The Indian Wars Were Complicated

  • Yesterday, being President’s Day, I decided to focus on historical venues.  Fort Verde State Park is the centerpiece of the town of Camp Verde, on the east side of the Verde River Valley.  The river itself flows just east and south of the park, but much to the chagrin of many visitors, it is not accessible on foot from the park, or anywhere else in town.

    The fort was intended to house soldiers who wanted to “pacify” the Apaches who lived east and north of the settlements of Camp Verde and McGuireville, in the “Indian Wars” period of 1870-90.  There were two schools of thought on this matter- Get to know the Apaches, set some land aside for them and live in peace among them (General George Crook) and Subdue the Apaches, kill them if necessary and ship the survivors to Oklahoma or Florida (General Nelson Miles).  Miles won out at first, but Crook’s philosophy was eventually adopted by President Grover Cleveland, then by Theodore Roosevelt.  The latter wanted Oklahoma for white settlers, anyway.

    Our government, by and large, treated Indians abysmally until the 1970’s.  Still, it is worth my while to know how an open, unstockaded fort existed, where Apaches could move in and out freely, as long as they were of peaceful intent.  It is also worth knowing that General Miles double-crossed Apache scouts who helped him subdue the Navajos, and their own fellow Apaches- by imprisoning them once the campaign ended.

    Here are some photos of Fort Verde, and the town.






    After viewing an informative video on the Apache scouts, and enjoying a cup of coffee at Thanks A Latte, I headed for Montezuma’s Castle and Montezuma Well National Monuments.  The Aztecs never lived in this area, but in the next post, I will talk about those who did.

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