Kyetena’s Tobacco Canteen…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian. 





In the early 1880s, Geronimo was the most prominent leader among the Apaches. His revengeful raids into Mexico and along the southern borders of Arizona and New Mexico were taking a heavy toll in life and property. President Grover Cleveland finally put pressure on General Crook to “rein in the terror at whatever cost.”

Kyetena, whose demeanor contained all of the earmarks of bad company, was the influential son of Nina, chief of the Warm Springs Band of the Chiricahua Apaches. He was released from Alcatraz early so he could be enlisted as a scout for the 4th Cavalry. In 1886, he was instrumental in talking Geronimo into surrendering to General Crook. The scout, who was suffering from severe dehydration at the time, was offered half a tin cup of water. He declined, saying that he would accept nothing less than a full drink, a testimony to the durability of the desert Indians.

The iconic Geronimo was a prisoner of war for 27 years. He died at Ft. Sill, in 1909, of pneumonia after being thrown from his horse and spending a cold night supine on the ground. On his deathbed Geronimo, who had long since learned the judicious lessons of what not to believe, muttered, “I should never have surrendered. I should have fought until I was the last man alive.”

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Kyetena’s canteen from The Forrest Fenn Indian Collection

During the Indian Wars, small canteens were fabricated to hold enough tobacco for a short bivouac. This one, made of copper and heavily patinated, contains the original tobacco. It was probably crafted by an army trooper and given to Kyetena, perhaps by General Crook himself.

The writing on the rondelle says:

U.S. ARMY scout

90 thoughts on “Kyetena’s Tobacco Canteen…

  1. Wow. And wow again. Proof that the treasure chest still only contains a fraction of FF’s collected treasures….

  2. WOW, just WOW Mr. Fenn! Please keep your stories and personal treasures coming. Never thought I would be viewing Kyetena’s canteen. So rewarding for those of us who absolutely love Western and NA History. Thank you!

  3. The small tidbits of history sometimes tell a better story then the history books themselves.

    • GG, small moments of time are the strands which weave the fabric of life. Individuals and where they intersect with others are more interesting than the whole.

  4. Unbelievable
    That is so awsome , I’m a novice Apache item collector, what I’d give for that canteen. So cool. Would love to hear how FF came across that.
    Thank you sharing,

  5. “… who had long since learned the judicious lessons of what not to believe…”

    A true pearl of wisdom among many pearls!

    • Thanks for another interesting story, Forrest.

      And I agree Starlight. I’m reading and rereading many of Forrest’s books/scrapbooks and my string of pearls keeps getting longer! i feel like I’m collecting quite a treasure.

      • @Jenny/Sixer – Thank you Jenny for your dedication to Forrest and the excellence which directs your website. The intelligent dialogue and occasional spiritual focus are a delight to read.

        • Thank you Jenny.

          Your poise and gracious generosity is very admirable; not to mention the fruit it’s bearing as Swan stated so nicely.

  6. I look at that canteen and wonder what Forrest thinks when he touches something of such historical value, artistic talent, esthetic beauty, and spiritual influence? I’m speechless (almost!)

  7. Warriors, caught in difficult times, transitional times. One can close ones eyes and almost be there, in spirit. Do men go so fearlessly now?

  8. “I should never have surrendered. I should have fought until I was the last man alive.”

    I empathize with him in his situation, but I preferred your stance of shutting a door as with Skippy. Sometimes though when one surrenders, it’s a rough pill to swallow when you realize the other person can’t forgive or look inward at all. *life lessons*

    Nice story Forrest….thanks.

    • It’s a main theme in TTOTC that everyone’s afraid to talk about. Forrest said that Peggy would rather switch than fight, but sometimes you have to fight in order to not loose too much of yourself. Though Geronimo knew this lesson, he failed to act. That’s a heavy thing to realize on your deathbed.

      • Crazyfamily, I’ve wondered about that statement and yet Mr. Fenn’s adoration of his wife is strongly present in the memoirs.

        I do agree with your statement and every true battle I’ve fought in my simple life has been to preserve the person I was created to be -just like the Native Americans fought to preserve who they were.

        • There’s a reason to wonder about that statement, but your comment “just like the Native Americans fought to preserve who they were” I think is not accurate. They always seemed to fight to a point and then quit. In the end most tribes lost everything, but most importantly they lost thier spirituality. Many have been successful at rebuilding themselves but really they are just a shell of what they once were. These days they have attorneys do their fighting, and why is there a need to keep fighting?

          • I think it depends on what you’re fighting for too. Fighting for land…fighting for fairness….sometimes ego gets in the way, sometimes greed.

