The nantan had seized him by treachery and had held on like a crazy man.
The nantan must have come in order to start this war and kill Cochise, for all this made no sense if all he really wanted was a half-breed boy some other band had taken.
The nantan had lied with his flag of truce and had probably lied about everything since.
Or perhaps he had killed Coyuntura and Dos-teh-seh and Naiche as soon as he had them and so had not been able to negotiate for their release.
Most likely, Bascom had been sent to kill Cochise and start a war to the death. Now, truly, the Americans would have all the war they could stomach. When the families of the dead warriors demanded revenge and Cochise gave to them the three remaining prisoners, even Wallace who had been friendly to the People and who had been captured trying to convince Bascom to release his prisoners.
The families of the dead warriors circled around the prisoners.
Some of the Whites begged and pleaded for their lives.
Some of them waited quietly, determined to die with dignity.
Wallace cried out to Cochise, but Cochise had hardened his heart.
His grief rose up, burning through any compassion or human feeling for the White Eyes as fire consumes grass.
He had done everything in his power to avert this day.
He had kept the peace, killed those who violated it, returned stolen horses, listened to the arrogant chatter of the peace talkers of the Whites and pleaded with Bascom to turn away.
But all of his efforts had only brought him to this day.
Now he would go forth and make war on the Whites, without looking back.
Cochise watched grimly as the grieving relatives killed the white prisoners, continuing to thrust their lances into the mangled bodies a long time after they had stopped moving and groaning.
They left the bodies under a tree near where they had burned the Mexicans in their wagons. Then the war party that had gathered broke up, each band leaving by a different route so they would leave no trail for the hundreds of soldiers who would soon seek them.
A heavy snowstorm set in, covering up their tracks.
Franciso went north, Geronimo went south, and the Chihenne went east.
Cochise went south, down through the Chiricahuas toward Mexico.
Now that he was at war with the Whites, Cochise knew he must try to make peace with Fronteras, so he would not be caught between two fires. As Cochise turned and went south with his personal following, he passed Coyote Pisses in the Water, and his heart sank in his chest as a stone in a lake.
That place had warned him – for he had gone into Bascom’s tent as the foolish people had drunk the water at the crossing when the chief had told them to wait.
But it was worse, for he was the chief – who should have gone up stream to find the place where Coyote pissed.
Now he understood even more clearly why his father had spent those endless hours teaching him the story of each place, stalking him with the wisdom of places, getting those stories to work on him.
The places knew what he should do, if he would only listen.
As he rode south, heavy with grief and loss, Cochise swore to let the places make his mind steady and smooth and to never more ignore their counsel – nor to let the Whites drive them from those places.
For how could they be the People without the wisdom of those places, without remembering the stories that guided their behavior and thinking every time they went out from their camps as they passed by them? Bascom and his men remained in the stage station for three days longer, waiting for help to come.
They crouched behind their walls so carefully they did not realize all of the warriors had gone.
They did not venture out until another nantan with 110 soldiers arrived.
These soldiers in crossing the Sulfur Springs Valley had encountered three White Mountain warriors with some cattle they had just taken from Mexico and so took these three men as prisoners.
Bascom and the new nantan then went looking around about the pass for Cochise, but found only the burned up wagon train and the bodies of the four Americans.
The bodies had been so broken and torn up by lances, the soldiers would only tell Wallace from the others by the gold fillings in his teeth. Now the nantans argued about what to do.
Lieutenant Isaiah Moore wanted to execute their own prisoners in retaliation.
Bascom argued against this, but the other nantan had more authority.
Even when Bascom agreed to execute the warriors, he argued they should not kill the woman and the young boy.
The other nantan said they should kill them all – because nits make lice and Cochise should be punished for killing his prisoners.
The two nantans agreed to play cards to determine the fate of Dos-teh-seh and Naiche.
Perhaps Power took a hand in this, for the game of cards convinced the soldiers to let the family of Cochise live. Bascom went to his prisoners, who had been waiting all through the fight to learn their fate.
Coyuntura had given himself up for dead many days earlier and although he looked for his chance to escape, he put his attention into making his mind smooth and steady and calm for his death.
He joked and kept a good face, to keep up the spirits of the others – especially his own son who was already nearly done with his apprenticeship as a warrior.
Dos-teh-seh waited quietly herself, her face betraying nothing, her attention focused on Naiche – who said little but watched the soldiers with his intent, intelligent eyes.
They all listened carefully when Bascom came to them with a translator to explain that Cochise had killed all of his captives and so the soldiers had decided to execute the warriors.
The news did not surprise Coyuntura, who was glad Cochise had begun already to avenge his death.
He had known from the beginning Bascom would not release him, for Bascom was proud and stubborn and Cochise did not have the boy he sought. Coyuntura was ready to die, for he’d spent all his life riding alongside of death until it had become an old companion.
He answered carelessly that he was satisfied to die, having killed two Mexicans with his own hands in the past month.
He was grieved, however, that his son must die without ever having had the chance to kill Mexicans.
But he remained cheerful so his son would see how a warrior should die.
Coyuntura asked for a little time to prepare himself – which Bascom granted, looking a little shamefaced.
Coyuntura sat down and sprinkled the head of his son with pollen he kept always with him and then began his death song.
He was a little irritated when the other warrior who was a prisoner with him began to beg for his life.
Then the three White Mountain men, seeing they had ridden into someone else’s deadfall — asked for a little whiskey.
But Bascom turned roughly away and closed his ears to the their pleas.
The other Chokonen warrior sat down beside Coyuntura and his son and began his death song as well, so he would be calm and steady for his death.
The White Mountain men listened a little then decided to do the same.
Soon they were all singing and praying and appealing to their Powers to help guide them past the bears and monsters and crashing rocks and other obstacles which guard the path to the Happy Place – so that only a brave man might enter there. The soldiers took the six men to a stand of oak trees near where Cochise had burned the wagons and left the bodies of his hostages.
The soldiers threw ropes over the branches and looped one end around each of the necks of the warriors.
Then they pulled on the ends of the rope until the warriors were all hanging like venison for drying, high enough so the wolves could not jump up to pull their bodies down.
Coyuntura tried not to kick and struggle as he suffocated, so he would not lose his dignity and make the soldiers laugh.
He hoped the rope would not stretch out his neck so much he would look foolish in the Happy Place.
He tried to close his ears to the strangled sounds of his son dying on another branch, so his mind would remain smooth.
He comforted himself that Dos-teh-seh and Naiche were not hanging from these branches and as the blackness closed over him, he thought with satisfaction of all of the Whites his brother would kill to avenge him. So died Coyuntura and his son and the frail hope of peace with the White Eyes. And so began the long and bloody war of vengeance. No longer would Cochise struggle with two minds, peace wrestling against war.
Now the world seemed terribly simple – terrible and simple. — He zigzags down with life To impart life to her body He in the sky who is holy, Black Thunder, my father He went on, heartened by this reminder of the beauty of the world and the holiness of it.
Nonetheless, the mounting losses among his warriors grieved and worried Cochise, seeing so many women wailing in their wickiups and so many children without fathers.
But he could not relent now.
He could see that the scattered ranchers and miners and farmers had abandoned their places, heading west or taking refuge in the towns too big for the warriors to attack.
He pressed on, knowing he could not sustain such losses for long and the warriors would begin to slip away into Mexico if they lost faith in the ability of his Power to protect them.
Still, he had set his course – and sworn his oath.
The thought of his brother hanging from the tree in Apache Pass returned to him constantly, like a dream of great portent.
So he kept on with the killing. And then, like a gift of Power, the Whites broke. They had already abandoned all of the scattered ranches – so only Pete Kitchen remained, stubborn as a snapping turtle. Cochise gathered up more than 100 warriors and attacked the mining town of Tubac.
They killed everyone they could catch outside the town, then stormed through the little settlement – breaking into some houses, setting others on fire.
They ran off the stock and inflicted great damage, but the miners – well armed and determined – regrouped and fought back.
They killed seven or eight warriors before the war party retreated out of the town, taking most of the horses and mules with them.
Once again, the victory had come at great cost.
But after the attack, the last miners left Tubac and the settlement lapsed once more into the empty silence of the desert – just as it had when the warriors had driven out the Mexicans a generation before. Cochise now swept through the Santa Cruz and Sonoita valleys, picking off travelers and anyone foolish enough to still be out prospecting.
