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.”
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:
FORT BOWIE 4TH CAV
U.S. ARMY scout