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Death of an Indian Chief

Many people have been interested in the history of Indians in the U.S. One such story tells the tale of Diablo, a chief of the Cibecue Apache, who was killed during a battle with a challenging band of Indians.

Diablo was known to his people as Eskinlaw. This prominent chief lived in the White Mountains of Arizona. Diablo had been trying to cooperate with an ever-growing number of white people who were now closing in on the Apache homeland. He traveled to Fort Defiance in July 1869 which was the first American military post in Arizona and hoped to establish good relations. As a result, three white men returned with Diablo and soon regular visits started between the two groups.

Unfortunately, tensions began growing among the Apaches themselves and there were many who were not happy to welcome the Americans. Then in 1873 a warrior from a competing band of Apaches led by Eshkeldahsilah killed a white man who was working at the army’s Fort Apache. To try to ease the situation Diablo tracked down this warrior and killed him. He won the praise of the Americans.

In hopes of avoiding further violence, the commander of Fort Apache ordered all of the surrounding tribes to move closer to the fort. At this point, tension grew between the Apache bands. In July of 1875 Diablo was angered by the government when it ordered all of the Apaches to move to the San Carlos Reservation located east of what today in Phoenix, Arizona.

Frustrated by this kind of behavior toward the Indians Diablo turned against the white people and in January 1876 he attacked the camp near Fort Apache. This resulted in the killing of at least one white civilian. He also began attacking a competing band of White Mountain Apaches who were continuing to cooperate with the American. As a result, the White Mountain Apache got their revenge on Diablo on August 30, 1880. Even though the American military was sent out to the site Diablo’s opponents killed him.


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  1. So many of these stories. Sad we have to concur new lands. This is the way with us though. Sad for the natives. My ancestor Chief Joseph from the Nez Perce tribe was much the same way. He wanted to believe in the Americans. What a great photograph that is.

  2. The chief had a good intention and it’s good he wanted to create a peaceful coexistence between Americans and the Indians. It’s sad the Whites resorted to a bad decision which made the chief to retract on his goodwill.


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