Then his scouts brought back the news for which Cochise had been yearning, but for which he had nearly given up hope.
The soldiers had marched out of Fort Buchanan – all in a bunch – and set fire to the buildings behind them.
Then they had marched off to Tucson, leaving only the charred skeleton of the fort.
The news flashed through the camps of the Chokonen and was greeted everywhere with celebration and dancing.
The abandonment of the forts in Arizona added greatly to the reputation and Power of Cochise, and even bands that had remained aloof from his war for fear of the Whites now hurried to declare their loyalty.
Cochise heard the news almost disbelieving himself, for he had not expected to win his war with the Whites.
The death of his brother and the rise of his Power in him had driven him to it, but he had always thought he went forth to a good death – and was surprised to find the Whites would be so easy to defeat.
Perhaps they decided it was not worth dying for a land whose places they did not know and to whose voices they were deaf. Now Cochise turned his attention to the east, where his father-in-law was fighting the Whites.
Mangas Coloradas, Victorio, Lozen and the other leaders of the Chihenne made war in their territory – sometimes joining forces with bands of the Chokonen.
When the soldiers pursued them too closely, they would retreat into the Dragoon and Chiricahua Mountains, to camp with the Chokonen.
And when the soldiers pressed too close there, the Chihenne and the Chokonen would move back to New Mexcio – just as they had sometimes moved back and forth from Sonora to Chihuahua – although the Americans were much harder to divide against one another.
Cochise often raided with his father-in-law – the two greatest war leaders in the memory of the People – one the bow, the other the arrow.
Often, they waited on the outskirts of Santa Rita Del Cobre to pick off prospectors who strayed too far from the protection of the many guns of the settlement or to intercept supply trains heading for the mines.
Several times, they mounted direct attacks on the settlement – although this posed a dangerous risk of warriors’ lives.
Once they even waited for a long time watching the fort that protected Santa Rita Del Cobre, learning the habits of the soldiers and then striking at just the right moment to run off the horse herd.
But mostly they set ambushes along the roads leading to and from the mines, bleeding away their supplies and building the muscles of their fear.
Mangas Coloradas was a patient and far-seeing man.
He was like a knife fighter who cuts his opponent, then hangs back to let the wound do its work.
Soon they had nearly closed the road between Tucson and Mesilla, and the miners at Pinos Altos and Santa Rita Del Cobre grew increasingly isolated, their numbers dwindling from fear. Cochise and Mangas Coloradas knew the strongest weakness of the Whites was their great need for supplies.
Set one white alone in even good country and he would soon starve to death or die of thirst wandering in useless circles.
They had good guns and many bullets, but were helpless as soon as they had used up their bullets.
Cochise understood he must take advantage of this weakness in his long war of no quarter.
He learned perfectly all of the wagon routes of the Whites and of all the approaches to the few places with good water the Whites needed to nourish their many horses.
Apache Pass remained one of the best places to lie in wait, for it offered the only reliable source of water for horses for 40 miles in each direction.
Even better was the spring in Cook’s Canyon at the foot of Dziltanatal – Mountain Holds Its Head Up Proudly, which the Whites called Cook’s Peak.
In just the first two seasons of the war between Cochise and the Whites, the warriors killed more than 100 Whites approaching Cook’s canyon – leaving their bones scattered along the trail as a warning.
For Cochise knew this was more a struggle of wills than of deaths.
He knew he could not match deaths with the Whites – even if he killed 10 of them for every warrior lost.
They would come back every spring, like ladybugs that covered the trees – while the People faded like the deer from the valleys after the Whites had come.
It did not matter whether he killed a soldier or 10 soldiers or 100 settlers.
The deaths meant nothing – less than nothing if he lost warriors in the effort.
His only chance lay in frightening the Whites away – for only greed brought them into the country of the Chokonen.
He strove to enlist fear as his strong ally against greed and set those two at war in the hearts of the miners and the ranchers who came into the Chokonen territory, bringing along in their wake the soldiers to protect them.
He mutilated the bodies of the Whites he killed and left them along the trail so the Whites would grow as crazy with fear as with greed.
That is why Cochise continued to kill anyone he found and dared to attack even large and well-armed parties – despite the potential cost in the irreplaceable lives of his warriors.
The Whites must know fear, even if they traveled in large groups in the heat of the day.
For fear had always been the strong ally of the People.
That was why Child-of-the-Water had placed on them the strong obligation of revenge before he had gone off with White Painted Woman and the other supernaturals and left the People to fend for themselves in the midst of their enemies. In the season of Large Leaves, Mangas Coloradas and Cochise joined forces and set an ambush in Cook’s Canyon with more than 100 warriors.
A small party in a mail wagon came warily into the canyon.
When the warriors fired on them, the Whites put up a strong return fire despite their small numbers and turned the horses with great skill to go to the high ground.
Cochise admired their discipline and their sense of the terrain, but mourned it as well.
These men would be hard to kill.
They made it to a good defensive position.
Then they unloaded the wagon, taking all of the guns and ammunition – and sent the horses and wagon back down the hill without a driver, hoping the warriors would be satisfied with the horse and wagon and most of the supplies.
Then the Whites set to building good breastworks of stones on the top of the hill to make it clear they would sell their lives dearly.
The warriors closed in around the trapped Whites, sniping at them – but the seven men were in a good position and careful about showing themselves.
As night descended, Cochise and Mangas Coloradas talked and consulted their Powers, trying to decide whether they should stay to kill these seven men who were dug in like badgers.
Mangas Coloradas seemed doubtful, for he could not spare many warriors to kill these men – even though he would like to have their guns – for most of his men were still armed with bows.
Cochise said they must kill them.
They had more than 100 warriors against seven men.
If these seven escaped, they would carry the word to others and so greed would win a victory in the battle against fear on which the survival of the People depended. The next morning, the warriors moved up as close as they could, stealing from cover to cover to get into positions from which they should shoot effectively at the Whites.
They poured down fire on the seven men, so the rocks were speckled with the smears of lead and every tree was splintered.
One tree alone had 150 bullets in it by the end of that day.
But the Whites kept their discipline and kept up a heavy and effective fire, so the warriors had much the worse of the exchange.
Cochise hoped they would use up their ammunition in the long day of shooting back and forth, but they seemed to have an inexhaustible supply – so soon it seemed the warriors, not the Whites, would use up their bullets first.
Growing desperate as the day wore on, the warriors made several charges against the entrenched positions of the Whites.
The warriors paid a heavy cost in lives, but they could not get close enough to make their numbers tell.
So the fight went on all day, with more than 15 warriors dead.
Cochise thought they had killed one or two of the Whites and maybe wounded more, but he wasn’t sure.
That night the mood in the camp was grim, for such losses for so little gain were a near disaster.
Warriors who had lost brothers and nephews in the fighting now were wild for the blood of the Whites.
But Mangas Coloradas had lost heart, saying the cost was too great and the Whites seemed to have a bottomless sack of bullets.
Cochise argued with him, saying they had no choice now but to stay and kill these brave, fierce-fighting men.
If they all went back alive to Mesilla and to Tucson with the story of how seven men had stood off the combined forces of Cochise and Mangas Coloradas, the story would be worth 300 soldiers in the war of fear.
They discussed whether they should try to slip up to the hill in the darkness, when the long rifles and the good aim of the Whites would not give them such an advantage.
But the warriors were reluctant to attack in the night, for if they were killed in such a battle they would live in the darkness forever more in the Happy Place.
Besides, owls were out at night.
They would be heard off in the trees, which seemed an ill omen for an attack at night.
Finally, Cochise knew he could not coordinate the attack in the darkness and feared the warriors could come up against the guns of the Whites one by one. Mangas Coloradas and Cochise talked a long time, with the subchiefs listening and supporting one or the other.
Then they went aside and consulted their Powers a long time in the darkness, as their followers waited in anger and respect and fear.
At length, Mangas Coloradas returned, and said he would take the Chihenne and leave the Whites – for he could not afford to lose any more warriors and every hour they remained in the canyon increased the chance soldiers would come and trap them there.
Cochise listened respectfully to the decision of his father-in-law – for no man could question the courage of Mangas Coloradas or his commitment to the welfare of his people.
