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Ojo Caliente, NM & Apaches Indians

Posted by Pete | Posted in News | Posted on 09-07-2009

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I am not sure how many Hot Springs there are in New Mexico.  Working in sales for a couple of tank truck carriers, I was called on to make some rates to Ojo Caliente, NM only to find there were several of them and I had to be more specific than just the name. That was the first time I was aware of the duplication of names. Then I started researching the Apaches tribes of Victorio (Warm Spring Band) and Geronimo (Chiricahua) and the Ojo Caliente they referred to was either near Dusty, NM in Socorro County or the Hot Springs at Truth or Consequences, NM. Both of the latter locations were the favorites of these Indians. Victorio considered the Ojo Caliente near Dusty as his homeland and there is an abandoned reserversation at the southern end of the Cibola National Forest that belongs to the Warm Spring Tribe (Chiricahua) that were taken captive and moved to Florida, Alabama and later to Fort Sill, Ok. Governor Richardson deined the Fort Sill Indians permission to operate a casino near Lordsburg. In my humble opinion, the remnant of the Chiricahuas at Fort Sill deserve a casino as much as any tribe in the state and maybe more so. I think that decision should be reversed. I don’t think we need another casino in New Mexico, but if any tribe DESERVES one it is certainly the Warm Springs and Chiricahuas. If you have not read their history you should. We think of them as the tribes that raised holy hell with the settlers of the west and we sometimes forget that we were the invaders. Well, now, here we are, owners of all this Apache land, but we consider them Americans, and from late 1886 and for 27 years they were capitives of the United States. What other tribe in our history paid such a high price? They ended up in Oklahoma and they were New Mexico and Arizona Indians. I speak of these two tribes as one and as most of you know, Chief Victorio and the Warm Spring Tribe was massacred in the Tres Castillos Mountains in Mexico by Col. Terrazas Oct. 14 and 15, 1880. Nana took the surviving 15 members, later joined by some Mescaleros, on a thousand mile raid and by most accounts, never lost a man. After that raid, he joined with Geronomo until they were taken capitive. I know this is a can of worms for them and for us, what’s done is done and we are the conquerers…..Fair is still fair….How about it, Governor, any chance you could reconsider your ruling?…

Comments (7)

I give you an AMEN on that Reverend Pete! Good call.

Thank you, Sir. I appreciate it. Pete

You are amazing, Pete. How do you find so much information on forgotton tribes and forgotton historical events that were minimally recorded at best? You must be keeping yourself busy in your retirement. I concur also. I don’t believe in casinos, but Governor Richardson really should reconsider in this case. I remember during my time in New Mexico that the New Mexico Indian people had little opportunity to which to look forward on their reservations. The construction of casinos in later years has helped to change that. Keep the pressure on the Governor to change his mind. A tiny casino in Ojo Caliente may not be able to compete very well with the giants near Albuquerque, but I bet it will be better than what they have now.

Your Ojo Caliente blog reminded me of all those weekends that I traveled to the various pueblos around Albuquerque with my good Baptist friend, SMSGT Jim Corbin, to teach Sunday School. I don’t remember the names of all the pueblos where we held classes now (it has been too many years), but the Jemez and the Isleta were two of them. Although I don’t remember many of the details, I still retain many images of faces from those times. Those times actually made my time in the military seem worth while. It was an excellent break from zapping sheep with radiation and watching them die, only to cut them open in order to take specimens in an attempt to find the cause of death as if we didn’t already know. The poor animals had received better than an LD50 dose. We knew. We were just burning up all those LBJ stimulus dollars in an effort to find even more info.

