South Side of Pinals--Home of Hoo-moo-thy-ah

I am going to have a difficult time describing my feelings about this remarkable individual--a Yavapai by the name of Hoo-moo-thy-ah: "wet nose." Like the Apache Kid, Hoo-moo- thy-ah was a true son of this area, of the beautiful Pinal Mountains. He was faithful to his people and the place of his birth in a way that can only be considered remarkable and exemplary. He deserves to be more widely known.

Outside of his own people, the story of Hoo-moo-thy-ah has been previously known basically only to specialized Southwestern historians. Hoo-moo-thy-ah spent many years during the last part of his life trying to publish his memoirs, which he called, "The Indian Side of the Question." Some historians have been aware of his manuscript, and have even tried to publish it, all without success. The original manuscript is located at the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, and a copy is also located at Arizona State University. In reviewing the history of my hometown area, I decided I had to have a copy. I procurred it, and, frankly, I have never been quite the same since. It is a stunning autobiography--unforgettable. It is, however, rather difficult to read, because Hoo-moo-thy-ah had a somewhat difficult time putting his thoughts into proper English. Nevertheless, through his words one acquires a much better understanding of the events that transpired in this area during the time of the "Apache Wars." I have been trying to organize his manuscript in a manner that is more readable, but is faithful to his manner of expression. You will find a portion of this work on this WWW page. I know you will find it incredibly moving.

Hoo-moo-thy-ah was probably born about 1864 near the Four Peak Mountains (near current-day Tonto Basin, Arizona). As he is proud to state in his autobiography, "I was not so young a child when with my people that I cannot remember a great deal about their life." He remembered it fondly, as a time of great beauty and happiness. However, shortly after he was born his happy existence was to be forever altered. In 1865 Fort McDowell, near the junction of the Salt and Verde Rivers at Mesa, Arizona, was established to help subjugate his people, the Yavapais, as well as the Apaches. Life was to quickly become a bitter struggle for existence.

About 1869 Hoo-moo-thy-ah's mother was killed by white soldiers on a patrol out of Ft. McDowell into the Superstition Mountains. Hoo-moo-thy-ah, years later, stated that he could remember that horrible day in great detail. His autobiography explains this murder with heart- rending precision. After his mother was killed, Hoo-moo-thy-ah was responsible in large part for the care of his younger brother and sister. His father, in the mean time, became a bitter enemy of the "Hayko" [enemy], as the Yavapai called white men. He and his friends would often go to the Salt River Valley just to kill any Hayko they could.

About three years later, when Hoo-moo-thy-ah was about eight years old, he was sent by his father to accompany his uncle to "Wipuk" (now the Sedona, Arizona, country) to bring back a horse. While on their way, they were surprised by another patrol, and Hoo-moo-thy-ah's uncle deserted him. The terrified boy hid himself in a hole in a rock while the "Hayko" encamped nearby. He had on only a "G-string" for clothing, and there was snow during the night. Somehow Hoo-moo-thy-ah survived and emerged from his freezing torture chamber into what he thought was safety. As it turned out, however, the boy was not safe at all. He was captured by the "Hayko," whom he considered true demons. The psychological shock of capture by "demons" was nearly unbearable. He states in his autobiography that he fought his captors with all his might. Those who captured him also remembered his valiant, but vain struggle. After he lost the struggle he was "dragged over the rocks like a log." Henceforth the life of Hoo-moo-thy-ah would be changed forever. It was the winter of 1872, and General George Crook was beginning his Tonto campaign.

Shortly after Hoo-moo-thy-ah's capture, he was taken by his captors near to where his people were trying to hide from the soldiers. There was a cave above Salt River (near what is now Canyon Lake--now often called Skull Cave) that they considered an unassailable refuge. The soldiers and scouts, however, had a plan--a truly diabolical one. I will now quote from Hoo-moo-thy-ah's own autobiography (edited by myself). I simply cannot add anything to Hoo-moo-thy-ah's own simple, but eloquent, words. The date was December 28, 1872.

I wish to now please mention about what happened to my people in that horrible cave. It brings tears to my eyes to mention it, because that was where my father with two children, my aunt with five children, my uncle and my poor grandpa were all slaughtered with over 225 [sic] others--men, women, and children. Along with them all died the great chief Delshay.