But Cochise felt a shadow pass over him as they talked, seeing the waning of Mangas Coloradas – as the fire burns down after its rush into the new wood.
Cochise spoke quietly then, saying the Whites on the hill must not leave the canyon alive and so he would not turn away until every one of them was dead – speaking with such certainty that his Power reached out and strengthened the hearts of his subchiefs.
Then the Chokonen and the Chihenne separated.
Cochise led the Chokonen warriors in dancing, acting out the courage each warrior had shown in the fight that day, then acting out the destruction of the Whites they anticipated in the morning.
The drums throbbed like a pulse in the night, the chants rising and falling like breath, so they all beat as one heart, breathed as one breath.
They danced for hours until they were transported and transformed in a dream of war, where fear could not find their trail and death mattered not so much as the stories told about a brave man.
Some of the Chihenne listening were drawn back to the Chokonen by the strong medicine of the dance, showing they would remain and fight alongside Cochise by dancing out into the firelight, where the drums throbbed and the breath of the song filled them.
But in the morning, most of the Chihenne slipped away with Mangas Coloradas, only a few remaining with the Chokonen in obedience to the will of Cochise. Now Cochise turned back to the Whites, considering what he should do.
They had tried to gain high ground where they could pick off the Whites without risk all through the day before, with little success.
The Whites had picked good ground and they were better shots than the warriors.
Now Cochise resolved to trust to his Power.
He spoke to the warriors, building up a fire in their blood with the kindling of his words and the logs of his Power.
They could see Power rising up in him until they could almost touch it – like a great stallion on a tight reign trembling to run.
Now Cochise turned to the Whites, knowing they had listened to the dancing and the singing through the night, knowing Power and fear had worked on them and hoping they had fewer bullets left than it had seemed the day before.
Cochise led the attack himself, running in the front rank, with Taza beside him – relying on his Power and on shame to draw the other warriors along after him.
The Whites saw them quickly and started a strong fire, but Cochise ran through the bullets.
He had covered half the distance to them and was starting up the hill when a bullet grazed him, drawing a gush of blood but causing him to pause only a moment.
Taza came up beside him, fearless and excited.
Then a bullet hit Taza, knocking him back down onto the ground.
He struggled to rise, then fell back again.
Cochise felt the anger and rage and Power rise up in him with the image of his son bleeding on the ground and his brother hanging like a gutted dear from the oak tree in Apache Pass.
He turned back to the Whites, with his brother Juan now appearing from nowhere at his side as they ran together up the hill to the Whites.
The Power of Cochise turned the bullets aside and stiffened the courage of his men coming on behind, so the charge carried them up over the breastworks of the Whites.
As he came over the line of stones, Cochise thrust his lance through the body of one of the men – a bearded man with a fierce and resolute face, willing as a warrior to face death and make his enemies pay the price for it.
He seemed surprised when the lance entered him, the tip coming out his back.
But he only grunted and struggled to raise his gun to shoot again.
Cochise pushed him back to the ground then wrenched out his lance and thrust it through his heart this time, so the white man shuddered and died in a moment – gripping the shaft of the lance that pinned him to the ground.
The other warriors were among the Whites in a moment, hacking them to pieces.
Three of the Whites fell back and warriors pursued them, bringing two of them to bay 50 yards down the slope and killing them there.
The last man ran another 100 yards before the warriors closed in.
He turned and kept shooting as they overwhelmed him, killing one warrior and wounding another as he died.
The warriors fell upon the bodies of the Whites, stripping them of anything valuable – especially their deadly guns.
Sometimes, Cochise did not mutilate the bodies of men who had died bravely, but the warriors were in a fury.
They broke every bone in every body and shot each man in the head and cut and mutilated them. Cochise went back down the hill to tend to Taza, who made no complaint, sitting against the rock with a fierce, happy look on his face.
Cochise let the warriors vent their fury on the bodies of the Whites for a while then called to his subchiefs to get the warriors moving south.
He totaled the losses, dismayed to discover that killing these seven Whites had cost the lives of 25 warriors – both Chihenne and Chokonen.
He knew he could not go on fighting long if he won many such victories.
But at least this fight would make the Whites afraid – knowing even a well-armed and determined party could not pass safely through Crook’s Canyon.
But in his heart, he wondered that his Power had led him to such a fight and felt a sick fear growing for Taza.
After he had watched the warriors breaking the bones of the Whites for a time, Cochise sent several warriors to the hiding place where they had left the women and children when they went to set the ambush, telling them to head south for Janos.
Then he gathered up the warriors and directed them to scatter so they would not leave a trail the soldiers could follow.
The Chokonen made their way back down to Janos, with gold and watches and goods to trade to the Mexicans for bullets and powder and food. Many warriors had wounds, so the people who had healing ceremonies were much in demand.
Some shamen specialized in finding out what had caused a sickness – so they would do ceremonies and then reveal that the sick person had Coyote Sickness because they had stepped on a coyote track or Bear Sickness because they had spoken disrespectfully about bears.
Then the family would have to find someone with a ceremony for Coyote Sickness or Bear Sickness.
The power to heal was a valuable but sometimes dangerous gift.
Sometimes people would themselves kill a shaman whose Power had started killing people he treated.
But everyone was also a little bit afraid of these shamen, because sometimes Power would tempt these men and women to trade the lives of others for a longer life for themselves – especially relatives.
The shamen with the best reputation were in much demand.
Some of the warriors sent family members to shamen who had strong Power in healing and against bullets and asked them to come, using their real names so they would be shamed to reject an appeal.
Of course, Cochise and Taza had no need to ask in such a way.
But Dos-teh-seh went with two fine horses and two good guns to one man who had Gun Power, offering these gifts to him with wordless respect.
In accepting them, he agreed to use his Power to help Cochise and Taza – who were lying together. The shaman came to prepare the four-day ceremony, bringing turquoise, abalone shell, red coral stone, eagle feathers, pollen, black flint blades, white shell and obsidian – representing all the sacred stones and all the sacred colors.
He brought with him also a basket with white clay, red ocher, coral, rock crystal, opal, jasper, gypsum, snakeweed, grama grass and cigarettes – wild tobacco rolled in oak leaves.
The family gathered around, to participate in the Power of the healing ceremony and to add their prayers and right thoughts.
The shaman brought with him an assistant, who beat the drum throughout the long ceremony, to help smooth and steady the minds of the listeners so they could feel the Power gathered around the shaman and release any fears that might offend that Power.
The shaman first marked each of them with pollen, forehead, foot and chest.
Then he lit the first of his cigarettes and reverently blew smoke in each of the four directions, saying: May it be well There are good and evil on this earth. We live in the midst of it. Let all believe in peace. I want nothing to harm us. We only want food and other good things. — The people came to get water at the spring at Tlish Bi Tu’e and saw there was none.
They were shocked! The women began to wail.
The men stood silent and still. “Why has Snakes’ Water dried up? Why has this happened? What have we done to cause this to happen? Water must surely be angry with us.” This is what they are thinking. Now they are walking away, thirsty and shaking with fear.
The women are wailing, louder and louder.
Their children are crying, too.
They are wailing as if a relative had died. “What if this happens elsewhere?! What if this happens everywhere?!” They are deeply frightened because of what they have done. “Our holy people must work on this for us.” This is what they are saying as they walk away from Snake’s Water. “Our holy people must help us by making amends to Water.
They must help us so we may live! They must ask Water to take pity on us! What if this happened everywhere!” This is what they are thinking.
This is what they are praying.
They do not understand.
They are terribly afraid.
The women are wailing louder, as if a relative has died.
Already they have started to pray. CHAPTER NINE 1861 COCHISE TRIUMPHANT Now the People went freely about in their own country, for most of the Whites had fled.
Only a few settlements remained and the people there hid in their towns – venturing out only in well-armed groups, looking about on every side for an ambush.
Sometimes large parties of men set out from Tucson or Mesilla or Santa Fe, hunting for raiders.
But it was not difficult to stay out of the way of such men – or to set an ambush to send them running back to the relative safety of the few towns too big to attack.
So the People lived as in the old days, when they could camp again in the best places and go hunting — for the game returned as the Whites left. Now they could once again hold the ceremonies that connected scattered bands and formed the beating heart of the People.
