That’s the title of a book I’ve just finished reading about the last days of the free Apaches and its most famous warriors, Cochise and Geronimo. It is a captivating read. Last year I read Empire of the Summer Moon, about the end of the Comanches, which was one of the best, most fascinating and most moving books I’ve ever read. This isn’t quite as good (which would be a tall order) but is still one of those memorable books that lingers in the mind after you’ve finished it.
Modern writers have the balance of this subject about right. Generations ago, the Injuns were the bad guys, attacking settlers and trying to impede progress. Then the balance swung the other way: the white man was evil, and the Indian was a nature-loving wise person just trying to defend his homeland and way of life. In reality, it’s a complicated mix.
Everyone from the president down cheated, tricked and lied to the Indians. There were terrible atrocities committed on both sides. Just when you start to warm to the Indians, you hear that they killed a family of settlers and the people who come across their ranch find a little girl hanging from a meat-hook embedded in the back of her skull – and she isn’t quite dead yet. The Americans and Mexicans were not averse to killing and torturing, including Indian women and children; and the practise of scalping may even have been something the Indians originally picked up from the whites.
Overall, it’s just a sad and sometimes painful story – but always, for me, utterly fascinating.
Once I moved like the wind. Now I surrender to you, and that is all.