My people thought that they were strongly protected and could not see to shoot the soldiers. But the soldiers were ordered to shoot down volleys of buckets of lead behind those big boulders, so that the walls of the cave would scatter the glancing bullets into the people beneath. The showers of lead simply shattered the people so completely that they could not be recognized as humans. The war songs ceased.

It happened that only one was left still alive. As he had only one shot left, he killed one Pima Indian at noon. He might have killed more, but when he reached out with the barrel of his gun to reach a bag of gunpowder, a bullet or two struck the gun so that it bent nearly double. He was left in a hole helpless. Finally he was shot. He was my brother-in-law. He was never known to have ever missed a shot. He was the last one to be killed, and he was killed like a man.

After the firing died down, some of the Pimas and Maricopas [scouts for the soldiers] rushed into the cave and announced that all the grown men were killed. Actually, those few who were still alive had their heads crushed in with rocks by the Pimas. Some of the Apaches [Athapascan Apache scouts], who also rushed in, saved some of the women and children. They took these survivors by their arms and handed them to the soldiers. The survivors were guarded by the soldiers because the Pimas would have killed them too. The Pimas and Maricopas were filled with rage and wanted to kill all the Apaches [survivors]. Only one of the Pimas was killed in the entire battle.

After the killing, I was led near to the cave and noticed dead men and women in all shapes lying everywhere. It was so horrid to look upon. I was shown where my grandpa lay and noticed at a distance that his body was in a little rock hole. Part of his head was in the hole. Someone told me that was the old man. I was at the west entrance of the cave and sat down crying to death. I was also aware that my little brother and baby sister were dead--my brother and sister, who I cared so much for from a child! I fed my brother and sister as Mother would have done. I felt there was no more hope, no more kinfolk in the world. I thought, "What shall I do! Give myself up to the soldiers, or to the Pimas and Maricopas to be killed there with my family? Oh, could someone tell me what best to do? Should I forget these awful deeds to my people and take up a new and manly courage? Should I resolve that I may be a different man, and only hope for betterment in the future?" I did not know what to do.

Hoo-moo-thy-ah was only eight years old.

This horrifying massacre was also described by one of the assailants of Hoo-moo-thy-ah's people, Captain John G. Bourke. His account of what happened can be found in his book, On the Border with Crook, pages 190-200.

Monument to Slain Skull Cave Families at Ft. McDowell

After the massacre, Hoo-moo-thy-ah was taken to Ft. McDowell, where he became a "boy" (servant) to Captain James Burns--one of those who commanded the assault on the cave. Hoo- moo-thy-ah's cousin, Gai-am-ma, became the "boy" of Lieutenant E. D. Thomas. For some time at Ft. McDowell Hoo-moo-thy-ah had the opportunity to speak in his own language with Gai-am- ma, but eventually he lost even that privilege.

Throughout 1873 Hoo-moo-thy-ah was forced to serve as an informant against his own people. He had no choice. He had to cooperate with his captors simply in order to survive. As only a young child, he really couldn't devise any plan for escape or deception. The success of General Crook's Tonto Campaign, at least to some extent, must be attributed to Hoo-moo-thy-ah's information. Hoo-moo-thy-ah was in many scouts that year, and he saw great suffering (all described in his autobiography). He was one of the youngest witnesses to observe, and describe, the downfall of his people.

In 1873 Hoo-moo-thy-ah was with Captain Burns at Fort Whipple, near Prescott. Captain Burns was then campaigning against the Hualapais (Walapais), related to, but enemies of, the Yavapais. However, Captain Burns became very sick, and he was advised to go to Washington, D. C., to die. Captains Burns's "boy," Hoo-moo-thy-ah, was then given to Captain Hall S. Bishop. By this time Hoo-moo-thy-ah had a new name, given to him by Lieutenant E. D. Thomas--Mike "Mickie" Burns. (I will refer to Hoo-moo-thy-ah from this point on as Mike Burns). A year later, on 15 August 1874, Captain James Burns died at Navajo Springs, Arizona, enroute to Ft. Wingate, New Mexico. He was buried at Ft. Wingate.

Captain Bishop continued to care for Mike Burns until the summer of 1875. On 1 July 1875 Captain Bishop then asked General George Crook if he would let Burns accompany him on his new assignment to "Missouri" (Fort Omaha, Nebraska). General Crook agreed to let Bishop bring the boy along. Burns was about eleven years of age--a bright, endearing young lad.