They all loved best the ceremonies that involved the masked dancers, whose prayers and preparations and costumes made them for the four days of the dance an aspect of the Gahn Mountain Spirits, who lived in the heart of the sacred mountains and whose drumming a quiet and steady man could hear through the rocks – like Tipping Beetle with his head against the ground.
Cochise had learned the songs and the dances and the demanding prayers to prepare the masked dancers, for he had dedicated his life to protecting his people and knew they could not long survive without the good will of the Gahn.
His reputation for Power was great, so when he indicated his willingness to prepare dancers for the ceremony, the best dancers volunteered eagerly.
They happily bore the restrictions necessary to the dancers, knowing that assuming an aspect of the Gahn was a risky and delicate matter.
If a dancer made any mistake – even a small one – he might fall ill and perhaps die.
One dancer must not touch another dancer – especially one prepared by a different shaman – or he might suffer spasms or trouble in the ear or eye or a swollen face.
In such an event, all the masked dancers must blow the sickness away.
Each item of the costume must be put on in the proper order with the proper prayers, for dancers who were arrogant and put the mask over their heads without the proper words and gestures could go mad from that disrespect.
Then only the intervention of the Masked Dancer shaman could cure him.
So all of the dancers relied on the ceremony given to the shaman by his Power. But the dancers also brought their skill and prayer to the ceremony, for the best dancers had a great following – although they must remember they were only an aspect of the Gahn and so not offend Power through their vanity.
No one could even call the dancers by their names in the many days of the ceremony, or they would anger the Gahn and bring bad luck.
Still, each dancer first learned the steps but remained free to embellish the dance – just as story-tellers made each story their own.
For the People loved the differences that made each person and tree and stone an individual –they did not make everything the same so one object was indistinguishable from another, as did the white people.
You could not steal a bow or a shield or a basket – because the handiwork of the person who had made it was obvious, and you would be immediately shamed if you took it and pretended you had made it.
In the same way, no man could steal another man’s ceremony or his dance or his song – for everyone knew the style of each dancer and singer.
Each ceremony and dance and song was a prayer – and who would be so foolish as to steal a prayer? Cochise took great care in the songs and designs and prayers with which he prepared the dancers, knowing Power was a knife held carefully by the blade.
And when Taza said he would learn the part of a dancer, Cochise took him aside and spoke carefully to him.
He said, my son, I want to tell you some things before you start, for this is your first time.
Putting this mask on and getting everything tight is going to feel awkward.
When you are led out to the fire by the leader, there is going to be a big crowd of people, but they don’t know who you are.
Don’t be bashful.
This is your first time and the way you dance now is going to influence all the dancing you ever do.
If you act bashful when you start to dance, that habit is going to stay with you.
If the other dancers are lively and are trotting around there like wild steers and you drag and aren’t lively, you’ll always dance like that.
The leader is the one who is the best dancer.
Watch your leader.
Watch how he holds his hand up and do as he does.
Don’t watch the last man.
Take short steps.
Don’t spread your legs.
Don’t have your head down.
Look at your sticks.
Keep the horns of your headdress in line.
When you get over there and start to dance, you must be singing for yourself, humming a little. Each Masked Dancer Shaman would prepare four masked dancers.
Each had an elaborate headdress with horns and sacred symbols, a deerskin skirt hung with charms and fringes, beautiful moccasins with the toes turned up and a stick with symbols for lightning and the moon and the sun.
Cochise prepared also the Gray One, the clown who wore a mask of scraped rawhide with a big nose and big ears, with only moccasins and a g-string, and the rest of his body covered with white paint.
The clown danced around the masked dancers, making people laugh – like Coyote showing life that is ridiculous and full of surprises.
The Grey One made rude gestures and rolled on the ground kicking in the air like a horse in a wallow, dancing all about in no particular order – making fun of everything.
He was the servant and the messenger of the Masked Dancers, giving people instructions – telling the singers what songs the Masked Dancers want, telling people when to smoke tobacco and carrying messages from a boy to the girl who had captured his heart.
But in some ways, the clown was the most powerful dancer of all – and was essential in any ceremony to cure sickness. Cochise spent hours preparing the dancers, neglecting nothing.
First they stood facing east while he smoked a first cigarette and prayed: “Under the heavens to the east, inside Big Star Mountain, can be seen the great Black Mountain Spirit.
His body has been designed and the uprights of his headdress have been made with the big star.
I use the sound of the Mountain Spirit rattling his headdress as he dances to the fire.
By means of it, I walk the earth.
It drives all evil away.
With it, I perform this ceremony.
With this, I walk.
That is all.” Then he painted the lead dancer with the help of some others who used softened sticks to apply the paint, or sometimes a finger.
Sometimes the dancers also painted one another.
But Cochise directed every design, singing and praying and beating the drum as they worked, sometimes stepping forward himself to create a particularly important or intricate design on their bodies.
He put his attention into the songs, for he could harm the dancers if he made even a small mistake out of lack of respect.
His songs called on the Mountain Spirits to give the dancers strength, so they could dance for hours in the center of the circle of the People.
He sang in this manner: Inside the holy home At the place called “Home in the turning Rock,” The Mountain Spirits, truly holy, Rejoice over me to the four directions. And make sounds over me. In the middle of the Holy Mountain, In the middle of its body, stands a hut, Brush-built for the Black Mountain Spirit. White Lightning flashes in these moccasins; — The nantan knew his business, now that he knew he camped between the high ridges of danger.
He deployed his men carefully – spread out across the narrow canyon – and moved cautiously toward the spring.
As the soldiers approached, the warriors opened fire from their well-hidden position – killing one man and wounding another.
The soldiers did not press the attack, but fell back out of easy rifle range.
Now the nantan sent strong parties up the hillside along the ridge, hoping to flank the positions of the warriors overlooking the spring.
But they ran into strong fire from the warriors Cochise had placed there to prevent his enemy from going around the flanks.
The soldiers even brought a brave dog with them, which ran all over the slope, with his barking showing the soldiers where the warriors were hidden – until one of the warriors shot off that dog’s toe, sending him yelping back to the soldiers.
Cochise had prepared his defenses carefully and the soldiers could not get around behind the warriors.
But now the soldiers rolled out a surprise, which turned the battle against Cochise. They brought up the great guns on wheels and begin to shoot Giant bullets that exploded after they struck.
The bullets arched up into the air and came down on top of the breastworks overlooking the spring behind which the warriors waited.
The shells exploded with a terrible noise, scattering fragments everywhere – even shattering the rocks themselves.
The warriors shrank down behind their rock barricades, steeling their nerves against these deadly explosions.
They waited for the shooting to stop, thinking the soldiers could not have carried an endless supply of such large bullets.
But the shooting went on and on for more than two hours, the injuries among the warriors mounting.
Finally, Cochise passed the word to the warriors to pull back from the face of the slope where they would have more protection from the guns on wheels.
After about four hours of fighting, the warriors withdrew out of range and the soldiers moved cautiously forward to the springs – watering their stock and filling canteens and barrels of water.
Cochise watched them with dismay, for with all of the advantage of numbers and terrain they had killed only two soldiers, wounded four and kept them from water for a few hours. Watching from the high ground, Mangas Coloradas saw several soldiers from the rear of the column go galloping back to the west, to get the many soldiers coming along behind.
Frustrated at the course of the battle, feeling the doubts of his warriors, Mangas Coloradas seized the opportunity for action and summoned several warriors to go after the three men.
They rode along a back path to the entrance of the pass, hoping to cut off the soldiers before they could escape.
They came nearly too late, so the soldiers had a lead on them.
The warriors pressed their horses, coming up close enough so one of the bullets of Mangas Coloradas brought down the horse on which the hindmost soldier rode.
The other Whites cast frightened looks over their shoulders, but fled on out of the pass.
Seeing they could not overtake these others, Mangas Coloradas turned to console himself with killing the one man who had fallen into their hands.
The warriors surrounded the man, who took cover behind the body of his horse and began shooting.
The warriors worked their way in closer, waiting until he ran out of ammunition or had to reload so they could rush him.
But he had a good gun, which seemed never to need reloading.
Then he made a lucky shot, hitting Mangas Coloradas and inflicting a dangerous wound.