          • The Native Americans were smart enough to understand annihilation was not the answer. They realized they needed to survive as a people in order to survive as a nation, so they refused to fight physically, when they can overcome by being who they are. Today, they teach heritage in the res schools in hopes to rise above the negative assumptions the general populace has regarding their future.
            They are striving for the respect due them, just like everyone deserves.

  9. “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.”
    – Sitting Bull

    “I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more.”
    Chief Joseph – Nez Perce

    “The White Man goes into his church and talks about Jesus. The Indian goes into his Tipi and talks with Jesus.”
    – Quanah Parker, last Comanche Chief

    “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
    – Chief Seattle

  10. Who does this remind you oF?
    Perceptions of Geronimo were nearly as complex as the man himself.

    Geronimo was nearly as elusive as Mr. Fenns treasure chest!

  11. Beautiful artifact, Forrest. I’m wondering how big it is? Smaller than a horseshoe? Bigger than a belt buckle?

    To all, esp. Crazy Family: An excellent book came out in 1995 that I happened to come upon in a used book store. From The Heart—Voices of the American Indian, edited and narrated by Lee Miller.

    It’s a very readable, thorough, yet concise, history of Native Americans’ encounters with the white man told, region by region, from 1492 onward, in the actual words of the chiefs and tribespeople, and the lies, treaties, and entreaties of whites in Washington, New York, the army, etc.

    For example, p. 196: “Several black robes have come to our villages, to preach the religion of white people; they told us the religion of the whites consisted in a few words; that was, to do unto others as we wish that others should do unto us . . .we wish you to put the above Christian rule in practice . . . .If you really want to ameliorate our condition, let us have the land given to us . . .this pretence of bettering our situation, it appears, is only for a temporary purpose . . .we shall have forgot how to hunt, in which practice we are now very expert, and then you’ll turn us out of doors, a poor, pitiful, helpless set of wretches.” Wyandot delegation 1812

    To hold a piece of history like that in your hand is so cool. Thanks for the vicarious experience, Forrest.

  12. The name St. Joseph has come up several times this week and in past blogs. I believe it refers to a young man, not a mountain but welcome your ideas. Trying to decide how important it is to chase the lead or let it rest. Anyone???

  13. Nor, go for it! If you don’t, someone else will, and you may lose out!

    Reach for each star and feel its warmth, that is the only way to live.

    • Donna, Thanks for your encouragement. If you want to ride with me on this one, observe closely the b&w photo of gallery opening Forrest, Peggy w/spanish lady painting in TOTC. IMO there may be a child on the way which Forrest never speaks about. Perhaps i’m wrong, perhaps Forrest didn’t disclose for personal/painful reasons. In TFTW there is a prevalent illustration of a boy fishing on inside flaps – who is he? Now, you understand my hesitation. Never want to bring harm to others for the sake of answers or clues.

      • Nor,
        I can answer the question of the boy (woman) fishing on the inside flaps. On page 95 of TFTW you will find the same picture, The caption says it is Peggy.

        • Thanks Fred. Have to say, given Peggy’s beauty the illustration IMO missed the mark. Peggy looked like Jackie O.
          Anyway. thanks for your help Fred. Enjoy your weekend.

  14. Baby Ruth candy bars was thought at one time to be named after Grover Cleveland daughter as a rumor. Bone in the wood was something baseball players use to do by taking a big bone and rubbing it real hard on the wood bats to make the wood more dense.

  15. Geronimo is buried close to where I live he never got to go home again not even in death I take offense to that .

  16. He fought off terrorist and invaders of his home land hmmm I guess he was home land security .we look down on countries now that treat their natives the way this government has done its natives hipacracy at its greatest excuse my spelling

  17. Kyetena was a Benedict Arnold he turned on his own people to help his self a act he probably wished he could take back no one will remember his name but Geronimo will be remembered forever

  18. Everyday I am confronted with the realization that “they” are us, and “we” are them. When we speak of the nobleness of a man or the vileness of another we are speaking not of just one man or woman but also ourselves and everyone else in our human family.

    • Raven… indeed. If we could begin to see each person as a gift to be opened containing special qualities.

      Differences often sever relationships before they have the chance to blossom. I try to find commonality and celebrate how unique others are, but often fail at the task. Regardless of religion, The Creator made each of us and we all need to be loved and respected rather than changed.

    • Hi there,

      I think he is always “telling us something” – he’s just clever that way of course … lol ; )

      But, the incredibly interesting thing about it is that depending on what we have inside our own hearts/minds determines how we will interpret what he’s said. Don’t you think so too?

