Apaches in the Southwest’s Borderlands

apaches_in_southwest_borderlands_jar-of-severed-hands_apache-cibecue-and-chatos-raidMark Santiago tackles the issue of the Spanish deportation of Apache prisoners of war during the late 18th and into the early 19th centuries in The Jar of Severed Hands (University of Oklahoma Press; $29.95).

The title certainly grabs the reader’s attention, but not until you have begun to read this masterful book do the true horrors of war show themselves. An allusion that Santiago uses throughout his book is the idea of the mailed fist in the velvet glove. The Spanish essentially gave the Apaches a stark choice: fight, be captured and consequently be deported from their homeland forever, or surrender their weapons and live as civilized Christians on a Spanish reservation. The way that the Apaches and Spanish completely dehumanized each other was appalling, but Santiago has done a wonderful job on such a fearsome subject.

Apache: Cibecue and Chato’s Raid (Old Buzzards Productions; $24), a DVD covering the years 1881-84, documents the Cibecue uprising in 1881 Arizona and a notorious raid in 1883 New Mexico tied in name to Chato (he did participate, but Chief Chihuahua led the raid). The Battle of Cibecue Creek is hauntingly similar to Wounded Knee in that both began as religious movements and ended with bloodshed. Apache shaman Nockadelklinne was a man of nonviolence, but when the Army came to arrest him, a bloody battle ensued. “Chato’s Raid” deals with the murder of a federal judge and his wife, and the disappearance of their young son. This attack angered a nation and started one of the most widespread searches in the country.

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