The other warriors hurried to the great chief and carried him to safety, desperate to take him to a shaman — their confidence shaken because Mangas Coloradas’ Power had not protected him against a single soldier with a good gun. The Chihenne were dismayed when they learned Mangas Coloradas was badly wounded.
Most of the Chihenne left that night, seeing they had no longer the Power of Mangas Coloradas to protect them.
A large party of Chihenne warriors took him down to Janos where there was a Mexican doctor of great skill who had been friendly to the People.
The warriors went to that man’s house with their grievously wounded chief, warning the doctor they would kill everyone in the city if he failed to save the chief or performed witchcraft on him in his weakened condition. Cochise felt his own courage sag when he saw his father-in-law’s wound and watched the Chihenne depart.
But he held his Chokonen in the grip of his Power and would not yet leave the pass to the Americans.
In the night the warriors returned to their position on the hills overlooking the spring.
But in the morning, the soldiers brought out their guns on wheels once again and Cochise realized the battle was lost and he could not keep the soldiers from the water.
He pulled his men back out of danger.
The rear guard of the soldiers had come into the pass during the night, so now they had cavalry as well. Cochise moved his men away from the pass, wary lest more soldiers coming from other directions should trap him in a bad place.
He set out scouts in all directions to look for danger and to keep track of the soldiers, moving now unmolested through the land Child-of-the-Waters had given the Chokonen.
The soldiers left the pass quickly, but within several weeks a strong party returned and built a fort in Apache Pass, overlooking the spring.
They left 100 men, well mounted and well armed, to guard the approach to the spring and hunt down any raiders who attacked the growing number of wagons now on the old stage road.
Warriors set to watch the soldiers killed one man who wandered too far from the walled fort as they built it, but most of the soldiers stayed safely in large groups behind their fortifications. The warriors watched the road, attacking the unwary.
Cochise’s sentries warned him of one party of nine men coming into the pass from the east, their progress clear from the dust raised by the hooves of their horses when they were still nearly a day’s ride away.
A party of warriors concealed themselves in a gully in the flat terrain just before the pass when the riders would not yet expect an ambush.
The gully was seven feet deep, four yards wide and a quarter mile long, but you could not see it until you had ridden right up to the edge.
When the men approached, the warriors sprang up and killed them all in the first round of shooting – most of them before they could raise their guns from their laps.
They captured one man alive and tied him to a post, burning him as though he were a witch.
Cochise knew he must once again call on his old ally – fear – to make the Whites understand the price they would pay if they wanted to take land that was not theirs, whose places they did not know. Now the main body of soldiers came through the Chokonen country and on into Chihenne country, so many soldiers Cochise did not even consider attacking them.
The soldiers returned to all of the old forts – and built new ones.
They began to move ceaselessly about the country, killing any band they encountered – not caring whether that band had been raiding or not.
Some bands approached them with white flags, hoping to make peace now that the soldiers had returned in such numbers.
Even these, the soldiers shot down without stopping to talk. Everywhere, the war had turned against the People.
The soldiers came like the spring flood that escapes its banks and spreads out – changing everything.
Cochise struck at them until his arms grew weary, but the water only closed over the cut he had made with his strongest blow.
Now he was on the defensive once again.
The battle at Apache Pass had convinced him that he could not stand upright against even a relatively small band of soldiers – not even when he had an advantage in numbers of three or four to one.
For the Americans were good fighters – well led and disciplined.
More important, they had good guns and lots of bullets.
They could be careless in their use of bullets, as you would cast handfuls of pebbles just to see them spatter in the water. Cochise struggled a long while, trying to decide what he should do.
Going out alone to pray and seek the guidance of his Power, his horse brought him to a place where the burned snag of a cottonwood tree loomed against the sky.
That tree reminded him of the time Lizard had saved himself by tricking Coyote into pushing on the tree to hold up the sky.
Now Cochise understood this story, which had worked on him all these years, waiting for this moment.
When his warriors had driven the soldiers from their fort, he thought the People were as the Giant.
But they had always been Child-of-the-Waters – small and dependent on Power and courage to survive.
Now they were Lizard, trapped out in the open by their hungry enemy.
They could not overpower such a one as Coyote, with his long white teeth set against the tiny teeth of a lizard.
They must rely on strategy, like Lizard.
Cochise went back to his camp after thanking the tree and the story – better understanding every day the wisdom of the People who remembered such stories.
He resolved not to again make the mistake of fighting the Whites head on.
Besides, he knew now what lay ahead.
They would keep coming, no matter how many he killed.
Now each warrior was even more precious.
He could not afford any more to trade the lives of his men for the fear of the Whites – for the Americans would not simply go home.
He must ration his warriors, like a man two days from water with only a swallow in the waterskin.
He must go where the soldiers were not, strike when they did not expect it and leave no sign of his passing.
No more would the People gather in their hundreds for ceremonies and feasts, sending up a column of smoke from the ceremonial fire for four days running.
Now they must camp again in their secret places, moving often and never neglecting their sentries.
They must kill quickly and silently and rely on Power to keep them out of the path of their enemy. Cochise turned to this new war with a heavy heart, but without hesitation.
What other course lay open to him? Had he not promised with his first steps to walk in the path of Child-of-the-Waters? Had not that child gone out to face the Buffalo and the Antelope and the Eagle and the Giant – just a boy with a bow and the favor of Power? Could he do less now, with the eyes of the People and the gaze of his own son turned toward him? COYOTE AND DOG ARGUE Some dogs were out in the woods.
Some coyotes came to the dogs. One coyote said, “Why don’t you dogs come and join us out in this wilderness? We live out here, happy, free.
We eat all kinds of wild fruits.
No one abuses us.
We live among the little bushes and live very happily, free from getting whipped or scolded!” The dog said “Ho, we live with some people and they take good care of us.
We live on meat and fat that they bring us.
We sleep in a camp with these Indians.
They tell us, “My dog, I love you.” They take very good care of us.” Then the coyote told him, “we’ve heard you dogs from the hills; they have been whipping you dogs, and we have heard you crying over there.” Then the dog said to the coyote, “We all have to learn to obey our masters.
Sometimes we don’t obey; that’s the only time we get a whipping.” Coyote said, “They whip you just the same.” Dog told them, “You live out in the woods and have many enemies.” Coyote said, “We eat nothing but fat out in the woods, all kinds of meats are what we eat.
We eat prickly pears, yucca fruit, and all kinds of wild fruits.” Then Coyote told him, “We hear you get whippings all the time anyhow.
We hear you crying all the time they are whipping you.” But the dog said, “We get plenty of meat and a good place to sleep.
We do not have to dodge anyone the way you do.
We cannot agree with you that we should go back to the woods with you.” CHAPTER ELEVEN LATE 1862 DEATH OF MANGAS COLORADAS: THE SHADOW OF THE GIANT — “But if they would not hear you, would you fight against them?” “No,” said Sladen reluctantly. “I would not fight my own people, but I am sure they would not dare to fight after I had given them the General’s orders.” Cochise laughed, glad of Sladen’s reply.
He had known Sladen would not fight his own people, but wondered if Sladen would lie to avoid angering Cochise.
But he was not yet finished with the young nantan. “What would you do if the Mexican soldiers came to fight us?” asked Cochise. “I would go and meet them and tell them that I was an officer of the United States Army and that the Indians and our people were making peace and that they must go back to Mexico,” said Sladen promptly. “But if they would not listen to you and would fight us, would you fight against us?” “No.
In that case I would fight with you against them, for they are not my people.” Now Cochise laughed out loud, delighted with this response – for Sladen had spoken as carefully and truthfully as if he were one of the People – whose lives hung by their word. That afternoon, Cochise took Sladen to visit one of his lookout posts on a peak of the Dragoons – so Sladen would understand things more fully.
The lookout party was camped in a faint hollow at a place they could see to Tucson by looking west and to Apache Pass by looking east.
When they arrived, the lookouts were watching something down in the valley.
Cochise glanced at the sun to note the time of day then peered down into the valley – pronouncing the tiny wagon to be Buckskin Alec, the mail rider between Fort Bowie and Tucson.
Sladen strained to make out the moving dot, but quickly learned the lesson Cochise meant to impart.
Now Sladen would report back to Tatti Grande how easily the warriors could have laid a trap for the mail wagon if they had decided to do so.
