Chapter XLVIII.


I Am Accused of Conniving with the Indians to Steal--My Arrest

--Investigation and Discharge--The Fate of Witches Among the Natives--I Interfere to Prevent their Murder--Captain Norval's Threat--His Mistake

MORE white people were coming into the valley all the time to settle, and a deep prejudice against the Indians was soon developed. I was accused of being in collusion with them in running off the settlers' stock so as to get a reward for returning it.

This charge was presented to the agent at the Gila agency and from him it was sent to the military commander at Camp McDowell.

There had been many accusations against the Indians and myself before this, but nothing in a formal way. This time notice had to be taken, so Capt. Summerhays with a posse of soldiers came to my ranch. I had often been to the camp and had talked to the officers about my affairs with the Indians. There was, from the first, a disposition of honor manifested by the military toward my labors.

The posse arrived about sundown. The captain came in, opened some papers and said his orders were to arrest me for being in with the Indians in stealing stock, and asked if I could prove myself clear.

I told him I did not intend to try to prove my innocence, but would help him to prove my guilt if possible, for if guilty I wanted to find it out and quit it.

This rather pleased the captain who laughingly said: "Well you are a prisoner, but I would trust you not to run away."

Next morning we went out to see what evidence could be found. We first visited the Indians and heard their story. They said that the whites who were coming into the country were careless about their stock and it had often strayed off a long ways. Some of the owners had offered to pay them for hunting it up. When they brought the stock some paid them, while others who were bad men would abuse them and tell them they had driven the stock away on purpose to receive a reward for finding it. They said Captain Jones always told them to be honest with everybody and had forbidden any Indians to come to his place unless they would do right.

The Indians were very earnest in their talk, saying they had been friends to the people that had come in, and that it was bad to be accused so unjustly, and said they would not hunt any more stock.

The captain told them that would be wrong as the people were poor and did not know the range.

One Indian, Valensuela, spoke up and said: "Well, I will teach these people better. I will go and get their stock and give it to them, and I won't take a cent if they offer it to me."

The spirit and manner of the Indians convinced the captain that they had been wrongfully accused. From the Indians camp we went to where the greater portion of my accusers were at work on a ditch.

The captain called the attention of the crowd and made known his business by saying, "Mr. Jones has been accused of causing the Indians to run off your stock. Do any of you know anything about the charge?"

No one answered against me. Some said they did not think I had done anything of the kind. We were now some three miles from my ranch. The captain drove back to the road and offered to take me home, saying he had got through.

I asked him what he was going to do with his prisoner. He offered to give me a letter to publish clearing me from all the charges. I told him I had become so used to such things that I cared but little about them. He replied that it was a good thing for a man in my situation not to be too "thin skinned."

Through this affair I got on record at the Post as reliable, and ever afterwards my word was taken in preference to any reports against me.

I was kept tolerably busy watching and defending the rights of the Indians; also in trying to correct evils existing among the natives. One thing that taxed all my ability was to break up witchcraft, their main superstition.

Both Maricopas and Pimas fully believed that all sickness and calamities of any kind were caused by witches. Their witch doctors claimed the power to divine who the witches are. When this is done all hands turn out with clubs and stones and kill the poor wretch pointed out. Whenever there is much sickness among them some one has to die as a witch. This I had endeavored to check by teaching them better, but I soon learned that my teaching had not reached the desire, as witches were killed among those settling with us of the Maricopas.

I went to their camp and told old Malia, who was quite intelligent in many respects, that if such an act occurred again that I would deliver them to the law to be dealt with as murderers. At the same time explaining to his people the general laws of health, showing them that the violation of natural laws produced sickness.

Some time after this a Maricopa woman came and told my wife that the Maricopas had decided to kill me; that the witches were killing their children and that I would not allow them to kill the witches. So the only way to protect the lives of their children would be to kill me, as I was a friend of the witches.

When I came home my wife told me of this threat. She seemed a little concerned for my welfare, but her faith was always with mine; so we decided that it would be best for me to go at once and put a stop to this feeling.

I got on my horse and went alone some three miles to their camp. Most of the Indians were gathered together. As I approached none spoke; all were sullen. This confirmed to me the truth of the squaw's report, as the Indians generally met me in a friendly manner.

I went directly to the subject; told them what I had heard, saying to them that I had no fears of their killing me and that there was no use for them to entertain any such feeling towards me, for I was their friend and teaching them the truth, and that God would protect me. I again talked to them a long time and finally seemed to gain some influence.

The Pimas had also been guilty of the same practice. When I heard of this I took a good interpreter and went to their camp, which was across the river among the old settlers not of our colonizers.

I had to labor long and hard before getting any satisfactory results. The old chief acknowledged that they had killed one witch and had almost killed another, who had recovered and that they were then doctoring him to cure him, so that all hands could turn out and "kill him better."

I asked how they knew these men were witches. The answer was that the "doctor" had pointed them out.

I asked to see this "doctor." This was declined. I insisted, telling the chief that I would neither befriend him nor his people, nor talk to them about anything more until this "doctor" was shown me.

This the old fellow did not like; for I had done them much good already, and was continually watching and protecting their interests. They all knew this and appreciated the same.

Numbers of the old men gathered around, chatting together. I continued to repeat my request to see the "doctor." Finally, he was brought out. I managed, after talking a long time, to really convince these Indians that it was wrong to believe in witches or, at least, to kill them. They agreed to quit the practice and I had reason to believe that they were partially converted, at least, for the poor fellow, who had been almost killed, came to my ranch a few weeks after this. He was terribly banged up; but, as soon as he could possibly travel, he came to let me know that I had saved him; that his people had agreed not to kill him, and that he would always call himself my boy, as I had saved his life.

Many persons were jealous of my influence with the natives and wondered how I managed to obtain so much power over them. I simply acted as a friend, and the Indians knew this.

One circumstance I will relate that will explain a little of this power. There was one of our white settlers who had lost his only cow. She was running on the river bottom, near the Indian camp. At the time this occurred the commander at McDowell was Captain Norval, a rather impetuous officer.

A letter was sent to this officer, stating that the Indians had stolen and killed the only cow that a poor man had and calling on him to come and redress the wrong. Accordingly, Captain Norval soon appeared, at the head of some dragoons, went to Mesa City and wrote an order, to be delivered to the Indians through me, that the cow had to be produced or paid for within six hours, or he would kill the last Indian to be found.

The Indians accused lived across the river, which was now very high. I immediately sent a courier for the old chief to come to my ranch, also informing him of the charge.

The old man came as soon as possible, having to swim the river. He was quite old and feeble, but managed to get over with the help of some younger men.

Captain Norval soon made his appearance and, with something of a flourish, reiterated his threat. The old chief looked at him in a dazed manner, then asked if the captain wanted them to pay for the cow when they knew nothing about her.

"No; but you have stolen the cow and killed and eaten her, and you have got to pay for her or I will turn my soldiers loose on you."

"Who says we killed this man's cow?"

"This letter says so."

"That letter lies; we know nothing about the cow. It would be better for us if we had killed her, for we could then confess and pay for her; but how can we confess and pay for what we know nothing about?"

The captain then asked what had become of the cow. The old chief said he did not know, positively, but thought perhaps he could tell. He said the day the cow was lost there had been a sudden rise in the river; the water coming down so suddenly that the cow, being on an island, was probably washed away and drowned. The old man was so simple and straightforward in all his talk that Captain Norval became convinced that he was truthful, and that the charge was more malicious then reasonable.

There was scarcely a week passed but what there were miserable, petty charges brought against the Indians, often on the slightest grounds, that had to be met.

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