In his autobiography, Burns describes his itinerary for going to "Missouri." First, the soldiers went to Ft. Wingate, New Mexico, after which they passed through some Pueblo Indian villages. They arrived in Albuquerque, and then went on to Fort Union, and then Trinidad, New Mexico. Next, they went to Fort Leon, Colorado, and followed the Arkansas River to Fort Dodge, Kansas. Finally, they were stationed at Fort Supply, Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Burns then assisted Captain Bishop in various campaigns on the southern plains (against the Kiowa and Comanche) until April 1876.

In early May 1876 Burns accompanied Hall to another new assignment: Wyoming. They traveled by train from Dodge city, Kansas, to Denver, Colorado. In his autobiography Burns commented in a very entertaining, comical, manner, how he nearly fell off the train--easy to visualize when considering the fact that he was a boisterous twelve-year-old boy on a "great adventure."

From Denver, Burns went to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and then to Fort Laramie, where he became well-acquainted with "Buffalo Bill" Cody. Throughout the rest of 1876 Burns was often in campaigns against the Sioux and Cheyenne. He was under General Wesley Merritt's command. At this time Burns became well-acquainted with Shoshoni and Arapaho scouts and even learned Indian sign language. The Shoshoni chieftain Washakie was a well-known acquaintance.

In Wyoming Burns also met General Crook again. It was a joyous reunion. (Crook had basically stalemated the Sioux at the Battle of the Rosebud. This was also the time of General George A. Custer's demise at the Little Big Horn--about which Burns was well-acquainted.) At the end of the 1876 campaign Burns went to Ft. Sidney, and then to Ft. McPherson, Nebraska.

In the spring of 1878 Burns was on the campaign again with Captain Bishop. This time the campaigns were against the Bannocks. Burns was then stationed at Fort D. A. Russell, Wyoming, where he heard of the Meeker Massacre by Utes.

In the spring of 1879 Captain Bishop prevailed upon Burns to attend school. Burns did so, and he was considered an excellent student. In the summer of 1880, however, Burns was unable to continue his studies. He was too poor, and so he "rode mail." In September of 1880 General Merritt decided to help Burns attend school. Captain E. D. Thomas and General George Crook also recommended school for him. Burns was therefore sent back to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where Richard H. Pratt ran an Indian school. Burns was the only Apache there at that time--from "the furthest West." Burns did very well at Carlisle.

In the summer of 1881 Burns found it necessary to again go to work. He acquired a farming position in New York State, where he stayed until the spring of 1882. He was proud to have seen the Brooklyn Bridge. While in New York Burns had the opportunity to again visit General Merritt, who recommended that he become an army cadet. He, however, refused to do so. He was about eighteen years old.

In the spring of 1882 Burns went back to Carlisle Indian School. Pratt told him he should go to Lore City, Ohio, where he could work for "a good Presbyterian man," Alvah Johnson. He stayed with Johnson two years, where "he learned a lot." Johnson wanted Burns to "stay with good Christians" in the East, but Burns was homesick for Arizona. He left Ohio in August 1884.

We next find Burns at Highland University in Kansas, where he stayed with Sac and Fox Indians. He wanted to become a teacher and was recognized as best student March 1885. While in Kansas he also listened to "a lot of preaching." He became friends with "good Christians," but became disillusioned with them when he asked "his friends" to help him with a donation to continue his education. They had professed they would do anything for him, but when he finally asked, he was given nothing. Nevertheless, he was able to earn his coveted teaching certificate.

Although Burns had proved himself capable of maneuvering in white society, he was not accepted by that society. No one would hire him as a teacher. He was an "Apache." He finally decided to go to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, to obtain work in the military. At Ft. Leavenworth he met Major Upham, whom he had known in the Sioux campaigns. Major Upham suggested Burns join the Army as a scout at Fort Reno, Indian Territory. He worked six months (1885) as a scout there among the Arapaho--some of the same Arapaho he had known in Wyoming. He had become so well-acquainted with these people that "they cried when they saw me."