They decided to spend the night with the lookouts, drinking some sweet tizwin and eating a small dinner of mescal.
They drank and sang and danced all through the night, everyone laughing and teasing one another in the joyful and open-hearted way of the People – into which Sladen entered with good spirit.
Naiche attached himself to the nantan, constantly pointing out things and pronouncing the proper name of that thing – then struggling with the equivalent word in English.
He applauded Sladen’s every attempt, stroking him affectionately on the arm saying – “Bueno amigo” – good friend. They returned to the camp near the foot of the mountain the next day, Cochise showing by his manner it was nothing to climb or descend 6,000 feet up precipitous trails in a morning.
Arriving in his camp, Cochise directed one of the younger warriors to bring back an antelope – One Who Is Becoming – for his guests – for Cochise did not want Sladen to judge him a poor man or a neglectful host.
The warrior returned shamefaced some hours later, presenting himself to Cochise empty handed.
Cochise looked at the cringing warrior, conscious of Sladen’s eyes on him and the eyes of the other warriors who had all stopped and turned to see what Cochise would do – smelling his anger like thunder in the air.
Feeling shamed in front of his guest, Cochise surged to his feet with a burst of anger – his black eyes flashing.
He whipped the warrior with the lash of his voice, standing flushed in the center of all of their eyes as the warrior slunk away.
Then Cochise called Dos-teh-seh to bring his horse.
Seizing his rifle with the inlaid handle, Cochise vaulted into the saddle and rode out of camp, not looking back. He rode alone out into the grasslands of the San Pedro Valley, calming somewhat.
He took a risk going alone out into the grass where the antelope lived, for everyone in this country yearned for his death.
But he was spurred by pride now, for everyone had seen him ride out after humiliating the unsuccessful hunter – so he must not come back without an antelope.
At one time, this would have been easy enough – for Ussen had set many antelope to live among the People.
But the herds had dwindled and grown even more wary as the Whites moved into their territory.
Now many of the antelope had gone off someplace, perhaps following the buffalo into the earth to live with the Mountain Spirits.
As Cochise rode, he smoothed his mind – using the story of the man who had become as the antelope and so had escaped from the land of the dead.
Antelope was sacred, for he wore the ghost face and could become many things – even going back and forth from the Land of the Dead.
The warriors prayed to Antelope Power so they could run quickly and eagerly sought antelope fat to rub on their legs.
Cochise prayed to Antelope and gave thanks for the many blessings Antelope had bestowed on the people.
Hunting was a prayerful and sacred act, as were most of the things the People did.
You could not have any success without luck and without Antelope Power’s willingness and cooperation.
So you must first approach hunting in a prayerful and reverential way or your skills would be useless.
This was the thing young warriors did not understand, as they still believed most of all in their muscles and their bows. Cochise rode to a place other people had seen a herd – a place he knew from the experience of years that antelope favored.
He left his horse, which would frighten the antelope from a long ways off and moved carefully through the tall grass in a prayerful way.
When he finally saw the antelope grazing at a distance, he went down on his belly and approached them with great care.
When he had gotten close enough, he tied a bit of red cloth to his bow and raised the cloth so the antelope could see it over the grass.
Then he flicked the cloth back and forth in a certain unpredictable manner – not so violently that it would frighten the antelope but in so odd and unpredictable a manner that it would make them curious – for antelope were as vulnerable to curiosity as Coyote.
The antelope noticed the movement of the spot of red and tried to ignore it for a long while, but Cochise persisted with great patience, so finally some of the antelope came over to him.
He shot one when he was sure of the distance.
He approached the antelope in a reverential manner, repeating the prayers of gratitude to Antelope Power for allowing this kill that he might feed those who depended on him.
He carried the antelope back to his horse, remembering the story of the man who had become an aspect of the antelope.
Cochise decided this had perhaps been a message sent by Power, which had denied the first warrior an antelope so Cochise would come out to the grassland and remember the story.
It strengthened his resolve to trust in General Howard, who might perhaps lead the Chiricahua out of the land of twilight death in which they lived now and back to the land of the living – as Antelope had done for the man in the story. Cochise rode back into camp and turned the body of the antelope over to Dos-teh-seh, who quickly divided it up.
She saved the choice pieces to provide dinner for Sladen and Red Beard, but set aside much of the rest for women who had children but no husbands — for Cochise always shared food with those most in need.
For his part, Cochise sat down again, rolled a cigarette, and continued the conversation he had left off just as if nothing had ever happened. The scattered bands trickled in, each headman making a respectful report to Cochise as he sat with Sladen and Red Beard on the council rock.
Cochise greeted each of them warmly, for they had shared many dangers and they leaders knew they all held the fate of the People in their hands. Then a warrior from Taza’s raiding party came in, approaching Cochise with nervous respect.
He reported that the war party had killed the nantan and his driver along the Tucson road, mutilating the bodies and leaving them behind.
Cochise was seized by a violent fear, for this one killing might now spoil everything.
Perhaps it might even turn Tatti Grande against them when he heard about it from the soldiers at Fort Bowie.
Cochise rose up in his anger and struck the warrior so violent a blow he was sent sprawling on the ground.
The warrior lay there stunned and submissive, and everyone watching held their breaths, wondering whether Cochise would drive his lance through the body of the unprotesting warrior.
But the rage passed quickly.
Cochise gathered his blanket around him and turned back to the rock, as the warrior slunk away.
Cochise rolled a cigarette and smoked it to recover his calm, then gave orders to strike camp.
If the soldiers did set out after the raiding party as a result of the death of the nantan, he must move to a safer place.
Within moments, everyone was packing up essential supplies and within an hour the camp was on the move.
They continued up the steepest hillsides along nearly invisible trails, to the astonishment of Sladen who could not believe riders could go safely along such cliff edges – especially as darkness overtook them.
They traveled most of the night before stopping on a sheer slope below the ridgeline and lay down to sleep on the faintest suggestion of a ledge or a level spot – each man holding the lead rope of his horse in his sleep.
Cochise had picked the spot with care, knowing no one could approach them undetected and they could easily disappear over the ridge if pursued. The next day the lookouts reported a large party with a wagon leaving Apache Pass and heading out across the Sulfur Springs Valley toward the Dragoons.
Cochise breathed a sigh of relief, for soldiers on the trail of the raiding party would have come from Fort Lowell near Tucson to the west.
Now Cochise led his people back down off the mountain, moving to meet Tatti Grande and coming along slowly toward the Dragoons. Cochise waited for General Howard, who had brought his full party and a wagon pulled by four mules loaded with supplies for the People – 2,000 pounds of corn, coffee, sugar, flour and cloth.
Cochise regarded the additional Whites with a wary eye, but growing confidence in both Sladen and Howard steadied him.
Several warriors rode up to the wagon with presents, whooping and showing off their riding.
They climbed onto the wagon – excited to see the fat mules in four-mule team – while the driver looked on dubiously.
One of the warriors took the reins and whipped up the mules to a run, so the wagon bounded wildly over the rough ground – shedding boxes and bundles.
The other warriors rode alongside, laughing uproariously.
Some of them bet on whether the wagon would turn over or the warrior who was standing up holding the reins might fall off – for the People would bet on anything – even which beetle would be the first cross an open space.
But the white driver grew frightened and pushed the warrior aside to take back the reins.
The warrior – a proud young man still trying to prove himself before the older warriors – made as if to pull out his knife – but a sharp word from Cochise stopped him.
It seemed everything still hung by a twist of sinew, swaying with even a breeze.
Cochise resolved not to let some careless or unlucky moment snap the frayed chord that bound him to this last chance for peace.
He had decided General Howard must pray to Power – perhaps the same Power as the People – and so was the only nantan he had ever met who might keep his word. They all camped together where Cochise had first met General Howard, resting on the banks of the small stream and letting the horses graze in the good grass nearby.
Cochise questioned Chie closely about his journey to Fort Bowie.
He was reassured to learn that General Howard commanded the soldiers, who did everything he bid.
Chie also reported that on the trip back from the fort on a cold night General Howard had lain down under a bearskin robe, inviting Chie to lie there as well with the robe as protection against the cold.
Naturally, Chie had refused – for anything having to do with bears touched on Power.
None of the People would harm a bear, unless it was to preserve their own lives.