      I’ve noticed that In everyday life people tend to project their own tendencies onto whatever things may be occurring at the moment. If someone is good and trust worthy for example, they tend to be trusting of others more often than not, etc. and also vice versa. (Just my opinion though. = )

      Maybe the world of art is like that too, everyone sees the same thing – but each one likely sees it differently and goes away with different conclusions of what was there. That’s what I like so much about these blogs – the tapestry is beautiful, thank you Dal.

      • And Hi there to you Starlight.

        I’ve found it’s far better to see things as they really are rather than project what’s inside our hearts/minds on to someone/something. That is difficult to do at times; but if you can’t see or don’t accept reality, you have no chance of understanding or altering it.

        I agree with you about the world of art. Fenn is good at pointing out the absurdness of the art world…..It doesn’t matter who you are, it only matters who they think you are.

        And I certainly agree with you about different folks seeing different things looking at the same piece of work. I’m negotiating with a fellow now who is willing to pay a ridiculous amount of money (at least to me) for a photograph I almost threw away.

        I enjoyed Fenn’s seventeen dollars per square inch story…….it shows how the business world and art world collide at times. As Fenn knows the art world has very little to do with reality.

        • YOU NAILED IT !!!

          Kind of like that wonderful sound when the club head hits that dang golf ball on the sweet spot!

          I think it’s certainly the goal and you put it very well. I also think it’s rather challenging to overcome confirmation bias when solving TTOTC. (Don’t you just love a game of wits?)

          That’s very interesting insight on the art world. Well wishes to you and I hope you get your price on the photo.

        • Goofy star – enjoyed seeing artwork/art world discussion. It’s not often brought up on blogs but given ff’s rich history with art I believe it somehow ties in to the treasure somewhere in the Rocky Mts. IMO

          • My take on artwork… well, I’m not quite sure how to word this best. Some of the best artwork hangs on walls and some are statuesque. Some are strucural while another form are of words. Even dance and movement are included in form. Sometimes art is not recognized at first glance, kind of like those messy-looking 2 dimension imiges that suddenly change into 3D after staring puzzlingly at them for a while. THE CREATOR decides how to create HIS artwork and then puts it up for display. Imagine how this blind man felt when he traipsing (sp?) around in the art gallery of the world we live in to have experienced that 3D-popping-out feeling when, in the blink of an eye(or two), he saw, in a different light, what art was displayed before him. No need to be retouched since it’s making. One of a kind and unable to be duplicated. This blind man amazed by THE artist’s light brush strokes. Art in its grandest form. Awestricken and with a smile the blind man stood and with smile, and contentment. I hope f is pleased with me.

    • Oh my, I feel as if I have just stumbled upon the existential paradigm of the chase. And on most days my brain is too dilluded to follow, prob this one as well.

      but I see a realist, an artist, a cloak, and an eloquent involved in this convo, and might i add some of my most favs on this blog, if only halogetter would join….

      so yes, ff is telling us something, of course, he is older and wiser from a life that most do not see from their windows. he has existence from research, time on the water, reading, military, war, entrepreneuring, enriching family moments, flying, exploring, selling, buying, thinking, being, reflecting, exploring lots more, writing, …

      don’t you all think that when it comes down to it we are just ppl on this awesome rock who have just tried to survive? And f is simply try to tell us to take it all in and learn, grow, be understanding, and be happy. then you may see as he does. then that will lead you to the treasure bold.

      My guess is yes,

  19. Who had long since learned the judicious lessons of what not to believe…Forrest Fenn

    So hear me all and listen good,
    Your effort will be worth the cold.
    If you are brave and in the wood
    I give you title to the gold.

    Ok, so why does ff correct everyone that he hid the chest and says I didn’t say I buried it. Too me that last stanza explains if you found the chest. It legally belongs to him. Its because he hid it. He will help you through what every process or means to win his/your claim to it and then hands it over to you.

    Lets look at this scenario. If you found the chest in the National Park, there is a good chance it will be taken away from you and perhaps even arrested. Yet, the law of the land on claims is very clear. If a person hides something anywhere on U.S. property, he or she will always be the rightful owner forever. Now if he said he buried it then it becomes abandoned. Then the Federal government can claim it.

    So the last stanza creates a contract to all and for the owner. That’s why he put his poem and memoir in the chest so the Federal Government will have no claim to it because he hid it.


    1: All people in the court are required to listen
    2: What every happens will be worth it.
    3: Be brave until the wooden gavel strikes, then the chest belongs to ff at that moment.
    4: He knows he will be there right beside you when he wins and then he will hand it over to you.

    So what if someone finds it after he passes? His testament is in the Olive jar.

    You can see he is a builder of our time.

    Sorry, couldn’t wait to get this out there. I just had to toss my bone out for what it’s worth. Just me thinking…Why? because I am a….

