COCHISE--FAMOUS CHIRICAHUA APACHE LEADER
THE MATERIAL ON THIS PAGE IS COPYRIGHTED AND SHOULD BE APPROPRIATELY CITED (C) 2007-2008, Deni Seymour
Cochise was one of the most famous Apache leaders. As the
leader of the Chokonen band of the Chiricahua Apache, Cochise
lived between about 1804 and 1874 and resided in the mountains
of southeastern Arizona making the Chiricahua and Dragoon
Mountains his home. His most favored range was the Dragoons
where he and his people moved between lowland areas and
mountain valleys. The wickiup ring shown to the right was found
in one of the mountain valleys and could have been used by
Cochise as he enjoyed the highland views.
The location of one of Cochise's camps is known from late historic records of the Cochise-Howard Treaty of 1872. Alice Rollins Crane was shown
the location by Thomas Jeffords, who participated in the treaty talks. She was brought here a few years later and took photographs.
Archaeologist Bill Gillespie found one location depicted in the photographs and history buff George Robertson found another. The locations are
recognizable because of the distinctive rock formations.
Read more about this event and the archaeological location of the Cochise-Howard Treaty Site:
Deni Seymour and George Robertson
2008 A Pledge of Peace: Evidence of the Cochise-Howard Treaty Campsite. Historical Archaeology 42(4).
Historic and modern photographs of the "cathedral rock."
Defense was always a consideration for Cochise and the
Apache that came before and after him. The defensive wall
shown in these two images is placed above a habitation site
and commands an expansive view of the San Pedro Valley.
From here lookouts could clearly observe access into this
small valley, allowing people sufficient time to escape and
disappear into the rocky terrain.
A record of the meeting was written at the time of the
event by Joseph Sladen, aide to General Howard. He
noted that Cochise and his wife occupied a rock shelter
during the proceedings. Based upon descriptions it is
thought the the shelter shown in the accompanying
photograph is the one he occupied.
Sladen's account also notes that most of the Apache
present stayed in the many rock shelters in this
boulder strew area, but that a couple of wickiups or
brush shelters were constructed. This image shows
what remains of one of these wickiups. The rocks
would have formed the outer perimeter of the hut
that would have held branches in place for the
dome-shaped covering, with the center left open.
features similar in character have been documented
at Canon de los Embudos which is where Geronimo
first attempted to surrender in 1886.
Further south at a different site cobble rings indicate the remains of other wickiups. This site was probably used by late
nineteenth-century Apache who had raided a wooden chest. Dozens of tiny nails were found scattered across the site, along with
a glass spokeshave and other items. It can't be ruled out that this might be the location where General Howard camped while Chie
went into the mountains to find Cochise and announce their presence.
Rock cairns are common features on the Apache landscape. Where they are found indicates that they were somehow related to
defense. They are often positioned near defensive walls, on promontories, or at locations where the most expansive view of
surrounding valleys, especially to monitor access routes. One thought is that they marked the location where the novice
lookouts should stand to have the best and widest view of the terrain without exposing themselves in silhouette.
Ed Sweeney, who wrote the well-received book
"Cochise" and also "Making Peace with Cochise"
relaxes during a visit to the council location on
a hot day.
This simple flake knife was found
not far from this carin, among
lechugilla, suggesting that it was
used to harvest these plants. This is
an typical simple Apache knife form.
Coral beans are poisonous and these
were used on poison-tipped arrows
by some groups in the area. Perhaps
the Apache used them as well.
Ephedera or Morman tea
Some of the Agave and Sotol Varieties
This is the actual council rock area where
they may have sat and discussed the terms of
Photographs show the location then and
The Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts provide bountiful harvests for the Chiricahua of both plant and animal species that supplimented the
proceeds obtained through raiding. Reliance on wild plant foods is an important part of Chiricahua identity, having deep roots in their
Child-of-the-water was born to White-Painted-Woman, and Killer-of-Enemies was his uncle. Yusn told them to separate. Yusn 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.” Child-of-the-Water and white-Painted Woman were on the
side of the Chiricahua. Yusn told them, “You must live on yucca fruit, piñon nuts, and all the other wild plants.” --Opler; (1942:14); Myths and
Tales of the Chiricahua Apache.
This image shows one of three known examples of this type of unusual feature.
There is no direct evidence as to its use or why it was made. There is no
evidence of fire and it is too small (1m to 1.5 m across) with one to three rocks in
the center. One of these features is from this site, another from a probable
Apache site on the Llano Estacado southeast of Carlsbad, and one from a
Sobaipuri site on the Santa Cruz River. The closest known ethnographic
example is the Western Apache stick game. Their use as gaming features would
explain their widespread presence and their occurance on sites of different
culture groups. Most Southwestern Native American groups liked to gamble and
play games and these types of activities would have been carried out by local
groups and when people came to visit.
This site has three closely spaced fire-cracked rock piles that
indicate the presence of one or more small roasting pits.
Burned sugary material and also burned rock were dated by
radiocarbon and luminsence techniques, producing dates in
the 1300s and 1400s. Judging from the amount of rock, the
feature was used repeatedly through time so we would expect
to see a span of dates representing individual use episodes.
There is not, however, a sufficient amount of rock that would
suggest these were used for millinea, like many larger ones.
This set of features is almost flush with the ground surface, as
is common with these earlier thermal features. This makes
them more difficult to see.
The chronometric evidence and the nature of the
thermal feature suggest repeated use of this location
over a long period, probably for short-term visits.
Another line of evidence that suggests this is the two
caches found here. The cache shown to the left was in
the wall of the lean-to and did not contain any artifacts.
A second cache between two rocks contained a formal shaped mano and a handstone. The formal mano was
probably curated from a prehistoric site--there are many around--while the other represents little more than a river
cobble with evidence of grinding striations.
Stone tools range from formally retouched scrapers on fine-grained chert, as shown below, to pieces of locally obtained
rock that show battering (lower right).
Many sites in the southern Southwest, Apache and
Sobaipuri, have nicely formed quartz crystals on them.
There is some suggestion that these were used in magic or
curing ceremonies, and they may have been left as part of
the leaving or abandonment ceremony.
An event referred to as the Bascom Affair by the Americans or "Cut the Tent" by the Chiricahua occurred in February 1861 and initiated a 12
year cycle of revenge and retaliation that ended with the Cochise-Howard Treaty in October 1872. Some White Mountain Apaches had raided
Johnny Ward's ranch in the Sonoita Valley, stealing 20 head of cattle and kidnapping a 12-year-old boy Felix, later known as the Apache scout
Mickey Free. Cochise and his people were falsely accused of these acts and when he and his relatives and warriors visited Fort Bowie they
were held captive by Bascom in a tent. Cochise escaped but the rest were detained, the warriors (two of which were nephews) were hanged
while the women were later released.