Some said the spirits of dead warriors sometimes took the form of bears, so you must always speak respectfully to Bear as though he was your brother.
Others said that only warriors who had behaved badly would come back as bears –which was another reason to be careful of them.
Victorio had once told Cochise about a man who had shamed himself by remaining silent and letting another warrior take the blame for something that he had done.
Shame had worked on that man so hard that he had finally left the band to live as an exile.
Some said that he turned into a bear, because afterwards the warriors often found bear tracks around his wife’s wickiup.
Several years later, that man came in out of the darkness to Juh’s campfire – wearing bearskins – and said he had been wandering a long time alone, except for the bears that followed him about.
Whites were always doing things like this – using a bearskin in a disrespectful manner – so you never knew whether they intended offense or simply knew no better.
But when Chie explained that the bearskin was bad medicine, General Howard immediately discarded it and used it no more.
Cochise took comfort in this story, seeing that General Howard was different from the other nantans – a true man with a good heart like Red Beard. On the first night, Cochise retired with the darkness to his wickiup, so no one else would see him struggle with the gnawing pain in his stomach.
This wound with no mark now seemed to stalk him.
He did not fear it for his own sake – for he had prepared himself to meet death a long time ago.
But he could not afford weakness now, when everything depended on him.
He remained in his wickiup, drinking tizwin to blunt the pain.
The tizwin dulled both his pain and his mind.
His wives kept fussing with him, coming into the wickiup and forcing him to cover up the pain – until he finally snapped when his sister came in to bother him as well.
They shouted at one another and he scolded her and drove her out of the wickiup with blows.
Fear of his temper had been an important tool of his leadership, but when the pain and the tizwin joined forces against him, he sometimes lost control, turning his anger on those who loved him.
Everyone else drew away from his wickiup, not venturing to even look toward it.
But he mastered himself until he fell finally into a troubled tizwin sleep. The Whites and the People mingled in a friendly way.
The children quickly got over their shyness and hung about continually in the camp of the Whites, holding their hands when they walked about, climbing into their laps when they sat down and touching their lips when they talked in their strange manner.
This was natural for children, for they were spoiled by everyone in the band – touched and patted and held.
Children younger than 10 went about naked and the older children wore not much more – breechcloths and moccasins for the boys and skirts and shirts for the girls.
The People treasured their children, who were gifts in the midst of great trouble – carrying in their small hands the fate of the People.
Most of them had never seen white people up close, except Red Beard.
The Whites wandered freely about the camp, which resounded with the musical sound of the women singing their household songs and the high clear laugher of children.
They were a joyful and heart-long people, to whom laugher came easily.
The men especially were quick to anger – for they were both impulsive and proud – but their quarrels passed quickly and left no trace, like thunderstorms in the season of Large Fruit.
Everyone spent hours by the stream, enjoying the luxury of such a long camp near running water — for when they were hunted they camped well away from water.
The children splashed and shouted for hours at a time.
Both women and men spent hours sitting contentedly in the shade – dressing one another’s long black hair, combing it with their fingers until it shone like obsidian.
The Whites were objects of endless curiosity and people were constantly in their camps, fascinated with the great mystery and variety of their things.
But no one took anything not offered as a gift, for the People despised a thief and no theft could go undetected among people who lived with their relatives and shared their lives under the open sky. The Whites in their turn seemed bemused by the People, whom they had thought were like wild animals.
Some of the men looked openly and hungrily at the women, who were modest and chaste but not so careful about hiding their bodies as the white women.
One man courted a young women that had been captured in Mexico and raised as one of the people.
He gave her gifts – even vermilion paint the women prized above cloth and beads and ornaments.
But when he tried to touch her, she pushed him aside and explained this was “not their custom.” But she said perhaps she would go to Fort Bowie with him and marry him there – for the People were proper and chaste and no one respected a woman who lay down with a man who was not her husband.
Nor did they respect a man who would say improper things to a woman or push her to have sex with him when it would ruin her reputation. Every night they held social dances, for the Whites had brought gifts of food and it had been a long time since so many of the bands had gathered in one place and dared to light fires and dance through the night.
One bold young woman with a great reputation for jokes urged Sladen to dance with her, flirting with him in the firelight until his eyes were full of her.
Then she tried to maneuver him into a certain hole at the edge of the firelight while everyone watched, ready to laugh when he fell over his feet.
But she was so amused by his awkward dancing that she forgot her own plan and fell in the hole instead.
Now everyone who had been waiting for Sladen to fall down laughed twice as hard at the woman, many people howling with delight until tears ran down their faces.
She scrambled to her feet, flushed with embarrassment.
But a moment later she realized the joke and laughed herself.
After that, she grew nearly helpless with laugher every time they danced near that hole – and everyone watching caught it from her, so the laugher spread around the circle like the joyful singing of mocking bird. Despite the good feeling in camp, Cochise kept his sentries spread out, watching every possible approach.
The subchiefs continued to come in slowly, so the number of people camped continued to grow.
One of the band leaders came in with fresh horses with an army brand and reported with a note of arrogance he had raided a soldier camp – killing four soldiers and making off with their horses.
One warrior had been wounded in the attack and they had brought him to the camp.
In a cold fury, Cochise rose from his seat on the council rock and struck the warrior a blow in the face, knocking him down to his knees.
Cochise stood over the warrior – who was a brave and reckless man – conscious of the eyes of the others on them.
His eyes glittered and he stood poised lest the man he had struck should come up off his knees with his knife in his hand.
Cochise knew he must dominate his People so even the wildest and most unruly of warriors would not dare to chase away the chance of peace, which stood now at the edge of camp – nervous as a deer.
But the warrior saw the blaze of Power surrounding Cochise and so backed away from him, not meeting his eye.
Cochise looked around as though inviting a challenge, but their eyes fell away.
Except Juan, who grinned as though they shared a great joke.
Cochise directed them to hide the wounded man in the rocks, so the Whites would not ask questions. Later, Sladen heard about that wounded man, hidden in the rocks.
He took Cochise aside privately and explained he had been trained as a healer.
He offered to go and treat the wounded man.
But Cochise advised him against it.
He observed that the man was hurt badly and would probably die. “If he did die, my people would think that the capitan had given him bad medicine and they would want to kill him,” said Cochise diplomatically.
Sladen quickly agreed. Two weeks after he had sent out word, most of the subchiefs had gathered – although Taza was still raiding in Mexico.
They decided to convene the peace conference nonetheless, for Cochise felt the risk of waiting grew with the days.
They gathered beneath the shade of a great oak, whose leaves had gathered news from the wind for longer than any man there had lived.
Cochise sometimes wondered what wisdom he might have gathered had he the patience to sit as long and still as that oak, smoothed and steadied by the passage of the years.
Cochise sat in the center of the circle of warriors along with Howard and Red Beard and El Cautivo, who served as his translator – although Cochise’s command of Spanish was very good.
El Cautivo watched the nantans with dour suspicion, for he believed Tatti Grande could just as well be witching them with his prayers as talking to his Power about peace.
Cochise found his suspicion and insight useful.
El Cautivo had insisted on wearing the shirt of the dead nantan, for the man who had killed him was from El Cautivo’s band.
Cochise did not prevent him, for El Cautivo was a man of Power and pride and not subject to the command of Cochise – only his counsel and advice. Tatti Grande, who had prayed with great intensity to his Power before they started, returned to the idea of Canada Alamosa, saying the Great Father wanted all of his children to gather there.
But Cochise had also consulted his Power – and the other leaders – and would not consider leaving his own country now.
They went back and forth on this point for a time, each of the other band leaders saying they would not live at Canada Alamosa – but would keep the peace in their own country.
Their words wore away Tatti Grande’s objection, as a knife point will wear away sandstone.
After a talk of some hours that gave each of the subchiefs his rightful chance to speak, Tatti Grande agreed to establish a reservation that embraced both the Dragoons and Chiricahuas — with the agency for dispensing rations near Fort Bowie. Now Cochise’s heart leaped up in his chest, like an eagle lunging against a tether.
It seemed suddenly that everything he had fought for his whole life had come to this – a nantan he could trust who understood that the People and the land were aspects of one another, which was why they could not live peacefully anyplace else.
But even in the moment of his great joy, Power whispered to Cochise, reminding him that keeping the peace would be as difficult as winning it.