While at Fort Reno, Burns received a letter from General Crook stating that he was back in Arizona trying to fix the mess that had developed there by 1883. Burns wrote Crook saying that he was very sick with a cold, and that he did not like the East, nor Eastern Indians. He wanted to go home. A short time later Burns met General Nelson Miles and told him he wanted to serve as a scout with General Crook. Miles told him to go to Fort Bayard, New Mexico, near Silver City, where he could enlist as a scout. Burns arrived at Fort Bayard on 15 October 1885, from whence he went to Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory. He desired to serve as a scout in capturing Geronimo, but upon arriving at Fort Bowie he received a telegram from Crook telling him to go to San Carlos. He arrived there 5 December 1885.

Burns was sorely needed at San Carlos. His talents were recognized by many there, and so on 26 January 1886 he was discharged from the Army. He was not allowed to go after Geronimo. Instead, he tried to start a school for Yavapais and Apaches, but the Geronimo troubles prevented the school from being successful.

Burns, however, stayed on at San Carlos, serving in various capacities, and finally married a woman, Hattie, of his own people. (She was actually a Tolkepaya Yavapai.)

In 1887 Burns witnessed the entire Apache Kid incident, wherein the scout Al Sieber was shot in the foot. Burns's account of the incident leaves no doubt that he felt the Kid was badly treated. He even goes so far as to state:

Public consideration will finally agree with the "Apache Kid." From the start, he did not actually, or unlawfully, kill a man. . . . No one knows for sure who did the killing . . . but the "Apache Kid" got the whole blame.

I believe Burns has been fully vindicated in his opinion. The Apache Kid was basically driven to lawlessness by a tragic set of unfortunate circumstances.

Throughout the next ten years Burns contined to serve at San Carlos in various capacities. One of his most important was as an interpreter. When the southeastern Yavapai (Kewevkapaya) finally appealed for their own reservation at Ft. McDowell (granted in 1903), Burns continued to advocate for his people. He eventually moved to Ft. McDowell and became a successful rancher. He also cut wood for various interests in the Salt River Valley. At Ft. McDowell he also continued to serve as interpreter. But, he considered perhaps his most important work to be his autobiography. He worked on it for years, but never saw it published.

Mike Burns--Hoo-moo-thy-ah--faithful Yavapai, died at Ft. McDowell on 16 November 1934. His son-in-law, John Smith, became the first Ft. McDowell Yavapai-Apache Chairman that same year. Hoo-moo-thy-ah's descendants continue to live at Ft. McDowell to this day.

Superstition Mountains (from Pinals)--Also Home of Hoo-moo-thy-ah

Grave of Hoo-moo-thy-ah (Mike Burns at Ft. McDowell)


Before I conclude this account about Hoo-moo-thy-ah I think it would be appropriate to mention here something about his famous cousin, Carlos Montezuma. Montezuma suffered a somewhat similar fate as Hoo-moo-thy-ah, and he too was faithful to his heritage and people.

Montezuma was born about 1866, probably in the Superstition Mountains of central Arizona. During the fall 1871 campaign of General Crook this boy also lost his family. He was captured in the Superstitions by Pimas from the Salt River Valley and then taken to Florence and sold to a man by the name of Carlos Gentile. It was Gentile who gave him the name of Carlos Montezuma.

Eventually, Montezuma was taken to Washington, D. C., and then to Chicago, Illinois. He was turned over to Reverend G. W. Ingalls of the Indian Department of the American Baptist Home Mission Society. Montezuma received his schooling in the Chicago area. He was quite brilliant in his studies and graduated cum laude from the University of Illinois with a degree in chemistry. He then went to Chicago Medical School, a branch of Northwestern University. He became a highly skilled surgeon. However, he never forgot his people. As he became more successful in his profession he began to advocate for all North American Indians. He wrote voluminously about their rights.

By the time of World War I Montezuma was at Fort McDowell stirring up opposition to the draft among the Indians there. He was jailed for sedition, but was finally released by President Woodrow Wilson.

Montezuma then did a quite remarkable thing--he settled among his people permanently. In the last years of his life he developed diabetes and tuberculosis. He died in a wikieup among his beloved people on 31 January 1923. He is buried not far from Hoo-moo-thy-ah at Fort McDowell.

Grave of Wassaja (Carlos Montezuma) at Ft. McDowell

For more information on Montezuma read:

Peter Iverson's Carlos Montezuma and the Changing World of the American Indians, Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1982.

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