Your blog also reminded me of the time that Uncle Renzo, when he was living at the pumping station just west of Grants, took me on a tour of the sawmill on the Navajo reservation, just north of Gallup. For someone who had worked at Woodrow’s “peckerwood” sawmill in Alabama, this was really a fantastic operation. I remember wondering at the time where in the world did they get the trees that were large enough to make lumber. I found out later, but this was my first week in New Mexico. It also reminded me of the time I attended the Intertribal Indian Ceremony at Gallup with Aunt Annie Lou and Linda Ann. For the first time, I saw many drunk Indians that I had previously seen only in Hollywood movies on Saturday night at the movie theatre in Reform. Geez! They really existed. During my time in the military, I never went out of the country, but my first experiences in New Mexico gave me the idea that I was in a foreign country. It was so different from Pickens County in Alabama.

Thanks Errol. When I wrote “Lost in the Black Range” I had the Buffalo Soldier in mind as the main focal point of the book. Toward the end of that book the Warm Spring Tribe was coming to life in my mind due to all the research I was doing. Then when I research for “Apaches, Buffalo Soldiers, That Female Reporter, And Me” by that time I had over four years of research on most of the Apaches tribes and more research on the Buffalo Soldier and also the forts in this area. The Apaches knew how to take all the land had to offer and could make do with nearly nothing.That made it difficult for the U. S. Calavry in trying to capture them. If I can ever get “Apaches, Buffalo Soldiers, That Female Reporter, And Me” published, you can read a lot of the history of the Apache tribe. Thank you for you interest and it sounds like you have a good background on the pueblo Indians in this area: Sandia’s, Isleta’s, Acoma’s, Laguna’s, Zia’s,Santa Domingo’s, San Felipe’s. and many, many others. One other point, the casino the Fort Sill Indians wanted to build would have been located on I-10 near Lordsburg. We have a “bunch” of them now in New Mexico. The Santa Anna pueblo’s casino is at Bernilallo.
Sandia and Isleta’s are here in Albuquerque and Route 66 just west of Albuquerque is owned by the Laguna’s. Thanks. Pete

I’d like to correct my comment previously about my Sunday School teaching with Sergeant Corbin among the Pueblo Indians. My church (Hermosa Drive Baptist on Hermosa Drive in SE Albuquerque) had a mission church in Jemez Spring, New Mexico. It was not in the pueblo itself. That wasn’t allowed, but most of its members were from the pueblo. This is where we went to teach Sunday School. I am not absolutely sure, but I think the mission is now the Jemez Valley Baptist Church of the present day. It must be because there was no Jemez Valley Baptist Church in the 1960’s. Our church was just called the Jemez Valley Mission. We also had a mission church near the Isleta Pueblo south of Albuquerque, but that mission was not doing very well. I remember only making two trips down there. We tried to start a mission near the Zia Pueblo on Hwy 44 north of Albuquerque, but it wasn’t to successful either. I spent many Sundays in Jemez Spring. This was before the Walatowa Visitors Center was built. I do remember the Jemez Red Rock Sandstone Cliffs, though. I have some good pictures of them. These are about the only thing that I dared to take pictures of anywhere around Jemez Spring because I was afraid of getting scalped. Jemez Spring was a very beautiful little town situated on the Jemez River (the locals called it a river, but it was more like the stream in Coal Fire that we called “the Branch”, which ran through our bottom field into Coal Fire Creek). Rivers can differ around the country. At the time, I thought it a beautiful place to retire someday.

Even today, I can still see the faces of the people in that mission church, but I can’t remember any of their names. What time really does to the mind!

I have also visited the Jemez River, east by northeast of Cuba, and it is not half a big as Coal Fire Creek. But here, my friend, any stream of any size, is good.
The company I just retired from delivered the gasoline to the store in Walatowa for several years. By the way, the Jicarilla Tribe has a casino on Highway 550 (old 44) up where the teepee used to be. Also, that road is now 4 lanes all the way to Bloomfield.

My post was made on July 9th. In this morning’s paper it stated that the Fort Sill Apaches have been doing bingo about 3 days a week at the casino location. The governor wants that shut down also, but those “old ‘paches still are hard headed and contrary, huh?”. Come on, Gov, give them a break. They have a good claim on the land already…….

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