He feared Tatti Grande would go back to the Great Father.
Who then would restrain the soldiers and be sure the People were not cheated? Instead of embracing the great gift of Tatti Grande’s words – Cochise made one more condition.
Tatti Grande must make Red Beard the agent, with charge of the rations and everything happening inside the reservation.
Red Beard seemed reluctant to accept this responsibility.
But Tatti Grande assented readily, as though his Power had warned him about this condition ahead of time.
For his part, Cochise promised to prevent all raiding against the Americans – and to protect the road through Apache Pass to Tucson. — The new superintendent of Indian affairs, a man named Levi Edwin Dudley, came to Cochise’s camp when he had already begun to turn his back on the land of the living to prepare for his journey.
Cochise was in constant pain now and at first did not want to talk to this new white man, although this man had charge over Red Beard and the reservation.
But Dudley brought a picture of himself with General Howard, so Cochise’s heart softened.
They talked for an hour, which nearly exhausted his strength.
Dudley gave Cochise the picture as a gift and the chief put it close by his bed.
He looked at it affectionately, sometimes touching this aspect of this great friend of the People – the only White man who understood the nature of Power.
The talk was friendly, but Cochise was surprised when Dudley said some people wanted to move the Chokonen to New Mexico to live with the Chihenne.
Cochise by then was too weak to fight that idea, saying only it must fall to Taza to decide.
He had fought all his life with all his strength, but knew the struggle must pass into other hands.
He had been the leading man among the Chokonen for 18 years, suffering the many wounds and the countless fights and the burden of deaths to win their war and regain their land.
But now he understood why Child-of-the-Waters had continued on his journey and left the People behind.
Each life had its seasons and you could no more change their progression than you could hold back the snow. Clenched with grief, Taza left his father’s camp with several warriors to seek the witch who was killing Cochise.
Power was just like people – working both good and evil.
Sometimes greedy and foolish people twisted Power to bad deeds.
And sometimes Power twisted the people who sought it.
Cochise had his enemies among the People, for he had bruised the pride of many men and by his commands caused many deaths – so the relatives of some people talked against him.
Taza had heard that one such had witched Cochise, bringing on his long illness.
The warriors found the witch and seized him to burn him, which was the best thing to do with witches – although they were hard to burn and took a long time to die.
But Red Beard came quickly at the rumor of the burning and convinced Taza to spare the man’s life.
Taza did this reluctantly and only because he promised he would follow the advice of Red Beard – who was their best protection against the treachery and greed of the Whites. In the season of Little Eagles, Red Beard hurried to the camp of Cochise so he would not miss saying good-by to his old friend.
He found Cochise drifting in an out of consciousness – crossing and recrossing the boundary between the living and the dead.
When he heard the voice of his old friend, he revived somewhat and they talked a while.
Seeing how the talk used up the last of his friend’s strength, Red Beard made ready to leave. “Do you think you will ever see me alive again?” asked Cochise, his voice faint, but without fear. “No,” said Red Beard, for they had never lied to one another. “I do not think I will.
I think that by tomorrow night you will be dead.” “Yes, I think so too – about 10 o’clock tomorrow,” said Cochise, who knew this already from his Power.
He did not fear it, for he was weary. “Do you think we will ever meet again?” he repeated, for he had often wondered whether the Whites would follow them to the Happy Place.
He hoped they would not – except for Red Beard, who was dear to his heart. Red Beard seemed surprised by this question – but he thought about it carefully before he answered. “I don’t know,” he said at length. “What is your opinion?” “I have been thinking a good deal about it while I have been sick here,” said Cochise with a trace of his old animation, “and I believe we will.
Old friends will meet again – up there,” he concluded, gesturing to the listening sky with his chin. Red Beard went sorrowfully on his way, knowing the world would be a smaller place when Cochise had passed from it. Cochise died quietly the next morning.
The word went out over the People black as a dust storm.
Everywhere people stopped and turned toward the place where he had died and wailed in the despair of their grief – for who would protect them now that he had gone? The Whites passing by the camps of the Chokonen listened fearfully, for it seemed the cries and the keening would never stop – continuing through the night and into the next day.
Everywhere people hacked off their hair and threw away their clothing.
And when they heaped together his things for burning, all the people of his band came grieving to the fire – throwing their own clothes into it until they stood naked and inconsolable. Then Dos-teh-seh and his sister took his body and prepared him for burial.
They washed him and combed his hair until it shone and painted his face.
They dressed him in his best things, together with all of his charms and the contents of his ceremonial pouch.
Then they wrapped him in a heavy woolen blanket and put him on his favorite horse, so he could ride as a chief to his burial.
They conveyed him to a deep fissure in the heart of the Dragoons among the rocks that had been waiting patiently for him to return to them since his parents had first rolled him to the four directions on the earth.
Then they killed his horse and lowered him into the deep crack in the rock, so Cochise could ride in the afterlife.
They put with him also his favorite dog, together with his bow and the beautiful rifle with the silver inlaid stock and the pearl handled pistols.
Then finally they lowered Cochise into the earth, crying out his true name for the last time. So passed Cochise from the land of the living, where his shadow had been long. He had kept his word – the promise made as his father and his mother and all of his people and Power itself had stood watching as he took his first unsteady steps in the footprints of Child-of-the-Waters painted on the unblemished buckskin.
He had protected his family and served his People and terrified his enemies.
And although he could not shatter the arrows of the Giant with his breath – he had nonetheless walked in the Giant’s shadow unafraid and so won his fight. What more could a true man do? EPILOGUE The death of Cochise effectively doomed his people, for with his passing none of the leaders had the stature to maintain the frail peace with the Whites.
Beset by his critics and discouraged by Cochise’s death, Jeffords soon quit his job as agent.
The unruly elements among the Chokonen agitated for a resumption of raiding into Mexico, spear headed by Poinsenay and abetted by Juh and Geronimo who returned to the reservation periodically.
Although Taza struggled to fulfill his promise to his father, he had neither the stature nor the political skills to dominate men like these.
The final trigger came when Poinsenay and his brother – returned from raiding in Mexico – killed two station agents who sold them bad whiskey.
Taza and Naiche led a band of warriors that fought a pitched battle with the renegades, but the incident gave the government the excuse it had been seeking to close the reservation. Taza and Naiche obeyed their promise to their father and agreed to move their band to the San Carlos Reservation – less than two years after Cochise’s death.
But Jefford’s prediction was born out and about half of the Chokonen vanished – many going back down into Mexico with Juh and Geronimo.
These roaming and restive bands driven off the reservation destabilized the tenuous peace General Howard had secured with his compassion and insight.
Raiders showed up on the Chihenne Reservation in New Mexico with horse herds stolen from Mexico, which gave the government the pretext sought for disastrous closure of the Chihenne Reservations. Acting from a blend of greed and bureaucratic stupidity, the government sought to concentrate all the Apache bands on the hot, disease ridden, San Carlos Reservation, with led to the inevitable explosion and another 10 years of tragic warfare in the Southwest and Northern Mexico.
First the Chihenne under Victorio fought a doomed war to regain their homeland, resulting in the death of thousands of Americans and Mexicans and the devastation of the Chihenne.
This was followed by the Geronimo wars involving mostly Chokonen bands that repeatedly left the reservation and spread death and destruction throughout the southwest.
At one point, one-quarter of the United State’s Army was chasing Geronimo and 18 warriors.
The war finally ended in 1886 when Geronimo surrendered.
The government then loaded hundreds of Chiricahua onto cattle cars – mostly people who had been living peacefully on the reservation and including many warriors who had scouted for the Army against the hostiles.
The Chiricahua remained prisoners of war for the next 28 years in Florida, Alabama and then Oklahoma – one of the most shameful chapters in the long, dispiriting chronicle of the conflict between the Whites and the native peoples. All much of this might have been averted had Cochise lived long enough to stabilize the Chiricahua Reservation with the Jefford’s assistance. That makes the death of Cochise a tragedy for his enemies no less than for his people – and his life a lesson for us all.
The lessons of his life are as persistent and profound as the voice of the Gahn humming through the rocks of the Dragons for those whose minds are steady and smooth and resilient. THE JOURNEY OF COCHISE TO THE HAPPY PLACE
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