    If you would like to know more about my solve you can write me.

    Oh yeah, I found this book on ancient writings of the southwest. The running man, well you will have to ask me.

    What do you think?

    • Hi Geydelkon, really interesting and different than we’ve seen. How may I write to you to learn more about your solve and The Running Man? I would be happy to share information I have with you as well. Thank you for sharing with others. I’ll look for your response tomorrow. =)

      • The interpretation of the poem is just how I look at the possible one ending event of the chase. Safeguards were placed to protect the chest. The poems events are real to me. Some in the past and the future. To me where warm waters halt has not happened but it is a event that will happen. All chasers on here and there have some great things to say. It really gets you thinking especially when the comments come to a halt. I wonder at times if they researching the facts or are they thinking to discount there own solve. I have been on both ends.

        I am an Indian Scout and a Saint.

        • If de-solidifying the deep thoughts perhaps the solve will find itself once it appears. Could I unlock what is unlocking.

          Just my way to my peace after the past few years on the chase.

          • Geydelkon, The silence on the blog is deafening today. Hope everyone out there is chasing their dreams of treasure in some beautiful meadow, and not just sick. I find peace in reading poetry/poetic books like the psalms, and hope you find the peace you seek.

    • There’s nothing that says “If you bury something it (becomes) abandoned.” That’s not the definition. ff knows where it is and he is “involved” in multiple ways helping and discussing things about his treasure so therefore he cannot and has not “abandoned” it.

      • James, exactly but different. That’s why he said he hid it. The previous stanza explains the condition. He used the word trove. You can write property law expert John Orth, a professor at the University of North Carolina. Perhaps he can clarify.

        My comments on the last stanza is just what I have researched.

        Anyone else have any thoughts?

        • Theres a Legal Ponderings page here on the site. – I’ll comment on the legal definition of trove there.

    • Geydelkon, Your interpretation of that stanza is keen. Time to start training for that marathon.

        • Hummingbird is my ʻaumakua, so that works…did you know a hummingbirds tongue is grooved like the shape of a W?

          • Geydelkon, I used to share search stories on Chasechat but it got competitive over there so I just feel content reading Dal’s blog with Forrest’s stories/pictures. No searches lately to share but plan to go to NM in the fall when the TOTC $aving$ account is built back up again.

          • 23

            I got thinking and I know how many of the chasers feel about my endless thoughts. I think not only outside the box but within at the same time. It’s like drawing a box and let my bright light shine inside at the same time but from on direction. Just like I think the chest is laying on its end. Why because to me the blaze is not a physical object. To me it’s a process. I think I said something to that effect months ago about another part of the poem. Then recently after my pompous judicial correlation, I proceeded to the conclusion of “found the blaze”. Then wahla but I keep saying that way too many times.

          • Alas Geydelkon, we have a winner; that’s why a flashlight is needed 🙂 I like your idea of chest being on end; something Fenn would do.

          • Maybe tobacco is the right direction. Interesting validation…only In Colorado. Lol just 180 from most states. Wow that is some deep thinking. Lol I am rolling over

          • Geydelkon – I’ve been without the books. They joined f’s ball of string in the hinterlands w/o me knowing. Just received new TOTC and will try to locate your reference to where TC is. Any hints? I only search mt.

  20. I love these stories. It encourages me to read more about our Native American history. Interestingly, most of the articles I found spelled the name ” Kayitah” and the promises made to him and the scout Martine who both helped persuade Geronimo to surrender, were not honored by the US government either. Too bad he had not ” learned the judicious lessons of what not to believe” before agreeing to become a scout for the US.

    • “I should never have surrendered. I should have fought until I was the last man alive.”

      The phrase shows he wanted to live, regardless of the outcome. Geronimo was a medicine man.

      People will treat you like a hoar if you let them………….Go on all around us.

  21. Gotta love the history that built this country…..without the past there would be no future…….

  22. Missed this S.B. Forrest has Awesome stories and cool stuff! I Love all things Native American. Makes me feel sad. I am reading some good books about Joseph right now.

  23. Wowee, Zowee. What a collection, you have Forrest! And I’m sure these vignettes you share are only scratching the surface of it. Again, thank you for sharing with us.

    I had no idea that back in the day there were such a thing as novelty canteens, where an unsuspecting trailrider would grab their canteen for a cool drink of water and get a mouthful of tobacco instead! Great gag! Humor is both universal and timeless!

    In other news, I am now all caught up on reading Forrest’s vignette entries from earlier times! Woo-hoo! I guess I’ll check out the abberrations, next! (Have the snows melted yet?) 🙂

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